For those of you who’ve got better things to do than keep tabs on what’s going on in the WordPress world, a big change is coming with the release of WordPress 5.0, now slated to occur between Nov. 19th-January 22nd.
Whether or not you’ve got your hands in WordPress on a regular basis you’ll want to familiarize yourself a bit with what’s coming so that it doesn’t take you by surprise entirely, so let’s dive in.
Out With The Old
Although WordPress has evolved enormously over the years, one of the things that hasn’t changed much is the way content is created and edited.
Thus far editing content in WordPress has occurred within the simple text editor TinyMCE, otherwise known as the Classic Editor.
Those of you who edit content in WordPress on a regular basis are familiar with the content editing process below and would likely agree that it’s very similar to formatting a Microsoft Word document.
Although simple in theory, things can get tricky when users want to format content in a way that’s more appealing than simply adding content one line upon the next.
Complicating matters is the fact that content doesn’t always appear the same on the back-end as it does on the front-end, which has long been an issue for users of all levels.
Given the above issues, the team at WordPress has decided that it’s time to update the content editor and offer users more of a “What You See is What You Get” or WYSIWYG interface and user experience (UX).
In With The New
Whereas in the Classic Editor content is added line by line, in the new editor, otherwise known as “Gutenberg”, content will be added using blocks that can be stacked like LEGOS, if you will.
These blocks can be duplicated and eventually users will be able to drag and drop them in much the same way you can in many of the popular page builders like Beaver Builder.
This will allow users to move content wherever they wish within the editor instead of having to copy and paste text from one line to the next which can be tedious.
All in all the Gutenberg editor should provide for a more fluid and intuitive content editing experience allowing users to focus more on content creation and less on fiddling with formatting.
In addition, the new user interface will give users a far better idea of what their content will look like once it’s been published on the front-end.
Although not a replacement for page builders that are used to create the overall look and feel of a website, Gutenberg will certainly prove helpful where users are creating content such as blog posts.
For an interactive glimpse at how Gutenberg works you may want to take a look at the Testing Gutenberg site which allows you to play around with all of the tools and get a feel for what’s to come.
Gearing Up for Gutenberg
Of course, big changes like this can be challenging and though Gutenberg is almost ready to ship, I recommend installing the Classic Editor Plugin upon updating to WordPress 5.0 and waiting until most of the bugs have been worked out in the wild, before transitioning to the new editor. The Classic Editor will remain supported through Dec. 31st, 2022 giving you plenty of time to make the transition.
Test Your Website in Staging
Once the new editor has been gone through a few minor releases you’ll want to copy your website to a Staging Environment and test for any issues that might arise when you make the switch.
If problems do arise in Staging at least you’ll know what incompatibilities exist and you can begin to address them by replacing Themes and/or Plugins with compatible versions created by other developers.
If everything checks out in Staging you can then deactivate and delete the Classic Editor Plugin, copy your website from Staging back to Production (your live website) and start using the new editor.
In either instance, you’ll be glad you took the time to test things out ahead of time so that you can make the transition to Gutenberg an easy one for both yourself and everyone else on your team.