How to prepare for the new WordPress editor: Gutenberg is coming!

How to prepare for the new WordPress editor: Gutenberg is coming!

You may have heard the whisperings that a big, fundamental update is coming to WordPress in 2018. WordPress 5.0 will see the incorporation of ‘Gutenberg’, a new-style editor which is the first part in an extensive three-phase update for the entire web hosting platform. We don’t know exactly when the update will happen but it is suggested that it could be before the end of August, and we all need to be ready…

What will the new editor look like?

The main, most obvious difference will be the crisp and clear view of the editor, with a new minimal and spacious user interface. To build and create content, the new system will use ‘blocks’… fitting together like Lego with a range of ‘block types’ available.

The new building-in-blocks system will be standardised with easy instructions, although the settings and options do allow for more complex code writing as well.

A feature I particularly like is the capacity for ‘re-useable blocks’ – each block type is highly customisable, and once you have come up with a perfect design it can be saved as a template for you to use again and again. For example, you might make a block which is a distinctive blog heading, which can then be repeated for brand consistency across all your newly published posts.

But will the Gutenberg update break my website?!

The fear with all major updates is the possibility that it might cause problems within your existing website. It’s easy to despair of these updates and say, “if it’s not broken, don’t fix it!!” This is especially true if you are not a technical expert and feel like you have only just got to grips with managing your site. The main thing is: don’t panic. There are steps that you can take to prepare and help yourself adjust to the new Gutenberg editor.

Most of the experts suggest that the upcoming WordPress developments will be positive in the long-term; but no-one can deny the short-term risk of teething problems as the software changes over. Here are my tips for staying ahead of the game and in control:

What can I do to prepare for the Gutenberg editor update!?

Firstly, I’d like to recommend to all my clients that they should not upgrade to version 5.0 until I have had a chance to check the compatibility of your website first!

What you can do in the meantime is:

  • Back up your website just in case. (You should be able to do this through your website hosting, but if you are unsure just ask your hosting company and they should be able to do it for you.)
  • Contact your web developer or designer for advice.
  • Your developer can install the Gutenberg plug-in, which will give you a chance to experiment with the changes before they are mandatory.
  • Report any difficulties with Gutenberg to GitHub, the developers. This gives them a much higher chance of being resolved quickly.
  • You can install the plug-in for the ‘Classic Editor’ as a temporary fix.

How To Install the Classic Editor Plug-In:

As mentioned above, you can install the Classic Editor plug-in, which will “hide all traces of the new Gutenberg editor including the Dashboard widget asking the users to try it”. WordPress are clearly expecting that some people will be resistant to change, and the option to keep the old-style editor that you know and love can be found here.

On the ‘Posts’ and ‘Pages’ screens, you will also have the option to ‘Edit (Classic)’ if this is what you prefer. So far this plug-in has been highly rated by users, but it is still early days and this is based on a small number of reviews.

If you have any queries or questions about installing the ‘Classic Editor’ as a temporary fix, don’t hesitate to get in touch with me to talk it through.

What WordPress say about the changes:

“We realize it’s a big change. We also think there will be many new opportunities for plugins. WordPress is likely to ship with a range of basic blocks, but there will be plenty of room for highly tailored premium plugins to augment existing blocks or add new blocks to the mix.”

Statements from WordPress are on the defensive… they are unsettling what they know is a very important part of people’s businesses. Losing control of your website is a scary prospect.

In the grand scheme of things, Gutenberg will probably be a good thing for WordPress users. In the short term, we all need to hold tight and be prepared as best we can for a few bumps in the road. The option of restoring the ‘Classic Editor’ as a plug-in should help until we find our feet.

If you’d like to find out more, here are some FAQ’s complied on the WordPress website. Although they are inevitably biased towards a positive view of Gutenberg, they do offer some honest answers to many of the questions you might be asking.

If you have any further concerns then please do get in touch with me at [email protected] where I’ll reply as soon as I can, and always be happy to help.

Further information for web developers:

If you’re a web developer, or would just like to learn a little more about what is happening to your WordPress website, see here for updates including timescales and predictions.

For August 2018 these include:

  • Full integration with Calypso
  • Target of 100k+ sites having made 250k+ posts using Gutenberg.
  • Core merge of Gutenberg beginning the 5.0 release cycle.
  • 5.0 moves into beta releases and translations are completed.
  • A mobile version of Gutenberg by the end of the year.

My main advice is not to panic about these changes: but do read, research and stay informed. Make time to experiment with the trial options and report and resolve and glitches on GitHub.

“Intelligence is the ability to adapt to change” Stephen Hawking

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