WordPress has been the go-to for easy- to-use website development for years, but all of that may change with the latest update due to launch later this spring, though exactly when is not certain. According to WordPress creator and Automatic CEO/President Matt Mullenweg:

“Gutenberg will ship with WordPress 5.0, but the release will come out when Gutenberg is ready, not vice versa. We still have target dates to help us think about scope and plan for all the supporting documentation, translation, and marketing efforts, but we’re not going to release anything until Gutenberg is something the team working on it agrees is ready.” (https://ma.tt/2017/08/we-called-it-gutenberg-for-a-reason/)

The upcoming Word Press 5.0 update has been attracting a lot of controversy in the tech community, but many Word Press users may be surprised by just how many sweeping changes are headed their way.

The single most dramatic change is the new Gutenberg editor which is set to replace the flagship TinyMCE WYSIWYG editor. Not only is there an obvious visual distinction between the two that will take relearning, but Gutenberg takes an entirely new approach to editing via its block system. Essentially all content is managed with blocks. One benefit of the block approach is that it will bring some standardization and conformity to WordPress which should make changing themes more efficient.

The basic Block types are:

  • Common Blocks (paragraphs, lists, images);
  • Formatting Blocks (pull quotes, tables and preformatted text),
  • Layout Blocks (buttons, text columns, dividers); and
  • Widgets (such as a latest post feed).
  • There will also be an Embed option to embed various web elements from a other website (such as a video or social media feed).

Skip to about the 33 minute mark in the video if you’re interested in a pretty comprehensive breakdown of the Gutenberg editor, as explained by Matt Mullenweg (the creator of WordPress) and demonstrated by lead Gutenberg developer, Matias Ventura.

Multi-column layouts, which are the gateway to page building, are not currently within the scope of the first official version coming to the WordPress core. Gutenberg’s one-dimensional, vertically stacking approach to designing pages isn’t very inspiring. There are two other planned releases, whose focus will be on expanding the scope of Block formatting and on full-site customization.

Gutenberg is also being incorporated into Word Press 5.0 directly, meaning that the editor can’t be merged as a plugin and is likely to disrupt many existing plugins and themes. If users want to use a Classic Editor that one of the Word Press developers has created, in order to continue using the TinyMCE editor, they will have to download that plugin separately. As of right now however, that plugin is acting as more of a test on/off switch until Gutenberg moves to the Word Press core. Yet when Gutenberg does finally become mainstream, it’s unlikely that the Classic Editor will stick around for much longer given its ties to Word Press directly.

All in all, Word Press 5.0 is turning heads in the web community. The retirement of the popular TinyMCE editor and the implementation of the Gutenberg editor is going to require a significant learning curve. Gutenberg may end up breaking plenty of themes and plugins as well, causing consternation. The best that WordPress users can do as of right now is to make plenty of backups using their current version, as well as downloading the Classic Editor plugin in anticipation of the Gutenberg launch.

We’ll be exploring the changes, both good and bad, coming with WordPress 5.0. Stay tuned!