Today marks the arrival of WordPress 5.0, which is pretty awesome. It includes a variety of changes, as major WordPress updates often do, but the one everyone is talking about is the new editing experience - Gutenberg. There's a lot of fear that it's going to break some websites.
Until now, you're probably used to working with the WordPress what-you-see-is-what-you-get (WYSIWYG) editor. You type content into a box and that content shows up on your page. That's all fine and good for blogging, but today, WordPress can be found being used for much more than just blogging. And even in the blogging world, platforms like Medium have brought a lot of flexibility to the way we format our content.
WordPress is now catching up with the Gutenberg editor, which is a welcome change, if not a bit scary. It allows for a block-editing experience, drag-and-dropping a variety of modules into a much more engaging format. For more on the experience, check out the page from WordPress about it, which also serves as a partial demo.
WordPress has always been developed with backwards compatibility in mind, meaning you can usually hit that update button without worrying about much breaking. I won't dig into the merits or lack thereof of this approach, but you can't deny that this method has helped WordPress get to where it is today.
By replacing the editing experience, the WordPress developers are unleashing a lot of "new and unknown" onto the world. Theme and plugin developers are doing a lot of work to ensure their experience isn't broken for users who update.
Despite all this fear, the most prominent and dependable WordPress plugins and themes have put in a lot of legwork to become compatible. At Sterner Stuff, we're pretty picky about the plugins and themes we use, and most all that we take advantage of have been prepared for this for a little while now. Themes like Beaver Builder are ready to go, as are plugins like The Events Calendar. Meanwhile, plugins like Advanced Custom Fields are working quickly to wrap up the work they've done to prepare.
Which is to say, for Sterner Stuff clients, your website will be just fine. You'll hear from us in January about getting Gutenberg and WordPress 5.0 going on your website, and it probably won't be a big deal.
For a lot of do-it-yourself WordPress site managers, plugins and themes get installed...well...willy-nilly. And many of those plugins and themes are sporadically supported if not totally abandoned. This means that there's a chance that Gutenberg ends up breaking some things.
If that's you, you'll want to take advantage of our Gutenberg update services.
Here are some great resources from the WordPress team and others about the Gutenberg update and what to do with it. And if you need direct assistance, check out Sterner Stuff's Gutenberg update services (we'll even help if it broke your website already!), and for general questions, you can contact us as well.