On the paper – and in the video – everything looked great. More than 15 years after its launch, the free open-source software WordPress, which according to the manufacturer runs one third of all websites worldwide, has received its most extensive revision so far with version 5. The update with the project title Bebo – whose namesake is the Cuban Bebo Valdés as always a jazz musician – was supposed to carry the last WordPress that was in need of renovation into a new age. But that went, at least so far, thoroughly wrong.
What do WordPress 5 and Gutenberg bring?
At the heart of the retreading process is the Gutenberg Editor, which divides the WordPress content into individual blocks. While the classic editor is more reminiscent of Word, with very similar and relatively simple editing functions, Gutenberg puts the content together from arbitrary blocks.
Such blocks are for example headings, texts, paragraphs, pictures, videos, sounds, quotes or lists. These blocks can be changed, moved or rearranged by the user – even with multiple columns. How this works can be tested on the official WordPress website.
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As with a puzzle, it will create modern, varied and multimedia websites that optimally scale for all screens, from smartphones to large computers. In general, the concept is conclusive and forward-looking – and is euphorically praised by WordPress accordingly.
“Welcome to the wonderful world of blocks, in an exciting future. Become a builder!” It says. And: “These are your new best friends, the blocks.” But after the official launch of WordPress 5 on December 6, the friendship remained rather one-sided. Do not go for block.
What went wrong with WordPress 5?
Despite multiple shifts, the update appeared too fast and immature. While in the presentation video the blocks fly spectacularly over the website, a large number of the functions are in fact not yet available. And the first version of WordPress 5 was full of bugs – of which in the current update 5.0.2 at least some are eliminated. Really reliable for live websites (with which many users have to earn their money) is WordPress 5 but still not.
The reactions to the presentation video are correspondingly devastating: “This is the most ridiculous product video I’ve ever seen, it’s completely devised, the actual product does not work in the same way as in the video, in fact, it does not work at all,” it says YouTube. Shorter statements: “How to shoot yourself in the foot”, and “We are waiting for version 6.0”.
In addition to the immature Gutenberg editor, the main problem is the compatibility with over 60 million existing WordPress websites. Basically, the update to WP 5 should not affect or damage the previous websites. The existing content should be displayed as a “Classic Block” – which can be split into the new blocks on request. But that works more bad than right.
Typical complaint in the WordPress forum: “I have now made an update to WordPress 5.0, which includes the Gutenberg Editor, so to speak, but if I deactivate Gutenberg then it will destroy my entire homepage.” That’s why millions of WordPress users have been waiting with the 5.0 update, out of concern for their time-consuming content.
What should WordPress users do now?
The best idea is to wait for the time being with the upgrade to version 5. Last version of the proven WordPress, which can be used without hesitation, is the 4.9.9. A forced update or even an automatic update to version 5 does not exist. For independently updates WordPress only small jumps, for example, from 4.9.8 to 4.9.9. So users can safely stay with the 4.9.9 or update to the 4.9.9 – and wait in peace, as the situation in the coming weeks and months continues to develop.
Who has voluntarily or accidentally updated to WordPress 5, Gutenberg can switch off and replace it with the classic editor again. For this purpose, WordPress offers the free plug-in “Classic Editor”, which has already been installed over two million times and is rated by its users with the top rating of five stars. For comparison: The Gutenberg editor, which can be loaded separately as a plugin, is punished with two stars.
It is even possible to install both editors in parallel, and then decide in the “Write” menu which one to use. After deactivating Gutenberg, the previous website should look the way it used to be – but that’s far from being the case in all cases. Here is hopefully a backup available to return to the old state.
How do I become familiar with WordPress 5?
As I said: In general, the new editor is a clear step forward – if he eventually works. It offers many features that previously required plugins. It simplifies editing and provides more versatile, more modern content. To get in touch, a freshly installed blog is ideal for practicing and testing. WordPress 5 comes standard with the new theme Twenty-Nineteen, which is already tuned to Gutenberg.
Known themes like Hestia or Neve also work with the new editor. And at Themeforest, the largest marketplace for WordPress themes, more and more content is being optimized for Gutenberg. If you have the courage to update your existing website to version 5.0.2, you should first update all plugins and then back up your WordPress installation in order to be able to return to the old version if necessary. For a new installation WordPress 4.9.9 is still available for download. When resetting to an older version, the WP Rollback plugin often helps.
How will 2019 continue with WordPress?
Co-founder Matt Mullenweg has just sketched out the future of WordPress in his annual keynote “State of the Word”. Despite all the starting difficulties, there will be no way around WordPress 5 and Gutenberg in the long term. While so far only the content area is affected by the new features, in addition to two-week minor updates in 2019, the mini-programs widgets and the WordPress menus should also be included in the new system and be available as blocks. In 2020 and beyond, new solutions for multi-user environments and for multilingual WordPress websites will emerge.
Until then, the starting difficulties of Gutenberg should have fallen into oblivion. And if not? WordPress promises meanwhile that the “Classic Editor”, currently the last salvation for millions of users, will be supported “at least until 2022” – “or as long as it is necessary”. Who is deterred by the new WordPress, so can still use a few years practically the old WordPress.
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