Own a WordPress website? Then it’s vital you know about the upcoming Gutenberg editor!

As you may be aware WordPress has been developing an update on how it manages content editing, most notably around the plans to replace the text editor with it’s own content builder functionality named Gutenberg. You may even have seen a dashboard widget when you login to your site announcing it’s arrival?

What is Gutenberg?

Gutenberg is the replacement to the WordPress TinyMCE editor, the current WYSIWYG text editor where you write your posts and pages. So instead of editing a single content area, Gutenberg is going to completely change the editing experience by moving to a block-based approach in a similar way to how existing third-party Content Builders enchance the text editor currently.

Gutenberg is available currently as a plugin, however it will become the default content editor in WordPress 5.0, and this could have serious implications for all existing WordPress websites if installed untested.

How will this affect you?

Essentially there is still lots of uncertainty over how Gutenberg will impact WordPress functionality and notably the compatibility of plugins.

The use of Custom Post Types and Custom Fields (and Meta Boxes as used by most plugins) apparently may no longer work as expected. Compatibility with third-party Content Builders (such as WPBakery/Visual Composer) and plugins like WooCommerce is still being worked on. Indeed more-or-less all third-party plugins which currently interact with the current text editor in some way, could all be adversely affected where a lack of backwards compatibility exists in Gutenberg. It is down to the plugin provider to ensure compatibility, and you to ensure you have the right version of the plugin or to move to one that can support your needs.

In otherwords, if you don’t do something then your site might stop working properly!

What should I do?

It is strongly recommended that you test your WordPress installation with Gutenberg in a test environment, before installing WordPress 5.0 and/or Gutenberg in a production environment.

You should also ensure that automated major version upgrades are turned off to ensure accidental upgrading to WP5.0.

Testing can be achieved via a staging/development site now using the Gutenberg plugin on WP4.9.8. Or once WP5.0 is available you could upgrade a staging/development site first to test on there before moving to WP5.0 on a production site.

You may find that alterations will need to be done to your website before it can go live with Gutenberg. In many cases, assuming plugin developers have prepared accordingly, it may just be a few settings updates. However, in some cases these alterations could be significant and/or workarounds needed.

There will, temporarily at least, be the option in WP5.0 to turn-off Gutenberg by installing the existing Classic Editor as a plugin. However, this should be seen as a quick fix (if accidently updated) or a stop-gap, as there appears to be real commitment within WordPress to focus on Gutenberg moving forwards.

You could also delay upgrading WordPress to 5.0, and stay on WP4.9.x, however this won’t be viable as a long term strategy.

Note that there is no official launch date for WP5.0 yet. It is understood that WordPress are still working on Gutenberg, and further changes and stability are expected before any official amalgamated launch.

Can Synthetic Egg help?

Yes. I can help you set up a staging/development site, or update your current one, and run the tests needed to check if Gutenberg will cause you any problems. As needed I can then propose a course of action to help you future-proof your site for Gutenberg. Please get in touch today to discuss your site.

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