WordPress 5.0 Migration Begins

A new version of WordPress was released in early December 2018. WordPress 5.0 features a major change to the editor with the introduction of Gutenberg, a new block-based editing system. Gutenberg adds a lot of flexibility to the page layout process and makes it simpler to embed a broad range of content in posts and pages. The new editor offers a significant package of benefits, and WordPress site owners should definitely consider making the WordPress 5.0 migration.

The release of WordPress 5.0 is the first phase in a redesign process that will eventually see Guttenberg implemented across all aspects of WordPress. Currently, the editor upgrades the experience of writing and managing WordPress pages and posts. Upcoming Phase 2 of the Gutenberg project will see the block framework extended to provide an updated, simpler experience across the WordPress platform. Gutenberg will eventually be expanded into a full-featured web site building tool.

An Improved WordPress Experience

The WordPress core development team has been working on Gutenberg for quite a while. Matt Mullenweg, the creator of WordPress and CEO of Automatic, the business behind WordPress.com, says the goal is “to simplify the first-time user experience with WordPress — for those who are writing, editing, publishing, and designing web pages.”

WordPress 5.0 offers many new benefits to the WordPress user community.

Transforming content into multiple movable blocks is a major improvement over the aging classic WordPress editor. Drag and drop post building, more intuitive interaction with plugins and reduced plugin clutter, and the ability to see what a post will look like while composing it instead of toggling to “Preview” are all substantial advances. Another important upgrade WordPress 5.0 brings is full support for PHP 7.3, the latest update to the PHP scripting language.

However, like most new or transformative software releases, WordPress 5.0 comes with kinks to be worked out and some challenges for WordPress site owners. This post will summarize a few items site owners need to be aware of.

Possible Compatibility Issues with Outdated Plugins and Themes

In the 15 years that WordPress has been available, the current editing framework has been used to create millions of websites. Many sites have never been updated to more recent themes. Another issue is the many abandoned plugins installed on WordPress sites.

Major developers like Elementor, Yoast, or WooCoomerce have teams that keep their products up to date with any WordPress changes. But there are many plugins and themes that are no longer maintained by their developers. These abandoned plugins and themes have not been tested to see how they will perform with WordPress 5.0.

 The upgrade process will affect all files and folders included in the main WordPress installation. This includes all the core files used to run WordPress.

An added problem arises with the many sites that are up on managed WordPress hosting services. These sites will auto-update to the new version of WordPress, potentially spawning a multitude of unknown effects. Your site may run perfectly smoothly despite the presence of a legacy theme and plugins. Or you might not be able to edit previously published pages or even access the edit screen. Some WordPress site owners may get server 500 errors or white screens.

Gutenberg may still work with incompatible themes and plugins, but with reduced functionality and restricted ability to use some of the new features. It is difficult to know what might happen without testing sites on an individual basis. With somewhere around 20,000 WordPress themes out there and over 60,000 unique plugins, only a fraction of them will have been tested for compatibility with Gutenberg and WordPress 5.0.

Preparing for WordPress 5.0

WordPress 4.x site owners can download Gutenberg as a plugin to see how it will run on their sites and get used to the interface. Another option is to install the Classic Editor Plugin developed by a team of WordPress contributors. This should be done before updating to WordPress 5.0. An advantage here is that the Classic Editor can be used with Gutenberg installed. Gutenberg can be used for new content, with the Classic Editor there as an alternative if a legacy plugin is needed.

The ideal strategy is to run the WordPress 5.0 update in a testing environment. Make sure your website is running a modern version of PHP. Install 5.0, try out the Gutenberg editor, and check for anomalies with page layouts or any other problems. Review older posts and pages to see how they work with the new editor. As with any update, but especially with a major change like this, backing up site files and your database is essential.

Other Considerations

Hosting provider auto-updates: Site owners using managed hosting services should check to see what support will be provided for Gutenberg and when the WordPress 5.0 update will take place. The hosting provider should take the necessary backups as part of the update process.

Page builders and premium themes: Check with the developer to make sure their product is compatible with Gutenberg if your site uses a page builder or any other tool that uses shortcodes. Premium themes often come bundled with a page builder, so you will need to check with the theme developer to make sure you have the updated version installed.

Security concerns: The Gutenberg / WordPress 5.0 project is being moved forward quickly, increasing the potential for security issues. WordPress security teams around the world are monitoring the code and searching for vulnerabilities in each incremental release version. It is a good policy to check the official WordPress blog frequently for news on security updates and diligently keep up with all recommended upgrades.

Upgrade to WordPress 5.0

Block-based page building frameworks are powerful and easy to use, and Gutenberg is a major step forward for what is already one of the world’s most usable and popular blogging platforms and website builders. The improvements in editing power, ease, and flexibility make an upgrade to WordPress 5.0 well worth the investment needed to ensure that your site is compatible with the new block-based editor.

If you would like to guarantee a smooth, risk-free transition to WordPress 5.0, use our WordPress 5.0 Migration Service. Contact us here at Wodu Media and our expert WordPress developers will handle the entire process and provide the support you need to run Gutenberg. We will update your sites to WordPress 5.0, make sure all current software is compatible and working properly, and install the Classic Editor at your request.

Get in touch with us now and start leveraging the capabilities of block-based page and post editing on your WordPress site.