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What’s New in WordPress 5.0, Plus What to Expect From the Gutenberg Editor

Each time a new version of WordPress rolls out, we’re all excited about getting to play with its new features. However, few versions in the past have garnered as much buzz around them as WordPress 5.0 because of these two simple words; Gutenberg Editor.

Gutenberg is a complete redesign and re-imagination of the WordPress editor; with this, the default way that people create content with WordPress will radically change.

Big changes to your favourite platform can be difficult to accept. However, even massively popular platforms such as WordPress need to adapt to the times, or risk losing market share. Gutenberg is a bold leap forward, and it’s not the only update that’s coming up.

In this article, we’re going to discuss what makes WordPress 5.0 unique in comparison to previous releases, and then we’ll get into what to expect from WordPress 5.0 and the Gutenberg Editor. Let’s talk about the future!

WordPress 5.0 will be a bigger jump than recent major updates

If you’ve been using WordPress for a while, then you’ll know how much the platform has changed over time. Even individual updates often bring significant shifts. For example, the 4.9 ‘Tipton’ update enabled users to schedule design changes in the WordPress Customiser so they can go live at later dates, just like post drafts.

WordPress 4.8, on the other hand, brought us plenty of widget updates. For example, if you wanted images in your widgets in the past, you had to add them manually. Now, there are three dedicated media widgets for image, audio, and video files.

Another of our favourite features of 4.8 was the option to check up on nearby WordPress events right from your dashboard, which is handy if you want to do some networking:
A list of nearby WordPress events.
However, all the changes we’ve mentioned so far are pretty incremental. They’re useful, but not exactly game-changing. Most WordPress updates have been more about taking small steps forward rather than major leaps – that is, until WordPress 5.0.

What to expect from WordPress 5.0

WordPress 5.0 is kicking “incremental” to the curb with some pretty major changes. The biggest is the aforementioned Gutenberg Editor, which we’ll talk more about in a moment.

But WordPress 5.0 also marks a change to how the platform handles releases. It used to be the case that you could count on getting two major WordPress releases per year, with plenty of mini-updates in the meantime.

Aside from that, here are a few of the other significant changes to see with WordPress 5.0:

  • The platform’s focus is moving towards a more intuitive site-building experience. WordPress already leads the pack in terms of market share. And by improving WordPress’ site-building functionality, the core team aims to hold that market share against the rise of hosted website builders.
  • We’ll see some improvements to the WordPress Rest API. The WordPress Rest API helps developers create more feature-rich products by making it easier to send and pull data from your website. This update means developers will be able to more easily create applications using the platform as a framework.
  • Building custom themes will become easier. In the past, you needed at least a simple development background to put together a WordPress theme. With Gutenberg, theme creation will become much more accessible thanks to blocks.
  • Page builder plugins might lose some relevance. There are a lot of fantastic page-builder tools that you can use with WordPress, some of which rival professional platforms. Gutenberg won’t be a match for them at first, but it might dissuade people from using them in the long run.

What the Gutenberg editor means for you

The launch of Gutenberg means that you’ll need to get acquainted with a whole new editing experience.

You can expect a lot of activity for a few weeks, as everyone learns to contend with the new editor.

⚠️ Don’t panic – if you don’t want to use the Gutenberg Editor, you’ll still be able to keep the classic editor by installing the official Classic Editor plugin.

Gutenberg will affect themes and plugins, too

Aside from your own editing experience, Gutenberg will also bring important changes to a lot of your favourite plugins and themes. For example, we’ll probably see the emergence of a lot of Gutenberg-friendly themes, which will be designed to take advantage of all the new features the editor offers.

We’ve already seen a couple of interesting themes being released, such as Atomic Blocks and even the new default theme, Twenty Nineteen that proclaim their Gutenberg-first focus. And existing themes are no slouches either. Popular themes like Neve and Hestia now come with full Gutenberg compatibility too.

Similarly, you’ll see changes with some of your favourite plugins. A lot of plugins interact with the WordPress editor directly, whether that’s to add new functionality or include shortcodes. Those plugins will need to become Gutenberg compatible, unless they want to alienate a large part of their user base. Years from now, it might even be common to find plugins that only support Gutenberg.

When is the WordPress 5.0 release date?

As of today (6th December), you can update your WordPress to 5.0.

Get ready because the times they are a-changin’

Each major release of WordPress brings changes to the way we use the platform. However, even before it’s out, we can say with complete certainty that 5.0 will fundamentally change the way most people interact with WordPress because of the Gutenberg Editor.

If you’re old-school, you’ll be able to stick with the classic WordPress editor for the foreseeable future. However, if you plan on adapting, you’ll want to start reading up on how Gutenberg works right away. This will give you a leg up on the competition once WordPress 5.0 is live, and will help you determine which of your themes and plugins may be most affected.

So…

Do you plan on making the switch to Gutenberg, or sticking with the classic WordPress editor? Share your reasons with us in the comments section below!

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