Introduction – Gutenberg is coming!
WordPress 5.0 Gutenberg update is coming soon! The target release date has been set for Monday, November 19th. This update brings major changes to the WordPress platform, and in fact is the biggest update of WordPress this year, if not ever. Thus, many WordPress users are already considering how to prepare for WordPress 5.0 Gutenberg update.
In this article
- What’s New in WordPress 5.0
- How to Prepare for WordPress 5.0 Gutenberg Update
- Updating Your Main Site to WordPress 5.0
- When You Need to Disable the Gutenberg Update
What’s New in WordPress 5.0
Two big changes coming with this update are the switch from the classic editor for pages and posts, to the Gutenberg editor, as well as the release of WordPress 2019 default theme. If you want to try it, download the latest version of Gutenberg, which is currently available as a plugin. Or you can install WordPress 5.0 beta.
The Gutenberg editor brings a drag and drop/block based interface for creating and structuring your content. You can check block editor on the WordPress Gutenberg Demo.
When mastered, this feature will make it easy to create structured, well-designed content, much like you would with a site creation tool like Wix, or with popular page builder plugins.
The WordPress community, however, has mixed feelings about the change to the Gutenberg editor which will be added to the WordPress core. As you may be aware, Gutenberg has been available as an editor plugin, and the whooping majorities who have used and rated it have negative things to say.
However we may feel about Gutenberg, the reality is that it’s coming soon. Many WP experts believe that this is a good change, and we feel that way too.
How to Prepare for WordPress 5.0 Gutenberg Update
One reason why Gutenberg got a lot of negative reviews is that upon installation, it often conflicts with other plugins, causing sites to break down
Thus, it is imperative to prepare your site for this update before it’s released.
In this article, we show you the steps you can take to get your site tested, and ready for WordPress 5.0 when it is released on the 19th of this month. It’s also going to be a part of the twenty nineteen WordPress theme, so you better get used to it now!
If you want us to take care of this process for you, you may request our service, and one of our developers will help you through it.
Step 1. Create a Staging Site
A staging site is a copy of your live site that is not made available to the public. You can create a staging site in a subdomain of your main site, for example, staging.yoursite.com.
The staging site should have exactly the same contents and settings as your main site (it should be an exact copy). Our recommended way to create it is with a migration plugin like Duplicator.
This plugin allows you to export your entire site and database, and use it to create your staging site in a few clicks.
Step 2. Update Staging Site to WordPress 5.0 Beta
Although WordPress 5.0 is not yet officially available, there is a beta release for those who want to test it in their staging environment.
To check what would happen to your main site when you move to WordPress 5.0, you need to update your staging site to the beta release.
You can do this quite easily using the WordPress Beta Tester plugin. Here’s how:
- In your Dashboard, go to Plugins > Add New.
- In the Add Plugins page, type WordPress Beta Tester in the search box. When the plugin appears in the search results, click Install, wait for the installation to complete, and then click Activate.
- After the plugin activates, go to Tools > Beta Testing.
- Set the Update Stream to “Bleeding Edge Nightlies” and click Save Changes.
- Next, go to Dashboard > Updates.
- In the Updates page, click on Check Again, and when the check completes, click Update Now.
- When the update completes, you would see a welcome message to WordPress 5.0 like this:
And that’s it. You’ve updated your staging site to WordPress 5.0 Gutenberg.
To check out the new Gutenberg editor, go to Pages > Add New. You will be greeted with a completely different editor and you can come back to play around with it after completing the following steps.
Step 3. Check for Potential Errors, Try to Fix Them, and Note the Fixes
After updating to WP 5.0, some aspects of your site may break. You need to check both your back and front end for:
- Missing Text
- Incorrectly displayed pages
- Shortcodes that no longer work
- Other weird behavior in the admin panel or frontend.
In most cases, these errors will be caused by themes or plugins that are not compatible with the Gutenberg editor. If this is the case, you can check for Gutenberg updates for the identified theme or plugin. Most major developers will have updates to make their themes or plugins compatible with the Gutenberg editor.
If you have made custom changes to your site, and you suspect the errors are related to them, then you (or the developer who did the customizations) have to update your code to make it Gutenberg compatible.
For all errors, you find in your staging site, note down the steps you used in fixing them as you would need to replicate these in your live site.
In some cases, you may find errors from plugins without updates to fix them at the moment. You can decide to replace these plugins with others with similar function, do without them or defer from upgrading your main site to WordPress 5.0 until later.
Updating Your Main Site to WordPress 5.0
After testing WordPress 5.0 on your staging site, you should have a good understanding of how this update would affect it. With this, you should be ready when the update goes live on the 19th of this month!
To ensure this update goes smoothly, there are some precautions and steps you want to take:
1. Backup Your Live Site
We always recommend you perform a backup when making any change to your site; even more so for this major update. Before proceeding with it, ensure you have a complete backup of your files and database.
Read here to learn how to create WordPress Backups.
2. Update Your Live Site to WordPress 5.0 Gutenberg, and Fix Identified Issues
The update to WordPress 5.0 is not automatic. Only minor updates – those that change the number to the far right – are automatic in WordPress (e.g., 4.9.7 to 4.9.8).
Thus, you have to choose to update to WordPress 5.0, when it is officially released.
To do this, go to Dashboard > Updates and click Update Now.
After the update completes, you would likely see the same errors you saw in the staging site when you updated it (if you did encounter errors). Using the steps with which you resolved these errors in the staging site, fix the errors you see on your live site.
When done, do a thorough review of your site pages, posts, and functions to ensure everything works well. Hopefully, it does, and your upgrade to the new WordPress era is seamless and complete.
When You Need to Disable the Gutenberg WordPress Update
If it happens that this update breaks your pages and functions, and fixing it is becoming a nightmare, you may choose to reverse it.
This doesn’t mean you need to fall back to your backup immediately. It might be a better idea to just disable Gutenberg update using the Classic Editor Plugin. Check out our step by step guide that will teach you how to disable the Gutenberg editor.
How Can You Use This Information?
Love it or hate it, the Gutenberg update is coming soon. To prevent site downtime, and preserve the experience for your users, it is best to start planning it, on time.
This guide has laid out the steps to do this, from initial staging to final update of your live site. We encourage you to follow these steps in order to ensure a straightforward update to WordPress 5.0.
There are some common WordPress errors that can occur after any WordPress update. Our guide: How to Fix Common WordPress Errors, Problems, & Issues can help you resolve some of these.