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WordPress 5.0 – The Gutenberg Update

WordPress, a popular Blogging/Content Management System (CMS) has rolled out a major core update, replacing the Classic Editor with a block type editor, named Gutenberg.

The Gutenberg editor is named after the German inventor and printer Johann Gutenberg (ca. 1938-1468) who revolutionised the printing industry by inventing a method of printing that used movable type blocks.

WordPress describe the changes;

Our new block-based editor is the first step toward an exciting new future with a streamlined editing experience across your site. You’ll have more flexibility with how content is displayed… Each piece of content will be in its own block; a distinct wrapper for easy manoeuvring.

This is a major change for WordPress which affects a majority of our clients. This will present new challenges for us and our valued customers.

In the past we have delivered one-to-one training for customers including providing in-depth user guides. Unfortunately with the latest release, this information will likely become obsolete depending on the choices our clients make:

  1. Continue to use WordPress with Gutenberg
  2. Continue to use WordPress with Classic Editor enabled
  3. Switch to ClassicPress (a fork of WordPress 4.9)

1. Continue to use WordPress with Gutenberg

We have always advised our clients to update to the latest version of WordPress to ensure a secure and stable environment, however with Gutenberg, workflow patterns have been changed significantly which will require a steep learning curve. There is also the issue of compatibility for 3rd party plugins being used to bring extra functionality to your WordPress website.

Our advice is to wait until version 5.1 before updating. If you cannot wait and would like to test Gutenberg, go ahead and if there is any issue with Gutenberg….

2. Continue to use WordPress with Classic Editor enabled

You can upgrade to WordPress 5.0 but be aware that there may be compatibility issues with 3rd party plugins. If you are happy with the risk, go ahead and install the update.

If Gutenberg is too problematic and time consuming on your workflow there is an option to disable Gutenberg and reinstate the Classic Editor (although this will be phased out by 2021). You can download and upload the Classic Editor from: https://wordpress.org/plugins/classic-editor/.

If you are running a child theme you can avoid installing another plugin on your site by editing the functions.php (Appearance > Editor > functions.php) and adding the following code:

add_filter('use_block_editor_for_post', '__return_false');

This will disable Gutenberg and restore the classic editor.

3. Switch to ClassicPress (a fork of WordPress 4.9)

WordPress has been heavily criticised for the way they have pushed through Gutenberg into the core of WordPress.

Several developers in the WordPress community have felt frustrated by the way WordPress has handled the community feedback and implementation of Gutenberg, so much so that a dedicated team of WordPress experts have created a fork of WordPress; ClassicPress (www.classicpress.net).

ClassicPress is touted as the ‘business-focussed CMS’ with the developers opting for a simple objective;

ClassicPress is a modified and enhanced version of WordPress (without Gutenberg) that serves the business website market.

Currently, any user migrating from WordPress to ClassicPress can download their migration plugin, and if the checks are all passed can simply upgrade from the WordPress dashboard. The process is quick and out initial testing sites we found no issues with plugin compatibility, etc.

Another aspect of ClassicPress is that the developers are keen to stress that any future features will always be optional (unlike Gutenberg) and will be fully compatible.

How are we handling Gutenberg for our clients

We provide custom theme design for many of our clients using our own framework. Our framework has been tested extensively in-house to ensure it is compatible with the Gutenberg update, and we are happy to announce that our framework is fully compatible with Gutenberg.

For our clients that use our framework we have started a program of works to backup each site onto a testing/staging area, install the Gutenberg editor, test Gutenberg compatibility against any third party plugins in use, resolve any bugs and launch on the live site. We will be disabling Gutenberg by default (initially).

We are currently updating our user manuals which will give a step-by-step guide on how to use the new style Gutenberg editor. Once we have published this manual we will provide a copy to all our customers and distribute the guide on our site for free.

For the minority of our clients who have opted for an off-the-shelf design solution that has been heavily modified to match their requirements. We are backing up these sites to a staging area and we will thoroughly test the site with WordPress 5.0 and resolve any bugs identified in the theme or plugins. Once any bugs have been resolved we will relaunch the websites.

Two of our clients have opted to try ClassicPress and we have successfully migrated their websites to use this new CMS with no issues whatsoever.

We are doing this work for free for our clients as we wanted to make sure that (a) their websites continue to function in the manner they expected when they initially hired us, and (b) we aim to continue to provide a level of support that is above and beyond the expectations of our clients.

Our new guide for WordPress 5.X will be published soon. In the meantime, for those sticking with the classic editor or moving over to ClassicPress you can download our current free comprehensive WordPress user guide

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Design Fife is a flexible and adept, graphic and web design studio, with considerable experience working with a variety of customers, that collectively spans over 15 years of experience. We work closely with all clients to develop a brief, whether one-off designs to full branding strategies and design, handling both large and small projects, as well as everything in-between.

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