New WordPress 5.0 – How and When to Update

WordPress 5.0 is being released tomorrow, December 6th. This release contains a major change to the WordPress editor. The new editor, code-named Gutenberg, is a substantial leap forward in functionality. It uses a new block-based system for editing which allows you to embed a wide range of content in your posts and pages, and gives you a lot of flexibility in laying out those blocks on the page.

Once Gutenberg and WordPress 5.0 have stabilized, they will provide long term benefits to WordPress users and the community. But in the short term, this change may introduce challenges for some WordPress site owners. In this post we will discuss a few points that will help you decide when to upgrade to WordPress 5.0, and to formulate a successful strategy for making the transition.

Potential Problems With Legacy Plugins and Themes
WordPress has been around for over 15 years, and in that time millions of websites have been created using the current editing framework. Often, sites are created and never updated to more modern themes. There are a large number of abandoned plugins installed on WordPress sites – plugins that are no longer being actively maintained by their developers. No one is testing these abandoned plugins or older themes to see how they will behave with Gutenberg.

Adding to the complexity, many of these sites may be hosted on managed WordPress hosting services that will auto-update to the new WordPress version.

Some WordPress site owners may be unable to effectively edit pages they had previously published. Some may be unable to access their edit screen. There may be server 500 errors or white screens for some users. Or everything may run smoothly, even with legacy plugins and a legacy theme.