WordPress 5? Careful. Speed bumps ahead.

December 10, 2018 Commentary, Technology News

WordPress is the platform for 30% of the world’s websites, or so it is claimed. We do most of our development work in WordPress, and find it mighty, infuriating, intriguing and essential. Last week, the platform was updated by fiat to version 5.0, and this will directly affect websites we manage, and are designing, for a number of clients. It is likely to affect yours, as well.

We’re always concerned that a full-number upgrade will break something. As a precaution, I make sure to keep all sites set to not update automatically. I have experimented with WordPress 5 and its new text and layout editor, Gutenberg. It is claimed to be revolutionary. Like many big steps in tech, the developers think we can read their mind and glide into a sunny space of efficiency. But so far I am finding much to be confused about.

I am thinking about the first Macintosh user interface where it took me three weeks to discern the difference between the similarly named Chooser, and why it would be different from the Finder. Remember?

So too, the block-based interface on Gutenberg is not highly intuitive. Yes, you can create a block for text, or for an image. But how do you move them around? And, how will Gutenberg interact with CSS — the code used by developers to change fonts, colors and details of layout?

For now, we will take advantage of the fallback WordPress is offering: Classic Mode, which enables you to choose 5.0 but use the same editing interface as before. This is what I will suggest to clients who choose to edit their sites, at least for a while.

We also need time to learn how WP5 and Gutenberg interact with WordPress plugins, the thousands of add-ons to the WordPress platform that provide special functions from animation to maps and SEO.

Our advice, which we will be following, is to wait on upgrading.