WordPress have released a new major version of their software – WordPress 5.0 – and released it at the end of last week. As with all software major version releases my advice is usually to follow and upgrade with caution – and in this instance my advice remains the same!
WordPress 5.0 has been in development for some time, the most notable aspect of this updated version being the new ‘Gutenberg’ visual editor with replaces the ‘classical’ editor. To clarify this just a tiny bit, the old ‘classical’ editor (the one you may well be used to) is similar to word processing software – allowing you to add text and images and format it all (add headings, font styles, lists, alignment etc) in one block. The new Gutenberg editor, that replaces the classic editor, allows you to still add all these elements however it also allows you to add them in different blocks and then position them on the page as you wish. Have a good look at the WordPress website here to read and see more about it. Sounds good doesn’t it?!
This is a great – and in my opinion a necessary – advance for WordPress as it gives us more flexibility in how we can add content, and so WordPress continues to be an excellent alternative to other Content Management Systems. The question is – are we ready for it, and should we upgrade and start using it now?
As mentioned above my usual advice is to upgrade with caution when a new major software version is released – particularly if the main component of the update is a significant change from the previous version, as is the case here. The question I would urge you to ask yourself in this case is “Do you need to update this now – or can it wait a little?”.
My bet is that it can wait – and my suggestion is that you do that, at least until the first incremental version (like v5.0.1 for instance) is released.
Why? As well intentioned as it may be for a new major release to be full tested and scrutinised in it’s lead up stages of development, 9 times (or more) out of 10 there will need to be patches applied to fix issues that cannot be created in testing, but will be identified when in real production use. So why not wait until the results are in – so to speak – before updating this major release.
Another reason is that this upgrade – this new editor – may not work with the design (the theme) or the plugins (that additional functionality) of your current website. Adding new blocks of content that you can re-position in the editor is great, however how those blocks will behave when applied to your theme and plugins may present problems to you and needs consideration.
This begs the question how do we know if our website is ready for the update – and the only answer I know to this is to do some due diligence research and then to test your website.
So – in conclusion – if (when) you are update make sure you need to, that you have done your research, and that your website is ready for the new version. When you do make the update please ensure (as with all updates) that you first backup your website (files and database) first, then (if you can) test the update on a staging environment, so when you’re ready to make the update to your live ‘production’ website environment you have a backup in case anything goes wrong, and you have pre-empted any possible problems.
If you need assistance with your website and upgrading it to the latest version please do contact me and I would be happy to assist. If you are a client of mine – and I look after and manage your website then I will be in touch about this, once there has been an initial incremental version released.