At the end of 2018, the developers behind WordPress - the CMS that powers over 30% of the Web, and one of hundreds of applications that run superbly on our servers - released its fifth major version. The biggest change it brings is the Gutenberg editor.
The Gutenberg editor lets you compose pages in blocks. Blocks are simple building elements that you can use to, say, include a cat video in your new post without any code. You can choose out of the many that come with WordPress 5.0, and advanced users can create their own.
This new way of editing is centered around media rich posts, but even more importantly, it allows for flexible layouts. Until now, this was only possible for users of expensive themes with custom built-in editors, or for expert developers. The new editor is very simple to learn and use, so that even an absolute beginner can get right into it.
The Gutenberg editor is built for content that will play well both in desktop and on handheld devices. Combined with powerful multimedia blocks and layout editing tools, this means that you will need fewer plugins to achieve the same - or better - results. And fewer active plugins will make your site load faster, as well as that much easier to manage.
Will this break my site?
Since it is arguably the biggest change in WordPress since its inception, the Gutenberg editor has been heavily discussed. One of the biggest myths out there is that it will break your existing site. This is not true - unless you open your posts in the new editor, they will remain exactly as they are. In almost all cases, updating WordPress could only negatively affect your site if it uses outdated themes and plugins. However, we should point out that this has always been the case. As always, we encourage our users to keep their applications updated for increased security, performance, and compatibility.
What if I am already using a third-party page builder?
Most theme and plugin providers have already updated their software so that it is compatible with WordPress 5.0. In fact, some of them have even introduced their elements as Gutenberg blocks. This means that some of your favorite templates and tools are available and ready to use in the new editor. Since themes and plugins are third-party applications, if you are in doubt, you should reach out to their vendors.
What if I do not like the look and feel of the new editor?
The WordPress developers have thought about this option, and the Classic Editor is now available as an official plugin. It will be maintained until at least 2022, so you will have enough time to get used to Gutenberg, or to find a suitable alternative.
Are there any themes that are compatible with Gutenberg?
WordPress 5.0 already comes with the excellent, full-featured Twenty Nineteen theme. And if it does not fit your needs, a quick search for Gutenberg at WordPress.org returns hundreds of results that can help you with your next project.
If you are still on the fence about this new way of writing in WordPress, we would advise that you go ahead and try it out. There is no substitute for real experience.