Last Thursday, WordPress 5.0 was released with the promised Gutenberg editor as a key feature. It’s time to upgrade…after handling a few things.
The release of WordPress 5.0, nicknamed Bebo, happened late last week. The newest major update to WordPress features the inclusion of its new blocks-based editor, Gutenberg.
Those with self-hosted WordPress sites are now getting a notification
Gutenberg has been controversial because it is a departure from the traditional editor WordPress users have long relied on when writing content. Instead of the familiar “what you see is what you get” (or WYSIWYG) text window that’s similar to what we all use in word processors like Microsoft Word, the new Gutenberg stacks “blocks” of content.
Each paragraph is a block. Each YouTube media embed or Facebook post embed or blockquote or image — or any other element — is a block. You can manually format each block easily.
Once you’ve tried it and given it a few weeks, it’s really not complicated at all. I downloaded a plugin a while back that allowed me to use the Gutenberg editor ahead of its official debut.
But you don’t have to immediately switch to Gutenberg if you don’t want to. At least for a while.
More on that in a moment.
Before you upgrade, do these two things.
Yes, you absolutely should update to the new WordPress as soon as possible. No matter what other, more publicized features a new update includes, there are security updates almost always included. They can take care of noted vulnerabilities to keep your site safe from hackers.
There are two things you should do, however, before you upgrade to the newest WordPress.
The first is minor, but you might consider it important: download the Classic Editor plugin. When enabled, it allows you to continue using the WYSIWYG editor you’re used to.
You can then switch back and forth between the old editor and the new when you’re feeling adventurous. But you can take longer to learn the new editor and get used to it while still being on the most up-to-date version of WordPress.
Within about three years or so, you will supposedly have to switch to the new editor. But you have a while to work your way into it in the meantime.
The other thing to do before updating is much more important: make sure you have a backup of your site database.
You should already be doing regular backups of your site’s main database just in case there’s an issue. My hosting company offers daily backups of my site’s database and holds each one for 30 days. I pay for that service.
There are plenty of other options out there if you’re willing to shell out a few bucks a month.
Before any kind of main update to WordPress, you should always make sure a copy of your database is available. If something goes wrong and the database is corrupted, you may have to rely on the backup to get your site up and running again without running the risk of losing anything.
With those two concerns addressed, by all means do your upgrade to WordPress 5.0.
(And if Gutenberg seems a little too much at the start, just activate your Classic Editor plugin and just keep on blogging.)