Gutenberg Editor and WordPress 5.0 Update Process

It’s been some time since the WordPress 5.0 “Bebo” upgrade option was rolled out, and now there is even a security release 5.0.1 available. There are many sites that have completed successful upgrades (with or without some tweaks) but on the other side, there are even more sites that have or would’ve experienced the issues that cannot be solved that easily.

After looking into some common issues that can happen with WordPress upgrade, I’ve written down some things that we should know and take care of when updating.


New Features That Come with WordPress 5.0

First of all, we need to talk about what’s new. Many of you already know all about it but WordPress is getting rid of the classic TinyMCE editor and they are replacing it with the long-awaited Gutenberg editor.

WordPress 5.0 will have a new editor that will try to give us more options when creating websites. It’s made to function more like a page builder with blocks then just a simple text editor that can include some images in it.

The best thing about Gutenberg is that it provides new content creation options so every user can make interesting layouts with rich content, without coding skills.

On the other hand If you’re more into HTML and CSS, then the blocks won’t bug you. WordPress is trying to make the process as simple as possible for all.

Those things should improve the usability of WordPress even for users that use custom page builder plugins.

Another thing that WordPress will bring in the future is compatibility with PHP 7.3 which is great and they continue to encourage all users to run the latest versions.


WordPress 5.0 Upgrade Process

These are the steps I recommend to take before you update your WordPress. You want to upgrade your website smoothly and as safely as possible so you don’t have downtime or errors and issues that you cannot fix yourself.


1. PHP Upgrade

First of all, make sure you are running a good PHP version. You can check it yourself if your hosting provider has given you an access to a control panel or any kind of administrative interface. If not, you should contact them directly and ask about your version and about their capabilities of upgrading your package. Among other benefits, the newer PHP version will make your site more secure and faster.

Security updates for PHP 5.6 are over soon so it means that you should upgrade to PHP 7.0 at least. Before the upgrade, you need to check if all your plugins and your theme are compatible with the version you’re upgrading to and after the upgrade make sure everything is running as it should. Most of the well-maintained plugins and themes won’t have any issues with this step if you’ve kept your site updated before this.


2. Backup Your Site

I would say that this is the most important step of any WordPress upgrade process because you don’t want to lose any of your data during it. The easiest way of making a full site backup is using a plugin if your server doesn’t have a proper WordPress backup solution. I can recommend using Duplicator Pro.

It’s a good idea to store your website backup somewhere locally just in case you need an older version of some plugin or anything else related to that period.


3. Make Plugin and Theme Update

After you’ve successfully made a backup you can start doing updates. If you’re not sure about the versions you’re running right now I would recommend that you skip this step for now and make everything on the staging site as I’ll explain in the next step.

If you’ve updated your site regularly you won’t have any unsolvable problems doing this, so you can do this step first. You should test things out after the update so you know everything was alright on the older version of WordPress before you’ve started upgrading to a newer one. This can be useful for debugging if needed later on during the process.


4. Decide If You’re Going to Make a Staging Site First

Creating a staging site means copying your site to a new environment that will be using for testing/development purposes. You can make a staging site directly on a server, or using some plugin like WP Staging or by cloning your site to your local staging environment.

This means you will have a safe place to test everything out before you start doing changes to your production site. If you’ve decided to go this way make sure you’ve tested everything and you feel safe to do it on a live site once again. If you’re brave enough to do it on a live site you can skip this step but you have to check the compatibility of every plugin and theme you’re using before the upgrade.


5. Upgrade, Testing, and Debugging

After these steps, you can update your WordPress to a version 5.0 or newer. Then, you need to do the final testing and look out for common problems that can come up with the upgrade. There may be some conflicts with caching plugins so you should clear your cache right after the update.

Also, there are known issues with some old plugin versions (that are not supported anymore), inline script tags, permalink previewing, etc. If there are still some bugs you can try and check how you can fall back to the classic editor so you don’t have to use Gutenberg while waiting for other plugins/theme to upgrade to WordPress 5.0 compatible version.


Why You Should Delay the Update to 5.0 for Your Site

The main reason for you to skip this update is the state of your site. If it has a lot of outdated and unsupported plugins or a theme that you didn’t update for a long time, or you just can’t update it, you should probably stay at your old version of WordPress and think about fixing those things first. I feel safe to say that you can stay on WordPress 4.9.8. for some time. It’s because that there will be new versions of WordPress 4.9.x. including security fixes and stuff like that, so your website should be secured.

However, if you’re able to, it’s recommended you change those plugins or the theme to something that will suit your needs but make sure that is actively maintained. Because even if your WordPress is updated for your safety, other outdated 3rd party plugins or themes may have some loopholes and cause issues later on.


Recap – Maintain Your Website!

In the end, I just want to encourage everyone to keep their WordPress websites up to date, well maintained and safe so they can work flawlessly. If you have any questions about the updates or you just don’t feel like doing it yourself you should contact us. We’ll be happy to help you!

Blaž Horvatić

Author Blaž Horvatić

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