The State of WordPress

May 29, 2019
Posted in: WordPress

WordPress is an amazing piece of software. It allows both technical and non-technical users to build and maintain even the most complex websites and applications. We’ve been using WordPress since version 2 (more than 10 years ago), and have watched it evolve thanks to the large open source community of developers backing it.

The Core and Third-Party Software

The WordPress core is a powerful platform on which thousands of third-party themes and plugins can run. Each of these themes and plugins was developed with a specific layout or functionality in mind, and each is responsible for updating its code to ensure compatibility with the core.

From time to time, WordPress core developers choose to merge functionality from widely-used plugins into the core, making that functionality available to anyone who installs WordPress. This can make WordPress a bit bigger and has the potential to affect existing functionality, so this doesn’t happen all that often.

With the rising popularity of page builder plugins, and users’ needs to create more complex and visually appealing layouts, WordPress needed to make a change. Instead of asking users to install a page builder, why not just build it right in?

WordPress 5 (Gutenberg)

WordPress 5 did just that. The old WYSIWYG (Classic Editor) was replaced in December 2018 with a new drag-and-drop block editor. The new editor supports all of the existing types of content you could add to the Classic Editor, and adds tons of new ones.

With features like reusable blocks, columns, tables, embeds, and live preview, the new editor makes creating and managing content a breeze. You can try it out on the official WordPress website.

Sites using the old built-in editor can seamlessly move to v5 and start building new pages and posts with the new editor, and can even convert old content to the new structure.

Advanced Custom Fields and Page Builder Plugins

As I mentioned above, third-party plugin and theme developers are responsible for their own code, and need to keep their integrations updated and compatible with the WordPress core. With larger changes like the move to the block editor interface, some plugins need more time to catch up.

To avoid negatively affecting millions of existing sites, the WordPress core team developed a stop-gap plugin called Classic Editor, which simply disables the block editor, and reverts to the old. The plugin will continue to be supported until December 31, 2021. After this date, there’s no telling how updates to WordPress will affect legacy sites still using the Classic Editor plugin.

Moving Your Site to Gutenberg

To ensure future compatibility, we’re recommending that all websites using third-party page builders migrate to the new block editor within the next two years. For most sites we’ve developed, Machine developers will be able to follow this simple process:

  1. Create a copy of your website on our development environment
  2. Recreate all flexible layouts (sections/blocks) in Gutenberg
  3. Migrate all content from flexible layouts to Gutenberg (will likely require manual content migration)
  4. Re-test the entire website, launch to production environment
  5. Final testing
  6. Quick re-training

We estimate that for the average website, this process can take between 2 and 4 days to complete, excluding #3 – content migration.

Next Steps

If you’d like to receive a quote for migrating your website to Gutenberg, please reach out to our Office Manager, Jessica Bennett ([email protected]). We’ll review your site and get you a quote quickly.

If you’d like to discuss further, please contact me, Scott Buckingham ([email protected]gency.com or 613-801-1350) – I’d be happy to chat.

Thanks, and talk to you soon!

Scott Buckingham

President / Owner
613-801-1350 x101
[email protected]
Scott is a WordPress expert who has worked on hundreds of web design and development projects. He excels at finding creative ways to solve technical problems. View full profile