It’s here! The day is upon us! G-Day! That great day of Gutenbergedness has finally come, and, well, at least it’s here. Right? Right? Regardless of where you stand on Gutenberg, the band-aid has at least been ripped off, and now it’s time to get to work on our sites, our themes, our plugins, and see what the future holds. Instead of our normal roundup this week, we look at a few articles to help you understand what’s coming, and some resources for planning your future development.

That’s okay, page builders are a plague that need to die anyway.
Me too Jeff, me too.

Followup Resources

Transcript

Hey everybody, this is Real-Time Overview for Wednesday, December 5th, 2018. I am that dude you listen to but don’t really know why, but I like to think it’s because we’re best friends now – I am Michael Fienen.

But, no round up this week. Why? Well, it’s been over a year in the making, but now we can finally say that G-Day is upon us. As of the recording of this episode, tomorrow, Thursday, December 6th is officially the launch date for WordPress 5.0 and the new Gutenberg editor along with it, come hell or high water.

This comes just in time for WordCamp US in Nashville, Tennessee in just a few days, and we’re likely to see a lot more news about the new editor as well as a lot of updates and development from Community Day at the event. You can expect to see contributions from developers at the conference going towards further improvements that you’ll see in the 5.0.1 patch.

Regardless of how you might feel about the accessibility or usability problems that are currently surrounding the project, if you are WordPress user or developer it’s time to start thinking about how you’re going to make your site work with the new editor and how you’re going to use it to power your products moving forward. So, to help with that, we want to offer up a few suggestions and guides to help you get ready and be prepared.

First stop, if you’re still just getting a feel for what’s going on and how we’re going to handle it, there’s some roundups that are out there from folks like Yoast, ThemeIsle, and some others that will have links to in the show notes that can help give you a really high level view of the changes that are coming into WordPress 5.0.

It’s worth keeping in mind that the changes in 5.0 are more than just Gutenberg. There are a number of additional updates coming to the platform and these overviews can help you get a sense for how they might impact your site apart from the launch of Gutenberg. For instance, improvements will be coming for WooCommerce integration, a new default theme will be launching, and of course you’ll be getting a whole host of general updates and bugfixes along the way.

But, this isn’t something worth getting anxiety over. If you don’t feel like you’re ready to update to WordPress 5.0, there’s not going to be a reason to rush yourself right now. Like all major WordPress updates this one will not be automatic for users unless you have already set your site to receive major updates automatically, which most people don’t do, and if you have, well, then, you know you did it.

Odds are you’re going to have a lot of plugins and a lot of custom functionality in your sites that you’re going to want to check for compatibility before you commit to Guttenberg full-on. So, before you update, there are two steps that you should absolutely make sure that you take.

First, go into your site and install the classic editor plugin from the wordpress.org plug-in repo. This gives you a way to revert 5.0 to the editing experience of the current 4.9.8. So, if you don’t like Gutenberg or you aren’t ready for it or your site doesn’t work correctly with it, you can still upgrade to 5.0 for all the other system improvements while retaining the old experience. And in the mean time, you can use the Frontenberg website as a tool to learn about the experience or even train others.

Second, make sure you run a backup of your site before you take the time to upgrade to 5.0. If you have any problems and you don’t have backups, you’re potentially setting yourself up for a lot of headaches trying to roll your site back. If your web host doesn’t currently take daily, regular backups, then right now is the perfect time to get your feet wet in setting up your own backup tools.

If you need a tool for backing up your website on your own I highly suggest looking into the UpdraftPlus plugin which can take an entire snapshot of your site on a schedule, store them or send them to an outside location, and restore your site in the event that there’s a problem. It’s simple, painless, and ensures you have a safety net if something goes wrong.

And that advice holds true even if we weren’t talking about Gutenberg. You should be taking backups regularly and ahead of big updates just as a standard procedure. So if you’re not, this is a great opportunity to get started.

From there, you might be worried about your current site theme. You’ll be happy to know that out of the box, Gutenberg should mostly work with your existing theme at a basic level. If you want to use some of the fancy blocks, you might find you need to add in some CSS support for them, but otherwise, your content will continue to display hopefully without issue.

For the developers out there, there are a lot of resources for your custom themes and plugins. We’ve mentioned several in past episodes, and you can find them by going to drunkenux.com and search for the word Gutenberg. If you want to know more though, there are other resources coming out regularly.

For instance, CodeInWP.com has a post about making plugins compatible with the Sidebar API so that your tool doesn’t just work in Gutenberg, but actually feels like part of it. They have another one as well that breaks down considerations to have in mind for building your next site to use Gutenberg. Naturally, both of these are linked in the shownotes.

If you wanna go deeper and learn about what it’s going to take to make custom blocks for the editor, one option is to pull an existing plugin like Atomic Blocks or Ultimate Blocks and see how they’ve implemented their options. Another option is to look over at Smashing Magazine where there’s a tutorial about getting started creating your own blocks.

I think this is an extremely valuable exercise, because one way or another Gutenberg is paving the way to a very new and different future for WordPress development. We’re talking a lot about the core editor and blocks right now, but it won’t be long before we start talking about the theme customizer and other experiences that will be powered by the outcomes of the 5.0 launch. In short, the future isn’t set in PHP anymore.

In the end, it’s time to step back and take a breath. Gutenberg has not come without a lot of blood, sweat, and tears. And I say that for both better and worse. If you’ve followed it the last few months, you know briar-ridden the journey has been of late. To quote Jeff Chandler from WPTavern, Gutenberg-the-product is rough, but offers the promises of a bright future. Gutenberg-the-process has been, in two words, “holy shit.”

While there’s a lot to be upset and angry about, a lot to be frustrated about – whether you’re a usability or accessibility advocate – the release of WordPress 5.0 feels a bit like a watershed moment where we can take one moment to collect ourselves, and push forward to fix and improve all the things from Gutenberg-the-process that were completely and utterly broken.

Because in the end, I have faith that Matt and the core team are not at all blind to the mistakes that were made, and there were plenty. It’s all been on display. And while there are a lot of issues at stake that may have prevented a better approach to release, I hope folks will try to stay optimistic with me that those don’t have to be a barrier to getting better at it. Not only that, but there are a lot of lessons in project management that can be learned here as well, that you can apply to work well outside of WordPress.

So that’s it. Let us know how your upgrades go and what your plans are. I’d love to hear about all of it in the coming days, because it’s gonna be interesting.

Thanks for listening to Real-Time Overview, it will come as no shock to you that I am Michael Fienen. If you want to get the links to any of the resources from today’s episode and a few we didn’t mention, be sure to swing by our website at drunkenux.com, we’ll have all of them linked in the shownotes there.

The Drunken UX Podcast is now available on Stitcher and TuneIn Radio for anyone who prefers to listen to us over there. Just open the app, click on search, and type in “Drunken UX,” we’ll be the first result that pops up. Be sure to add us to your library because coming up next week, Aaron and I look back at our first year of podcast production and the lessons we’ve learned.

From here, just do me a favor and keep your personas close, and your users closer.

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