In this article, we look at the major changes since the release of the breakthrough version of WordPress 5.0. And we’re also going to look into the future of WordPress. The history of WordPress versions is quite rich compared to other open-source CMS systems. These last changes certainly belong to those most important ones. Mainly the introduction of Gutenberg – the new WordPress editor. At the end of last year, more precisely on December 6, we witnessed the arrival of the expected WordPress 5.0. It was the longest-awaited WordPress version accompanied by a number of complications throughout the pre-release testing period. Thousands of open tasks, unflattering reviews, the release date postponed several times.
Globally WordPress 5.0 attracted great interest. With more than 3 million downloads over the first week since its launch.
As a result of this, we also released our latest version of WordPress themes and plugins updates to ensure the compatibility of our old WordPress templates with Gutenberg editor.
What is the main change in WordPress 5.0?
This version brought a massive change in the WordPress core. The biggest WordPress 5.0 feature is the new content management. Blocks in Gutenberg editor completely changed the way of working with text, images and other types of media that form the content. You no longer need to use short codes to create different kinds of content blocks. This makes content management easier. The developers along with WordPress founder Matt Mullenweg like talking about WordPress 5.0 as a “new generation of WordPress.”
For brand new installations of WordPress, only new Gutenberg editor will be available by default. However you still will be able to manage the website content with the old editor. Classic editor can be downloaded as a plugin. Developers understand that the transition to Gutenberg can be difficult for some. And so the original WordPress editor will be supported by the end of 2021.
So what are the visions for the next period? What future can we expect for WordPress? The latest version of WordPress 5.1 brings the enhancements to the WordPress editor.
Planned WordPress 5 features in 2019
Shortly after the release of the last breakthrough version, the annual State of the Word 2018 was held in Nashville, where Mullenweg presented not only the preliminary plans for WordPress in 2019, but also for the years to come. He divided the development into several phases, mentioning the biggest highlights. Let’s have a look at them.
Phase 1 – Welcome Gutenberg WordPress Editor
A new era has begun with WordPress 5.0 release. While it may seem that phase 1 is behind us and the content blocks are finalized, it’s not quite true. Bug fixing and WordPress feature enhancements are still ongoing. Few weeks after the WordPress 5.0 launch, new WordPress versions were released. But the new WordPress block editor is still in its infancy.
The latest version of WordPress currently has 70 native blocks. And more than 100 3rd party blocks are available and this number is still growing. There are even a few different tools for blocks creation available to developers (e.g. Block Lab etc.)
As part of the phase 1 of Gutenberg development, the priority for 2019 will therefore be not only to improve the existing blocks, but also the participation in the development of the new ones. The developers want to achieve this by creating a WordPress.org directory that will facilitate the orientation between the blocks and their installation.
The advantage of WordPress Gutenberg blocks is primarily their variability – a block can be just a simple line of text, but it can also adapt to a wider solution like e.g. eCommerce.
Phase 2 – Redesign of WordPress Widgets to Gutenberg blocks and more practical customisation
WordPress content editing awaits another major change. Phase 2 is to bring more great features into WordPress 5. One of them is the redesign of widgets into blocks. This would mean a major shift in their use. At this time, working with widgets is limited as these can be added only to specific sections set for Widgets. However turning widgets into blocks will allow them to be used anywhere – in the posts and in the pages. In the same way, it is planned to redesign menu into navigation menu block to simplify menu editing.
Early version with all these changes will first come out as a plugin that will be available for user testing.
Source: WordPress State of the Word 2018 by Matt Mullenweg
In addition to transforming widgets into blocks, there are several developers working on the so-called “Legacy widget block“. Its role is to allow already existing widgets to be added to wp-admin as Gutenberg blocks. This would make it easier to use those widgets that have not (yet) been transformed into blocks, and thus are not compatible with Gutenberg editor.
WordPress 5 and mobile app enhancements will be released soon
Another WordPress 5.x feature should be the integration of Gutenberg into WordPress’ mobile apps. Many of you need to be able to manage your website through your mobile phone. Although it is already possible with the current version of WordPress, it has some limitations. Edits made via mobile app may not correctly appear in the standard Gutenberg editor. A lot of work is being done on this already. Beta version that would incorporate this was planned already for February 2019, but we know now that it won’t be on time. Keep track of how developments progress on GitHub along with the development milestones.
New minimal PHP version of hosting
WordPress hosting from time to time also requires some changes in its settings. Due to a large number of features, the hosting criteria aren’t too light. The near future of WordPress is also associated with the change in the minimum required version of PHP. Since april 2019 the minimum version will be PHP 5.6 and from December PHP 7.
Since security updates are no longer issued for PHP 5.6 since the end of last year, if you use older PHP version, do not upgrade it to 5.6, but rather upgrade straight to PHP 7.
WordPress 5 features in 2020 and 2020+
Phase 3 – Multi-user editing of Gutenberg and co-editing within WordPress posts
The phase 3 implementation is preliminary scheduled for 2020. During this time, developers will focus on supporting multi-user collaboration and finally, WordPress will allow multi-user co-editing. This means that users will be able to work on one document at the same time, they will be allowed to perform reviews or request approval prior post publication.
Phase 4 – Core support for WordPress Multilingual sites
One of the most comprehensive changes in WordPress will be the implementation of multi language support. So far, the multilinguality of WordPress websites is provided by 3rd party language plugins only; or plugins developed by the WordPress theme developers themselves. After 2020+ multilingualism will be provided and supported directly in WordPress core.
Thanks to our AIT Languages plugin, our multilingual themes already provide admin interface in 28 most widely used languages in the world and are also translated into these languages.
Long-Term Vision: How does the WordPress founder imagines future of WordPress?
In addition to the planned WordPress 5.x features, Matt Mullenweg considers important for users to learn how to work with Gutenberg blocks and begin to see them as a “new WordPress DNA.” The founder himself is a great fan of Gutenberg, despite the fact that development teams must constantly struggle with the pitfalls that brings the development of such a large functionality on the background of the open source platform. Therefore, his goal is to improve the workflow and the development processes themselves for the next phases. It will undoubtedly be a great challenge, as more that 6500+ are currently open.
One of the other interesting ideas mentioned in the lecture was an ambitious vision that users could switch between various page builders in WordPress. Without losing their content.
If you’re interested in Matt Mullenweg’s entire lecture from the December State of the Word 2018, watch the following video:
Do you like WordPress 5.0?
So what do you say about such power packed plan? And what are your practical experiences? Share with us your views. Do you update to the latest version of WordPress right away or do you wait until the last minute?
WordPress 5.0 has brought enormous changes. It divided users into 2 camps right from the beginning. One loves Gutenberg editor and the other one hates it. Progress cannot be stopped. It is better to look at the changes positively and use them to your advantage. Check out what is the latest version of WordPress or install it directly from your dashboard.