One third of the internet just changed.
WordPress powers over 33% of sites on the internet, meaning that whenever the WordPress team publish an update, a lot of websites change.
This week marks release of the latest version of WordPress; 5.0. Each version of WordPress has a title, and due to the core development teams love of jazz music, the title is always the name of a famous jazz musician, going back to version 1.0: “Miles Davis”, to the new version 5.0: “Bebo Valdés”.
Every WordPress site begins life as a copy of the core, open-source framework. Open-source means that there are thousands of developers, all around the world, constantly contributing code and adding improvements to WordPress.
The contributions of all these developers becomes what is known as the core of WordPress, and will form the basis. There is a structure to help support this and moderate what gets added, and there are ways that WordPress makes money, but the central code that forms the basis can be added to by anyone.
What we at MintTwist then do is to build around and extend that base framework to make each site bespoke and unique. We as WordPress users and developers get all the advantages of advanced security, an intuitive admin interface and a structured framework on which to develop websites, with the freedom to build and create on top of.
There are updates to WordPress and its plugins every other day, but this update is different as it is a MAJOR update.
This is version 5.0.0, which (according to Semantic Versioning) shows that the 5 is the MAJOR version (this means big new features), the first 0 is the MINOR version (this gets updated every few months and adds in a few smaller new features) and the last 0 is the PATCH version (updated every week or two, containing small bug and security fixes).
Thursdays update from 4.9.8 to 5.0.0 marks the latest MAJOR release since version 4.0.0 back in 2014.
This latest version of WordPress brings with it many changes and new features, primarily Gutenberg; a brand new block based way to edit content in the admin area.
Gutenberg makes adding and editing content easier and more intuitive and makes it much simpler to continually update site content without the need for redevelopment. For everyone who is happy with WordPress as it was, it’s entirely possible to keep the good old current page editor (or ‘classic editor’ as is now known).
This release also brings with it the new, annual WordPress base theme called 2019. There are a host of minor changes, security upgrades and smaller new features that make WordPress development easier and allows us to build and do more than ever with the platform.
Risks and the next steps
The good thing about WordPress is that it can continually be upgraded without the need for complete redevelopment like some other CMS platforms would require. However with any major update, there comes a certain amount of risk.
When updating, some things can break, some plugins can become incompatible as they take a little while to catch up to the core update and some things will still work fine and might just look a little different.
For this reason, we are deliberately choosing not to immediately update the majority of the sites that we work with to 5.0. We are also advising you to hold off on updating yourselves for now (even if WordPress prompts you to do so via a notice in the admin area or via email).
This is so that we can allow for any early bugs to be discovered and resolved before we commit. It’s good to be an early adopter, but we know how important your site is, and there’s nothing in this update that is so essential that it’s worth risking site stability and functionality for.
Controlled roll out
Realistically, most sites are going to be just fine if updated right away, but we still advise taking it slowly in order to minimise risk.
Over the coming weeks we will begin updating sites to version 5.0, on staging versions of your site first where there is no risk, so that we can test everything before we roll the update out to your live site.
This allows us to look at what plugins and functionality each site is using, and take note of anything that we know isn’t 100% ready for WordPress 5.0 just yet. We will run the update as soon as we know that there are no risks, and have found suitable replacements for any plugins that aren’t going to work well with 5.0.
If you’d like to update your site anyway then you are free to do so, and you can always speak to us about it too.
What does this mean for you?
The team have spent time getting ready for this release, primarily by looking at the beta versions of 5.0 and the pre-release candidate builds.
However there is not a lot that else that could be done in advance, as until the final release version was published, any testing or planning we do would need to be carried out again on the latest version.
Some sites will see this update soon, and for some it will take a short while before your site is ready. Each site is unique and presents its own set of risks, but there is nothing that the team here are not prepared for.
Some of the features in Gutenberg and the updated way of editing content will not be available to all, as the themes that we develop are very heavily customised, bespoke builds that would lose functionality, were we to use the new editor.
Although I have very much highlighted the risks here, we are intentionally being overly cautious. WordPress’s advantage continues to be its ceaseless updates; with new features and security improvements being released for free every few weeks.
Open source contributors work year round to update and modernise the platform and to keep WordPress as the most utilised CMS platform in the world.
The result is a free, one-click automatic update that would take hundreds of hours, costs thousands and require massive redevelopment on another platform.
Get in touch
The release of WordPress 5.0 makes it a great time to work with WordPress and expand on your site.
If you are looking for a fresh look, some new pages or features or a complete upgrade, now is the best time to get in touch and speak to your WordPress agency London.