Currently, at the time of writing this article, the stable version of WordPress is at 4.9.8. So it is safe to say that a new WordPress 5.0 will be upon us soon. It is a great time to have a peek at the features that will be shipped with it. There is a development version available for testing. Depending on the development version together with some resources, we can guess what it will be like to have a WP 5.0 installation in our hands. So let’s jump in!

What Changed in WordPress 5.0

As a major-version release there are many changes in WP 5.0, including changes in frontend and backend which deserves the attention. Mainly:

  • A new editor, Gutenberg will be the default editor for posts and pages
  • A new theme named Twenty Nineteen will be the default
  • Various security updates
  • REST API improvements
  • Better copy-paste – will retain formatting better

Gutenberg handles copy-pastes automatically. e.g. creates blocks for each paragraph when 2 paragraphs pasted.

How the New Editor Works (AKA Gutenberg)

Probably the most hyped feature of WP 5.0 is the Gutenberg editor. If you can’t resist, you can download and use it on the old versions with a plugin. It is a replacement for the current TinyMCE based WYSIWYG editor found in the edit page. It honors the idea of having a friendlier approach to preparing the content-layout of a page or a post. It tries to eliminate the need to write code for preparing layouts as much as possible, with a concept called “blocks”.

Gutenberg blocks are a new idea introduced for WordPress 5

Gutenberg “blocks” are a new idea introduced for WordPress 5

Gutenberg suggests that every part of the content should be a “block”, whether it is text, paragraph, image, widget, shortcode or anything else. With this in mind, you can design almost anything you can imagine on your page or post, in any layout. Want to add a quote in the middle of your text? Want some full-width image in the middle of your main body text? Want to add a photo gallery? Everything is just some clicks away. We hope it would be an editor of dreams for the beginners.

Gutenberg with different types of blocks

Quotes, videos, photo galleries, columns, lists? Gutenberg can handle everything!

This is not the end, however. You can also save some blocks to use it later on a different post. This is a feature that was exclusive to only some premium page builders before and is now baked into Gutenberg.

Gutenberg will be a part of the WordPress 5.0 Core and will be included as default. If you are excited, you can try Gutenberg on a live demo or try it as a plugin on a test WordPress installation.

Your old content will stay put. It will be shown in a “Classic block” with a TineMCE editor to keep your old content intact and editable as it is. You can go ahead and convert it to a block if you wish to:

Classic block on Gutenberg

Classic content stays in a TinyMCE editor and optionally can be converted to a block. So you can rest assured be able to use the old editor to make changes to your old content. So no worries there.

How to Update to WordPress 5.0

At the time of writing this article, WP 5.0 is not yet available through the official download page. So, you will have to get the latest development code from SVN repo or Download from this link. (Once the stable version is out, you should get a notification as usual and update as normal. But now it is not an option. Also, as it is a major update, trying it first on a test copy of your website is a better idea.)

You can install development version like you normally install WordPress. The Installation interface is similar to the old version. Nothing new can be noticed so far.

WordPress 5 installation screen

WordPress 5 installation screen

You can also upgrade to development version from an old 4.x installation of WordPress. Just replace everything on your WordPress installation except the wp-content directory from the development version and that should do it. This is a development version after all. So, you can try on a local or staging copy. This is best if you want to check how your website would hold up to the new version. But let us be clear we would recommend to stay away from the development version for a production website.

After the installation, you should have WordPress 5 way before the release date! Feel free to test around and check new features.

WordPress 5 Dashboard

Feels great to have WP 5 before anyone else!

WP 5.0 will have Gutenberg as default. Surprizingly enough, as of now, the SVN version does not have the Gutenberg editor by default. Go ahead and install the plugin from WP Admin.

As a sidenote, if you want to update, but keep using the old editor instead of Gutenberg, you can install the Classic Editor plugin on WordPress 5.0 to use the old TinyMCE editor.

What the New Theme Looks Like

There will be a theme called “Twenty Nineteen” with WordPress 5.0. It is currently not installed by default on the SVN version. So we looked for it in the theme repository, but it was not there either. With a bit of searching we found it was supposed to be released in November 2018, but it has not yet been published.

But fear not, we found it here on GitHub. You can download it and extract to your wp-content/themes, then activate through WP Admin – Appearance.

Activating the Twenty Nineteen theme on WordPress 5

Activating the Twenty Nineteen theme on WordPress 5 SVN version

The Twenty Nineteen theme is built to be fluid, so that any layout can be built with less effort. With our default install, it looks like this below:

Twenty Nineteen theme default look

Twenty Nineteen theme default look

It is not much to look at first, but a great theme to do further customization and build your content on. It is a good theme for minimalist look, exceptional typography and general purpose content showcasing. It also scales nicely for many display sizes.

Twenty Nineteen theme on different screens

Twenty Nineteen theme on different screens

Bottom Line

30% of all websites on the Internet is powered by WordPress. Having an update at hand for WordPress is like having an update for the internet!

WP 5.0 is a shiny new update that sounds like a must-have. It was planned to be released on November 2018, but this is not a strict deadline. Developers seem to be targeting towards a more finished product rather than having a haste release. It may take up to January 2019 for the final release. Being a major update, we would recommend to delay the update when a stable version is released. Testing the upgrade on a staging or a local copy first would be ideal.

Have a good time with WordPress 5.0.

Adnan is in love with WordPress for 6+ years, working on various themes, plugins and frontend stuff. Besides being a Code Wrangler, he likes writing, photography and creative work of art.

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