At the end of last month, Matt Cromwell, Head of Support and Community Outreach for GiveWP and an administrator for the Advanced WordPress Facebook group, hosted a question and answer session about Gutenberg with Matt Mullenweg.
Mullenweg was asked a few times if he could provide a concrete date on when Gutenberg and WordPress 5.0 would be ready. While a date was not given, Mullenweg said, "For those who want a concrete date, we will have one or two orders of magnitude more users of Gutenberg in April."
It's now clear what he meant by that. WordPress 4.9.5, scheduled for release in April, will feature a call-out prompt that has links to information about Gutenberg and a button to quickly install the plugin if user permissions allow.
The core team added a Try Gutenberg prompt in October of last year but it was removed in WordPress 4.9 Beta 4. After discussing the subject with Mullenweg, it was determined that Gutenberg was not ready for large-scale testing.
The prompt in WordPress 4.9.5 changes the button text based on the following scenarios.
- If Gutenberg is not installed, and the user can install plugins, the Install Today button is displayed.
- If Gutenberg is installed but not activated, and the user can install plugins, the Activate Today button is displayed.
- If Gutenberg is installed and activated, and the user can edit posts, the Try Today button is displayed.
If Gutenberg is not installed and the user can not install plugins, the button is hidden from view. If you'd like to hide the prompt from users, David Decker has created a plugin that's available on GitHub that simply hides it from view.
One of the concerns about the prompt is the lack of warning of the risks involved using beta software on a live site. Gutenberg is beta software that's still in development that could adversely affect sites. There is no warning on the call-out box and in two clicks, users can install and activate Gutenberg.
Whether it's Gutenberg or some other beta software, this general advice applies. Create a full backup of your site before installing and if possible, install it on a staging site first.
I predict that the volunteers who manage the WordPress.org support forums will have their hands full once WordPress 4.9.5 is released. The support team is preparing by brainstorming user outcomes, common questions that may be asked, and potential pitfalls users experience after installing Gutenberg.
The Gutenberg call-out has the potential to pave the way for large audiences to test major features in core without needing to use or install a beta branch of WordPress. However, this convenience comes with risks and while they can be reduced, WordPress needs to be up front and center to users about those risks.