WordPress 5.0 RC2 was released today with 15 notable updates, including improvements to block preview styling, browser-specific bug fixes, and other changes. RC2 was released simultaneously with Gutenberg version 4.6.
The official release date for WordPress 5.0 has not yet been announced, because it depends on feedback from RC2 testing. Contributors’ uneasiness with not having an official release date seemed to reach a critical tipping point during this week’s WordPress dev chat, as many participants pressured Matt Mullenweg, who is leading the release, to give more information on when they can expect 5.0.
“It is very important that we have a release date to aim for,” ACF founder Elliot Condon said. “I’m finding the current ‘waiting game’ quite stressful, and I suspect a few other developers will share the same feeling.”
Tensions were high as contributors cited various reasons for wanting a date, including companies needing support staff on hand, upcoming holidays, documentation planning, and the importance of user trust.
“We’re determining the release date based on the open issues,” Mullenweg said. “Please consider it as coming as soon as possible, when everything is resolved.”
“I hope it’s clear we’re trying to get this out as soon as possible, but don’t yet have enough data to announce an official date. As mentioned last week we have done a number of December releases in the past, and may this time, but don’t have enough data to announce a new date yet.”
Mullenweg also urged dev chat attendees to keep in mind that any site administrators can install the Classic Editor plugin to keep the current editing experience, regardless of the 5.0 release date. He said the date will be announced via a P2 post, not during a dev chat.
“If you want to know what to plan on, please don’t hold anything back based on expected dates, please test or deploy the RCs, that’s what they’re for,” Mullenweg said.
In the meantime, Mullenweg is spending the weekend taking questions from the community during 24 office hours slots. He also published a lengthy post titled “WordPress 5.0: A Gutenberg FAQ,” which reaffirms WordPress’ mission in the context of Gutenberg. It answers questions like “Why do we need Gutenberg at all?” and “Why blocks?”
“I knew we would be taking a big leap,” Mullenweg said. “But it’s a leap we need to take, and I think the end result is going to open up many new opportunities for everyone in the ecosystem, and for those being introduced to WordPress for the first time. It brings us closer to our mission of democratizing publishing for everyone.”
The stats Mullenweg cited about previously having 9 major WordPress releases in December (34% of all releases in the last decade) indicate that a December release may still be on the table. His post addresses the perceived urgency behind getting Gutenberg out the door and into the hands of users. In evaluating WordPress 5.0’s readiness, he said it’s important to differentiate between the code being ready and the community being ready.
“In the recent debate over Gutenberg readiness, I think it’s important to understand the difference between Gutenberg being ready code-wise (it is now), and whether the entire community is ready for Gutenberg,” Mullenweg said.
“It will take some time — we’ve had 15 years to polish and perfect core, after all — but the global WordPress community has some of the world’s most talented contributors and we can make it as good as we want to make it.”
The post also offers a preview of where Gutenberg is going in the next site customization phase and how it will change the way users build their sites.
“The Editor is just the start,” he said. “In upcoming phases blocks will become a fundamental part of entire site templates and designs. It’s currently a struggle to use the Customizer and figure out how to edit sections like menus, headers, and footers. With blocks, people will be able to edit and manipulate everything on their site without having to understand where WordPress hides everything behind the scenes.”
Mullenweg said he plans to talk more about the next phases following site customization during the State of the Word address at WordCamp US. If you have questions about Gutenberg and where it’s headed, the comments are open on his post.