WordPress 5.0 “Bebo” Released, Lays A Foundation for the Platform’s Future

In 2016 at WordCamp US in Philadelphia, PA, Matt Mullenweg announced to the world that a new post and page editor would be coming to WordPress. “The editor does not represent the core of WordPress publishing,” Mullenweg said.

His vision of the editor was geared towards a more block-based approach that unifies widgets, shortcodes, and other areas of WordPress. Today, that vision has become a reality with the release of WordPress 5.0 featuring project Gutenberg.

The New Editor in WordPress 5.0

Instead of a large blank canvas, content is broken up into a series of individual blocks that are independent from the content as a whole. For example, you can edit the HTML of one block without it affecting other blocks.

The editor comes with more than 16 blocks to add content. You can add more blocks by installing and activating plugins.

Some of the Blocks That Are Available in WordPress 5.0

Each block typically has two areas where you can manipulate its content. The Toolbar, which displays when hovering over a block, and the Inspector located in the right-hand sidebar. The Inspector houses less-often used settings that require more screen space.

Between the top toolbar, block toolbar, inspector, block mover, and hidden elements that don’t appear unless hovered over, there are a lot of user interface buttons. I suggest spending time crafting a test post to get familiar with what each button does.

To see the new editor in action, check out the following demo video.

A Short Demo of The New Editor in Action

If you’re not ready for the new editor or discover incompatibilities with themes or plugins, you can install the Classic Editor plugin. This plugin will disable the new editor and replace it with the one in WordPress 4.9.8 and below. The WordPress development team has committed to supporting the plugin until December 31st, 2021.

Those who use assistive technology and experience accessibility issues with the new editor are encouraged to install the Classic Editor plugin until the issues are fixed.

Twenty Nineteen: A Fully Compatible Default Theme

WordPress 5.0 comes with a new default theme called Twenty Nineteen that is fully compatible with the new editor. It includes front-end and back-end styles to provide a What You See Is What You Get experience. It also supports the Wide and Full image alignment options.

A screenshot of Twenty Nineteen Front-End on the Left, Back-End on the Right
Twenty Nineteen Front-End on the Left, Back-End on the Right

You can see the theme in action on Matt Mullenweg’s site.

What Happens to Existing Content?

Content not created in the new editor is placed into a Classic block. This block mimics the old editor and provides users a choice to migrate it into blocks. However, migrating content into blocks is not required. Most content shouldn’t be affected by updating to WordPress 5.0.

Where to Get Help Using the New Editor

For new users, the editor might be an intuitive experience but for many WordPress veterans, it introduces a steep learning curve. After all, the previous editor has existed for more than 10 years.

At the moment, there is a Gutenberg handbook for Developers and Contributors but not for Users. Work is underway by the Docs team and other volunteer contributors to put together an initial document to release in 2019.

Until the official handbook is published, you’ll need to seek help and education elsewhere.

WordPress 5.0 Essential Training

Morten Rand-Hendriksen, an educator for LinkedIn Learning has published a course that walks users through the new editor. It’s available to view for free for the next three weeks.

Gutenberg Times

Birgit Pauli-Haack has been keeping tabs on Gutenberg’s development for more than a year. Gutenberg Times contains relevant information about the editor for users and developers.

WordPress Support Forums

Volunteers are standing by ready to answer your questions. If you think you’ve discovered a bug, incompatibility, or are experiencing trouble with the new editor, please post it in the support forums.

WordPress 5.0 Field Guide

The WordPress 5.0 field guide provides important links and information for developers and users related to this release.

WordPress 5.0 Is the Beginning of A New Journey

While WordPress 5.0 introduces a new editor, it also lays the foundation for what’s to come. The first phase of project Gutenberg was the editor. The second phase is the Customizer with a focus on full-site layouts. The third and fourth phases will be shared and discussed by Mullenweg at this year’s WordCamp US.

The new editor is part of a long process to reinvent WordPress. Matías Ventura, Co-lead of the Gutenberg project succinctly explains why the need for Gutenberg exists.

WordPress has always been about the user experience, and that needs to continue to evolve under newer demands. Gutenberg is an attempt at fundamentally addressing those needs, based on the idea of content blocks. It’s an attempt to improve how users interact with their content in a fundamentally visual way, while at the same time giving developers the tools to create more fulfilling experiences for the people they are helping.

How can such a vision happen without dismantling, rebuilding, fragmenting, or breaking the WordPress ship that for over a decade has been carrying the thoughts, joys, and livelihoods of millions of people and more than a quarter of the web?

The ship, like Theseus’, needs to continue sailing while we upgrade the materials that make it. It needs to adapt to welcome new people, those that find it too rough to climb on board, too slippery a surface, too unwelcoming a sight, while retaining its essence of liberty. This is not an easy challenge—not in the slightest.

Indeed, we called it Gutenberg for a reason, for both its challenges and opportunities, for what it can represent in terms of continuity and change. It is an ambitious project and it needs the whole WordPress community to succeed.

Matías Ventura, Co-lead of the Gutenberg project.

As the new editor makes its way across the world, it will be interesting to see what the reactions are from users who experience it for the first time. It will also be interesting to see what the developer community builds that takes the editor to new heights.

WordPress 5.0 is the beginning of a new journey for the project. One that will have bumpy roads, new discoveries, and plenty of opportunities to learn. So saddle up and keep your hands and arms inside the vehicle until it makes a complete stop.

WordPress 5.0 is named after Bebo Valdés who was a Cuban pianist, bandleader, composer and arranger. The release was led by Matt Mullenweg with Allan Cole, Anthony Burchell, Gary Pendergast, Josepha Haden Chomphosy, Laurel Fulford, Omar Reiss, Daniel Bachhuber, Matías Ventura, Miguel Fonseca, Tammie Lister, Matthew Riley MacPherson as co-leads. At least 423 people contributed to the release.

17 Comments


  1. In the new editor (backend) and in the twenty nineteen theme (frontend), the small gallery preview images are actually loaded in the full size versions.
    And why has the new theme also fullscreen featured images? I would like to see focus on actual content and sidebar widgets.
    Sad!

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  2. Hey Matt and the team, if you’re reading this, thank you for making a giant obvious link to click for people who are curious how to dial back.

    I’m not being sarcastic. It’s one of the first things you see, and then goes down the page to a big button to let you go right to installing the Classic Editor from the back end.

    I don’t always have access to my clients’ administrative areas to keep things from auto-updating, and many people (in my nine years of doing this) happily and confidently feel more self-sufficient pushing through core upgrades on their own regardless of what gets said to them, so this either lets them also be self-sufficient by putting up a safeguard, or at least gives a point of reference when they have questions why something exploded (“That first screen that came up? There was a link there.”)

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  3. “…it will be interesting to see what the reactions are from users who experience it for the first time.”

    We already know the answer: it has been the worst possible. For the average user, writing in the new editor has been impossible; it has fewer features in writing and is not intuitive.

    As some one said (https://www.dedoimedo.com/computers/wordpress-gutenberg.html):

    “Gutenberg is most likely an almost knee-jerk response to the threat of the mobile adversaries and a few other competitors that offer simplified backend interfaces. However, the paradox in this solution is that it alienates almost its entire user base of mostly diehard professionals who create websites, and in their place, it attracts the rabble of casual ‘bloggers’ who just wanna show the world how inspired and empowered they are.”

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    1. I am super curious about what the last two phases are, though. The first two seem like playing catch-up to other platforms, except I was not aware of that drastic of a desire to change (doesn’t mean there wasn’t one, just that I managed not to hear about it)…and also, it’s not as good as what’s already out there that it’s trying to mimick.

      I’ve used it when it was a plugin maybe four or five times and I just did the real-live full update and tried to put a picture right-aligned to my paragraph. I was able to do it in less than a minute, but the way I do things in Classic takes four.

      Granted, I had to be taught that at one time, too, or learn it myself. But back then it was “click the image, then click the align button.” Then I remembered it forever and it always took four seconds.

      With Gutenberg, even though I know how to do it now, it’s twice as long to do as it needs to be, and I don’t want to because it takes me out of the whole experience. Classic was the speed of thought, uninhibited. This madness is like those technical manuals you see translated something from another language and then back to English word for word.

      They ask for feedback, like “Well, what would you do differently then? How can me make it easier?” But “going backward” isn’t an acceptable answer because there’s a “vision” going on.

      This is my job, so I’ll support WP till the sun explodes, but when it comes to making my own site I’d rather build it from scratch than deal with something that is still a drag to use even when it works properly and you know what you’re doing.

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    2. However, the paradox in this solution is that it alienates almost its entire user base of mostly diehard professionals who create websites, and in their place, it attracts the rabble of casual ‘bloggers’ who just wanna show the world how inspired and empowered they are.

      Could not agree more!

      I mean i am getting used how to handle GB (sure it is not as easy as they imagined it). Of course there are bugs/issues that can be addressed hopefully in the very near future. There are some design needs that are not even covered right now by GB (make just the background-color full width without changing the width of the actual content). Am sure there will be many plugins the more you install of them you will end up having several image, container, etc blocks so you will need a solution to administer them and keep only that blocks that work best. Am sure all these will just happen and everything will settle down.

      However there is one thing that can not be changed and really annoys me:
      You as admin/site developer lose your ability to control CSS in a centralized way. Would a client just do fancy things with each block maybe even adding some css classes to them… it will be a nightmare to troubleshoot.

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    3. what do you mean by average user? Have you asked billions of people?

      I know most of my clients are ok, by the way, I asked over a thousand people to try.

      about 120 haven’t replied yet (time zone issue).

      I, gave all my clients a clone of their sites, in my server to test it out with the same theme and plugins that their company’s sites have and I asked them if they would be open to ALL their staff try things. They said yes and voila.

      Any time there is change, people have to adapt to the new way to do things.

      I created a .pdf for all my clients, a manual.

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  4. All I can tell you is… I am pissed… for the love of God they should just dump the Garbageberg thingy. Seriously..

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    1. I disagree, though still has a long way to go to all bells and whistles where we are in classic, its a great start to a new cleaner much more modern editor.

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  5. Well its may be not newbie friendly, but everybody gone love live editing environment with the passage of time. Because already many people uses visual editor while creating posts.
    May it needs some fixes but with the time these aftershocks are gone pass.

    Regards

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  6. Where to Get Help Using the New Editor
    For new users, the editor might be an intuitive experience but for many WordPress veterans, it introduces a steep learning curve. After all, the previous editor has existed for more than 10 years.

    At the moment, there is a Gutenberg handbook for Developers and Contributors but not for Users. Work is underway by the Docs team and other volunteer contributors to put together an initial document to release in 2019.

    Until the official handbook is published, you’ll need to seek help and education elsewhere.

    What? So not only is Gutenberg illegal to use in an entire country of the modern civilization due to accessibility issues – but there is not even a Codex entry or any sort of field guide for Gutenberg for the one group of people it was made? The end-user?

    This release is far too premature and to fix the backlash will be enormous. No wonder Automattic & WordPress didn’t make it higher up on the THE FORRESTER WAVE™: WEB CONTENT MANAGEMENT SYSTEMS, Q4 2018 Report.

    No Accessibility.
    No User Guide / Manual.
    No proper management.

    ‘This project is for the democracy of the open web.’ – If that would be so important, then you wouldn’t carve individuals out if this was truly about democracy.

    It’s like saying ‘everyone gets to vote’ but you do not install wheelchair ramps in the election buildings, do not allow for absentee ballots and do not supply voters with sample ballots.

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  7. Updated three of my sites as soon as 5.0 was out. Not a developer, not a techie and all three of my sites working fine. All those who have been crying hoarse will continue in the same spirit and guide their clients wrongly. Eventually the clients will discover for themselves and move on leaving the critics behind. Moving along with the time is important. Best of luck to all of you with negative views. Living with negativity is not a good idea!

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  8. It’s not a very intuitive new editor at all. I find it cumbersome, things I did before that only needed a single click now require a whole process of moves and clicks. Everything seems to be hidden beneath hidden UI layers, which take longer to discover and understand. The default view is very narrow. If I select a featured image for my article it doesn’t show it on the editor anymore.

    On the whole I don’t get it, the whole thing seems to make my daily tasks more laborious than before rather than simpler or faster. Naturally I’ve gone back to the Classic Editor, which does everything perfect from a single interface and without be having to click-open-move-click-click-move-click to do the same in Gutenberg.

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  9. I was excited when I read about Gutenberg (hope I got the spelling right) before its release. Now I have tested it and my excitement has gone from 100 to zero, literally.

    I just felt something was off about it. I later discovered what that thing was: the Classic editor is more streamlined, natural and intuitive.

    What will take you few steps to achieve in Classic Editor takes more steps to accomplish with Gutenberg.

    It was like fighting against nature, for me.

    My advice to Matt and his amazing squad: Retain Classic Editor as a core, not make it a legacy plugin. Then build Gutenberg to compete with the likes of Visual Composer, Gantry 5, and other page builders. Or wasn’t that the idea?

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  10. Interesting choice of name.

    The first Bebo I remember launched in 2005 and enjoyed considerable success – in the beginning. At the time, Myspace was the most popular social network, although Bebo would eventually end up with more users.

    In many ways, Bebo was very similar to Facebook. Bebo was eventually sold to AOL for $850m in 2008. With a huge business like AOL backing them, how could it fail to be an even bigger success, right?

    However, the sale to AOL actually ended up coinciding with Bebo’s fall from grace. The main cause was the rise of Facebook which in 2009, grew enormously, and became the most popular social network, ever. Twitter too took yet more users away from Bebo, and as a result Bebo struggled.

    In 2010, AOL announced they were planning to sell the site and within three years, Bebo filed for bankruptcy. The AOL acquisition has subsequently been described as among the worst ever business deals ever seen.

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  11. I was going to say…”Gutenburg! The blogging software made only for developers” but it sounds to me even the developers aren’t too happy with it.

    My jaw dropped with the line – you will need to seek help and education elsewhere. One of the things that a customer looks for is vendor support and WP is just chumming the water with Gutenberg and throwing its users to the sharks.

    If I wanted a block centered page editor I would get a site on any number of other hosts.

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  12. I see with Gutenberg that it will make it easier for average user to handle their websites and not need their “diehard professionals” / developers any longer. Those are the ones with issues.

    That industry will eventually die and the average user won’t need to pay $5,000 for a website.

    I see things going the drag-n-drop route.

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  13. Great start. Its been very exciting to watch as you develop Gutenberg into what ultimately promises to be a new world class block editor.

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