WordPress 5.0 RC 1 Released, Gutenberg Passes 1 Million Installations

WordPress 5.0 RC 1 was released over the weekend after a string of five betas that began in late October. According to the Gutenberg stats page, more than 1.1 million sites have the Gutenberg plugin installed and users have written more than 980,000 posts using the new editor. These numbers are conservative estimates, as the numbers only include WordPress.com sites and sites running Jetpack.

Most of the changes included in the RC were outlined in the Gutenberg 4.5 release post last week. An update published today shows 12 PRs waiting for review in the 4.6 milestone, 14 open issues in the 5.0.0 milestone, and more than 150 issues open in 5.0.1 and subsequent releases. Dev notes for 5.0 have been published and tagged on the make.wordpress.org/core blog.

WordPress 5.0’s official release date was set for November 27 but after further evaluation the date has been pushed back. Last week WordPress core core committers, contributors, and former release leads made strong, last-minute appeals to hold off RC and defer the release to January. Development is moving forward desipite the pushback. A new release date has not yet been announced. The current plan is to monitor feedback on the RC and the team will make a decision from there.

Mullenweg Responds to Critics on Twitter, Reiterates Vision for Gutenberg

Over the weekend, Matt Mullenweg responded to critics on Twitter who voiced concerns about his leadership and communication throughout WordPress 5.0’s development. One particular post titled “Let’s Take A Very Serious Look At Gutenberg,” written by WordPress developer Cameron Jones, sparked conversation. In response to Cliff Seal, who urged Mullenweg to “re-cast the vision of WordPress in a way that accounts for the apparent urgency of this effort,” Mullenweg responded:

Many people who try to start publishing with WordPress fail; those who don’t struggle with shortcodes, embeds, widgets; those who can toggle to code view to do basic tasks in the editor, and for clients set up elaborate meta-field and CPT based schemes to avoid catastrophe.

Gutenberg aims to solve these problems, improve the WP experience for all its users, and open up independent, open source, beautiful publishing on the web to a class of users that couldn’t publish with WordPress before.

It may seem rushed to people unused to this pace of development and improvement in the WordPress world. However this has been a pace sustained for almost two years now, and we still look slow compared to some modern software. Speed of iteration is enabled by the new tech stack.

It bothers me at a deep, moral level to hold back a user experience that will significantly upgrade the publishing ability and success of tens or hundreds of millions of users. It hasn’t been ready (for core) yet, so it’s not released. I hope it will be soon!

This may all look very quaint in retrospect, when we look back three or five years from now. It’s a tough transition but the foundation Gutenberg enables will be worth it.

Matt Medeiros, another vocal critic of Mullenweg’s leadership on WordPress 5.0, recorded a video, expounding on his concerns about transparency and the rushed pace. He summarized the frustrations that inspired him to make the video.

“While I agree WordPress needs innovation to reach new users that desperately require freedom over their content, especially within the context of today’s social networks, I don’t agree and am also discouraged by Matt not sharing the product vision with the community,” Medeiros said. “It’s polarizing to build software under the guise of openness with a mission to democratize publishing, but not give the same people volunteering to ‘Five for the Future’ a voice for the future.

“Lack of communication, not Gutenberg or the team developing it, has lead to the current divide and we’re left asking — why? WordPress has always had a branding problem and this continues to muddy the lines between open source project and WordPress the ‘product.’”

The 5.0 release is heading into the home stretch but Gutenberg has several phases ahead with many more years of development. Mullenweg’s responses on Twitter over the weekend indicate he is interested in keeping the lines of communication open throughout the process. He said he plans to dedicate more time to responding directly to feedback.

“One thing will try: I’m going to open up some listening office hours in the next week so people can talk directly,” Mullenweg said. “I want everyone to be and feel heard, as they have been since the beginning of this process in 2016.”


42 responses to “WordPress 5.0 RC 1 Released, Gutenberg Passes 1 Million Installations”

  1. According to the Gutenberg stats page, more than 1.1 million sites have the Gutenberg plugin installed and users have written more than 980,000 posts using the new editor. These numbers are conservative estimates, as the numbers only include WordPress.com sites and sites running Jetpack.

    When echoing such nonsense, please have at least the decency to put them somehow in perspective as the numbers at wp.org tell another story.

    If those figures are only for wp.com + Jetpack, then please publish also the same figures for related active installs of Classic Editor at same environment – as users that installed GB at wp.com are still given the choice to try GB or go for CE.

      • The sites using the Gutenberg plugin and this sites using the Classic Editor plugin will, by definition, not really overlap much. Why would anyone install the Gutenberg plugin and then install the Classic Editor plugin to disable it?

        The Classic Editor plugin is something you use for WP 5.0 to disable the new editor.

        The Gutenberg plugin is something you use before WP 5.0 to test out the new editor.

        I would expect there is some overlap where some users tested with the Gutenberg plugin and decided they didn’t like it, so they installed the Classic Editor to prevent it in the future. I don’t see why any of those users would still be actively using the Gutenberg plugin, though.

      • I have both Gutenberg and the Classic Editor plugins installed and active. I have it set to Gutenberg as the default editor, but giving me the ability to switch to the classic editor if I feel the need to. I don’t know how common my use-case is, but I am a statistic (being a Jetpack .org user) where having the classic editor plugin installed does not mean Gutenberg is disabled.

  2. I don’t know the technical aspect of the development of this new editor and am not a developer. I have been following this debate on Gutenberg and what I feel is that most of the developers feel threatened that they may lose their job and because of this feeling they are making all the noise against it. Many of the plugin makers like elementor and other page builders also feel the same way. As a user of wordpress for almost more than five years now, I feel this is the change we users have been looking for and is welcome.

  3. Many customers do not have enough money to spend on WP customization if it will have to all be redone every few years due to the 4 phases of Gutenberg. They don’t have blank checkbooks. They cannot NOT afford to have backward compatibility. They will switch to something else, if only out of the feeling of being cheated by WordPress.

    Also, Gutenberg is a much different editing experience for customers. That is fine for new customers who have a choice, but it is really bad to shove the new experience down the throats of customers who already spent their budgets on customizing WordPress (or paid for themes and plugins), and now are being switched to a different experience when they did not choose to do so. This isn’t pure greed. A lot of NGOs use WordPress and are in the same situation.

    • Like others here, I must say that among my client base, every solo blogger, sole practitioner, small business owner and especially NGO operators are excited about the possibilities Gutenberg affords.

      In my experience as an agency owner, these people do have the money for a website setup or retheme (come on, we can spin up a generic site from a blueprint and have it production-ready in an hour or three with a good managed host and a Genesis theme)… They cannot afford constant content updates/postings, landing pages, training, content delivery services and SEO every time the publish a post… Instead, they post rarely and write thin, broken content. This makes their organization and the agency look bad.

      I was just talking today with a NGO board member (and WP beta user) about the opportunities that Gutenberg will afford this small education outreach charity. They’re excited because they can now post their own articles without help, delays and extra expense, leaving them more time and money to help our local students and workforce. They’re don’t feel cheated… They feel motivated, hopeful and ready to learn!

  4. 1.1 million active Gutenberg installs and more than 980,000 posts written, so is less than 1 post per install !!!!!

    They try it and go away !!!!

    I already have Classic Editor installed and I am NOT going to switch unless I am forced to. I can work with Gutenberg but it is not fun.

    Note that wordpress.org show only 600.000 active installs and Classic Editor also shows 600.000 active installs.

  5. Fast paced, iterative, development is fine. It’s his bold statelents like “will significantly upgrade the publishing ability” that I feel are completely wrong. The idea behind Gutenberg is fine, the implementaiton is not.

    Attempting to write anything in the editor is still a hassle, and is far harder than in the classic editor. The current Gutenberg will not be a significant upgrade as Matt states, but a huge step backwards on every single front.

  6. I think the majority of developers would agree the existing editor needs modernising. Clients would love a few tools to help them write and “just drop in a table”, or “just make each Profile photo align with their bio”
    Developers in the past have had to rely on TinyMCE buttons, MetaBox solutions and CPTs to solve the smallest problems. So, I think most developers were excited when we first heard of Gutenberg because we were looking forward to an elegant solution. We expected to have fewer onerous requests from clients who would be using a faster and more powerful editor.

    So our problem is not that Gutenberg exists. It’s that we are disappointed in the outcome. Automatic and the core team had the best intentions but some early decisions have sadly taken this “Ship” far off course. That sort of thing happens to all of us and we all recognise the signs, it’s just unfortunate that it’s happened here.

    One (small) example:
    The early choice that paragraphs and headings should always be discrete blocks has given us a situation where a medium sized article requires many blocks and many blocks mean many editors and that slows the author’s typing to a crawl. Perhaps this will be resolved – but any author typing a long article in January 2019 is not going to be happy.

    The other problem about the “paragraphs as blocks” choice is that the apparent aim is to allow the movement and formatting of paragraphs.
    In normal writing the block-like movement of paragraphs is occasionally required, but cut and paste is the traditional solution and it covers more cases (move a word, move a phrase, move a sentence, remove a sentence, move a paragraph, move two sentences which span two paragraphs, etc).
    There’s little need for paragraphs as blocks until a transform or insert is required – but then why not have that action split the content. Don’t start with 30 blocks, start with one and then split it or group it as required (I digress!)

    Gutenberg currently assumes each H or P element is a discrete entity and potentially requiring a transform. Consequently, where the author might expect to be writing within a few movable & formattable blocks instead they have 37 editors lurking, each with subtly different controls – and the implementation of these editors is now so resource-heavy that Gutenberg itself struggles to deal with them.

    I look forward to Gutenberg in 2020, by which time it will have hopefully have found its feet.

  7. All our existing clients will stay with Classic Editor on 4.9 branch or with the plugin, the learning curve for Gutenberg would be too steep for most, who often don’t know anything at all about computers, they just follow their years long same same steps written on a piece of paper to publish a new post or change their weekly menu page or similar. They have no need to change anything, and mostly no budget either.

    For new new clients we tried to consider Gutenberg since a few months, but as it still is far from ready, each test results in most obvious bugs and editor still feels way too slow in browser until today, we can not recommend Gutenberg for now as well. Maybe we will reconsider this mid 2019, not sure yet though.

    So currently also new projects are done with Classic Editor, and will stay in WordPress 4.9 branch for a while, to allow easy migration to Classic Press or similar, if the Gutenberg ship won’t float as expected…

      • This is not a rhetorical question…..The first release of 5.0 w/the classic plugin enabled…isn’t that supposed to be the same thing as 4.98?

        What would be the pros/cons (short term… say the next 6-8 months) of sticking with 4.98 and not upgrading to 5.0 ? Is anything else going to change in this initial new WordPress besides the Gutenberg editor?

  8. It’s never going to be the right time to have a baby, just ask any parent.

    Then if you have one and are “waiting for the stars to align” before you have a second, well thats not gonna ever happen and before you know it, it’s too late.

    It’s just never ever gonna be the right time. You just do it anyway!

    As an older guy, this all reminds me of living through the massive Y2K scare, all the panic, which ended up being a big juicy nothingburger.

    People that don’t wan’t Gutenberg right now, just install Classic Editor then go spend time with your family, enjoy the holidays.

    Apreciate how Matt is wethering the storm and in 6 months people will be saying that this was the right path forward. Hindsight is always 20/20.

    I will say that Matt and team should improve their PR game. Right now it’s pretty weak. I even made the offer to have him on my YouTube channel to get in front of the millions of people that watch each year, but all I hear is crickets :-(

    • While a agree you can never have perfect when launching a product, launching one that has so many issues to such a large user base is asking for trouble.

      Remember Windows Vista. Took them years to recover their reputation from that.

      Not going to rehash all the problems with it other than there are many.

      As of now, there are to many bugs to release this to core.

      People who write very large articles are in for some real fun if its released as is.

      I’ve spent 15 years learning the ins and out of developing for WordPress and now have to up my javascript game which at my age was not looking forward to doing.

      I hope if they launch it to early, it’s a massive flop and breaks millions of sites. I’ve already installed Classic Editor on the clients sites that are important to me so I’m now worried all that much. A massive flop would breath some more life into the ClassicPress fork if many developers started to support it.

      Never thought I’d actually hear myself say I hope WordPress flops :(

    • I don’t think “having a baby” is equivalent to launching product&service which millions of businesses rely on.

      I think a closer parallel might be “The city is going to make modernising changes to our public transport which is used by 30% of the citizens”
      The mayor invites input from stakeholders such as travel agents, bus drivers, train engineers, mechanics, affiliates and passengers and others – to test it out and provide feedback.

      After 2 years those stakeholders give their verdict which ranges from cautiously optimistic to the majority who are very concerned with the issues they have faced. The stakeholders raise these issues saying “this is going to have a negative effect on transport and trade in the city unless these issues are resolved prior to launch.”

      And the Mayor says “It launches on Monday! We think everyone will love it! ”

      And the stakeholders saying to each other “Well … this is going to get interesting!”

  9. I’m a Sophomore in a small community college and have been in a WordPress course for almost three semesters, or 4 quarters.

    I also work as an intern on the weekends for a large web design company, not so much as to make money, but for the experiences in the web design and development aspects of it. The company I intern for is well vested into the corporate web design world and WordPress.

    In September, when I returned to college and my internship, Gutenberg was the main topic in both places. In our college classes our instructor took several of our classes trying to explain Gutenberg to us. She, nor the 25 of us in the class were not impressed with it.

    We have a VPS that a hosting company donated for us to use and manage it for us to build and test our sites on. Our instructor ask us to install Gutenberg on our sites we had been working on going into the third semester. She told us to try and remain calm once we saw the results. Once we installed and activated it on our sites, to us, looked like shattered stained glass.

    No doubt we all went into upset and confusion mode. Out instructor laughed and said not to worry. She sent a support ticket to the hosting company and they reinstalled our sites from their backups once we had deleted Gutenberg from our sites. She had asked them to make new backups and when she told them why, they understood and said this is an everyday thing with them now because of Gutenberg.

    Our instructor had a meeting with the Dean last week and the decision was made to cancel the WordPress class until a new CMS would be ready after the first of the year, and all of us now know the the name of the new CMS we’ll be working with. Very sad that we’ve lost 3 semesters with a wonderful CMS that we’ll no longer be working with because something as pitiful to us as Gutenberg.

    The business I intern with has also made the decision to move all of their corporate and business clients to a new CMS and thankfully, it’s the one we’ll start working with next semester. That assured me a continued internship with this company and they’ve told me not to worry, we’ve got your back covered.

    I’m not here to make anyone mad, and it’s your right to disagree with me. I’m just a kid wanting a future in this business. Everyone I know in this business, and I’ve met many wonderful designers and developers, are all turning their backs on WordPress now because of Gutenberg and the arrogance the developers seem to be showing.

    Everyone of of us would probably stay with Worpress if it was made a stand along plugin and not be forced on us. It seems it’s not going to happen so I’ve lost a year and a half learning something that is now useless to me. My mind has to change gears now and go with another CMS so I can continue my dream to become a pro web designer and developer and keep an intern job I love and look forward to every weekend.

    I wish everyone a safe, blessed and happy holiday season.

    • It may seem like it now but your year and a half was not wasted even if you never use WordPress again.

      Experience with any kind of software is never wasted no matter how often you use it. It broadens your perspective and will help you become a better designer/developer in future. Best of luck with it. 👍🏻

    • I have a lot of ongoing, and at times loud and angry, criticism of Gutenberg’s implementation. But I find a couple of things difficult to believe about this story. First, that there’s a WordPress class taught at the university level with the same instructor that’s taken three semesters and was/is slated to take more. The operating systems class I took as part of my computer science studies was a single semester, and while WordPress can get complicated, it’s nowhere near as complicated as the internals of the software that controls a computer. Second, that a host installed what is effectively a feature plugin which changes the entire editing experience on existing sites. I can see new installs getting it, but existing sites with content? Months before even the plugin’s development team was calling it ready to ship? I’m not saying hosts don’t do a lot of crazy things all the time, but if there’s a host installing not-yet-ready WordPress feature plugins on already-existing sites, I’d like to know who they are so that if there name ever comes up in client conversations I can advise my clients to run the other way as fast as possible.

    • This comment seems very dubious, and doesn’t reflect the actual Gutenberg install/activation experience whatsoever. I have several early adopter clients using Gutenberg on staging sites (and one on a live site) with fair success, and have yet to restore a single backup. That being said, your comment seems unrealistic because it doesn’t reflect how Gutenberg actually works.

      Since Gutenberg contains page content in a classic editor block, it can’t break pages when you click “activate”. No major changes happen until you click “Convert to Blocks”, and then those changes happen in draft mode giving you ample opportunity to review in HTML before updating. Perhaps the “instructor” or “host” hosed something, but it seems more likely that this account was fabricated entirely. There’s no reason to be vague about a new CMS or the name of one’s school if those entities actually exist.

      Furthermore, no decent instructor would instruct a student to push a major feature update to WordPress to a live server. If you haven’t learned to develop locally, push to staging and then swap to production, you’re not in a WordPress development class; You’re in a “Playing with WordPress” class.

  10. Last week i have spent all my days with GB. The idea behind it is really pathetic (let dummies create award-winning websites without any coding or designing knowledge). Well in reality that will simply not work like that. Quite the contrary will happen most of the time after GB lands in core. I mean dummies will try everything even if they do not know what exactly are they doing. God bless former WP devs who thought of the revisions feature! ;-)

    If i take in consideration how extremely bad is the GUI of GB i just can hardly imagine a newbie creating award-winning design by using GB. Right now it is also impossible to achieve desireable results with multi-column content in GB … BUMMER!

    But i just did not give up as we will get GB no MATTer what…
    It turns out that Elementor can work in tandem with GB and that solution i find quite viable. Believe or not Elementor has an intuitive GUI (maybe they just did not want to break common sense but accept that) and even the free version of it renders multi-column layouts in a precise way. Actually it succeeds in every aspects where GB just su**s! With that combination things work as expected and even a dummy can get exact results rendered in a browser after GB lands in core.

    I just do not understand why on earth has anybody come to the idea to develop GB if there is even a free version of Elementor that is far better (not to mention a bunch of other capable solutions but those are not free). We already know there are several phases of GB to come but for what sake and why is still not communicated clearly. And that is very annoying seeing how this first phase went out…

  11. I am one of those who can see a future for Gutenberg, but not in its present form. I’ve tried it on a couple of sites but I’ve ended up deactivating it because it remains totally unpredictable and flaky to say the least. There are numerous unresolved bugs and it’s clearly not ready for mainstream use by any stretch of the imagination.
    But the worst thing of all about Gutenberg is the absolutely appalling UI, which leaves acres of white space in the middle of the screen, hides important stuff behind illogical hieroglyphics, and squeezes other key elements into ladder-like sidebars. A five-year-old child couldn’t have done a worse design job. And then there’s the endless number of mouse clicks required to complete even the simplest of tasks…

  12. I go to work this past Saturday and we have a staff meeting to discuss an upcoming project we’ll start working on in January. We started discussing Gutenberg after the meeting.

    One of our developers said she had left an honest review on the Gutenberg WordPress thingy giving it a 1 star rating. She said the next day her comments had been deleted and her WordPress account had been disabled.

    Three more in the office said the same thing had happened to them. One said she had been reading and watching the comments and had noticed a lot of comments were being deleted with 1 star ratings.

    She said that she had been noticing the Gutenberg developers had stopped answering comments and she was seeing only moderators making a few statements sometimes.

    Sounds like the Gutenberg folks are getting paranoid about the mess they’re trying to make of WordPress.

    Merry Christmas everyone.

  13. I made a good faith effort to use the new editor, and honestly expected to like it. Unfortunately, I did not, and have since installed the Classic Editor plugin. A few specifics.

    1. The new editor is not a good fit for the model of my main site, which relies on content written externally, converted to html, and pasted into WordPress.

    2. I’d like to keep playing with the new editor on some sites, but the Classic Editor plugin is network-wide, so I can’t use Classic on some sites in a network, and the new editor on others. That’s a mistake, since I can see the new editor working fine for some (more layout-specific) cases, but not for the main site.

    3. Some decisions are decidedly counter-intuitive – like the decision to put the Publicize feature behind the Publish button. Publish no longer publishes the post, but gives access to a backstage area from which you can then publish. Who thought this was a good idea?

    I think the suggestion of above of not making each paragraph its own block is a good one. That would make the new editor a much better fit to my use case, at least, since generally I’m publishing big blocks of externally-generated text with just one picture. The new editor only seems to fit the case where all content is prepared in WordPress. I can’t be the only one who doesn’t work that way.


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