WordPress 5.0 RC Expected on U.S. Thanksgiving Holiday, despite Last-Minute Pushback from Contributors

photo credit: KaylaKandzorra i miss you grampa.(license)

WordPress core committers, core contributors, and former release leads made strong, last-minute appeals on Monday for the 5.0 release to be deferred to January. RC was expected Monday but those urging its delay cited the large number of open issues on the milestone and the fact that many confirmed bugs are being aggressively punted to followup releases.

“I do not see how we can seriously ship a release candidate today,” Joe McGill said. “In doing so, we are either saying we’re ok with shipping a major version of WordPress with this many known issues, or that the term ‘release candidate’ does not actually have meaning. I would suggest that we revise the schedule to push back RC for at least 4 weeks so we have a reasonable deadline and, in the mean time, continue releasing betas.”

Nearly every contributor involved in the discussion was enthusiastic about Gutenberg but urged release lead Matt Mullenweg to allow for four weeks of RC and code freeze to give the community to prepare.

Contributors said they don’t understand the rush to get 5.0. Several noted that Gutenberg seems to be measured by a different rod of success than previous releases where headline features were held to a different standard in regards to shipping known bugs.

“We’re fast approaching a million (Jetpack tracked) posts made through the editor, with the non-tracked number probably a multiple of that,” Mullenweg said in response to contributors’ concerns. “There’s been an explosion of plugins building on top of Gutenberg and some things like the work ACF and Block Lab have done that seem really transformational for WordPress. For those whom the editor is not a good fit they can opt in at any point, including post-5.0, to Classic and continue using WP exactly as they had before until at least 2022 and likely beyond.”

Mullenweg identified a few questions he sees as “good measures of success for Gutenberg:”

  • Are people, when given the choice, choosing to use it over the old editor?
  • Can they create things they weren’t able to create before?
  • Are new-to-WP users more successful (active, happy with what they create) than pre-Gutenberg?
  • Are interesting things being built on top of it?

Interesting plugins are being built on top of Gutenberg but they are breaking with every release of the plugin. Gutenberg 4.5 was released yesterday, matching the first 5.0 RC feature set. It includes a large number of changes and bug fixes that have gone relatively untested by the community at large. Most notably, 4.5 introduced a regression that caused a white screen of death when trying to load custom post types in the classic editor, forcing a 4.5.1 release earlier in the day. Every release introduces changes that cause plugins to break, requiring immediate updates from plugin developers.

Gutenberg technical lead Matias Ventura posted an update today, confirming that WordPress 5.0 will miss the planned November 27 release date but did not offer a secondary date.

“The date for 5.0 release is under consideration, given it’s not plausible for it to be the on 27th,” Ventura said.

WordPress 5.0 Will Ship “When It’s Ready,” Contributors are Focusing on Getting Release Candidate out ASAP

When the second set of November dates for release were missed, many assumed WordPress 5.0 would fall back to the secondary dates in January, but that has not yet been confirmed. The previous scope and schedule Gary Pendergast outlined said the November dates could slip by up to eight days if necessary and that if additional time was required, they would aim for the January dates:

Secondary RC 1: January 8, 2019

Secondary Release: January 22, 2019

During the regularly scheduled core developers’ chat today, the discussion regarding WordPress 5.0’s release date became heated, as contributors continued to push for a January release. Pendergast suggested that December might have a viable date, to which Yoast CEO Joost de Valk responded, “I’m going to raise hell if we do December.”

WordPress plugin developers and agencies are trying to plan for upcoming holidays and want to have staff available when the release lands. Many of those who attended the meeting were hoping to receive confirmation on the release being pushed back to January.

“Please also consider the plugin shops that are rearranging their priorities to have blocks ready for 5.0, only to have had to fix them several times in the last few weeks,” Kevin Hoffman said. “The success of 5.0 depends just as much on third-party support as it does core.”

“There’s agreement on that from all sides, that the amount of code churn and missed earlier deadlines means that the 27th is untenable,” Mullenweg said. “RC is still possible soon, but please don’t assume that implies a final release date until we see how that goes and pick one. I hope that it shows that we are willing to change decisions based on new information, it’s not about being ‘right’ or sticking to previous plans blindly.”

This statement indicates Mullenweg may be considering dates that were not included in the original schedule, as he later said,”If y’all can take the data without freaking out about what it means for the release date, there have been 8 major releases in December, it’s actually been 34% of our last 23 major releases.”

Several contributors agreed that getting an RC out ASAP would finally force a longer code freeze for Gutenberg’s UI, API, documentation, and features. This would give the community more time to prepare.

“As part of the development team for almost two years now, I’d love for us to draw the RC line soon for the sake of everyone’s fatigue,” Matias Ventura said. “And think it’s ready to be drawn. I am concerned with letting us do ‘one more little thing’ and pushing the stability line further down, in an almost endless process.”

Contributors are now wrapping up the last few tickets and the plan is to get the release candidate out tomorrow during the U.S. Thanksgiving holiday. Given WordPress’ global contributor base, releasing on the holiday shouldn’t be an issue. The team is also still investigating the possibility of bundling the Classic Editor plugin with updates for existing WordPress sites.

“Our focus right now is on a great RC,” Mullenweg said. Throughout Gutenberg’s development Mullenweg has said WordPress 5.0 would ship “when it’s ready.” No release date will be announced until the team has had time to evaluate the release candidate.

“It is true that the primary thing is whether it’s ready, and it’s not currently ready,” Mullenweg said.

In 1928, John A. Shedd published a little book called “Salt from My Attic.” It included a saying that U.S. Navy Rear Admiral Grace Hopper said was influential in her life: “A ship in harbor is safe, but that is not what ships are built for.”

Shipping a major overhaul of WordPress’ editor has brought a fair share of uncertainty and frustration to contributors and the community that depends on the software. After mission-critical issues have been resolved, it seems to become a cycle of fixing and breaking things that could continue indefinitely. Although the holiday timing isn’t ideal, if Gutenberg stalls much longer it’s going to be burning daylight. At some point the ship just needs to push away from the port and see how it sails.


53 responses to “WordPress 5.0 RC Expected on U.S. Thanksgiving Holiday, despite Last-Minute Pushback from Contributors”

  1. I followed the #core slack chat. I was glad to see that the release would be deferred pas the Nov 27 date. I must admit that I assumed, when the decision was conveyed to defer release, that the release would be pushed to January.

    Yes, there was some chatter that it could come in December, but…

    1) That would depart from the schedule set by the Gutenberg team itself, which had January as the backup.

    2) The profound stability concerns around Gutenberg (1000s of lines of new untested code, easily discovered bugs, breaking API changes, theme/plugin compatibility with a moving target codebase, etc) can’t be resolved by bumping the release a week or two – say to early December. That kind of bump wouldn’t alleviate any of the concerns people are expressing about a risky and unstable release.

    3) Meanwhile, launching later in December – a week or two before Christmas – would be an act of unfathomable insanity and meanness.

    We’d be launching known buggy software that could break millions of websites, disrupt businesses during the peak holiday season, and create massive work load for tens of thousands of WordPress developers – all just before the biggest holiday season of the year. It’s a plan to destroy Christmas for everyone using or involved with WordPress.

    If any of the project leads are reading this, please, I implore you not to do this. Causing this much chaos and backlash is simply not worth saving 3-4 weeks of release time.

    PS. I want to emphasize I’m not a Gutenberg hater. I like it a lot, and I think it’s the future of WordPress. It’s the timing. It just defies sense to rush a buggy release to 30% of the web just before the holidays.

  2. The more I read, the more confused I am as to why WP is a community of devs contributing to an open-sourced product when it feels to me like it is, in fact, an Automattic product. I come from the Drupal world where community and open source are real in every sense.

    Thank you for this article update. Fortunately I am solo for TDay … and will spend it assuring client and my biz sites do not have hiccups from the RC deploying tomorrow.

    Underneath my calm exterior, though, is bubbling anger. Mullenberg seems to have an agenda and it does not seem to be users and site devs. But… who the hell cares.

    • WordPress was a community at some point, but I think it’s very obviously now more about competing with Wix and appeasing investors than actual developers. WP needs to make money and compete with other pagebuilders that is clearly the main driver here. That by itself is logical and reasoned. Forcing out a major change to the Editor and core itself in a non-incremental fashion does not just defy logic, it clearly shows the true motivating impetus here – just as you describe. Who cares if you break a few million sites or alienate a few thousand developers when there are stake-holders who want to see WP going after Wix? Personally, I’m moving all older sites to ClassicPress and moving toward Drupal with future clients.

      • @Andre: Not really, afaik. There is a Gutenberg module which was presented at Drupal Europe, but Drupal isn’t about to ditch CKEditor or anything – the big push at the moment is the layout_builder module – which is designed kind of as a core replacement for paragraphs and panels, and later a refreshed admin theme and eventually, a React based admin UI (javascript initiative).

        (Hope that helps.)

  3. I’m not a developer just a user who is so confused by all this Gutenberg talk. The take-away for me is that I can continue using WordPress exactly as before until at least 2022. Hopefully by then someone will have a service that makes sure my website is not going to break. Thanks for the information.

  4. It would be nice for non-US readers to clarify when this thanksgiving is. That’s today?

    If you release something that crashes something big. Like every single custom post type a customer might have, and you didn’t notice that, and that something will be in core very soon, you need to have big introspection about what happened and how to prevent it next time.

    It seems the team has decided to keep riding on no matter what might happen, and there lays a potential for disaster. It’s not good for WP and it’s not good for Gutenberg and worse it will be horrible for average users who may not have the skill to recover from such an issue easily.

  5. I strongly believe at this point that the January date that was given was just plucked out of thin air and not a real consideration at all. I think it was just used to provide some people with relief that if Gutenberg did get delayed, people could cling on to the hope that they’ll have more time.

    The truth in the matter is that this isn’t a community anymore. In fact I doubt if it truly ever was. It’s clear as day that Automattic is running the show and Matt will do everything in his power to get 5.0 released to the world one way or another.

    It’s a real shame. If he just stopped for one moment and looked at how crazy this whole situation is, he would realise he’s alienated lots of former (well known) contributors for no reason whatsoever. When will he learn that this so-called community is the reason WordPress is still a thing in today’s world of JavaScript madness.

    I find it incredibly rude and disrespectful that he’s ignoring all the people who have worked hard to make WordPress what it is today. No one wants WordPress to fail, and whether you hate Gutenberg or not at this point, everyone wants a stable core product they can customise to their heart’s content.

    This issue (#12082) from Elliot Condon (ACF plugin developer) should tell you everything you need to know about the Gutenberg project and how it’s been managed. Why can’t we permanently defer the release until it’s ready?

  6. It’s software, which can get really messy. I am painfully aware of that.

    I thought the best questions posed in the entire slack discussion was from @nacin (paraphrasing):

    How do project contributors feel right now? Are they burned out or close to being burned out? Has excessive code churn pushed stress to a point where the work products are negatively impacted?

    In other words, has anyone taken the pulse of the team? Because it sounded alot like no one has, and that’s a primary ingredient for a bad release day.

    Sometimes everyone needs to step back for a week, recharge, and then hit it again with a renewed and clear eyed purpose.

    The release date is not the point here. Shipping wIth known issues that will be addressed isn’t the point either. Quality and clarity for users, AND the plugin/theme shops and the hosting providers who will support those users is.

  7. We are seeing the beginning of the end for WordPress unfortunately.
    The creator of WP, which itself started as a fork, will also be the one overseeing its demise due to his stubbornness.

    WordPress has now effectively stopped being an open source project and is simply a commercial software project by Automattic.

      • Miroslav – I’ve also been around long enough to see the push back you are describing on all kinds of change. The Customizer was a great example.

        But it’s worth emphasizing in this case:
        * While there is some general push back on Gutenberg as a whole, much of the push back is NOT about rejecting Gutenberg. It’s just about the timing and release management.
        * Gutenberg is a huge update that changes the core interface of WP and has major backwards compatibility concerns for the whole ecosystem. It’s ultimately a good change. But if you push something like that before it’s ready in an ecosystem as complex as WordPress, it will be a disaster.
        * This same push back over timing is also coming from a lot of very committed, long time WP veterans who carry a lot of weight in the community. It’s not just the usual outsiders rejecting change.

        I think most people just want to slow down, not rush the release, and do it right.

        Gutenberg needs to get to stable first (and its not there yet), and only then give the ecosystem a solid chunk of time to adapt.

    • I agree. This looks like a “Hail Mary” play to try to compete with Wix/Weebly/Squarespace and appease investors not within a few years incrementally (as would be reasonable and logical given the scope of WP use and development) but immediately.

      Long term it might be fine to have a “blocks” version of Wix, but short term, because everything has to be done immediately asap, you see a buggy version of Gutenberg being fine to ship (and it would have been if others had not put their foot down) with even Yoast having to tell them not to try roll it out during Xmas.

      I’m switching all my sites over to ClassicPress and long term just finding a new CMS going forward – because Gutenberg will be too buggy for a while, and too raw (few design options, buggy plugins, constant updating with more bugs and so on) to try to do quality work with.

  8. I have started using the WordPress in creating my post. I was not initially excited because of the blocks. However the new features introduced such post links, tags, image title and the new page are beautiful on the page. But we want stability with the new WordPress 5.

    • Yeah, the more I use it (especially with a theme styled for it), the more I like it. Some say this will be the end of WP but I really don’t see that. It’s just going to be a bumpy transition, one that I think could be improved just by delaying until January, at least. It’s going to be great to see how themes and plugins are leveraging Gutenberg by 2020 or so.

      • I don’t think Gutenberg will crash WordPress, but I do think it will alienate and disenfranchise many developers along with many business owners. I think it will crash many sites and steer alot of users away from WP, and I don’t see how Gutenberg will be easier for hobbyists/small business owners to use than the Classic Editor was/is. I don’t see how WP can compete with Wix, either, this late in the game with a completely counter intuitive and buggy version of a pagebuilder that (let’s be honest) cannot build agency-level sites the way that current WP can (albeit with plugins and a pagebuilder like Divi or BeaverBuilder).

        If Drupal wants to adopt some portion of Gutenberg, that’s fine. If Gutenberg is great, that’s fine. I’m focused more on preserving a current roster of client sites and then finding a way to work going forward that isn’t filled with a unstable, unpredictable roll out of a janky sort-of-pagebuilder that you could never train clients with.

        As far as why not using Classic Editor and let the updates just roll on out…we all know that that path can be fraught with a) bugs galore, b) potentially serious issues with formatting, c) plugin bugs, and so on, while Automattic Inc figures out how to try to get Gutenberg operational. Long run, fine, short term, lots of drama and headaches, when you want to be rolling out clients, not bug patches all the time.

        I’m very grateful for the ClassicPress fork because at least it provides an “escape hatch” from the madness of update, fix bugs, update, fix bugs, wash, rinse, and repeat cycle, while one guy tries to figure out what direction WP should go in in order to try to catch up to Wix. Imagine issues with Classic Editor, Gutenberg, or your pagebuilder or any given plugin breaking your site or jacking your site formatting while fielding client calls or losing leads the clients want or a site going down for days while you try to figure out why something isn’t working as it’s supposed to.

  9. What’s wrong with you people? You (I mean not only those commenting here but also on previous posts) behave as if the world were to end the day WP 5.0 is released!

    I’ll give you an simple advice:
    When 5.0 comes out, wait with updating till at least the first bugfix is released, then install Classic Editor plugin and move on. In three years time check the status of Gutenberg (I’m sure it’ll be much better) and then decide whether you get on board or whether you look for another CMS. It’s that simple.

    And now go read a book or play with children and stop reading about Gutenberg. You’ll be better off. Trust me.

    • Just in point of fact, many of the people commenting are responsible for multiple sites, and for the sites of others. Among those others’ sites are unique, nuanced environments based on hosting, plugins and user product fluency variables.

      Additionally, most businesses using WordPress don’t just have a static page with one image on it and a blog. They used third-party software and services; the Classic Editor might help the post-writing situation, but when The Events Calendar or Gravity Forms decides to hop on the bus completely and support for the plugin-rigged installs should dwindle or fade away, time and money will be lost.

    • This is great advice for any single individual. But it profoundly misunderstand how the massive, sprawling WP ecosystem actually works in practice.

      Most of the millions of WP users haven’t followed this convo at all. They have no idea what’s coming. They are not tech savvy. When their sites break, for any reason, they have no idea why or how to troubleshoot.

      While you, as a single user, can worry about yourself, it’s the job of the project leads for WP to worry about EVERYONE. They have a responsibility to understand how the ecosystem actually operates at scale – not what millions of people could do, or should do, but what they will actually do.

      And anyone who has managed large WP projects with hundreds of thousands or millions of users know that there zero basis to expect that those users will rationally and carefully manage their WP updates. That’s just not how it works.

    • Yeah, ok. I haven’t thought about this. About can’t you just leave the sites on Classic Editor plugin for the time being until the dust settles out? I also don’t think the main plugin developers will very soon drop support for the Classic Editor, I rather see them supporting both the classic and Gutenberg for some time.

  10. The discussion about Gutenberg is engaging attention of not only ordinary users but those with coding background. I think the team working on the project should defer the launch to January by which time they will smooth all the rough edges.
    When you copied and paste into the block, it changes the bullet or the numbering, meaning you have to renumber on the internet(Gutenberg) They should look at this fact: when I copied from my laptop to the online block( Gutenberg) the format should not changed as in the case of 4.5 We want the best of Gutenberg so let’s take time and do it well


  11. Kevin Hoffman said. “The success of 5.0 depends just as much on third-party support as it does core.”

    Exactly. And compatibility aside, we need reasonable time just to get docs and videos updated. This is one reason January makes more sense than December. Regular folks having as easy a time as possible transitioning to and using the new editor matters more than anything.

    I’m worried that too many people will have a bad experience then install the Classic Editor, creating a huge problem in 2021 when that is EOL. More time needs to be allowed for third-party theme and plugin makers to do their part in taking care of WordPress users who often aren’t able to distinguish what is WordPress and what is a theme or plugin. Users will blame WordPress.

    Several contributors agreed that getting an RC out ASAP would finally force a longer code freeze for Gutenberg’s UI, API, documentation, and features. This would give the community more time to prepare.

    That is true. And to this end, January for so many reasons will be better than December.

  12. I find this quote highly interesting. Especially point two:

    Mullenweg identified a few questions he sees as “good measures of success for Gutenberg:”

    Are people, when given the choice, choosing to use it over the old editor?
    Can they create things they weren’t able to create before?

    I’m a big GB fan, but it makes my stomach ache.

    GB is so slow that it is completely useless for me as an author. Why? Because I can’t write! Is that too much to ask? I don’t think so.

    Before 5.0 is published you should at least be able to write.

    Details here: https://github.com/WordPress/gutenberg/issues/11782

    What disappoints me? It seems as if one does not pay much attention to it…

    Fact is: I cannot write extensive texts. A point which clearly contradicts and is not realizable.

    • Thanks @Samuel for bringing this to our attention. This would be a huge problem for News sites and such…

      On performance note, a fresh WP 5.0 RC website, with no plugins is about 0.2 seconds slower than WP 4.9.8, both using the same theme and environment. So having some performance issues is not that big of a surprise, but after reading some of the responses of the github issue you indicated, it is absolutely shocking.

      On a sadder note, these people still can’t figure out the Columns block to function properly, do you think we have any chance of getting performance issues fixed by 5.0?

      Let’s get WP 5.0 out as soon as possible, so we can settle the scores, I’m sick and tired to reason with arrogance. In my opinion, at this rate, WP 5.0 will not be ready for at least another 6 months, if not longer. So let’s roll out a massively defective product, forget about standards and quality controls. It’s only 30+% of the internet, so who cares, right?

      • Right now, Gutenberg is not ready mostly due to the performance issues no one working on it has bothered to test in the past year. Adding custom blocks into the mix will make things only worse.

        The only way for Gutenberg to be ready in the next 2 months (January fallback date), is for the development on Gutenberg finally gets frozen. Since the merge into the core started, we got at least 3 new Gutenberg versions, each one adding new features, and all that was fast-tracked into the core, with very little testing. Gutenberg has to be frozen as is, and only bug fixes and performance improvements can be added to it – no enhancements to the UI, new blocks or changes to menus.

        For as long as Gutenberg is continuing with normal development, and every change gets to go to the WP core, it will never get ready, and if WP is shipped like that in January, it will be a very buggy product, untested with a large number of custom blocks, untested for long and complex content.

        But, that is one argument no one working on Gutenberg seems to grasp, and they are continuing to add features, instead of focusing only on fixes.

    • What disappoints me? It seems as if one does not pay much attention to it…

      Well, besides some last minute optimizations here and there, that problem appears to have conceptual reasons. To really fix it, probably the whole existing concept would have to be declared as failed, which obvisously nobody dares to do, yet.

    • This makes Gutenburg fundamentally flawed. This shows that the devs working on the Gutenberg didn’t list the actual use cases for the editor before starting the project, if they did the test data would also include very large image heavy posts with various styling.

  13. I have installed Gutenberg in several production sites where it is in use as the default editor. It works fine. The bloggers I’ve shown Gutenberg to immediately warm to it and see the advantages of it.

    I am one of those who had doubts about GB initially but only because it ignored custom post meta.

    If anyone has technical problems with Gutenberg they are very likely caused by 3rd party plugins or themes that are awaiting compatibility updates. The popular plugins like Yoast, WPML and Elementor, and themes like GeneratePress are getting the dev care needed to make them GB compatible.

    At this stage in Gutenberg’s development it is mature enough for production sites and I welcome its adoption in WP 5.0 at the end of this week.

    • There exist 272 open bugs, and more are under consideration (e.g. labled “need testing“) being a bug or not, and you are telling us, all works fine?
      In total there are 1,385 open issues.

      If anyone has technical problems with Gutenberg they are very likely caused by 3rd party plugins or themes that are awaiting compatibility updates.

      And no, most of the reportes issues are with clean installation, either the recend development version or clean wp 4.9.8 with recent Gutenberg version.

      Use the block classic for example, insert text, insert an image, the image will jump to top – every image will jump to the beginning. Or search on github issues for list or table and read, and test.

  14. When you manage 100 business sites and you see all this talk of releasing a defective product that will impact all those sites you begin to wonder if everyone from Matt down has lost their collective minds.

  15. Should anyone be confused re Drupal and Gutenberg, Drupal is NOT adopting Gutenberg. It is NOT part of core. There are no discussions to include it in core. It is a module. At this writing, it is experiemental and not ready for production. It is an OPTION, which is what I’ve always loved about Drupal in that folks are given tools that they can choose or not choose to use. So please stop spreading the word that I keep reading around the net that Drupal is adopting Gutenberg. Good grief.

    And the more I work with and look at ClassicPress, the clearer I get as to where I’m going: Drupal and ClassicPress.

    This WIX choice, which imho exemplifies a failure of imagination, amongst other things, is perfect for the nontechnical person who lacks professional marketing, design and business building skills.

    But that still brings me to a question that it seems only my brain keeps bouncing around. [Perhaps I’m finally unique or simply having the stupidest of thoughts. :-) ] That question?

    Is there any downside to the environment we call the internet to enabling every Joe, Jack, Mary and Jane, with or without skills, to build a website (WIX-enabled folks) ? I ask that in all seriousness. What leads me there is a belief that overpopulation of anything — advertising, people, carbon, flies, fiat, even university degrees..on and on — does not enhance. In fact, my walk through life has caused me to conclude that such expansions detract or degrade or devalue. That’s a few “de’s” and they all mean the same thing and it t’aint positive.

    Someone change my mind, OK?

    And if no one can’t, should someone start discussing this? We are, after all, building the internet, which is quickly becoming well.. you know..


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