2018 was a year full of change! It was the inevitable launch of WordPress 5.0. That launch came with the new and controversial editor, named Gutenberg, being integrated into core. This left many users deeply concerned and divided a once cohesive community. Amidst a background of intense opposition and uncertainty, WordPress 5.0 launched on December 6th, 2018.
WordPress 5 and Beyond
WordPress 5 has been a big shift. It has caused numerous issues for WordPress users, those with customized sites, and has also received poor reviews. Issues surrounding backwards compatibility and accessibility remain.
Our initial view of WordPress 5.0 was not favorable. We wrote about the issues in two previous posts:
I am not a fan of the new Gutenberg editor, and doubt our clients will be either. However, WordPress continues to be a solid platform for development. We believe the current editor (TinyMCE), now termed the Classic Editor, will be available for many years ahead. With the Classic Editor enabled, we will continue to support our clients moving to WordPress 5.0.
We still think the new Gutenberg editor needs much improvement, and will be difficult for the vast majority of people to use. We do not recommend using the new editor, as it will save content in a different format.
Both the Classic Editor and Disable Gutenberg plugins will keep the new editor disabled. This will allow clients to use the current editor, while being able to upgrade to the latest versions of WordPress. We think this is a best scenario approach.
Upgrading to WordPress 5
With the Classic Editor Plugin installed and activated, no adverse effects were found when upgrading sites to WordPress 5.0.1. or 5.0.2. In fact, we found WordPress 5 sites with PHP versions 7.1 or 7.2 run much faster!
Therefore, we no longer see a need to hold off upgrading. As long as clients have the Classic Editor or Disable Gutenberg plugin installed, upgrading should not be an issue.
However, we strongly suggest clients run full backups before upgrading – just in case! Web242 already provides daily server and cPanel backups and can restore if needed. Our Fully Managed clients also have offsite backups.
Clients on Fully Managed Plans
By January 15th, 2019, we will be upgrading all our managed clients to the latest WordPress 5 and PHP versions. We are taking extra care and testing each site as we update.
Performance with PHP 7.1 and 7.2
PHP versions 7.1 and 7.2 have now been installed on the server.
Moving forward we will no longer support older PHP versions prior to PHP 5.6.
The latest PHP versions are not only more secure. They will also help to run newer versions of WordPress and other software more efficiently.
We found running WordPress 5 on client sites, with PHP 7.0 or 7.1installed, to be a significant improvement in speed. PHP 7.3 is not yet available, but is noted to run sites even faster.
We bench-marked using WP Super Cache on WordPress 5.0.2. Our web242.com site ran 200% faster with PHP 7.2 than with 7.0. For example, WP Super Cache took 1.2 seconds to generate the page with PHP 7.0. But with PHP 7.2 that went down to 0.6 seconds.
Web242 is available to help anyone with the shift towards WordPress 5. Just reach out to us if you have any questions or concerns.
Our best wishes in 2019!