After WordPress 5.0 everyone needs to take a breath

WordPress 5.0 welcome screen

Breathe in. And breathe out. Breathe in. And breathe out.

WordPress 5.0 came out last week after much confusion, debate, gnashing of teeth, frustration, anger, joy, happiness — essentially the reaction to 5.0 and the rollout of Gutenberg was all over the place. Literally.

For the vast majority of WordPress’ lifetime, this is the editor users would see when creating a blog post.

Some called it an “own goal” for WordPress. Others see it as bringing WordPress away from a clunky editor into a sort of new age. Getting a real read on the reaction is harder than me trying to ready “War and Peace” in the original Russian.

But the fact of the matter is that 5.0 and Gutenberg are here in WordPress core now. There’s no taking it out anymore. And there’s at least some sort of a divide. I don’t think it’s a Grand Canyon-sized chasm — more like a Trinity River-sized separation — but there are amends that have to be made.

So now the question becomes how does the WordPress community move on and continue to move the open web forward. Or even can the divides made over the past few months be mended?

We can’t go back and change the past

Like I said, WordPress 5.0 here. Everything that was done before then is in the past. There’s no going back for WordPress now. Gutenberg is in core and it’s not going to be removed now. If you’re frustrated, you just have to accept that fact.

“Yesterday is not ours to recover, but tomorrow is ours to win or lose.”

– Lyndon B. Johnson

So there’s no point in just wishing things were back to the way they were before. And we can’t change what was done in the past. I’m sure there are some on the WordPress team that wish things had been done better (like, you know, giving people more than three days heads up that 5.0 was dropping).

But that’s in the past. It happened and now we have to deal with this reality. And we can’t move on as a community, and you can’t move on as a developer/blogger/business/etc. until we start looking forward and seeing how we can make things better. 

And sure, we do need to look back at this and learn from mistakes that were made so they aren’t repeated. But wishing for the past isn’t going to do anyone any good. 

For the record there are parts of Gutenberg that I don’t like. I didn’t really like the lack of a code freeze and the three day notice was not cool at all. Ideally, 5.0 would have included the Gutenberg editor, but kept the old one as the default. Then 5.1 would essentially flip the two and then at some point the classic editor would be removed.

But that didn’t happen and there’s no way to change that now. We have to move forward.

There are ways to fix this

One comment since the release of 5.0 that has irked me the most is the one that calls for Gutenberg’s immediate removal and gives zero feedback (and may or may not be all capital letters and with lots of exclamation marks). There are a lot of valid criticisms of Gutenberg, but simply saying you hate it with no other information helps a grand total of zero people.

Instead, explain why you don’t like it. Say what problems you’re having. Be descriptive. All of that information can go a long way towards making the new editor something you want to use.

And there are already a lot of  valid criticism about Gutenberg, like accessibility, responsive images and the like. It’s not perfect — far from it even — but like everything else, there are ways to fix it. And describing what’s going on and why you don’t like it instead of just shouting you don’t like it can help it become closer to perfect.

Where to go from here?

Starting with WordPress 5.0, this is the editor users see.

So now the question is where do we as a community go from here? There are people who love it, people who don’t and people stuck in the middle. How do we bridge that divide and keep WordPress moving forward in the open web?

First off, if you’re not a fan of the new editor, go install the Classic Editor plugin right now. There are plans to support that through the next two years, so you’ll be fine as you maybe experiment with the new editor and learn more about it.

But for the rest of us, I think we all just need to take a breather, step away from the fray so to speak and relax. There’s no point in making rash decisions with the immediate emotions. Rarely does anything good come out of that.

And then after that let’s make sure there’s better communication, that Gutenberg continues to get better (plus add in all the accessibility) and that WordPress continues to democratize publishing. 

But through all of this, just remember: Breathe in. And breathe out. Breathe in. And breathe out.

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