Did Disaster Strike Your WordPress Site?

WordPress 5.0 is finally being pushed out the door on December 6th, 2018. For some, it is none too soon to gain access to the new WordPress block editor that has been codenamed “Gutenberg”. For others, there appear to be way too many issues still needing to be fixed before the new replacement editor takes over the millions of WordPress sites all over the internet. But some of you will be here reading this post because you went to work on your WordPress site and now you are pulling your hair out and shouting…

My WordPress Site is BROKEN!!!!!!

Several things might have happened to your site:

  • You may not be able to edit pages that you previously were able to edit.
  • The entire layout of your page or post has changed when you went to edit.
  • You might not even be able to access the edit screen.
  • You may have Server Error 500 pages or just plain white screens.
  • You might not even know what to do when you go to write your next post.

Now many of these issues can be taken care of fairly quickly for those who develop with and are comfortable with WordPress code. But most people who use WordPress use it because it is easy and comfortable to publish content.

So, you are here looking for direction. There are several steps you can take to bring your site back to its original usability state.

Install the Disable Gutenberg Plugin

Because of the WordPress 5.0 change in default editor, many users will experience an unwelcome (and even broken) user experience. The easiest way to deal with this is to install the Disable Gutenberg plugin that was written by one of the authors of the popular DigWP WordPress instructional book.  If you’ve never installed a plugin before, it is fairly easy (but you can always ask your developer/site maintainer to install it for you).

  1. Login to your WordPress Administrator Dashboard at https://yourdomain.com/wp-admin
  2. Go to the Plugins section on the left side menu.
  3. Click the Add New button at the top of that page
  4. Search for Disable Gutenberg on the right side search box.
  5. Click the Install Now on the box that contains the Disable Gutenberg information.
  6. When the button changes to Activate, click the button.
  7. You will now have your original (prior to the WordPress 5.0 upgrade) editing experience.

The Disable Gutenberg has a number of additional features and options, but if you are uncomfortable changing settings on a WordPress site, you can just leave it as is for the time being. In the meantime, I would encourage you to reach out to someone who can help better customize your WordPress experience and allow you to get back to running your business or sharing your content.

Side Note: If things continue failing on your site, there may be other issues with the WordPress 5.0 release that are unrelated to the new block editor taking over the content system. (It could be due to plugins and themes you use or even custom code required to run on your website.) You may want to possible consider migrating over to a fork of WordPress called ClassicPress that maintains full compatibility with all current WordPress themes and plugins but does not include any of the additional features added into WordPress 5.0 core.

What about specific issues that may arise with WordPress 5.0?

If you are still reading this post, you probably have issues on your WordPress site that are much bigger than just a new editor experience. In fact, WordPress 5.0 introduced some code breaking features that older WordPress sites and hosting environments don’t support.

  • I can’t see my post/page editor (or its blank). The reason for this is that the new block editor in WordPress 5.0 requires the REST API in WordPress to be enabled. Many sites disabled this feature in WordPress due to potential security concerns as well as having it open the door to anyone having access to all of your content. Also, in a major breaking change, WordPress 5.0’s new block editor is completely built with Javascript and therefore you MUST have javascript enabled (even though you or your company) may have disabled javascript for security concerns. If you want to use the new WordPress 5.0 block editor, you must re-enable javascript in your browser because there is no fallback for non-javascript users.
  • My copy/paste method adds weird formatting. These are bugs that have already been reported, yet nothing has been done. If you are used to copy/pasting your content from a Word document into WordPress, you may find that random spaces will get eliminated and formatting ignored under the new block editor system.
  • You are missing your custom taxonomies. With the new block editor requiring you to use the REST API in order to render the entire editor experience, it is possible your custom taxonomies are not supporting the show_in_rest attribute. This can be done by setting that attribute to true in your code.
  • All my ACF field visibility controls are ignored. So you spent all sorts of time (or your developer did) building a nice custom content entry system for your site. But now EVERY field is visible regardless of visibility settings. This is a known bug and the core developers have said it will be fixed in future versions of WordPress. But for now, if you upgraded to WordPress 5.0, you are stuck with it. (Unless you use the above Disable Gutenberg or the Classic Editor plugin)
  • When I add images they jump to different places. Another known bug that has been said will be fixed in future versions of WordPress. For now, you have to disable the new block editor in order to use images properly.
  • My custom fields used to interact with the content. Not anymore, they will have to be completely rewritten to use an entirely new event delegation because all the meta / custom fields now load after the entire new block editor loads.
  • All my custom TinyMCE editor buttons are missing. The functionality of the “Classic Block” inside the new block editor seems to be having trouble with the TinyMCE filter that all addon buttons use to load. Not sure when this would be fixed.
  • I need to update a link in a prior post. You are out of luck with the new block editor. It is a known bug that you are unable to change link settings/attributes on prior posts. You will have to convert out of the classic editor into a stand-alone block and then edit. There is supposed to be a fix in a future version of WordPress.

I’m sure there are many more than these that I’ve posted. So let’s get down to the nitty-gritty.

Currently, I do not recommend updating yours or your client’s websites to WordPress 5.0 – I recommend a wait and test approach that will protect you and your clients.

(Someone asked why… forget all the bugs and issues and brand new editing experience. WordPress 5.0 and the new block editor is being pushed out the door on the eve of the largest WordPress developer conference of the year. Many of the largest development companies will be AWAY for the conference and won’t even be able to support everyone through this time.  So, wait and test is the way to go.)

Steps forward

  1. It is my recommendation that you do not upgrade to WordPress 5.0 when you see that shiny “There’s a new version of WordPress… click here to upgrade” button.
  2. Install Disable Gutenberg or the Classic Editor plugin on all of your sites that you are using in production.
  3. Make a Backup of all your sites TODAY!
  4. Test all of your sites in a test environment to make sure the upgrade will not break anything important or necessary for your workflow.

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