WordPress version 5.0 finally arrived very late in the day for people outside the USA. By the next morning it became obvious it was breaking websites.
For some people, especially those who had WP installed by using a one-click installer, it was the first time they had even heard of Gutenberg, and they wondered what on earth had happened to their editor.
Browsing the official “Fixing WordPress” forum, you can see some people cannot edit anything and others can’t even access their site.
And what is the advice offered? Install the Classic Editor plugin. In other words, “It don’t work!”
Some of the issues can be fixed by clearing your browser’s cache and others by disabling all your plugins and finding which one or ones are not compatible. But some people are being greeted with the white screen of death or a one line server error message.
For the average user, these sorts of problems and fixes are way beyond their understanding. If they needed to use a one-click installer, then chances are they don’t even know what FTP means, let alone anything more technical.
Those of us who are at least somewhat tech-savvy, have known there may be problems and we know what our fallback options are. But there is no excuse for WordPress releasing such a disruptive update on the general public.
If the only way to avoid problems or even to get your site working again is to install the Classic Editor plugin, then Gutenberg is a monstrous failure. It should never have been released until it was known it would work on the majority of sites.
Plugin developers are just as angry as users, if not more so. They pleaded with WP not to release V5.0 until next January at the earliest. They weren’t ready themselves and partly because the RC versions of Gutenberg were a moving target. They modified their plugin, Gutenberg changed, their plugin broke again.
In all my years of using WordPress, I have never seen such a complete balls up, for want of a better term. WordPress only have themselves to blame. Users have been begging them to keep Gutenberg as a plugin, but they wouldn’t listen. Now you need to install a plugin to disable what should have already been a plugin.
I don’t know what it is about the “15 year mark” with companies, but Meetup made a similar mistake in December last year. Despite massive push-back from users, they completely redesigned the interface, removing features group organizers needed to run their groups.
Consequently, Meetup users have spent 2018 with an interface that is stuck half way between the old and new versions, and virtually useless as a result. Like Gutenberg, this was done in the name of progress, and to “modernize” the platform for the increasing number of people using mobile devices to visit Meetup.
It seems that in the name of progress, developers have lost sight of the fact that content is created on desktops, not phones or tablets. It may be viewed on these devices, but you certainly don’t mess with your site content on them!
No doubt, WordPress will come up with the same platitudes Meetup did when trying to deal with user complaints. And the end result will be the same – angry and fed up users, who will look for better alternatives. Empires rise and fall and on the internet that fall can happen virtually overnight.
Hopefully I’m wrong and WordPress will bring out a working update in double-quick time. But the damage has been done.