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Gutenberg is the Biggest Ever Open Source Software Release

WordPress 5 is available today. The headline feature is the new Gutenberg editor

This is perhaps the biggest single-day release in the history of open source software. That's no exaggeration. I'm unable to think of any other change that was so significant and was quickly pushed out to over 30% of the web.

PHP versions impact over 50% of the web, but they take years to roll out. 3 years after the launch of PHP 7, more than half of PHP servers are still running PHP 5.

Drupal 8 was a massive undertaking, but even 3 years after it was launched, only 25% of Drupal sites are updated.

Did Magento 2 do any better? 3 years after it was launched, Magento 2 runs less than 20,000 sites. WordPress 5 will probably see that many downloads every couple of minutes. Bootstrap 4? Angular 2? Really nothing comes close. 

It's difficult to wrap my mind around how much more market share WordPress than any similar platform.

There is a downside to that massive popularity. The WordPress team are under a lot of scrutiny and so far, they haven't always performed well. The reviews of Gutenberg are poor. The project management of the release has been terrible. There are major accessibility and backwards comptability problems. There are significant obstacles that will prevent many sites from updating. Most major hosting companies have announced they won't be updating customer sites until at least January. 

For the first time, the WordPress install base will be significantly split. At least in the short term, a significant percentage of users will remain on WordPress 4.

But, WordPress are burning their boats with Gutenberg. There is no turning back. At WordCamp US this week, Matt plans to announce Phase 2, Phase 3 and possibly even Phase 4 of the Gutenberg project.

Matt has already appointed two leads for Phase 2 of Gutenberg:

Phase 2 is about thinking outside the box, namely the post and page box, to allow Gutenberg to handle entire-site layouts. We will replace widgets with blocks, so any block will be able to be used in any registered “sidebar” for legacy themes, and we will upgrade “menus” to a navigation block.

Phase 4 may involve multilingual features in the WordPress core.

Today is only the end of the beginning for Gutenberg. This is a new era for WordPress. And we probably won't know for 6 months whether that is a good or bad thing for WordPress.

Here's the official launch video for WordPress 5:



Gutenberg and OSTraining

I'll be honest, we were a little caught by surprise this week. Almost everyone, including most training companies, expected Gutenberg to be released in January. That has meant a mad scramble to get ready for today. We're hard at work on updates to OSTraining videos and books.

The WooCommerce Explained and Genesis Explained books are ready.

Next week, we'll release updates for the WordPress Beginner videos and the WordPress Explained book. Over the next few weeks and months, we'll work on updating our wider library of videos and books.

Gutenberg is built in React, and we plan to have the React Explained book available in the next couple of weeks.

Also next week, look for a report from WordCamp US in Nashville on what you can expect in the next phases of Gutenberg.


More Gutenberg Reading


About the author

Steve is the founder of OSTraining. Originally from the UK, he now lives in Sarasota in the USA. Steve's work straddles the line between teaching and web development.