Episode 1: Are you prepared for Gutenberg?

In the debut episode of the Coywolf Podcast, Jon Henshaw talks about the upcoming chaos that Gutenberg is going to cause when WordPress 5.0 is released on November 27, and how you can avoid it.

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Welcome to the first episode of the Coywolf podcast. I am your host, Jon Henshaw. Thanks for listening. It’s just you and me. And I don’t know if you’re in your car alone or maybe you’re with somebody else, and they’re like, “Why are you listening to this guy?” You’re like, “I don’t know.” And they’re like, “What’s he talking about now? I don’t understand any of this,” or maybe it’s just you and me. We’ll just go with it’s just you and me and we’re gonna have a special time together.

So with the podcast, my plan is to talk about certain things that are on my mind in the world of digital marketing. It may be things that I’ve written on the site. It might be interviews where I question interesting people with interesting things to say. If they aren’t interesting then you won’t hear it or about them because what would be the point of that? That would probably be … I don’t know, a waste of everybody’s time.

If you’ve been on the site then you know that the very first article that was written was about leverage RSS, Really Simple Syndication, and it’s funny because when I was asking other people about this, and I was saying, “Oh yeah I really wanna write about RSS,” nobody was interested and yet, look at me, I don’t care. I went ahead and did it anyway. I made it the very first article because that’s just how I am. Had to get it out of my brain and onto virtual paper. I’m hoping that one, you read it, and two, you get something from it because there is a ton of stuff that I incorporate every day into my life. It is usually involving Feedly, which is the best RSS reader. I just absolutely love Feedly and I do pretty much everything I mention in that article.

It’s a long article and it mentions a lot of different things, but I do pretty much everything. That will be the case with everything that gets written on Coywolf and gets discussed here for the most part. If I recommend something. If I say I’m using a particular service, it’s not because somebody paid me to say it or it’s some sort of ad, it’s because I’m using it. I’m never going to recommend something that I’m not using. I’m never going to suggest that you do something that I wouldn’t do myself or wouldn’t be doing already.

Anyways, WordPress 5.0 and Gutenberg. This is going to be a doozy. This, I do not think that the WordPress community is quite prepared for how much of a mess this is going to be. I just published an article about how to test Gutenberg on your site without doing it on your live site, and also the best way to update to WordPress 5.0. And went I went through this process myself and of course wrote about it, I was really surprised at what broke and what caused things to break because I barely run any plugins. I literally can count the amount of plugins I have on my WordPress site with my two hands and I don’t even need all the fingers. But I do need that second hand because there are a couple fingers that go with the other five.

I installed this thing in what I call the Development environment on WPEngine. The first thing I did – because it’s the first thing I wanted to see and is the thing that’s going to be the biggest problem with WordPress 5 – was go to an existing post. And so I went, clicked Edit and got a big white blank screen. So that was not a good start. Then I was curious to know what would happen if I created a new post. Maybe the problem was with the old post but got I experienced the same result. And so I went through the process of deactivating plugins in my Development environment and then going back to post to see if that fixed it.

I did everything but the Yoast SEO plugin because that was the least likely thing that would cause it to break and of course, it ended up being the Yoast SEO plugin. As soon as I had left everything activated and deactivated that, then it actually worked. But it’s not really fair to Yoast because out of all the plugins I use, in fact out of all the plugins that are out there, I would say that Yoast is the most prepared plugin. They have been working on the WordPress Core. They have been preparing their plugin for this forever. It’s not really indicative of the quality of their plugin. It was actually also really easy to fix. It was just going from 9.0.2 to 9.0.3, and also in their defense, I was running WordPress 5 Beta 2, so that’s, you know. You can’t make everything work in an environment that is changing literally nightly.

But imagine all the people out there that have a ton of plugins. Because when I say all the people I mean a lot of people. I mean most of the people are running a ton of plugins and what do I mean by a ton of plugins? I mean to me, a ton of plugins is more than 10. I wouldn’t be surprised if the average number of plugins that people are running isn’t closer to 15-20 or more. I think that’s a pretty safe estimate. You can even gather that from just the themes that most people use.

When you download a theme now, even the themes require that you have a bunch of different plugins just to make the theme work, let alone all the other plugins that everybody ends up downloading to do all the cool things that ultimately slow down their site and make it awful to use. So if we think about the amount of sites that are running WordPress out there and we think about this November 19th date when this is gonna be released, not only is it going to be a UX disaster when people are like, “What do I do with this Gutenberg interface?” But they’re gonna be in for a surprise when their plugins break stuff. They’re gonna be in for a surprise when they find out that their plugin doesn’t even work in Gutenberg.

Another example is Gravity Forms and again, both of these plugin makers, both Yoast, and Gravity Forms are at the top of their game. They actually are the most prepared, but Gravity Forms doesn’t work unless you know about their add-on. They made an add-on that you have to install separately in order for it to even work inside of the Gutenberg editor. I had two problems. Maybe really just one once it launches because I really think there’s hardly … there’s about a 0% chance that when it’s launched that any version of Yoast is not gonna work. It’s gonna work ’cause like I said, they have their act together. But I might be a little shocked if I’m running Gravity Forms and I can’t do anything and I didn’t know there was an add-on.

I think it’s gonna be a big deal. I think it’s just gonna blow up into everybody’s faces and it’s gonna be a mess. I think we’re just going to have a mess for probably a good three or six months. There is a way around it. I talk about how if things don’t work if your plugins don’t work in Gutenberg, there are still things you can still do. It’s not hopeless or anything. I just think there’s going to be a lot of confusion and a lot of people are going to be frustrated for several months. I don’t think it’s going to be an easy transition.

That’s all I have to say for today. I know it’s hard to believe. I feel like we just started to get to know each other, but that’s okay. We’re going to have a lot more conversations with each other and you’ll even be able to listen in on some conversations that I’m going to have with other people. Interesting people, of course, as we’ve already stated.

I encourage you to go to coywolf.pro and check out the content there, check out the membership page. Membership is pretty cool, mainly because you get some pretty nice free swag and you also get early access to content and get access to some premium content that is currently being made. Some in-depth guides that I’m pretty excited about sharing. I just need to finish writing them! They’re so long. But they’re so good.

Thanks for listening and until next time.

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Jon Henshaw

Jon is the founder of Coywolf and the EIC and the primary author reporting for Coywolf News. He is an industry veteran with over 25 years of digital marketing and internet technologies experience. Follow @[email protected]