How the WordPress 5.0 Release Schedule Happened

WordPress 5.0 and the new block-based Gutenberg editor is finally being released today! (…that’s the 6th of December 2018). But how did we get here? How did we get to the release of this all-new revolutionary change to WordPress? Let’s take a quick look.

Summer Ramp Up

Over the summer of 2018 WordPress 4.9.8 was released which contained the famous ‘Gutenberg Prompt’ – you’ve probably seen it but here’s a screenshot:

Get Ready for WordPress Gutenberg
Get Ready for WordPress Gutenberg

This is the first time the majority of WordPress users ever saw anything about the new editor which was first announced back in January 2017.

There was a lot of talk and bluster after this about the release of WordPress 5.0 around this time but it only started to get serious as we move into October…

October 31, 2018

In late October a new release schedule was released which outlined the following dates:

  • Beta 2: October 29, 2018
  • Beta 3: November 2, 2018
  • Beta 4: November 5, 2018
  • Release Candidate 1: November 12, 2018
  • WordPress 5.0: November 19, 2018

November 5, 2018

This initial release schedule was quickly clarified by the community on November 5th with this comment in the ‘Beta 3’ release post:

WordPress 5.0 is slated for release on November 19, and we need your help to get there. Here are some of the big issues that we’ve fixed since Beta 2

The post also contained this delightful haiku with the claim that 5.0 was “just two short weeks away” see:

November 9, 2018

Just a few days later – things changed with this announcement:

“…the initial November 19th target date is looking a bit too soon for a release date…”

And a new proposed target date:

“the release date is now targeted for Tuesday, November 27th”

It was also around this time that it was announced that the Classic Editor plugin, which is essentially a way to block all of the fancy new editing options in WordPress 5.0, would be officially supported until the year 2021:

Classic Editor is the recommended way to seamlessly upgrade to WordPress 5.o at low-risk so this was received well by the community. It is estimated that the majority of users who have issues with the release of 5.0 will be asked to install this plugin to regain stability on their site.

November 27, 2018

Unfortunately November 27th came and went with no real significant announcement on the release.

At this point things were getting tense in the community with some searching for a release date before the end of 2018 and other wishing to push back on the release ‘indefinitely’ citing issues with the Gutenberg editor related to accessibility, backwards compatibility and stability

November 29, 2018

To combat some of the negative community comments Matt opened up what he called ‘Listening Office Hours‘ which would run “Thursday through Sunday” on an first-come-first served basis.

This was a way for anyone in the community to spend 15 minutes of quality time with Matt and discuss the release of WordPress 5.0 and Gutenberg.

As far as I can tell none of the comments or feedback from these sessions has been made public but what happened soon after is evidence that these sessions went well…

December 4, 2018

Just a few days into December the new target release date of WordPress 5.0 was announced to be Thursday December 6th.

The reaction to this was mixed with high-ranking community members accusing Matt of pushing the release forward to align with the dates of WordCamp US in which is happening in Nashville the weekend of the 7-9 of December.

Pushback from the community on this new release date was clear and not everyone agrees that releasing such a significant update during the holiday-period OR just hours before a large WordPress-focused conference that the majority of core contributors will be attending is the best idea – but Matt and the release team stuck to this date and we should see WordPress 5.0 rolling out soon.

The Negatives

I won’t go into any more of the negatives in this post. You can get a flavour from reading the extensive comments on the release post and form your own opinion.

The Positives

Personally, I’d like to get WordPress 5.0 out ASAP (before 2019) so this is great for me and wonderful news for our agency. We’ve been using the Gutenberg editor (active via a plugin) on projects since the start of 2018 and our team have a solid understanding of how to develop for it and the positive change it will bring to the work we offer.

Sure, we have a lot of old clients who will unfortunately not be bestowed with this new editing experience, but that’s fine, this is why the Classic Editor plugin exists.

What Next?

If you need to get up-to-speed on modern WordPress development, directly related to WordPress 5.0, then try:

Good luck everyone! Here’s to a Gutenberg-filled 2019!


It’s now officially WordPress 5.0 Release Day! and:

The current plan is to start the release process at Thursday, December 6, 2018, 5:00 PM GMT, in the #core channel in the Making WordPress Slack.

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