The past week was filled with several important bits of news regarding the upcoming WordPress 5.0 release. The official release date has been set for November 19, 2018, and a new default theme, Twenty Nineteen, has been announced. Here’s what these announcements mean for you.
WordPress 5.0 will release November 19 (Update: December 6)
Perhaps the most important news is the announcement of the WordPress 5.0 official release date. WordPress 5.0 has been in the works for well over a year, and Gutenberg is already available in the form of a public preview. However, as we’ve mentioned before, WordPress 5.0 will build Gutenberg into the WordPress core, meaning that you’ll want to install the Classic Editor plugin if you wish to continue using the existing editor instead of Gutenberg. Originally scheduled for April 2018, the release was delayed until November 19 and again until December 6.
Accessibility with WordPress 5.0
The Gutenberg editor becoming default is particularly important if you require accessibility assistance. Ironically, Gutenberg provides additional tools to help you ensure your content is accessibility-friendly, but as we highlighted last week, Gutenberg is lacking in accessibility support for its users. (It’s also worth noting that since we wrote our post on accessibility in Gutenberg, the WordPress team responded with an update of their own.) You’ll also want to make sure your theme is compatible with Gutenberg, especially if you use a page builder plugin or theme.
If you’d like to learn how to use Gutenberg before you update to WordPress 5.0, our Learn WordPress course includes a walkthrough video tutorial demonstrating page building with Gutenberg.
Twenty Nineteen theme announced
The other big news this week was the announcement of the Twenty Nineteen theme. Ever since 2010, WordPress has created a new default theme every year. Before that, the default theme, Kubrick, had been bundled with WordPress for 5 years and became dated by the time the Twenty Ten theme was released. In the words of the WordPress team back in 2012: “This gives the theme an expiration date and it doesn’t have the pressure to be the end-all theme for the ages, because it’ll be replaced in the next year rather than in five years.”
Since then, 2018 was the first time the annual theme was skipped. Due to the immense work required to prepare Gutenberg for its public launch, the team decided to skip Twenty Eighteen and allow the Twenty Seventeen theme to persist for two years. This was expected and was announced in advance in 2017. But now that WordPress 5.0 is nearing its public launch, the team has begun work on Twenty Nineteen and provided a preview of the theme.
The new theme is sleek, modern, and simple, allowing Gutenberg to shine. It is designed to integrate with Gutenberg seamlessly, providing minimal page styling so you can use Gutenberg blocks to create the look you want. This is the same technique many themes with built-in page builders like Divi take, and makes sense for a default Gutenberg theme. From the preview images, it looks to be focused on blogger websites, but it could also be used for a full-fledged business website as well.
The theme is currently in development and is not yet ready for public use. The team is hoping to have Twenty Nineteen ready to launch with WordPress 5.0, but they may opt to wait to release the theme in a later version of WordPress if it’s not ready by the time the WordPress 5.0 launch date arrives. Regardless, we should see Twenty Nineteen release in late 2018 or early 2019.
If you’re using a theme that is compatible with Gutenberg, there’s no reason to feel the need to switch. However, if you’re searching for a new look for your site or you need to find a theme that will work better with Gutenberg, Twenty Nineteen could be a good option for you.