This is not a new question. Not for me personally, not for the team at LexBlog, and certainly not for hundreds of thousands of site managers, theme and plugin developers, and generally interested members of the WordPress community.
Generally, as the WordPress core team prepares a new release, the question of when a new version will be available gets clearer with time. It certainly doesn’t surprise me that WordPress 5.0 is a considerably different animal.
While 5.0 was slated for release November 27th, it became readily apparent just a few days before the majority of the United States headed toward their annual food coma that the date was not going to be met. On November 21st, Matias Ventura posted on WordPress.org that meeting the previously established timelines was not going to be possible. Without being on the team working on the project and intimately involved in the development, it’s hard to know the exact reason for the delay. Anyone that’s worked on software can make the same guesses that I would (scope is hard, triaging is hard, meeting deadlines is the hardest).
What I find most interesting at this juncture is that it’s a legitimately open question as to when WordPress 5.0 (and, by extension, Gutenberg) will be ready. In Gary Pendergast’s post on October 3rd, a plan was articulated that seemed to indicate it 5.0 did not launch November 27th the release date would fall back to mid-January:
We know there is a chance that 5.0 will need additional time, so these dates can slip by up to 8 days if needed. If additional time beyond that is required, we will instead aim for the following dates:
Secondary RC 1: January 8, 2019
Secondary Release: January 22, 2019
However, the core team has been relatively quiet as to the new release date. Honestly, this doesn’t strike me as the worst thing. In reading the room, it seems clear that the Gutenberg team is slowly burning out as the codebase sits in a silo, waiting to be released, while the rest of the core team seems shell-shocked by the constant barrage of complaints. It might be time to take a moment to let everyone catch their breath.
When I’ve encountered constantly slipping deadlines, that’s generally been my approach. Why are these deadlines being missed? What could I do to manage expectations better; both for the stakeholders and the resources working on the project?
Of course, I’m not working on a project that powers nearly a third of the internet. That would fall to Mr. Mullenweg, who continues to take a strong stance on the speed and development of the new editor:
At LexBlog, our stance has not significantly changed. We’re still working to support the new editing experience, and are wrapping up the last remaining tickets to ensure feature parity with Gutenberg. This is primarily so that internally, we can use and test the new editor well before our clients do, and so that when we do have clients using Gutenberg, our team knows all of the ins and outs of the new interface. This post was written in Gutenberg, my blog has Gutenberg activated, and I continue to activate the plugin on internal properties where I can get away with it 😉 When WordPress 5.0 launches, we’ll move to update our platform as usual, but install the Classic Editor plugin so that our customers can continue writing without having to learn an entirely new interface and we can slowly introduce Gutenberg working with our publishers as we go.
We’re fortunate to have that luxury. We have a great team of developers, and an even better team that directly supports our clients on a daily basis. Not everyone has a team of people working to manage their digital properties, and not everyone managing sites has a team of people behind them. It’s this community of WordPress users (and they make up the bulk of them) that I feel the worst for as we wait for updates.