WordPress 5.0 RC 1 was released over the weekend after a string of five betas that began in late October. According to the Gutenberg stats page, more than 1.1 million sites have the Gutenberg plugin installed and users have written more than 980,000 posts using the new editor. These numbers are conservative estimates, as the numbers only include WordPress.com sites and sites running Jetpack.

Most of the changes included in the RC were outlined in the Gutenberg 4.5 release post last week. An update published today shows 12 PRs waiting for review in the 4.6 milestone, 14 open issues in the 5.0.0 milestone, and more than 150 issues open in 5.0.1 and subsequent releases. Dev notes for 5.0 have been published and tagged on the make.wordpress.org/core blog.

WordPress 5.0’s official release date was set for November 27 but after further evaluation the date has been pushed back. Last week WordPress core core committers, contributors, and former release leads made strong, last-minute appeals to hold off RC and defer the release to January. Development is moving forward desipite the pushback. A new release date has not yet been announced. The current plan is to monitor feedback on the RC and the team will make a decision from there.

Mullenweg Responds to Critics on Twitter, Reiterates Vision for Gutenberg

Over the weekend, Matt Mullenweg responded to critics on Twitter who voiced concerns about his leadership and communication throughout WordPress 5.0’s development. One particular post titled “Let’s Take A Very Serious Look At Gutenberg,” written by WordPress developer Cameron Jones, sparked conversation. In response to Cliff Seal, who urged Mullenweg to “re-cast the vision of WordPress in a way that accounts for the apparent urgency of this effort,” Mullenweg responded:

Many people who try to start publishing with WordPress fail; those who don’t struggle with shortcodes, embeds, widgets; those who can toggle to code view to do basic tasks in the editor, and for clients set up elaborate meta-field and CPT based schemes to avoid catastrophe.

Gutenberg aims to solve these problems, improve the WP experience for all its users, and open up independent, open source, beautiful publishing on the web to a class of users that couldn’t publish with WordPress before.

It may seem rushed to people unused to this pace of development and improvement in the WordPress world. However this has been a pace sustained for almost two years now, and we still look slow compared to some modern software. Speed of iteration is enabled by the new tech stack.

It bothers me at a deep, moral level to hold back a user experience that will significantly upgrade the publishing ability and success of tens or hundreds of millions of users. It hasn’t been ready (for core) yet, so it’s not released. I hope it will be soon!

This may all look very quaint in retrospect, when we look back three or five years from now. It’s a tough transition but the foundation Gutenberg enables will be worth it.

Matt Medeiros, another vocal critic of Mullenweg’s leadership on WordPress 5.0, recorded a video, expounding on his concerns about transparency and the rushed pace. He summarized the frustrations that inspired him to make the video.

“While I agree WordPress needs innovation to reach new users that desperately require freedom over their content, especially within the context of today’s social networks, I don’t agree and am also discouraged by Matt not sharing the product vision with the community,” Medeiros said. “It’s polarizing to build software under the guise of openness with a mission to democratize publishing, but not give the same people volunteering to ‘Five for the Future’ a voice for the future.

“Lack of communication, not Gutenberg or the team developing it, has lead to the current divide and we’re left asking — why? WordPress has always had a branding problem and this continues to muddy the lines between open source project and WordPress the ‘product.’”

The 5.0 release is heading into the home stretch but Gutenberg has several phases ahead with many more years of development. Mullenweg’s responses on Twitter over the weekend indicate he is interested in keeping the lines of communication open throughout the process. He said he plans to dedicate more time to responding directly to feedback.

“One thing will try: I’m going to open up some listening office hours in the next week so people can talk directly,” Mullenweg said. “I want everyone to be and feel heard, as they have been since the beginning of this process in 2016.”