A tentative 5.0 release schedule was published during today’s core dev chat. The official release is targeted for November 19, 2018 with beta 1 expected October 19 and RC 1 released October 30.

In addition to getting Gutenberg merged into core, the scope for 5.0 includes a few new items that Gary Pendergast outlined in his post:

  • Updating the default themes to work well with the block editor, and creating the new Twenty Nineteen theme.
  • Creating an upgrade experience to remove the Gutenberg plugin and offer the Classic Editor plugin.

November 19 is the week of the Thanksgiving holiday in the U.S., when many are traveling or spending time with friends and family. As this is scheduled during a busy time of year and may have unexpected delays, the release leads have come up with a backup plan that includes a secondary schedule.

“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,” Pendergast said. His post proposes an additional timeline that would have 5.0 land in January:

Secondary RC 1: January 8, 2019

Secondary Release: January 22, 2019

“The current release date is November 19, but it can be pushed as late as November 27 if needed,” Pendergast said. “To avoid the numerous holidays from the end of November through to January, we’ll move the release to January if more time is needed.”

Although the backup timeline should allay concerns about December holidays, if the release is at all delayed, it will run up against the Thanksgiving holiday.

“Should we need to switch to the secondary dates, this will be communicated as soon as we’re aware,” Pendergast said. “It’s also important to note that we have some updates for PHP 7.3 compatibility that must be released in 2018 regardless, and we would have a short 4.9.9 release cycle for them if needed.”

Contributors had the opportunity to ask questions of the release leads during today’s 5.0 kickoff meeting. There was some uncertainty in yesterday’s announcements about whether 5.0 will ship a new default theme. Matt Mullenweg confirmed that they are aiming to get Twenty Nineteen into 5.0.

“It’s the biggest variable though, so if it takes longer we won’t delay the release for it,” Mullenweg said.

Twenty Nineteen development will happen on GitHub and contributors can join the discussion in the #core-themes Slack channel where regular meetings will happen.

Gutenberg engineer Riad Benguella posted a technical overview of the integration process for merging the new editor into core. He also laid out a plan for how Gutenberg development will continue in the future.

“After WordPress 5.0 is released, the Gutenberg plugin will continue to exist,” Benguella said. “Its purpose will be changed to the development and the maintenance of the WordPress npm packages, including the editor itself, and will also serve to develop the second phase (site customization) of the Gutenberg project. Plugin updates will continue to be released during the 5.0 cycle.

“The PHP part of the plugin won’t be needed anymore, as the plugin will just register new versions of the scripts of the packages to replace the ones already registered by Core.”

Mullenweg confirmed during the dev chat that the team plans to add a link to the Classic Editor plugin in the admin when 5.0 ships. Overall, contributors in attendance seemed excited about the prospect of finally having the new editor in core, despite the ambitious timeline proposed for release.

“A big benefit even beyond the user improvements is that plugin and theme developers will be able to truly use it as a base in a way that they can’t right now as a plugin,” Mullenweg said. “If previous adoption curves hold true, we’d be on 10m sites (20x current adoption) by new year.”

Gutenberg development has been moving quickly and after it is shipped to millions of WordPress users there are bound to be more issues discovered. Mullenweg said quick point releases may be an option for maintaining the flexibility to introduce fixes and improvements in a timely way for users.

“Since 5.0 will be very tight (just Gutenberg, PHP 7.3, and possibly theme) I am open to having 5.0.x releases that are like the 4.9.x releases that bring in some larger updates or improvements we push off, like servehappy stuff,” he said.

Gutenberg technical lead Matias Ventura has outlined the tasks remaining on the editor. An updated schedule for the 5.0 release cycle is now available for the public to follow. Gary Pendergast, who is shepherding the merge, said he expects WordPress 5.1 will be available around March 2019.