Gutenberg: How to test the latest updates

Preparing to support your clients

WordPress has undergone quite a lot of change in the past three years. In WordPress 5.0, the Block Editor was released as part of the Gutenberg project. Since then, many new features have reached WordPress by starting in the Gutenberg plugin. Let’s look at how to test these features before they are available in WordPress updates.

Gutenberg vs. Block Editor

Insert the Post List Block

The Block Editor may also commonly be referred to as Gutenberg. Gutenberg is a plugin where the latest features of the Block Editor are made available first. While the Block Editor is available to all WordPress installed from 5.0 and up, Gutenberg the plugin can provide even more features that have not yet been merged into the core WordPress software.

The features in the Gutenberg plugin are considered ready for testing on a site that is not live but may not be completely ready to be merged. In addition to testing out the features coming to WordPress via the Gutenberg plugin, you might also want to test integration between future features with plugins and themes you’ve created. You might also want to compare upcoming features with any training resources that you create.

Full Site Editing

Full site Editor Template Hierarchy

When WordPress 5.8 launched, some features of Full Site Editing could be accessed if you ran the Gutenberg plugin. Areas like Template Parts were accessible if you were using the Gutenberg plugin and a theme that supports Full Site Editing.

By using the combination of the plugin and theme, features that are not yet part of WordPress core software become available. This matters when you are testing the site functionality for your clients. You’ll want to be familiar with what clients will potentially experience when their site is updated to the latest version of WordPress.

Getting familiar with so many changes before it is released can help you prepare, and also provide you with an opportunity to test and give feedback. By testing in advance, your voice can be heard by participating in calls for testing or submitting a bug for Gutenberg or WordPress core software.

Testing the latest features in WordPress

During our GoDaddy Pro Meetup, we reviewed each of these options and how to locate issues in Gutenberg’s Issue Tracker for testing with Birgit Pauli-Hack of Gutenberg Times, Andy Fragen of Git Updater, and GoDaddy sponsored Gutenberg developer George Mamadashvili. Tune in below for a deep dive into how to use these plugins in conjunction and how to get started testing features in the Gutenberg plugin.

In addition to installing the Gutenberg plugin from the WordPress plugin directory, there are additional ways to test new features coming to WordPress.

  1. WordPress Beta Tester — This plugin will enable you to upgrade your website to the latest Nightly, Beta, or Release Candidate at the click of a button using the built-in upgrader. Note: this should not be used on a live site or on a managed hosting server. Consider using a local sandbox for your testing needs. If you want to test the absolute latest features, turn on nightly updates.
  2. Git Updater — While not part of the WordPress plugin directory, this free plugin enables you to have access to install plugins from GitHub and other locations. The Pro features of the plugin enable branch switching, connecting to private repositories, and more.
  3. Gutenberg Nightlies — If you’d like to combine the Gutenberg plugin to test the most current version of the Gutenberg plugin, follow these tips from Birgit to get the latest version
  4. Combining these — As Birgit notes on the Gutenberg Nightlies directions, you can combine the plugins above to have an ongoing way to receive the latest updates without needing to download the new version manually.