WordPress 4.9.8 has just been released, and with it, a banner will appear on your WordPress Admin Dashboard asking users to “Try Gutenberg, “ or “Install the Classic Editor.”

The new Gutenberg editor is certainly exciting and offers an easier, more visually intuitive editing experience. However, as the new editor is still being vetted before finally being released in WordPress 5.0, it’s important to test compatibility in a safe way on your website.

On the WP Engine platform, we offer the ability to copy your site to a staging or development environment for testing before making the changes live. With that in mind, these sandboxed copies of your site are ideal places to test all the Gutenberg functionality to ensure you are fully prepared! Follow the steps below to get ready to try Gutenberg.

Step 1: Make a backup

Start by making a backup of your current production website. To do this, head to your WP Engine User Portal and navigate to the production environment for your website. From the left-hand navigation menu, select Backup points.

In the center, click the button to Back up now to create a new backup point for your production website.

Name the backup something easily identifiable (“Before trying Gutenberg” in this example), and type the email address at which you would like to be notified when the backup is completed.

Wait for an email notification confirming the backup was completed before moving on to the next step.

Step 2: Copy to Staging/Development

The next step is to make a copy of your production website over to a staging or development environment. (Note: This guide assumes you are using WP Engine’s new User Portal interface. If you don’t have a “Sites” page at the top of your User Portal, check out our guide for Legacy Staging instead).

To copy your site, select “Copy to” in the top right of the Overview page for your environment, and select Staging or Development. If you have not created a Staging or Development environment for your website yet, these options will be greyed out–just click “Add Staging” or “Add Development” from the lower left-hand navigation to add an environment first if needed!

In the “Copy environment” pane, select the backup you made in Step 1, and choose whether to include the database (most times this should be “yes”). Enter your email address for notifications, and click “Preview copy.”

Confirm the details look correct in your Preview, then click “Copy environment.” When you receive an email confirming the copy is complete, you may login to your staging or development environment using the same credentials as your production website.

Step 3: Try Gutenberg

Now that you have made a backup and copied to a staging or development environment, it’s time to test out the new Gutenberg editor. Start by going to Dashboard > Updates in your staging or development environment site, and update to WordPress to 4.9.8. Once the update completes, you will see a large banner on the Dashboard page with one of three messages:

  • Install Gutenberg – if you do not have the WordPress plugin for Gutenberg installed this will install the plugin.
  • Activate Gutenberg – if you have the Gutenberg plugin installed but not activated, this button will activate the Gutenberg plugin and take you to a test post in the Gutenberg editor.
  • Try Gutenberg – if you have the Gutenberg plugin installed and active, this button will take you to a test post in the Gutenberg editor.

Because you are in a safe, copied sandbox environment, you can safely test the Gutenberg editor here. Take a look around the new editor and make sure the editing experience makes sense, and that any custom fields your plugins or theme have added to the editor page still appear. After running these initial checks, the Gutenberg team would also appreciate users taking a Usability test to report on your experience. If you encounter any incompatibilities or issues, the Gutenberg team wants to know! You can contribute by testing features, testing and reporting on plugin compatibilityfiling bugs for issues, or contributing as a developer to the Github repository.

Optional: Install the Classic Editor

If you encounter issues with your own custom plugins or custom theme, and are worried that Gutenberg might be released before these can be updated for compatibility, not to worry! Installing the Classic Editor plugin is a safe and easy way to ensure you can continue using the standard WordPress editor (even after Gutenberg is released), until you are ready to transition to Gutenberg.

To install the Classic Editor, click “Install the Classic Editor” from the large pane on your Dashboard page, then click “Activate” when prompted. With this plugin active, it will override the Gutenberg editor and ensure all posts are created and edited using the classic editing experience.