WordPress Gutenberg 101

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As you might have noticed we focus a lot of energy on WordPress here at WebDesignBoom. After all, with WordPress now powering 30% of the web the CMS is growing every day and shows no signs of slowing down, so there’s always plenty to talk about. Over the last few months the hot topic on everybody’s lips has undoubtedly been Gutenberg, a huge overhaul of the WordPress Editor that’s planned for inclusion in next month’s milestone 5.0 release.

For those who don’t regularly engage with WordPress but are hoping to learn more, today’s post is for you. There’s a lot of mystery surrounding Gutenberg and the community as a whole seems to be on the fence as to whether its inclusion into WordPress core is a good move. Any discussion about Gutenberg brings with it a number of questions, so today we’re going to tackle some of these head on and help you get up to speed with this divisive new feature.

What exactly is Gutenberg?

Gutenberg is the brand new WordPress visual editor that will replace the Classic Editor when WordPress 5.0 is released. Designed to function like a drag and drop page builder, Gutenberg has been created to make it simpler and more efficient to create eye-catching content in WordPress whether you’re an experienced developer or a newcomer.

What is its history?

Gutenberg’s functionality was conceived off of the back of the Editor Experience Survey, the results of which were shared in April 2017. The 2563 responses were used to give insight into what WordPress users liked and didn’t like about the current editor, providing a potential blueprint for Gutenberg. It’s interesting to look at results to questions that asked which additional plugins users install to enhance the Classic Editor as we’ll likely see a number of these functions integrated into Gutenberg.

Why is it replacing the Classic Editor?

While the Classic Editor has been well used and well loved by the WordPress community for many years, it is a little limiting and outdated. Many inexperienced WordPress users find it confusing, which is why Gutenberg will utilise the drag and drop block functionality.

While Gutenberg is fully replacing the Classic Editor, it’s important to note that it will still be possible to use the Classic Editor on your WordPress site – the Classic Editor plugin is available right now and will allow you to continue using the current editing interface.

When can we use it?

Gutenberg will become core when WordPress 5.0 is released (currently planned for the end of November). If you’re keen to give it go before then you can try Gutenberg out by downloading the Gutenberg plugin. We do recommend trialling the plugin on a test or staging site before rolling it out to a live site, just in case of any potential compatibility issues.

What are the pros?

The block system will make it much easier for newcomers to WordPress to create engaging posts and pages. One of the main draws of Gutenberg is the increased accessibility for all levels of WordPress user.

Speaking of the block system, it makes it simple to create mobile-friendly content so there’s no need to worry about whether or not your latest post will look just as good on a mobile device – another sigh of relief for less experienced users.

Gutenberg is built to boost productivity. The included full-width view will help users focus solely on their content without the distraction of notifications and pop ups from elsewhere.

What are the cons?

The main concern users have focuses around compatibility. With tens of thousands of plugins and themes already in use, and with the average site having at least 10+ active plugins (though this figure can easily reach 50-100 for large sites), it’s easy to see why so many users are concerned that their existing installs will cease to function correctly after the introduction of Gutenberg.

Other issues that have been raised include accessibility issues for developers (particularly when it comes to API use), a lack of meta box support and a lack of markdown support. The biggest issue, though, likely comes down to resistance to change.


With roughly one month to go until Gutenberg’s release, how are you feeling about the impending new editor? Are you excited to try out the new block building system or do you have concerns? Don’t forget to leave a comment to let us know what your thoughts on Gutenberg are.

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