Ready for Gutenberg – the new WordPress editor?

Release expected in April 2018 with WordPress 5.0

Gutenberg icon from WordPress.orgFor the last year WordPress has been working on Gutenberg, a new editor experience for WordPress. This new drag and drop, intuitive block editor is named for Johannes Gutenberg who introduced Europe to the printing press.

Gutenberg’s revolutionary way of assembling pieces of type and pressing words into a page made publishing faster, more economical and allowed for the proliferation of knowledge as books, formerly only available to the ultra-elite-wealthy, became reasonably more affordable. Gutenberg the coming new WordPress editor is going to revolutionize the WordPress dashboard experience according to many on the team who are developing it.

WordPress editor frustrations led to the development of Gutenberg

For many years and especially in recent times, WordPress users who are not coders have been frustrated by trying to achieve a look and feel without resorting to custom CSS and coding skills. Indeed, many people have left self-hosted WordPress and started to use Wix or Square Space because of their feelings that the set up and editing for sites built with these are easier. Other WordPress users have chosen to use Page Builders which have layers of JavaScript layered over the top of WordPress and don’t fully make use of the CMS’s database. Page builders give non-coders a quick way to insert various types of content – from sliders, to featured images, to image galleries, empty space, dividers and much more to a page. From our point of view, once you learn them, they can be simple to use, but awkward in that building a new page requires all the special configuration of every page’s component parts, unless you replicate a page then edit it.

WordPress theme templates which organize content based on it’s type and defined requirements are in our opinion the better way to proceed. Properly designed templates included in a theme allow custom data types to accrue to testimonial page or staff pages for example. Other common templates for special post types include portfolios and pricing tables.

Will Gutenberg eliminate page builders?

There was a lot of concern at WordCamp US in December 2017 that Gutenberg might be incompatible with many page builders. Mullenweg urged developers of popular page builders to get on board and begin adapt and integrate with Gutenberg. However, many attendees were predicting much angst for those sites using page builders. There is still time for these developers to create integrations between their builders and Gutenberg. In my opinion, Gutenberg does away with the need of a page builder.

During the 2017 WordCamp US in Nashville in December, multiple presenters discussed this revolutionary new editor. The one which was a standout was Morten Rand-Hendriksen: Gutenberg and the WordPress of Tomorrow. Morten’s presentation reviews the goal of the new editor experience and discusses some of the issues in development of an experience that will work seamlessly with WordPress.

Shortly following WordCamp US, Matt Mullenweg came to Charleston for a special MeetUp with our local User Group. Matt took questions from those in attendance and as can be expected, a number of questions were about Gutenberg.

The Gutenberg editor will provide a much richer drag and drop experience. There will be specialized block types allowing you to quickly achieve a beautiful design for your pages of posts.

Go ahead and try Gutenberg now

You can begin exploring how Gutenberg functions by downloading the plugin now. Click to go to Plugin for Gutenberg.

Before trying Gutenberg, make sure to backup your site with a current copy and then try the plugin with your theme. Not every theme may work well with Gutenberg, so if you find yourself challenged by incompatibilities or complications, you can revert to the Classic Editor using the Classic editor plugin. Classic Editor will be compatible and in the repository for a while, but probably not indefinitely, as at some point, Gutenberg will supplant it.