13.11.2018

Gutenberg, the new content editor of WordPress

The current WordPress visual editor has stayed pretty much the same during years. Entering content is quite limited and creators have little choice over the styling and presentation of their content. Other means, such as shortcodes, HTML, or custom fields, are required to make things work. But all this is about to change with Gutenberg, the new editor interface introduced by WordPress.

What is it?

Gutenberg makes adding richer content to WordPress simple and enjoyable. It does not merely replace the TinyMCE editor but can do a lot more, for example shortcodes, widgets, menus, and even custom fields. Gutenberg thoroughly changes the way content is produced, imported and edited. For publishers, this is an important step forward.

Gutenberg is designed with the goal to make it easier to create complex content, especially for those just starting with WordPress. It uses “little blocks” for building the content. This means content is no longer entered in one large field, the text wall, but it is added in different blocks, with more layout options for each. Block types include a picture block, a citation block, a media block, a header block, or a media boot block. One can also create many palettes now for styling differently each block, whereas content could only be put into one palette.

Gutenberg WordPress editor

There are so many things that are significantly better with Gutenberg than without it.

– you have more tools available for creation and presentation of your content.

– you can see more of how your content will appear in the frontend, from the visual panel.

– you need less time to add complex content and production is made simpler.

– works very well on smaller devices. If you need to make a quick edit before publishing a post on the go, Gutenberg is going to make that very easy.

So what is the fuss about?

Gutenberg is an improvement in many ways. WordPress needs to evolve and grow, so with Gutenberg comes a new way of doing things with visual view and blocks, not just posts and pages. This is undoubtedly going to be a strong feature for WordPress, one that may very well help them stay ahead of their competitors. One of the key philosophies of WordPress has been backwards compatibility, and a major part of that is about not breaking things or doing anything possible to avoid it.

Since Gutenberg is really an advanced page builder and will be merged into the core of the next WordPress 5.0 release, many themes and plugins will need to be updated in good time. This means more work for some developers and product owners. Although there are legitimate concerns over the process, especially regarding the timeline of implementation, this is not as big as people seem to make it.

The front-end of the sites will remain the same, and only the editing experience can potentially be affected. One of the main questions is what will happen to the use of third-party plugins, which have integrations with TinyMCE editor. It is worth noting here that the TinyMCE core editing engine is powering the underlying ‘editing’ function of Gutenberg, which in turn powers most of the blocks. In all likelihood this will continue for the foreseeable future. Both WordPress and TinyMCE Core teams are working closely to ensure that a more word processing-style for writing continues in WordPress. Most themes, especially those from the WordPress Repository, will have no problem displaying Gutenberg blocks. Improvements and changes are currently taking place, both in Gutenberg and in third-party theme and plugin developers. As we get closer to the launching of WP 5.0, more plugins will upgrade for compatibility with Gutenberg.

Let’s try it

Gutenberg is still in testing phase, so it’s good to get to know it and find out what new abilities it offers. An environment for Gutenberg’s testing has been set up on WordPress.org’s own site and you can customize it as you prefer.

After WordPress 5.0 is released there is no worry. Everyone will still have the option to use the old editor for some time, by enabling the Classic Editor plugin now and configuring it to revert to the old editor. But use this as a means to an end. Gutenberg is a core feature so the ability to disable Gutenberg will not remain an option in the long term.

Summary

It certainly is powerful software and could be a gamechanger. There are so many things that are significantly easier within Gutenberg than outside of it.  The Gutenberg team have built (and continue to build) a really good set of tools that will allow you to create your blocks and manage their settings with ease.

To put it simply, it’s better. Custom blocks are getting easier to make without relying on third-party plugins, and the visual view on the back-end, of how the site will appear, has vastly improved. There is less clutter and better management of the whole process of creating content. Overall we’re impressed with Gutenberg and we’re looking forward to unleash it’s full potential in practise.

Read also what our developer, Niklas Schönberg, thinks about the new editor >>


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Monica Javanainen

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