What is Gutenberg anyway?
Did you say Steve Gutenberg? No no.. I hate to burst your bubble, but it’s not another police academy movie starring your favorite 80s actors, and it’s definitely not the latest food allergy that you need to cut from your diet.
Gutenberg is an updated content editor created by the the WordPress development team that is designed to provide a new and easier way to publish content to your website. Named after Johannes Gutenberg, the founder of the printing press. The Gutenberg editor will replace the classic content editor in your WordPress website, and is slated to launch with WordPress 5 in mid 2018.
The Gutenberg editor uses blocks to create all types of content, replacing a half-dozen inconsistent ways of customizing WordPress, bringing it in line with modern coding standards, and aligning with open web initiatives. These content blocks transform how users, developers, and hosts interact with WordPress to make building rich web content easier and more intuitive, democratizing publishing — and work — for everyone, regardless of technical ability.– WordPress
See an overview of the Gutenberg editor on the WordPress.org website: https://wordpress.org/gutenberg/
Why should I care about Gutenberg?
The Gutenberg editor completely changes the look, feel, and functionality of the content editor in WordPress. It features an updated look, utilized as well as some added features. Updating to WordPress 5 (with the Gutenberg editor) may cause old plugins and themes to break causing added expense to any existing website development plan. While the cases of failure may be pretty small, it’s definitely a real concern for business that depend on their website in a large way to sell products, create leads, and deliver content to customers.
In my opinion, the Gutenberg editor will likely simplify the process of creating blog content in WordPress. However, for anyone who uses WordPress for anything other than blogging, I suspect that the Gutenberg editor will leave you wanting more for your page layouts.
There are a number of drag-and-drop page editors available for WordPress and I’m certain that those drag and drop content editors such as PageBuilder or Beaver Builder will still be heavily used to create professional looking page layouts.
I mentioned that the WordPress 5 update may cause some sites to break. I currently use WP-Bakery Page builder on some sites that I manage and I’m noticing some compatibility issues early in the stage of testing Gutenberg compatibility. As large as WP-Bakery is, I’m sure they will come out with an update that resolves the compatibility issue, and I’ll post an update when I find out more.
But the important thing to understand is that the updated WordPress 5 release is something that site owners and developers need to consider and plan for now, before the client updates their sites and quite possibly disrupts their content delivery. It’s an update, that stands to create more confusion and complications than any recent updates to WordPress.
What do I do if my site is having issues with Gutenberg compatibility?
One great thing to know as we transition into the new content editor is that WordPress will retain support for the classic content editor. That means that even after your site updates to WordPress 5 with the Gutenberg editor, you can still use the classic editor. Although, it will add a bit more hassle and possibly some frustration to your workflow initially.
To use the classic editor on an existing post or page do the following:
- click ‘posts’ or ‘pages’ in the sidebar
- click ‘all posts’ or ‘all pages’
- hover over the post you want to edit and the edit options will show up below the post title
- click ‘classic editor’ to open the post for editing in the classic editor
*additionally, if you use WP Bakery PageBuilder or Beaver Builder, when you hover over the post title, you will see a link to use the page builder editor.
Alternatively there are plugins already being developed that will disable the Gutenberg editor all together. Simply do a search in the ‘add new plugin’ page for ‘disable Gutenberg’ and you will see multiple great options for disabling the Gutenberg editor via plugin.
What if I do want to use the new Gutenberg editor?
If you do want to take advantage of the new Gutenberg editor, by all means, please give it a go. You can currently download the latest beta release of the Gutenberg editor as a plugin in the WordPress plugin repository. This will allow you to test the Gutenberg editor prior to the full WordPress 5 launch and do some pre-launch testing of your own websites.
If you decide to check it out, I’d love to hear your thoughts on it. Send me an email, or comment below to let me know what you think.
While the new Gutenberg editor is still in the mid stages of development and testing, I have tested it on a couple of sites and played around with it a bit.
My personal thoughts on the Gutenberg editor:
- I think the drag and drop interface is very user friendly and clean.
- The image blocks and image gallery blocks work great
- I really like the new color picker for text
- Columns are very buggy right now (could get improved in later releases)
- Page layout options are very limited. It does not include many modern features like the ability to layer images and text onto a section with background image or color
- May not support custom fields and meta fields in current release
WordPress is one of the largest CMS on the web today, and I suspect that the addition of the Gutenberg editor will cause some initial complaints and pushback. But with one of the largest community of developers working to improve the functionality, I’m certain that WordPress will continue to be one of the most used CMS going forward. It’s not all sunshine and rainbows, but this Gutenberg update paves the way for more plugin development opportunities, and simplified content creation for publishers.
There’s definitely the possibility that the Gutenberg editor will not be compatible with older themes and plugins and this could create headaches for you and cost you extra money in development fees. If you update to the new WordPress 5 CMS and find that it’s not working well with your theme, downgrading back to 4.9 or earlier is not an easy process.
If your site is affected by the WordPress 5 update, contact us and we will get your site back in shape. [email protected]
BTW: This post was created with the new Gutenberg Editor v2.8.0 release.