What the hell is Gutenberg? – WordPress 5.0 Update

If you’re a WordPress developer, designer or owner of a WordPress site, you’ve most likely heard about the upcoming WordPress 5.0 update and the big changes it can bring. This update brought up questions such as: “What makes this update different from the others? How will this affect my content? What should I do with my current WordPress sites?”  Not only will there be security updates and bug fixes, but WordPress 5.0 will also introduce a new game changing content editor: Gutenberg.

Gutenberg Editor will be added as a standard editor for WordPress core very soon. When that happens users will have the option to go back to the previous Classic Editor with an added plugin.

Both Gutenberg and the Classic Editor are still now in beta, but when the final WordPress version arrives with Gutenberg in Core, the plugin for the Classic Editor should also come out of beta.

What is Guttenberg?

WordPress.org describes Gutenberg to be a powerful editor that will make page and post building experiences effortless. Currently, WordPress uses a one text editor text-window with a toolbar at the top. However, if a user wanted to include features such as RSS feeds from social media accounts or image galleries, they would need to incorporate a short code, embed code, or a widget. Each post or page requires a combination of multiple pieces inside the same text editor for any special features to be displayed. This can become very confusing, especially if you are new to WordPress or cannot read code. Guttenberg addresses this issue by introducing blocks.

What are blocks?

Blocks are sections within the Gutenberg content editor that hold different components of a page or post. Blocks can be easily arranged to fit your desired content layout. Text , short codes, and other types of components  will be neatly stored in blocks. By using blocks, you can take a more visual approach of placing your content on your pages and/or posts.

What other features and changes does Gutenberg bring?

Other major change includes the implementation of tables, toolbar changes, and the ability to preview exact changes before saving. The toolbar will no longer be at the top of the editing window. Instead, options will appear within a drop-down menu that is activated after a user clicks on the “Insert button”. Tables can be edited within the visual editor. In order to add tables with the current version of WordPress, you will have to be add a 3rd party plugin or implement HTML code. The live preview method allows you to enter code and preview it within the block before saving. This can save you time from constantly switching between the front-end and back-end to complete any changes. Other notable features include:

  • Drag and drop images
  • Adding CSS classes to certain blocks within the visual editor
  • “Recent blocks” option to speed up page building
  • Cover text options
  • Autocomplete insert blocks
  • Word and block counts
  • Pull quotes
  • Buttons
  • Embed options

Potential Problems

I went to the Gutenberg plugin page on WordPress and found out very quickly it was the next step in the WordPress editor. Gutenberg is in beta as a plugin but will be added to WordPress Core later as the default editor. After watching the plugin page I found out why there was such a controversy…

Look at the hate

gutenberg editor update

A huge amount of bad reviews, bad comments and more than 73 reviews with a 1 star rating. Surely something must had gone terribly wrong for so many people to just hate this new editor so much.

While Guteberg may sound like an easier alternative for some, but there are a few ways that Gutenberg can make things quite cumbersome. For example, if you wanted to copy and paste a bulleted list, they can’t. Guttenberg would require the user to add the list to another block. If you’re not into the block layout idea, unfortunately you’ll have to adjust to it. Gutenberg is not an optional feature because it will be part of WordPress core 5.0. Other cons of Gutenberg and WordPress 5.0 update include:

  • The lack of responsive column support
  • The lack of backwards compatibility with themes and plugins
  • Potential difficulty of migrating your current site’s content to the new Gutenberg content editor and properly utilize all the features it has to offer.

How can you prepare for WordPress 5.0?

I find the fact that so many people hate Gutenberg a little disturbing. Gutenberg is just great, and there is no other way around it. Block separation is just a brilliant idea, and people who are used to deal with the horrible outdated WordPress Editor will absolutely love the new Gutenberg Editor. The only probably answer to why so many people hate it is the same reason people hate stuff these days.. They hate change.

Market is built on change, you cannot evolve without changing stuff, and the WordPress Editor was in need of a change for some time now. Gutenberg Editor is a step in the right direction for WordPress. I even heard people say they were going to go back to Joomla once Gutenberg was out. For those I say.. please by all means, go back to Joomla. If going back is your thing… do it… without hesitation. For those who love change and are tired of the same old WordPress Editor, Gutenberg promises a bright future for WordPress. If you feel the need to try it yourself, you can do so, hassle free, downloading the plugin and creating a fresh post with Gutenberg.

To avoid potential issues with your WordPress site(s), you must properly prepare your site for WordPress 5.0. First, you must backup all your WordPress sites, because once a site is updated to WordPress 5.0 it cannot go back. Next, test the Gutenberg editor by installing the Gutenberg plugin on a staging site or dev site so the potential effects won’t appear on the live site. Once the site is updated to WordPress 5.0 and Gutenberg is installed, your site’s content will change. The content will not disappear, but will be displayed within a single block as raw HTML code.

Plugins will also become blocks. If you don’t wish to install the plugin, you can also try the front-end demo Gutenberg Demo: Frontenberg. Even after you test out Gutenberg and completely dislike it, there’s a work around that can work as the “off switch” for Guttenberg. A WordPress core developer created a Classic Editor plugin, which will allow you to create your pages without relying on Guttenberg.

WordPress 5.0 and the Gutenberg text editor have some impressive features that can make building a WordPress website a breeze, but for others it can become a complete nightmare.

Checkout our 5 steps guide to prepare yourself for Gutenberg

What do you think of the new Gutenberg Editor? Let’s hear your opinions in the comments below.

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