It is currently the hottest topic in the WordPress world and the most significant change in a long time. WordPress version 5.0 is coming soon and will bring along the new editor Gutenberg. While some users welcome the changes with open arms, others are more sceptical. There is also another large group of WordPress users: those who haven’t even noticed what’s coming.
In this article, I will tell you everything you need to know about Gutenberg:
- Gutenberg: A new WordPress era is dawning
- Why is Gutenberg coming at all?
- Discover the Gutenberg Editor: 3 key changes
- Main advantages and disadvantages of the new WordPress editor
Gutenberg: A new WordPress era is dawning
With Gutenberg, a new era in the history of WordPress is here. However, the new editor is just the beginning of something much bigger. It is the foundation for an incredibly exciting development, a development that will take place in three stages.
The Gutenberg Editor is the first phase, in which WordPress gets a newly developed editor. In the second phase, the project will concentrate on page templates, and in the final phase, Gutenberg will be expanded into a complete page customiser. In the first step, however, we only have to deal with the redesign of the editor. So, that’s exactly what I’m focusing on in this blog for now.
Why does Gutenberg come at all?
Before I introduce the Gutenberg Editor in more detail, I would like to briefly explain the reasons and intentions of WordPress from my point of view.
In recent years, WordPress has gained numerous new competitors that offer very simple editing and structured layout options, especially for beginners. I am talking about, for example, professional editing systems like Woodwing or simple editor tools like Mailchimp. These tools already enable a remarkably simple, structured and therefore very user-friendly creation of content.
The creation of structured content allows users to quickly distribute content across many channels, which have different requirements. These demands are precisely what WordPress has lacked until now. So far. The core business of WordPress, the creation of websites and blogs, is no longer the focus of attention.
WordPress had to respond to these market changes and Gutenberg was their solution. Ultimately, WordPress hopes that this major, strategic realignment will defend and strengthen its own market position.
Discover the Gutenberg Editor: The 3 key changes
In short, the Gutenberg Editor doesn’t change the well-known functionality of WordPress. However, it tremendously changes the way users create content.
The new editor will replace the current tinyMCE editor. With many innovative features, it greatly simplifies content creation and editing for the average non-technical user. How? The Gutenberg Editor is a true WYSIWYG editor that works like a kind of drag-and-drop builder based on content blocks.
At the moment, the Gutenberg Editor is still a WordPress plugin, with which you can test the new editor in advance. In the course of the update to WordPress version 5.0 – it’s in the Release Candidate phase, release date coming soon, Gutenberg will be officially integrated as the standard editor in the WordPress core.
Next, I will introduce the 3 key changes of the Gutenberg Editor.
1. Simplicity through blocks
“The editor will create a new page- and post-building experience that makes writing rich posts effortless, and has “blocks” to make it easy what today might take shortcodes, custom HTML, or “mystery meat” embed discovery.”
Matt Mullenweg, Initiator and Lead Developer of WordPress
What’s the matter with all the blocks? I’ll tell you. The familiar text window disappears and all post elements from the headline to the continuous text to the images, videos, etc. become individual content blocks. These content blocks will soon be used instead of a number of shortcodes and meta boxes.
In the future, a contribution will consist of a series of blocks with different functions, which can be positioned by dragging and dropping. Since you can drag and drop each block individually, the process of identifying elements and placing them on the page will be much easier. Blocks can also be created, modified and saved according to your own ideas.
How about, for example, a complete gallery in which you only have to insert the images? Or a multi-column article template with a great layout for your blog posts? Gutenberg is already much more flexible than the old editor and offers more configuration options for your content.
2. Technical flexibility
In this section, I would like to briefly discuss the possibilities of creating custom blocks and the enormous advantages of the clear separation of content and layout.
So why is WordPress so popular to begin with? In a nutshell: simple usability and it’s open Source. Because WordPress is easy to use and free for everyone, it attracts a huge community of developers working on the ever-growing ecosystem. That’s why the platform has a solution for every problem and almost every web application can be connected.
As adaptable and simple as WordPress in general is, the old tinyMCE editor is not. There are some hooks and you can add meta boxes, but the tinyMCE editor itself is very static. The Gutenberg Editor is completely different. By using content blocks in Gutenberg, the editor area can now be dynamically extended. For example, we have created a swipeable image gallery for web and app for our Purple DS customers. All this is possible because complete control over all individual blocks remains with the users.
A very important step, from my point of view, is the clear separation of content and layout. Why is this so important? It enables and greatly simplifies the further use of the created content for other digital channels. More about this in the next section.
3. Modern Publishing
You’ve already experienced how content blocks and the ability to customise them can help you create your content faster and more efficiently. In this section, you’ll learn first, what modern publishing is, and second, what role the new Gutenberg Editor plays in it.
Well, what is modern publishing? The web has evolved rapidly since the introduction of the old tinyMCE editor. Meanwhile, web content contains much more than just text and images. The old tinyMCE editor is hopelessly overwhelmed with the numerous different elements and is no longer up-to-date.
Buttons, columns, forms and other layout elements can be inserted with the tinyMCE editor usually only with complicated shortcodes. The old editor is no longer sufficient for many users because it does not meet the requirements of modern publishing.
In addition to the numerous new elements, the way of dealing with content has changed drastically. For years now, other channels have been become increasingly important alongside the website. Catchword Multichannel Publishing. This means that you create your content at a central location (hub) and can publish it on all platforms with just a few clicks. Possible platforms are, for example, your social media profiles on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter, your blog or your website.
All this works smoothly with just a few clicks and without you having to embed the content on each platform. This saves you a lot of valuable time and allows you to regularly upload content to your channels with less effort. This is one of the major advantages of the new Gutenberg editor.
In addition, it quickly becomes clear how much WordPress has tried to create a largely distraction-free environment with the new Editor. An environment in which the main focus is on intuitive writing and regular publishing of content. Another plus point: Gutenberg offers a lot of free space. Especially on smaller screens. That’s why Gutenberg will be a great change, especially for people who write on laptops.
The most important advantages and disadvantages of the new WordPress editor
Gutenberg is only a few days away from release, I summarised the biggest advantages and disadvantages for you.
- True WYSIWYG editor that is very intuitive and easy to use
- Technical knowledge is not required
- Clear separation of layout and content allows easy distribution of content to other channels
- Developers can create custom and reusable content blocks with ReactJS knowledge
- With CSS anyone can customise existing content blocks
- Simple and clear interface provides little distraction when creating content
- Very good functionality and user experience for fast changes on the smartphone
- Changing themes is made much easier
- Especially at the beginning bugs and problems can occur (e.g. responsive web design)
- Support for meta boxes is still limited, but WordPress is already working on a solution
- A potential source of problems is the backward compatibility of Gutenberg with themes and plug-ins. However, over time this will surely be resolved.
Need more information? Gutenberg is developed on GitHub. Furthermore, this documentation is a great way to get to know the project.
It’s clear and simple: Gutenberg is coming and Gutenberg is the future. We are preparing for it and so should you. After a very short familiarisation phase, we will get a much leaner, more intuitive environment with many great new possibilities.
Of course, such extensive improvements always take time and everything rarely runs perfectly right from the start. Nevertheless, we find Gutenberg to be an innovation that can’t be ignored. The new editor adds a completely new user experience to WordPress and definitely convinced me already with its flexibility. This makes it easier for users to create content and publish it much more effectively on a continuous basis.
At SPRYLAB we believe the vision that WordPress has with Gutenberg is extremely exciting. So exciting that we developed our own vision of Purple DS with Gutenberg. I’m just telling you this much: multichannel publishing. More will follow soon, so stay tuned.