WordPress’ Gutenberg: The New Sheriff in Town
WordPress’ Gutenberg finally arrived in town on December 6, 2018. The new “sheriff” gently got off a snow-white steed. All WP users waited with bated breath…
As you know, it’s no longer business as usual when a new sheriff’s in town. Everybody sits up – you either conduct yourself differently or face the wrath of the law.
Fortunately, there’s no compulsion to adopt WordPress’ Gutenberg and no jail time to worry about. So, what is it really about?
A Bridge to an Easier Life
WP powers about 30 percent of all blogs and websites. When the world’s most popular and compelling content management system changes the platform significantly, it’s no longer business as usual for all content creators out there.
Gutenberg, a new default editor, is a major improvement that’s focused on making your life as a content creator easier.
Actually, it’s more than an editor. It’s designed to revolutionize customization and how sites are built. With the release of WordPress 5.0, it has formally replaced the former TinyMCE editor you’ve grown accustomed to.
Gutenberg, named after Johannes Gutenberg who invented the mechanical printing press, is a great technical and visual change to how you’ve been interacting with the software. Truth be told, it’s good news because it makes life easier for you.
You can download it from the WordPress repository or add it as a plugin, just the way you’d add plugins in the usual manner. So, how is it being received by the WP community?
Gutenberg’s Advocates and Critics
For now, Gutenberg has divided the WordPress community. No surprise. Like most changes, it has its advocates and those who don’t like it. But this change has come to stay, since it’s the new default editor starting from version 5.0.
Most changes in life trigger anxiety in us because they remind us of our ignorance and threaten our comfort zones. But no need to panic – we always end up mastering them after a while.
In fact, if you’re making a living online, you know by now that changes come with the territory. (Google updates, anyone?) But what does this particular change entail?
Unwrapping WordPress’ Gutenberg
If you sit a spell with me, I’ll help you navigate the following:
- Why WordPress’ Gutenberg was developed
- The major change WordPress’ Gutenberg brings
- Its pros and cons
- Some of its impact on current WP sites
- Will Gutenberg kill the former editor?
Why Gutenberg Was Born
WordPress, before now, was a world of HTML, shortcodes, and a thousand and one plugins, which often slow down your site. For most people, it was a tad difficult and cumbersome to navigate and use (unless you’re technically inclined).
Finally, there’s a better way than the dated approach we’ve all endured.
Gutenberg is essentially about making WP easier to use. It’s about making it better. In the words of wordpress.org, its official custodian, “The goal of the block editor is to make adding rich content to WordPress simple and enjoyable.”
You can relax now. The grand idea is to make website creation and editing simple, modern, and fun.
Gutenberg’s Key Change
Gutenberg boils down to one concept: blocks. They are the smallest unit of Gutenberg, and you can easily customize them.
Blocks offer flexibility – you can dispense with rigid HTML, shortcodes, and plugins. Instead, you can easily drag and drop blocks where you like. It’s a new way of creating content.
Here, WP is leveraging the intuitive ease of highly popular page builders such as Divi and Composer, and it’s offering the spare, minimalist look of a highly popular site like Medium.
Blocks offer real WYSIWYG experience because what you see on the editor is what you’ll see on the frontend, unlike in the past when you were never sure how things would eventually turn out.
Blocks enable you to focus on your content instead of worrying about code, themes, and plugins. They enable you to style multimedia, arrange, and insert content, even if you have little technical knowledge. You can easily build rich posts and pages.
There are so many blocks you can use. These are just a few examples:
- Cover image
The following are common steps the new block editor has eliminated:
- Using widgets to add content to the side of a page
- Copying and pasting links for embeds
- Adding HTML shortcodes or inserting images from the media library
- Creating featured that you insert into pages and posts
- Adding excerpts for subheads
One of the awesome things about blocks is that they’re reusable. So, if you like a set of blocks, you can save it and use it again in future projects. This will naturally speed up your work.
Read on if you are concerned about the effect of the change on your current site. Below, I’ll detail a few ways Gutenberg affects WP sites.
Gutenberg’s Impact on Current WP Sites
First, you’d have to update all themes and plugins to make sure they’re Gutenberg-ready. If they’re not, your website or blog may malfunction.
A lot of developers are working on ensuring a seamless transition to avoid compatibility issues.
Second, some custom websites may still have issues with their layout while using blocks because blocks, as they are, work better with content than with layout.
Third, it does not support some metaboxes, while it supports others. As a whole, they will be available under a new name, with a new user interface.
Lastly, Gutenberg supports custom post types. They’re also backward compatible with it.
Gutenberg’s Pros and Cons
- It’s user-friendly because blocks are simple and intuitive to use
- There’s no need to know HTML and CSS
- It offers slash auto-complete, which helps to speed up your productivity
- It has a full-screen template that helps you fight distractions – this can help skyrocket your productivity
- Reusable blocks help you save time
- There’s more space for writing compared to the current TinyMCE editor
- You can edit it on the go (it’s mobile friendly)
- It supports embedding for over 34 websites
- It may take time before some people can understand and use it well
- How it will address compatibility issues is still foggy – it may have an adverse effect on many current themes and plugins
- Currently offers no Markdown support
- Currently offers no support for responsive columns
Now that you've seen its beauties and flaws, let’s find out about the fate of the former editor.
Will Gutenberg kill the former Editor?
It’s hard to let go of what we’re used to. You’ve been using the current version for years. You might wonder, “Do I have to change to Gutenberg?”
No. You won’t have to change. At least for now, it’s optional.
You can keep using the former editor until December 31, 2021. And you can access Gutenberg as a plugin or vice versa for now.
But there’s no point waiting for three years before you switch. Changes are the only constant in life. In the past, to have a website, you needed to know how to use HTML and CSS. Then came the era of Frontpage and Dreamweaver and, finally, WordPress as we knew it.
I suggest you learn how to use Gutenberg as soon as possible. It’s simple and better. Don’t be intimidated. As you saw at the beginning of this article, it’s meant to make content creation simple and enjoyable. What’s not to like?
In our next article, we’ll check out how you can install and use it like a boss.
I’d hook up with you then.
But before you go, share your thoughts on the new “sheriff” in town. Do you think Gutenberg is a blessing or is it quietly sounding like WordPress’ death knell?