There’s been chatter within the WordPress developers’ community for the past few months about a major change that’s on the way. It’s called Gutenberg, and its aim–like its namesake–is to revolutionize how we publish content with WordPress. Now, if you’re new to using WordPress, this might not seem like a big deal. Gutenberg claims to be a sleeker, cleaner, and more intuitive interface compared to any of the past versions. But what if you’ve been using the “regular” version for a while and you’re just starting to feel comfortable? You may feel like this change isn’t necessarily for the better. That’s where we come in.
What’s All the Fuss About?
To get started, let’s talk about the concept behind Gutenberg. The new approach to creating content is actually very similar to simpler DIY website-building tools, using content “blocks” to add text, media, and even shortcodes in a drag-and-drop kind of interface. The difference with Gutenberg is that you continue to have the power and flexibility of WordPress at your disposal. In this new interface, users can select a number of different content blocks right in the editing panel: more than just text blocks and images, now you can add photo galleries and pull quotes, video and audio embeds from a dozen different sources, tables and custom HTML code, and even add widgets directly into pages and posts without having to use a separate plugin or custom page template. Gutenberg also adds some nice features like converting a plain text box into headlines or lists with one click, and using a simple drag-and-drop interface to move paragraphs of content around on the page.
Check out this live demo from the 2017 State of the Word
Why the Change?
The idea behind Gutenberg is to give users a bigger, cleaner space for writing, along with easier access to the tools they need to add non-text content to a page or post. For example, if you’ve ever done a lot of copying and pasting of shortcodes or image links, or if you find yourself with multiple tabs open to edit the content on a single page of your website (hey, it’s happened to us!), we think you’ll enjoy having all your content creation tools more readily accessible. If you’re a die-hard code editor — which, let’s face it, most aren’t — you do have the option to use the same Code Editor view you have before, although some of the codes themselves may look a little different. Overall, Gutenberg is WordPress’ way to stay innovative and future-proof. It’s one of many reasons why WordPress continues lead the way when it comes to website development.
What About Mobile?
Because we’re just a tiny bit obsessed about mobile friendliness, we checked out the Gutenberg editor on a mobile phone, too. And guess what? It checked out beautifully. Although the placement of the tools is a bit different on a mobile device (by necessity), they display and hide seamlessly and without pushing you to a new browser window. It’s also a great way to preview the mobile version of a new page before you ever publish it. We consider Gutenberg to be a vast improvement over WordPress’ current editor where mobile devices are involved.
But I Don’t Like Change!
If there’s one thing we’ve learned from developing with WordPress for nearly ten years, it’s that every website is different. There are many different approaches to take when it comes to keeping a website up to date. Some people completely take over content management after site launch; some do a portion of their own editing but do ask us for assistance with more complicated content updates; and some never touch their site at all, preferring instead to send all their changes to us. They trust us to take care of their content. And we continue to trust WordPress.
As of this writing, nearly 20 million websites are built on WordPress. Let that number sink in for a minute. That’s a lot of developers and content creators. The team behind WordPress takes their responsibility very seriously. In developing Gutenberg, they reached out to users and developers all over the world. It’s been in extensive testing for months now, and we’ve actually seen huge improvements in recent months, compared to our first look late last year. All that said, if you try it and you absolutely do not like it, WordPress has developed an official plugin to deactivate it. You’ll be able to continue editing your content as you always have.
So When Is This Happening?
Gutenberg is set to launch as part of WordPress version 5.0. We found a source indicating that 5.0 might be launched as early as this month, but that has not been confirmed. Once it’s launched, we will be implementing the update on a very slow rollout among our clients’ sites, as this marks one of the largest changes to the WordPress system in recent years.
If you’d like to start learning Gutenberg on your own website, just let us know! We’ll install a plugin that allows you to mimic most of the features of this new editing tool. And of course, if you have any questions at all, feel free to get in touch.