If you’ve logged into your WordPress website recently you’ll most likely have seen the announcement that a new modern publishing experience is coming soon, as per the screenshot below.
This is all about the new editor the team at WordPress have been developing, called Gutenberg which is set to replace the editor you’ll be familiar with, if you’ve added content to your website yourself in the last few years (see below for a snapshot).
And there’s no doubt, having test-driven the new editor myself, this is a major change to WordPress.
But change is good right?
Well yes and no.
In this short post we’ll highlight what Gutenberg is, provide links for you to learn more about it, and to try it out, and tell you what we’re doing for our clients.
So what’s changing with Gutenberg?
The editor you’ll be familiar with will change automatically on the next major release of WordPress, unless you have the Classic Editor plugin installed on your WordPress website.
With Gutenberg, rather than one large area for creating your content, it’s all about blocks.
The intention is that these blocks will empower content creators to create the content the want, without additional support from developers. There are many block types including paragraph, heading and quotes to name just three.
The idea is the user selects the blocks appropriate to their content and pieces them together on their page. Whilst blocks are new, you’ll be familiar with many of the controls.
The video below, written by one of the core contributors, summarises these changes very nicely in just four minutes.
This has been a huge investment by WordPress, and it’s not going away. In fact, it’s more than likely just the start.
If you’ve got more time on your hands, this is the video to watch from WordCamp US, 2017
Why Gutenberg and why now?
You’ll have more control over how your content looks. You’ll be able to format specific parts of a page much more easily. You’ll even be able to create columns – although this is still in Beta at the time of writing this!
Gutenberg has been designed to improve your content creation experience – and in many ways it’s a vast improvement. But the flipside is that we’re all very familiar with the current editor, and the introduction of Gutenberg, is going to change the way you create content. So whilst it has an incredibly intuitive interface, there is going to be a learning curve for some, especially those who are quite settled in the way they do things.
As I said earlier, I took the new editor for a spin recently, and you are invited to do the same before it’s imminent release. You’ll find a link to download the Gutenberg plugin on your dashboard – assuming you haven’t dismissed it. If you have, here’s a link to the Gutenberg plugin.
You may have noticed, on the aforementioned dashboard, that WordPress are giving users the option to install the Classic Editor plugin which will ensure that when Gutenberg is released in 5.0, the editor you are familiar with, doesn’t change.
What we’re doing for our clients now
Today, outside of the core WordPress team, no one knows when Gutenberg is going to be released.
We’re not sure how compatible Gutenberg is going to be with the themes and plugins our clients have installed on their sites, so we felt this would be the safest option.
It’s another reason we’re recommending our clients migrate their sites to our new recommended host, so they’ll have a one-click staging environment where we can test Gutenberg when it’s released.
This seems to generally be the advice being shared in the WordPress communities I dip in and out of at the moment.
But whilst I think this is the best course of action, I’m not writing this article today suggested you resist change as if your life depended on it! When Gutenberg is released, I’ll be writing to my clients to suggest they try it out for themselves. Our feeling is that whilst you can try it out now, there will be a few more iterations of the plugin before it’s release, so your time might be better spent sampling it when WordPress 5.0 arrives.
If you’re time-rich and keen to learn more then of course go ahead and try it now. I’d be very interested to hear your feedback, as I’m sure the team that have been working incredibly hard to bring this to the WordPress Community, would be as well.
Main image by Efraimstochter