With all of the usual madness around the beginning of the holiday season, it’s understandable if you missed the most recent WordPress event. On November 27, WordPress officially unveiled the Gutenberg builder as part of the upcoming WordPress 5.0 core update.
At first glance, Gutenberg appears to be a simple page editor. There are many page builders available, including the Divi builder, Elementor, and Page Builder by SiteOrigin. What sets Gutenberg apart from these already popular options? Why choose Gutenberg over an already proven page builder?
What is Gutenberg?
Initially introduced in November 2017, Gutenberg has been touted by WordPress as more than just a page builder, they are calling it the future of website building. In WordPress’ own words: “The entire editing experience has been rebuilt for media rich pages and posts.” Gutenberg’s own description on WordPress.org reads, “The goal of the block editor is to make adding rich content to WordPress simple and enjoyable.” So according to WordPress, Gutenberg is meant to be intuitive and easy for users to build sites and blogs. As with any new or reinvented technology, the road has been a bumpy one.
Gutenberg, which is named after printing press inventor Johannes Gutenberg, consists of blocks, much like other page builders. The blocks allow a user to “insert, rearrange, and style multimedia content with very little technical knowledge. Instead of using custom code, you can add a block and focus on your content.” For example, instead of having to code an unordered list in a standard text block, Gutenberg has a list building block.
Gutenberg Block Types
Gutenberg uses many block types to help a user create a page rich with content including:
|Regular Blocks||Formatting Blocks||Layout Blocks|
Pros of Gutenberg
Gutenberg does offer advantages to individuals who wish to build a website or a blog site and can’t code.
- New alignment options which will provide a better experience on high resolution screens and with responsive websites.
- Drag and drop editing. Need to move a text block? Easily done. Rearrange your text, images, tables, and more with ease.
- There will be less dependence on plugins, which sometimes experience compatibility and security issues. Kinsta.com reports that simple tables are much easier to add now.
- Don’t see a block that you need? Developers can build custom blocks if the ready-made ones don’t suit their needs.
- Embedding content just became much easier. You can embed content from dozens of popular sites including Twitter, YouTube, Vimeo, Hulu, Instagram, Photobucket, Slideshare, SoundCloud, and many more.
- Improved usage of TinyMCE. For those who don’t know what it is, TinyMCE is a WYSIWYG rich text editor. According to WordPress, “Nearly every text field you’ll find is augmented with TinyMCE for rich text. Whether it be text, lists, or even just a single caption, TinyMCE can be invoked on blocks for rich text enhancements.”
One cool thing about Gutenberg? Previews! If you’re working with an HTML block, you can preview it right inside the block. For those of us who code in WordPress’ text editor and continuously switch back and forth between the text and visual editor, this will save a lot of time.
Cons of Gutenberg
iThemes reported significant issues in early versions of Gutenberg including –
- An inability to embed images in text blocks
- Reliance on the theme for some customization
- No column support
- A clunky UI
Backwards compatibility will be a significant hurdle for Gutenberg. With so many themes and plugins available for WordPress, ensuring compatibility will be an ongoing headache for those with custom themes and plugins. There are a multitude of workarounds being floated by WordPress developers however.
What if you don’t like Gutenberg? Once WordPress 5.0 rolls out, Gutenberg will be the default editor. The classic editor will be available as a plugin. If you are unsure as to how Gutenberg will affect your site, disable automatic updates so that when WordPress 5.0 rolls out, your site won’t be negatively affected.
It’s clear that Gutenberg, although officially launched, still has some kinks to work out. It does look like an exciting step forward, and the refreshed experience is one that WordPress developers have been anticipating for a long time. As always, WordPress offers a wealth of information about the new editor. Only time will tell just how successful Gutenberg is and how well the WordPress community embraces the latest innovation.