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Gutenberg – The future of WordPress

What is Gutenberg?

What is gutenberg

WordPress recently released a new update which brings huge changes for the worlds #1 Content Management System (CMS). As of WordPress 5.0+, the CMS now comes preloaded with the all-new drag and drop Gutenberg editor. The current visual editor (TinyMCE) requires the use of HTML and shortcodes to customize and personalize even the most basic website functionality, such as page layout and buttons. The new approach of the Gutenberg editor uses “blocks” to make this whole process easier and more intuitive, especially for new users with little to no knowledge of HTML, CSS, and the inner workings of WordPress plugins and/or shortcodes. Thanks to a layout more similar to a modern page builder, Gutenberg makes visualizing your work much easier than ever before.

Standout Features/Blocks

Classic Block

This block is for those who still like or have a need for the old TinyMCE editor. You can drag this block into the editor, and you’re presented with a mini TinyMCE editor that can be used to edit and format text as well as add media and links. Just like the good ol’ days.

gutenberg - classic text box

Gallery Block

Adding a photo gallery image to your site is now easier than ever before. There is no more hassle with finding, installing, and updating plugins to do just a simple task. Now, you can use this block to get a beautiful gallery with design options such as alignment, full, wide-width and more. Not only is it mobile responsive, but it responds well to situations where you have an odd number of or different sized pictures.

Button Block

The days where WordPress did not have a built-in way to add simple buttons to your page are gone! You can now use the button block to add beautiful, yet simplistic buttons to your posts and pages. You have the ability to change the way it looks and link it to any of your posts or pages, no plugins or shortcodes needed.

gutenberg button block

Shortcode Block

All of this talk about getting rid of shortcodes is exciting, but let’s be realistic. Until the development of plugins moves towards the direction of new blocks, some situations will still require shortcodes. The shortcodes block will allow you to place any shortcode inside it. Then the block will display as if you placed it on the page in the old editor. You now have a few more options such as easily dragging it anywhere on your page, or saving it as a reusable block.

gutenberg shortcode block

Custom HTML Block

Sometimes, nothing beats plain ol’ HTML. You can use this block to place your classic HTML text on a page or post, as well as use the preview option to see what your content is going to look like on the page. Not the coolest, or most innovative new feature but definitely useful to have when you need it.

Pros

1. Blocks

Blocks are designed to be easy to find, easy to organize, and easy to edit. The block layout found in Gutenberg makes editing and reorganizing your work an intuitive and simple process. Click and drag to rearrange, then add images with ease. The new modern look and feel makes it easier than ever to visualize your finished product.

2. Reusable Blocks!?

Blocks are cool, place it on a page, customize it to make it stylish and functional, sounds great! What do you do if you need to make multiple of the same type of block? Well, with Gutenberg you can now save those blocks as “Reusable” blocks. These are stored with the rest of your blocks, and when added to a page, they have the same settings and configurations as the original. This is a huge time saver and is super user friendly.

3. New Possibilities for Plugin/Theme Developers

Plugin and theme developers can now create their own blocks! This will unify the editing experience by removing much of the need we previously had for shortcodes. Now, instead of remembering and keeping up with countless shortcodes for all your plugins, they can be built right into the editor with the new functionality.

4. Modernized User Interface

The new modern look of the Gutenberg editor is gorgeous, simplistic, functional, and easy on the eyes. Compared to the outdated TinyMCE editor, the new editor is a pleasure to work with due to the revamped user interface. There are several new features such as Spotlight Mode, for only working on one block at a time, to fullscreen mode, for the most immersive WordPress editing experience.

5. Don’t like it? Use Classic

The WordPress team gave everyone an out by making sure the Classic Editor is available as a stand-alone plugin. This can be found on the plugins section of your WordPress dashboard. If you’re working with WordPress 5.0+, and have issues with the new Gutenberg editor, then you can install and activate this plugin to go back to the TinyMCE editor you’re comfortable with. After all, it’s nice to have the choice!

Cons

1. “Nothing is where it was. Did I break it?”

The new Gutenberg editor has quite a learning curve. The UI is vastly different from the WYSIWYG editor of the past (TinyMCE). With the old editor, it was easy enough to convince our less tech-savvy clients to use it. It’s a very similar experience to using a traditional word processor such as MSWord or Open Office. That’s no longer the case, and some users, might not bother relearning from square one.

2. Backward Compatibility

The Gutenberg team worked hard to implement backward compatibility when upgrading to their new editor. Although, we do not recommend upgrading production sites to WordPress 5.0+ without thorough testing as it has the potential to break existing frameworks. This is because plugin developers still have to update their plugins to be compatible. The developers also need time to test and fix any bugs. It’s better to be safe than sorry with any of your major projects.

3. The Learning Curve.

It’s undeniable that Gutenberg offers a larger array of features out of the box than the older TinyMCE editor, but some things just aren’t as intuitive as they could be. Deleting a block requires you to click the 3 dot “hidden” menu while hovering over it and then click the “Remove Block” option to delete the entire block. This makes the editor feel more like a hidden object puzzle game than a professional blog/page editor.

4. It’s not lightweight.

More features, a brand new look, and customization options can make a huge difference when utilized properly. For most users, this is a great thing, but for some, the functionality of the more lightweight TinyMCE editor was plenty. If you prefer load speed and optimization over new features, then we recommend giving Gutenberg a bit longer to mature.

So is it any good?

Gutenberg is different, and it totally changes the way you’ll be working on your WordPress sites in the future. The most important thing to note is that Gutenberg is here to stay, and there is no better time to dive right in and get your feet wet. Given time to grow and develop Gutenberg could replace the visual page builders we’re all accustomed to, without all the hassle of installing and maintaining them. Don’t be scared of change, embrace it, grow with it, and look forward to what the future brings.

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