WordPress is going to change in a very big way and you might not be happy about it. If you have not heard about the WordPress Gutenberg editor, let me explain how this is going to affect your website. It has a lot of controversy and many blogs have written about it, many praising it and others hating it!
I've already written WordPress is Going to Change, but let me give you some details about this new editor and how it will affect your website and how it will change the way you create posts. I will include links to other sources of information so that you can grab a big coffee and dig deeper into more detailed specs of Gutenberg. I will touch base a little bit regarding WordPress Gutenberg themes to start showing up here at Blogging Theme Styles.
The WordPress Gutenberg Editor
The WordPress Gutenberg editor has it's very own information page that gives you more detail of what it's about. Basically the team at Automattic (makers of WordPress) decided they wanted to do something fundamentally big and change how you create content. The content editor that you are familiar with is about to be ripped out of WordPress. To get a feel of how this editor works, you can download the Gutenberg Plugin and try it out. Keep in mind that it's still in development with a lot of work to do. IMPORTANT: If you decide to try it out, make sure you install it on a testing website and not your own live site. I would recommend you try it out with the same theme and plugins that you have on your website so that you can see how it performs with your setup.
The Gutenberg editor will replace the existing classic editor that you have become so accustomed to. The idea is to build your page layout and content with blocks, a method that is similar to page builder plugins. These blocks can be almost anything, such as regular text, images, video embeds, buttons, tables, and more. They won't really be drag & drop which many page builders do.
Oh yea, sometime in the near future, expect to see widgets phased out...but that is a whole other story.
The plan was to merge Gutenberg into WordPress 5.0 and then be released sometime in 2018. However, there is some speculation that it could be 2019. The reason is due to an overwhelming array of issues that have to be addressed before it can officially go live.
How does the Gutenberg Editor Impact Your Website?
Normally, articles on other blogs talk about the technical side of Gutenberg and written for plugin, theme, and website developers. However, for you, as the end-user, here is how Gutenberg is going to affect you and your website.
- The plan is to have the WordPress Gutenberg editor in WordPress version 5.0
- The way you have been creating posts and pages is going to be very different.
- Your classic content (TinyMCE) editor is going to be gone and replaced with Gutenberg. You can disable Gutenberg, but in time this will no longer be the case.
- Creating layouts in your page with blocks will be like using a cousin of a page builder.
- To get a better experience, you may want to use a Gutenberg compatible theme. In most cases, Gutenberg should work with most, but a theme built with this new editor in mind will make things go smoother. A theme can offer custom styling for blocks. Gutenberg themes will also be able to offer snippets like mini-templates comprised of various blocks so you can just fill in the blanks and click Publish.
- On the subject of themes, you may run into problems if your theme has a built-in page builder or may require a third party page builder. shortcodes will also be a problem, as well, meta boxes. Meta boxes are the things that are added to the current editor that lets you add more elements and functions to a post. The Featured Image box, formats, categories, etc., are meta boxes.
Overall, Gutenberg will probably take a lot of time to get used to and may create frustration.
The biggest concern is Backward Compatibility. Websites that use plugins, shortcodes, meta boxes, custom fields, and themes with special options, could break. With 1000's of plugins, it's going to be important for developers to make sure their plugin (and theme) is going to be compatible.
The good news is that you will have the choice to disable Gutenberg and install the Classic Editor so everything will continue to work. You will be able to do this for awhile, but some point in the future, this won't be an option.
Apparently the team is working on all the issues presented by plugin and theme developers, but it's really hard to say what the final product will be. What is compatible now may not be compatible later—or vice versa. There may end up being some sacrifices to make as the Gutenberg team continues to build their new editor.
The claim is that most themes should work with this new editor. Great in theory, but it's going to depend on the theme and where you got it from. I've tested our themes here at Blogging Theme Styles, and so far everything works because we use strict WordPress standards.
The only way to test your theme out is to try Gutenberg with it and see if it plays nice. Again, try it on a test website and if you can, import your site's content into it and load up all the plugins you use. Keep testing as Gutenberg continues to evolve and is officially released.
You will see WordPress Gutenberg themes start to show up, but guessing they will be plain in style. This is due to the concept of Gutenberg to not just create content, but to create your page layout too.
I never believe that "change is good" as the old saying goes because it depends on what is changing. I will admit that the editor in WordPress is old and probably the worst editor I have every used. For so many years, people have complained about it and how frustrating it is.
When Automattic started building Gutenberg for replacement, there was excitement which soon turned to frustration. I won't go into the specifics other than to say many are calling for Gutenberg to stay as a plugin and not be part of the WordPress core. If you want to read more about the controversies of Gutenberg, search Google with "WordPress Gutenberg Controversy".
Preliminary testing of Gutenberg has a lot of bad reviews, and if you don't believe me, check out the plugin's ratings: Based on the reviews and ratings, the Gutenberg team has a LOT of work to do.
The WordPress Gutenberg editor is going to be a radical change from what you are familiar and comfortable with. I know the goal is not to break websites when we move into WordPress 5.0. and Gutenberg is part of it. But it would be naive to think there won't be any websites that survive the change; there will be.
The best advice I can give you is to start preparing yourself when this happens by testing Gutenberg for yourself. Search Google for more articles about with the keywords "WordPress Gutenberg" editor.
Ultimately the decision of whether Gutenberg is a complete success or a global failure and the end of WordPress will be the end-user...that is you! Well, maybe not the end of WordPress, but it could have a serious impact of users walking away from it. Our best hope is that the development team makes everyone eat crow!