I’ve never spoken about Gutenberg on the blog before, but it’s now being rolled out to anyone with WordPress 5.0. Annoyingly the community doesn’t seem to be responsive to it, there are over 1,800 bad reviews on the plugin website.
But I want to stand in the corner of Gutenberg = Good, after using it on several websites and working with a few things and explain why some people might be getting the wrong end of the stick.
There were two major problems, I see, with the old editor.
You had a choice between code and WYSIWYG and if you chose the latter, then you couldn’t be fluid in your page creation and it would be incredibly clunky to get anything done. Lots of back and forth between both sections and if you wanted to add code, well just forget about it – WYSIWYG would remove it if you wanted the easier editing experience.
The old editor also used the technology that pretty much debuted with forums and any major CMS, which means it’s pretty old. Prehistoric in terms of the web. WordPress faced a problem they needed to overcome: follow in the footsteps of Joomla, and other major systems that are no longer used in the mainstream, or move with the times.
Creating a theme is easy, it’s one of the easiest things you can do in WordPress. Buying a theme is easy, installing themes is easy. But they never used to come with adaptability.
If you wanted to add things you’d need to create new templates, create a child theme, or make your own page design that you had to edit the hard code. Gutenberg brings that to end, although this needs to have some plugins to work effectively. No longer will blog posts just be pictures and text, you can adapt them into things that are pretty awesome.
Switching from a single column to several, adding illustrations, covers, embeds and more to make your content stand out more is now easier than ever.
You’ve also got the option to expand with plugins in an easier way without fiddling around with the core functionality of the CMS. Like this!
Using the WYSIWYG editor was a pain. If you wanted to add code, it removed it when you went back to the plain text version. Plugins were 50/50 with it, and it was just a nightmare to work with.
But the Gutenberg system just works. I’ve used Gutenberg blocks, along with a plugin called Stackable, throughout this blog post and I have not done any extra coding to make it work. It was all straight out of the box, this is likely because there are just style sheets a few scripts in the backend rather than editing the admin panel.
This, I find, is one of the biggest problems on the internet. When Facebook edited its timeline to a new design, or Twitter made updates to its profile layout. Everyone was in an uproar, the worst thing ever done, with some even saying “this is the end of Facebook”.
People don’t always like the bog standard, this is how I’ve always done it, changing. I think this is mainly the problem with WordPress. People are so used to having the old editor, that they don’t like the new one.
Change is never easy, a few complaints I saw on the Gutenberg plugin revolved around their site breaking or people not being able to use it properly. Site owners should definitely embrace this change, even with the learning curve, because it will make your users experience a lot better.
We should also expect theme creators to catch up with this in the quickest way possible, if it doesn’t work a theme then it’s likely a problem with that more than the editor. As I mentioned earlier, I have minimal plugins (for security) and developed this theme myself. Gutenberg plugged straight in and worked immediately and perfectly.
You don’t need to read my conclusions, if you are already sold then I’ve included a link below to take you straight to the plugin page.
I didn’t expect this post to end up as long as this, but here we are. I’d like to end on this note: The web was designed to pioneer and evolve. Gutenberg is a great step forward for an already brilliant CMS. I also think it’s a great sign of admiration from the team to name the plugin after such a pioneer.
Not everything will work perfectly immediately, but we should be working through the problems to not only improve Gutenberg but make the whole ecosystem better. The pros, in my head, work out to a better future than the cons which I imagine will be short-lived.