For the past 6+ months, the development community behind WordPress have been working on a complete overhaul of the page and posts editor, the first significant change in the editor since WordPress’ inception. The new editor, entitled Gutenberg, has now been released to the official WordPress Plugin store, available to the public to try. Built using modern web technologies such as React, Gutenberg is an attempt to give this primary component of the CMS a fresh update. While still in early stages, Gutenberg drastically changes many features of the familiar editor, which comes with both strengths and drawbacks. This blog post will take a look at the new editor and what’s in store for the future of WordPress.
Trying out Gutenberg
Now that Gutenberg has been publicly released, it can be installed directly from the WordPress site, or the Plugins section of your dashboard.
If you’d like to try Gutenberg out before installing on your site, though, WordPress has made it easy to do, via this live demo.
The most immediately noticeable difference in Gutenberg is the complete overhaul of the user interface. You’ll be immediately greeted with a visual representation, intended to be as close to the final product as possible. Users familiar with the Medium or Ghost blogging platforms will notice some similarities in the UI and overall layout.
Gutenberg introduces the concept of content “blocks”, modular components that can be added together to build up a page. Types of blocks include Paragraph, Heading, Image, Video, Columns, Buttons and more. This is not dissimilar from plugins such as WPBakery Page Builder, although this functionality will be directly integrated into WordPress.
Another major improvement is its support on mobile devices. Editing posts and pages on the classic WordPress editor was often laborious on mobile devices. The Gutenberg project clearly took this into major consideration.
The “Code Editor” (previously “Text Editor”) is also still available for those who’d like to write their HTML and CSS directly, receiving an updated, more minimal layout.
While Gutenberg brings a fresh and new experience to the familiar content management system, the general outcome of the project is yet to be determined. While the current plan is to ship Gutenberg with WordPress by version 5.0, there seems to be quite a few bugs still to work out. The reviews in the Plugins store have largely been unfavorable, in equal part due to technical issues and users resistant to the major changes.
One major feature many expected to be included is Markdown support. As this has become a standard way of writing HTML across many platforms, one hopes this will be implemented in later versions.
As the project is still new, there is likely to be significant improvements to the Gutenberg editor in the coming weeks and months. While it might be too early to choose it as your default editor, Gutenberg is no doubt a promising addition to the WordPress ecosystem, and one that will play a significant role in the future of the content management system.
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While always deeply interested in technology since childhood, Nicholas has been involved in web development in a professional capacity since 2012, as both a front-end developer and project manager.