What is Gutenberg?
Gutenberg is the new WordPress editor project named after Johannes Gutenberg. It is more than an editor replacement. Gutenberg is the new way of managing content on WordPress. There are mixed reactions on whether this is good or bad. My initial response was not a good one. When I first tried Gutenberg, I was not happy. I lost the familiar editor, lost my meta boxes and a bunch of other stuff that I am used to seeing on the post or page editor. I tried the chamber dashboard plugins with Gutenberg and half the stuff did not show up. I was shocked to say the least. What is going to happen to our plugin users when Gutenberg goes live and all these meta boxes disappear?
Once, my panic level came down, I started digging deeper into Gutenberg to see what was going on. WordPress has got to have a way to show everything the post and page editor does now. They cannot possibly remove all the meta boxes and other stuff that lives on the editor page. I started to gather more information on Gutenberg. In Nov 2017, I went to WordCamp Seattle where Morten Rand-Hendriksen gave a talk on Gutenberg. You can see that talk here – https://wordpress.tv/2017/11/28/morten-rand-hendriksen-gutenberg-the-future-of-wordpress/. He changed my mind in the first few minutes of the talk. I could literally feel myself relaxing and realized that this is not bad after all. There is some future to it and all I have to do is to prepare for it. I have been following the Gutenberg news ever since and now I am not as panicked. As I start to work on getting the Chamber Dashboard plugins ready for Gutenberg, I thought I will share the good and the bad. Hopefully, that will help someone else who is trying to keep up with the Gutenberg development.
Morten also gave a talk about Gutenberg at WordCamp US 2017. You can watch his presentation here – https://wordpress.tv/2017/12/10/morten-rand-hendriksen-gutenberg-and-the-wordpress-of-tomorrow/
When will Gutenberg be released?
Although Gutenberg is currently available as a plugin for us to install and test, it is eventually going to be part of WordPress core. The latest version of WordPress as of today is WP 4.9.1. Gutenberg is proposed to be shipped with core with WP 5.0. The estimated release time is April 2018. So, we have about 4 months to get acquainted with it, get our plugins ready for it and most importantly have some good documentation in place.
Why is it being added to the core instead of maintaining it as a plugin?
Many users have suggested that Gutenberg can stay as a plugin. That way, users who are not comfortable with it, don’t have to be forced to use it. But, in my opinion, it is a good idea to include it as part of core. Gutenberg is a feature rich editing experience. It is a step towards the right direction. Sure there is a learning curve and there is a huge push for plugin authors to get their plugins updated to work with Gutenberg. Being a plugin author myself, I know I have to re-write the code to make my plugins work with Gutenberg, which is a huge pain. But, in the end, we are working towards creating an awesome editing experience and I think that’s worth it. There is going to be resistance when we have to give up something we have been using for almost a decade. But, a lot changes in a decade. The users are changing and if the experience does not change, then it is not helping WordPress grow.
For example, my 10 yr old writes and edits differently than I do. The new generation of writers, bloggers and developers have a different way of learning and executing things. Making Gutenberg as part of core pushes everyone to work towards that nice experience.
Will I be affected by this and what can I do to prepare for it?
If you are part of the 29% of the web that use WordPress, then yes, you will be affected by this. Whether you like it or not, Gutenberg is going to be part of WordPress and here is what you can do to prepare for it:
- Read more – read as much as you can about Gutenberg and its development. I have included some resources at the end of this post.
- Test it thoroughly and give your feedback – https://github.com/WordPress/gutenberg
- Whenever there is a new release, please test
- Document your experience as you test. Write documentation for new users.
- Write blog posts about your experience with Gutenberg.
- If you are a plugin author, make sure your plugins are ready for Gutenberg. There is a lot of documentation already out there that will help you.
What if I don’t like it?
Users who are not yet comfortable with the new editor, can choose the classic editor as the alternate option. The current classic editor has been made into a plugin – https://wordpress.org/plugins/classic-editor/. You can install that and keep using that instead of the new editor. Since, eventually everything is going to be compatible with Gutenberg, it is recommended that you get used to it sooner rather than later.
More Gutenberg resources
Here are some resources to learn more about Gutenberg. I will update the list as I find new ones.
- List of plugins compatible with Gutenberg – https://github.com/silverhoopedge/plugin_status_gutenberg
- A post on Custom fields and Gutenberg – https://riad.blog/2017/12/11/with-gutenberg-what-happens-to-my-custom-fields/amp/?__twitter_impression=true