WordPress Update: Gutenberg

Vicente Diaz
By Vicente Diaz

WordPress is generating one of its biggest updates, Gutenberg. This has created a controversy within the WordPress community – many people wonder whether it will be a good or bad thing for WordPress.

What is Gutenberg?

You may have heard of Gutenberg, but have no idea what it actually is. Gutenberg is the future of WordPress. It is the name of the new visual editor adopted by WordPress which will replace the old one. This editor comes with a full redesign and multiple functionalities that are intended to make people’s job easier.

Gutenberg is a game changer for WordPress, as it completely changes the whole layout of the old editor. It leaves the editor at the left-center area and all of the attributes to the right sidebar.

The Gutenberg editor comes with new “blocks,” which are sets of different sections that can be easily added to the page you are editing, creating a greater editing experience. Examples of these sections include adding a simple paragraph, a gallery, a quote, etc. The adding functionality has become easier and more aesthetically pleasing than ever before. You can test it out here.


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Blocks

The block functionality could be very powerful, since it enables the way to add more complex and/or innovative layouts to your pages and posts without using any other external plugin or coding.

Within these blocks, we are able to reproduce many different sections with just a few clicks.  

Gutenberg (by default) comes with basic blocks such as:

  •      Paragraph
  •      Gallery
  •      File
  •      List
  •      Quote
  •      Audio
  •      Cover Image
  •      Video
  •      Custom HTML
  •      Table

Each of these elements will have its own configuration located on the right sidebar, which will make the customization much easier for WordPress users.

Although these blocks are a big update for the WordPress editor, they are simple and basic. Thankfully, many WordPress plugin developers have quickly created many Gutenberg enhancers which will add multiple custom blocks that are highly customizable. Here are some of the plugins that are worth checking out:

  •      Atomic Blocks (Free)
  •      Advanced Gutenberg (Free)
  •      Stackable (Free)
  •      Jetgutem (Paid)

Related: Best WordPress Plugins to Use for Site Speed, 15 Top WordPress Plugins You Should Use

How to Install It

Currently, Gutenberg is underdeveloped and it’s intended to be released with the WordPress 5.0 update. Nevertheless, WordPress has made its beta version available to the public, so users can start getting comfortable with it, as it will be the default editor when the updated version of WordPress editor comes out.

It is very simple to get the new editor to work on your current WordPress install. You should be able to see a big panel on the WordPress dashboard that says “test the new editor today.” Clicking that link will enable you to install the new editor as a WordPress plugin.

By installing and activating it, you should be able to edit any post with the new Gutenberg editing experience.

If for some reason you don’t like the new editor, don’t feel like using it, or find that it’s not compatible with your current WordPress site, you can always deactivate the Gutenberg plugin. However, keep in mind that since the WordPress 5.0 update will come with Gutenberg installed, you will need to install the classic editor plugin to restore the editor you are used to.

Visual Editors

For those of us who use Page builders for their WordPress site, it may be better to stay where you are. Gutenberg is pretty new, and still in beta; therefore, it may be too soon for some builders to adapt. Most editors would advise you, as a visual editor or visual composer, to disable Gutenberg for proper functioning within your theme.

At some point, these builders will adapt to be integrated within Gutenberg, as Divi is trying to do with its last update. This allows you to switch back and forth between using both editors: Gutenberg and Divi builder.

As for now, you may need to keep your editor “as is” for your site’s sake.

What it Means for Developers

For WordPress developers, Gutenberg is a completely different story. We’ll need to adapt our workflow to integrate this new feature. This means learning how Gutenberg will to work, ways that we can edit its functionality, and most importantly, ways to integrate custom fields to it.

Similarly to many WordPress developers, I prefer using Advanced Custom Fields (ACF) to build sites. When I heard about Gutenberg, I was afraid that it could break all of my current workflow. Luckily, ACF has updated its plugin to work seamlessly with Gutenberg.

ACF will show normally as always by adding its fields to the bottom of the Gutenberg editor — nothing special. However, as this article explains, we will be able to integrate ACF to Gutenberg blocks which enables us to create our own blocks like using the repeater field. This could be a game changer, as we can provide an easy user experience to whoever is going to be building and managing the content of the site (This will be available with WordPress 5.0).

Related: How to Build a WordPress Website, Why You Should Build Your Site on WordPress

Conclusion

Gutenberg is right around the corner and we are excited to see it launch. Even though we can use of it right now, it is still under beta and the whole community is not yet prepared for it. It definitely will be a game changer for WordPress by improving its old editor to a high level, like Ghost & Medium has, but also by keeping our favorite CMS with it.

It is great for non-developers to take advantage of this update, as they can start creating more innovative layouts without complex plugins or coding. On the other hand, it may be challenging for developers to figure out how to integrate themselves into the Gutenberg framework. Luckily, developers are generally well-equipped to learn new technologies when a change occurs, so this shouldn’t affect their work too extensively.

If you are interested in having Gutenberg on your site, I recommend setting up a development site to test the compatibility of your own, as not all sites are prepared for this update.

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Vicente is a Web Developer at Power Digital. Born and raised in Chile, he moved to San Diego, CA to pursue a degree in Management Information Systems at SDSU. His passion for coding and design has driven him to focus on currently on web development but desiring to extend his skills to further complex applications to create great user experiences in multiple environments.