WordPress Gutenberg: What does the new editor do?

The content management system WordPress is on the brink of a revolution. After ten years, WordPress’s traditional editor TinyMCE will retire. The WordPress Gutenberg editor will fundamentally change how WordPress’s CMS functions and will hopefully be the perfect companion for a modern internet landscape. With Gutenberg, users no longer need to master CSS and HTML in order to design content creatively. Instead, WordPress offers an interface with Gutenberg that should make it easier and more fun than ever to design multimedia content. To summarise, Gutenberg is their attempt to make a modern CMS available to the wider masses.

As a result of implementing Gutenberg, WordPress is facing drastic realignment. As a content creator, you need to make sure you are up to date on what WordPress Gutenberg is, when it will be implemented, how it works and what the advantages and disadvantages of this conversion are.

What is WordPress Gutenberg?

WordPress Gutenberg is the new editor for creating articles, which will replace their old editor, TinyMCE with WordPress 5.0. Gutenberg is already available in a beta version as a plugin. The editor adopts code-based content creation using HTML and CSS, and also features an interactive interface. Gutenberg’s main feature are “blocks”, which you can use to embed all design elements, texts and media into one page and place them where you choose, giving you total creative freedom. Gutenberg is also optimised for all screen sizes, making it easier than ever to create and editor content on your mobile phone or tablet.

For WordPress Gutenberg, the developers claim that the author can consider themselves as a kind of master builder who assembles their creation block by block. The “blocks” feature is intended to combine several classic editorial functions clearly to simplify creating multimedia content considerably. The developers also want to get rid of the hassle of using plugins – the user should be able to create the exact content they imagine using Gutenberg.

Definition

Gutenberg is the name of WordPress’s editor, which is meant to simplify the creation of articles considerably, using an innovative, interactive interface. Gutenberg’s main feature are the blocks, which embody the main elements of a webpage and can be moved freely. Gutenberg will be firmly integrated with the release of WordPress 5.0. Until then, interested parties have to make do with a beta plugin version.

It is not yet known precisely when WordPress 5.0 with the integrated Gutenberg editor will be released. However, the developers announce that they intend to release the major update before the end of the year.

Why is WordPress Gutenberg important?

WordPress Gutenberg is a popular trend topic for website operators at the moment. Changing to this editor will mean a general overhaul of WordPress, which was confirmed in their test runs. There has already been some talk about a rebirth of the personal blog and Gutenberg is seen as a pioneer for content creators who do not have significant technical know-how. Gutenberg is therefore the official answer to existing Pagebuilder plugins that are trying to achieve the same thing.

However, the internet community is divided about WordPress Gutenberg. Critics are annoyed that developers plan to integrate Gutenberg into WordPress’s core when WordPress 5.0 is released. After all, the current version of WordPress 4.9.8 is already very powerful and has been firmly established for years. Many WordPress users therefore ask themselves whether Gutenberg is really necessary. In addition, there are various problems with the new editor, from poor backwards compatibility to the minimalist interface which isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. Last but not least, there are already a number of plugins available for WordPress that makes creating articles an interactive process – if you already use these, then you may find the Gutenberg platform to be superfluous.

Note

The developers promise to continue to offer the old editor in WordPress 5.9 as a Classic plugin when Gutenberg appears. WordPress users will be able to use the previous editor instead of Gutenberg.

When will the WordPress Gutenberg editor be released?

The answer to this is still speculative. The developers are keeping waiting users up to date using a Roadmap. The proper release date for WordPress 5.0 with the integrated Gutenberg editor should be before the end of the year. However, there is no official release date yet (as of August 2018). Since developers have often had to postpone important milestones in the past, experts do not anticipate a release until spring 2019.

Tip

With the Managed WordPress offer from 1&1, you will be well equipped for the upcoming WordPress 5.0 version, as well as the integrated Gutenberg editor.

How does the WordPress Gutenberg editor work?

The Gutenberg editor will completely replace WordPress’s current user interface (TinyMCE) when creating and editing content. Until the release of WordPress 5.0, Gutenberg is available as an optional plugin before it is integrated into the core of the upcoming update. Gutenberg was developed by GitHub users using the WordPress REST-API, Javascript and React.

One of the biggest innovations is that the new Gutenberg editor no longer requires HTML and CSS when it comes to special designs and layouts. This is replaced by the “blocks” feature, which allows web pages to be interactively designed using drag and drop. Gutenberg optimises the pages according to the ad, making it easier for authors to present system-wide appealing content. Gutenberg literally “tinkers” posts by allowing users to string together blocks of different configurations. The editor then takes some of the tedious work off and makes creating pages a playful activity.

The Gutenberg editor adapts to two essential features of the modern internet. First of all, it takes into account the fact that more and more people are using smartphones and tablets to access content on the internet. On the other hand, Gutenberg pursues the goal of addressing a broader user mass with its innovative minimalism. The editor’s functions and features will be both easy to use as well as powerful. Web design will also become more accessible. These features are why WordPress wants to use Gutenberg for this “revolution”.

What is the Ad-block feature?

A blog or website consists of many individual elements: headlines, text, quotes, lists, images, videos, interactive elements, menus, widgets, short codes etc. Gutenberg has their own block for each of these elements. Each block itself has a range of options. The user gradually builds their page using these blocks and enjoys an impressive creative freedom. In fact, the blocks feature is reminiscent of pagebuilder web services and plugins that use purely interactive tools to create websites. Simply put, the blocks lead to these final bits of programming work needed for design being made redundant (apart from JavaScript for more complex elements).

How does creating an article with Gutenberg work?

A new post initially has two blocks: a title block and a paragraph block. Filling the title block with text, WordPress creates a permalink for the post as before when TinyMCE was in use. The paragraph block is optional and can be converted to another block. You can also create as many blocks as you like, based on templates found in the search function. Gutenberg proposes the most important blocks in a practical overview. In addition, these templates are divided into meaningful categories, including formatting, layout and embeds. You design your post by creating, positioning, and finally filling blocks with content.

What do the upcoming changes mean for the user?

Ultimately, WordPress will not be forced into using Gutenberg, because the old editor, TinyMCE, will still exist as a classic plugin. Nevertheless, the upcoming integration of Gutenberg into WordPress 5.0’s core represents a paradigm shift for CMS. Website operators will have to decide for or against Gutenberg. However, because WordPress will make Gutenberg the standard editor and the developers will promote the new tool, support for TinyMCE will inevitably decline.

As a WordPress user, getting to grips with Gutenberg right now is worthwhile, and if you have employees, you should encourage them to do so too. Currently, Gutenberg is already available in a beta version as a plugin. Opinions on Gutenberg differ widely on the Internet, so the use of the editor will depend on the subjective user perception. Try out Gutenberg as early as possible to get an impression of the innovations.

Note

Gutenberg still runs in its current beta version and is anything but perfect. For some website operators, the editor is not yet fully suitable. It is recommended not to test it live in your site, but in a separate test environment. We also recommend using a backup.

How can I install the WordPress Gutenberg editor?

Until the new editor becomes integrated with WordPress 5.0 by default, you can install the Gutenberg trial version like any other WordPress plugin:

  1. Download the plugin as a .zip file.
  2. Select “Plugins” on your WordPress dashboard, and then click on “Install”.
  3. Go to “Upload plugin” and “Browse”.
  4. Select the .zip file you downloaded (e.g. “gutenberg.3.6.2.zip”), and then select “Open”.  
  5. Click on “Install Now”, and then “Activate this plugin”.
Tip

You can find detailed instructions with pictures and video in this How-To “Install and run WordPress Plugins”.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of the WordPress Gutenberg editor?

The Gutenberg editor is notable for how easy it is to use, and its innovative minimalism, which adapts the creation of contributions to the modern internet landscape. Gutenberg is fast, efficient, and easy to use. WordPress beginners in particular will adapt quickly and will be able to create decent articles in no time. The developers’ design philosophy is actually noticeable and easy to comprehend if you test the tool extensively.

There are many negative reviews that criticise Gutenberg. The fact that it isn’t compatible with older websites and plugins make people skeptical about WordPress’s attempt to make content creation more accessible to less technically savvy people. Many also complain that Gutenberg’s minimalist approach is trying to solve a problem with WordPress that simply doesn’t exist. Gutenberg should therefore remain a plugin instead of being integrated into the core and being forced onto users. However, that is exactly what the developers intend to do.  

At this point, it should be pointed out once again that the Gutenberg editor is still in a beta version. Changes and improvements to the editor are to be expected, as well as new problems that come along with an important software change. Therefore, the following advantages and disadvantages refer explicitly to version 3.6.2 as of the 30th of August, 2018.

Advantages

Disadvantages

Posting is intuitive and easy…

… but the constraints of the block feature can unnecessarily complicate the creation of purely text-based webpages.

More complicated elements like functions and layouts no longer require HTML and CSS knowledge…

… but the user still needs to have JavaScript enabled if they want to work fully with Gutenberg.

Developers can create and save blocks themselves…

… which means additional initial effort until you have enough blocks for a good workflow.

Gutenberg has a very tidy, minimalist interface…

… but the interactive interface is a big problem for accessibility. At the moment, Gutenberg is unsuitable for screenreaders and other help software.

Gutenberg already functions well on smartphone devices…

… but there are still problems with web page optimisation and texts for mobile devices.

Gutenberg makes it easier for new website operators to get started with content creation…

… but at the expense of WordPress veterans who have reasonable doubts that Gutenberg will work properly with existing plugins, custom fields and metaboxes. Compatibility problems seem to be pre-programmed, plugin developers have a lot of work to do.

Gutenberg relies on creativity and fun in webpage design …

… which makes WordPress veterans fear that developers will lose sight of the more professional side of web design, keyword being “casualisation”.