Everything You Need To Know About Gutenberg

Nearly 500 years ago, a genius named Johannes Gutenberg introduced a printing press and revolutionized the way we operate with words. 500 years later, the modern digital printing press called WordPress is all set to revolutionize the way we publish online. To do this they have introduced a new editor – aptly named Gutenberg. In this article, we will know all about Gutenberg.

1. What is Gutenberg?

Gutenberg is new visual editor of WordPress. Currently, it is in beta. So it is only available as a WordPress Plugin as of now (October 2018). But it is confirmed that it is going to be integrated with WordPress 5.0, which is soon to be released.

Gutenberg offers a wide range of customizations which are not easy to implement in the current editor. The goal of Gutenberg, as WordPress wizard Matt Mullenweg describes it, is to create a new page and post building experience so that writing rich posts becomes effortless.

Gutenberg achieves this goal with the help of blocks. It makes it easy to make changes in the layout, customize themes, add rich content to the post. All this is done efficiently and without hampering the ‘user-friendliness” that it boasts of. Let’s take a deeper look into this editor.

2. Is it Just Another Editor?

To call Gutenberg just another editor is to underestimate its potential and the effectiveness it brings to the publishing process.

Gutenberg introduces the concept of blocks. These are customizable and integrate multiple different interfaces into one. You do not need to know how to write shortcodes or custom HTML, with Gutenberg any kind of content can be easily inserted.

Gutenberg Provides a seamless writing experience. This sets it apart from most of the editors that just focus on page building. Gutenberg is intuitive, path-breaking and soon-to-be default WordPress editor. It will remove the need for using different plugins for better editing and will provide user-friendly, rich and convenient editing right within the platform.

3.Convenience of Gutenberg

Making rich posts in current WordPress editor becomes a cumbersome task if you are a newbie. This is because you need to write shortcodes and custom HTML to get the desired effects you want. Added to this, there are tons of plugins available on WordPress that give different editing experience. Gutenberg, however, provides all that functionality at one place (we certainly hope so) and makes editor plugins redundant.

Gutenberg removes complexity. This means certain actions are no longer required. Following are some of the things that you no longer need to do:

  • Import multimedia, images etc from Media Library: This makes the somewhat tedious process of referring media library everytime redundant. Users can simply drag and drop multimedia wherever they want. This greatly simplifies the editing process and allows for richer content seamlessly.
  • Add HTML shortcodes: There are many things in WordPress editor that are achievable only with shortcodes. For example, many plugins on WordPress offer specific functions that are implemented. using shortcodes. This can become tedious to remember and editing shortcodes can be quite cumbersome. This is no longer the case for Gutenberg.
  • Copying and Pasting links for embeds: This once a hassle, always a hassle thing with embeds has long been a problem with WordPress editor. Gutenberg utilizes blocks and makes available drag and drop functionality for embeds. This reduces the need to copy and paste the links for embeds. User-friendly, isn’t it?
  • Add widgets for sidebar content: There are tons of widgets available on the regular editor for the sidebar. With Gutenberg, there is no need of adding widgets. Blocks will replace widgets and add drag and drop functionality.
  • Add excerpts for subheads:  The excepts for the subheads are placed in the drop-down menu in the settings in Gutenberg editor. From the screen, excerpts can be edited. This makes the old method to add excerpts redundant.
  • Create a featured image that can be added to the top of the post: Now there is no need to create the featured image separately. There is an option in Gutenberg to edit the image in the editor itself. You can add text to the image, resize it, change the orientation and all this while writing your post. No more worrying about the featured image now. Gutenberg changes the way images are formatted and edited.

Instead of using shortcodes and custom HTML, you will be using blocks. This is an intuitive and easy way to create rich posts. Gutenberg definitely makes it easier than the current WordPress editor.

4.How To Install Gutenberg

Currently, Gutenberg is available as a plugin. So you can install it like just another plugin.

Simply,

  • Go to your WordPress Dashboard with Admin privileges
  • On the left side, you will find the “Plugins” menu. Click on it.
  • You will find “Add New” option. Click it.
  • Type “Gutenberg” in the search box and hit enter.
  • Gutenberg plugin will be shown.
  • Click “Install Now” button on the Gutenberg Plugin
  • Click on “Activate”. This will initiate your Plugin.

5. Gutenberg Pros and Cons

Even though it seems “all good”, there are certain pros and cons to the Gutenberg editor as of now. With new features added every week and bugs removed continuously, hopefully, the pros will increase and cons will decrease significantly before its official release.

Nonetheless, here are the pros and cons of Gutenberg:

Gutenberg Pros

  • User-friendly: No technical expertise is needed to make rich posts. A simple, intuitive interface makes it appealing for both amateurs and professionals alike. This is a big leap forward from the old WordPress editor when looked from a user-friendliness perspective. You will definitely love it.
  • Blocks: The Innovative and Intuitive introduction of Blocks is the major breakthrough in the Gutenberg editor. It encompasses everything that has been introduced so far, i.e. shortcodes, widgets, embeds, custom post types, post formats, theme options, meta-boxes, and other formatting options that are there in the old editor. Blocks essentially simplify the customization and versatility.
  • Universal Compatibility: Gutenberg works on all devices, whether mobile or desktop. The rigorous efforts that are being put in the developments have made it possible to extend compatibility to all kinds of devices. This provides a seamless access to the editor no matter what the device.
  • Distraction-free writing environment: The interface of Gutenberg is remarkably tailored for writing. The large screen space and clutter-free arrangement of formatting options make it a neat and simple workspace. Writing is more focused and formatting is hassle-free. This gives a much different experience of writing.
  • Developer Support: Theme and Plugin developers can create their own custom blocks. This allows for diverse applications and customizations. Gutenberg has been a developer-friendly project and in future, there might be more space allowed to developers in the open source community.

Gutenberg Cons

  • The problem of Backward Compatibility: Backward compatibility can be an issue with so many plugins and themes out there. It will be indeed a huge task to accomplish this Herculean feat to make Gutenberg backward compatible for every plugin and theme there is. Some users might have to be disappointed because of compatibility issues.
  • Lack of support for responsive columns: As of now, WordPress community has declared on their official site that currently Gutenberg will focus on a solid block foundation before moving to column support. This means that while column support is not available in Phase 1, but it might be added in subsequent phases.
  • Inadequate Design Layouts:  Design layout options are currently inadequate. This can be addressed over the time as Gutenberg is still in development. With time, more and more design layout options will be added.

6. Compatibility

  • Posts: Currently, posts are backward compatible. Thus, there is no problem with adding a new post or edit an old one
  • Shortcodes: All shortcodes will work with Gutenberg. This greatly alleviates the concern about shortcodes and their compatibility as shortcodes are largely used by many WordPress users.
  • Meta-boxes: As of now (October 2018), Meta-boxes are partially supported. The developers are working on the problem of accommodating highly-tailored Meta-boxes. As this is work in progress, a full featured support for meta-boxes is likely to come in near future.
  • Highly- tailored sites: Gutenberg team is still working on solutions for highly-tailored existing sites. In future updates, this issue will be resolved.
  • No turning Back: Once integrated with WordPress 5.0 there will be no option to turn back. However, currently, various alternatives are sought, like the option to disable the Gutenberg plugin or automatically detecting whether to load it or not. In any case, once it is integrated with WordPress 5.0, Gutenberg will be the default editor.

7.Gutenberg: Future Prospects

The initial phase of Gutenberg focuses on post editing experience and implementation of blocks. This is a content-first approach.

In the next two phases, the focus will be on page templates and full site customization.

Sufficient time will be allowed for developers to transition effectively. New paths will be created to ensure existing functionalities like shortcodes and meta-boxes continue to work.

There is a future for Gutenberg. With so many developers providing their input, a new update comes weekly. With the launch with WordPress 5.0, Gutenberg will create a new era of website publishing. Just like the revolution that Gutenberg brought 500 years ago, this modern era Gutenberg might just revolutionize the web publishing in general. Let’s hope it does.

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