The Gutenburg Update

Within the next six months or so, the editor in WordPress will change completely.

This is the biggest change at WordPress in years. It’s important that you know about it if you create posts even occasionally, since the editor will look quite different once Gutenberg is in place. The current plan is to make it possible for users to choose the classic editor or the Gutenberg editor for some transitional period, but the Gutenberg editor will replace the current editor going forward.

Gutenberg is a block editor: posts are created with separate blocks of text or visual content, rather than as pages. A block editor has some real benefits for responsive design, allows people without much tech skill to have more control over formatting and the look of their posts, and can speed up the work for power users. WordPress founder Matt Mullenweg contends that it will remove the need for custom post types, too.

You can try out the new editor now, with the Gutenberg plugin. Download the plugin, activate it, and look in your left-hand sidebar for Gutenberg. Choose “New Post,” and you’ll be using the new editor.

You can see that the publishing information and post settings are in their familiar place in the right hand sidebar (though they’ll disappear while you’re writing your post) and the familiar text box is gone.

Gutenberg is a block editor. Current blocks include Freeform, which is essentially the current editor, Image for pictures, Heading, Text, List, Quote, and Gallery. There are also additional blocks like Table and Button that take the place of plugins.

I’m very happy to see the Tables option!

How does Gutenberg affect posting?

First, we have to acknowledge that anything that changes workflow can slow us down initially. For example, when we add a picture in the current WordPress editor, we click on “add media” and choose or upload an image. We may then choose to edit the picture in our WordPress Editor, or we might insert the picture into the post and then click on the photo to edit the image size or add a caption.

In Gutenberg, we will instead click on a + sign and choose “image.” After finding the image in the media gallery or uploading it from our files, we’ll click “Select” to insert the image. We’ll immediately have the option of adding a caption and alt text or changing the alignment, but we can’t click on the image and edit it any more.

In the current editor, once we have our image in place we can just click in the text box and write our post, but in Gutenberg we’ll have to add a text or Freeform block with the + sign.

The differences mean that it will take a bit more time to post while you’re getting used to it. However, Gutenberg is expected to speed up a lot of processes in the long run. I’ve been using it for a week and don’t yet have strong feelings about it.

Is Gutenberg really just Divi or Fusion?

At WordCamp Europe, someone asked Matt Mullenweg at his Q& A session whether Gutenberg is just Divi or Fusion Builder in disguise. Matt said no, WordPress isn’t copying someone else. “We’re skating to where the puck is going to be,” he said.

Personally, I like Gutenberg better than the other WordPress builders I’ve used, but that may be mere personal preference. I know plenty of people who love Divi.

My biggest concern with builders in general is that they leave a lot of unneeded extra code behind. Therefore, I’m going to show you the text view of the classic editor for each.  That is, we’re looking at the code for posts built in the special editor for each of these builders.

So here’s how a Gutenberg post’s text view looks. Each block has a comment in HTML at the beginning and the end of the block, and there are ordinary HTML markers for paragraphs, images, etc.

Gutenberg is cleaner than Divi or Fusion Builder, overall. You also won’t lose your content if you build in Gutenberg and then deactivate the plugin. Gutenberg also doesn’t currently create layouts as builders do.

Gutenberg does some things other builders don’t. For example, there are tools for embedding all sorts of content from around the web.

 A new version of Guternburg rolled out while I was typing this up.

Want to try it out?

You can download the Gutenberg plugin and use the demo to see how it works. You can also install the plugin and try it out. Current clients, we’ll be happy to help you with this.

We’ll be updating as we continue to use Gutenberg. One thing we can tell you for sure: it’s coming. You might as well get used to the idea — or make sure that your web firm is competent with it.

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