The biggest thing happening right now in the world of WordPress is the emergence of Gutenberg, which is a new WordPress editor. This has caused quite a stir, both among the professionals and casual users, since they have been using the default editor even since WordPress was introduced. Although Gutenberg WordPress Editor was introduced back in 2017, it is still causing controversy, which makes it difficult to tell if it’s any good.
Is it a step backward or a welcome improvement?
First of all, let’s set a few things straight. Gutenberg isn’t replacing the default editor just yet. For now, it is available as a plugin, but if the rumors are true, it will become a part of WordPress 5.0 later this year. The most obvious change Gutenberg WordPress Editor brings with it is that all content is expressed in blocks. Also, you can change the layout of your posts directly inside the editor, much like you would change the design of the document inside Microsoft Word.
But, let’s take it one step at a time. Take a look at our brief guideline for Gutenberg, as well as all of its major pros and cons.
How Do Blocks Work in Gutenberg WordPress Editor?
Gutenberg makes use of blocks, which are smaller units you can use to build your pages or posts. And the best part about it is that a block can be anything. Content, calls to action, images, galleries, video and audio, paragraphs, buttons, headings, and just about everything else you can think of. Furthermore, you can create your own custom blocks, if your website requires them. This is a welcome change for anyone from bloggers and cheap writing services, to companies and developers. Another thing which makes this approach user-friendly is that it allows you to not just to position the blocks via drag and drop functionality, but also to change the contents of each block right there on the spot.
This effectively means that you get to control both the back end and the front end of the platform from one editor. There are plugins which allow you to build the layout of your pages, such as Divi, so it remains to be seen whether Gutenberg WordPress Editor will replace them completely or if they will be used alongside each other. Multicolumn layouts can now be easily created and edited, which was usually the case with WordPress’ competitors, such as Medium or Squarespace.
What Else Does Gutenberg will Change in WordPress?
Well, essentially nothing, because Gutenberg doesn’t change the functionality of WordPress. Instead, it simply enables you to interact with the platform in a way that is much simpler and intuitive, using an agile and visual user interface. There are a lot of things you will no longer need to do in WordPress once Gutenberg editor becomes a part of it, such as importing media files from the library, adding HTML shortcodes or shortcodes for assets of various plugins, adding a featured imaged for every post, adding widgets, and copying and pasting links for embeds, among other things.
How to Install Gutenberg?
Since Gutenberg is not yet a part of WordPress, it comes as a plugin. Keep in mind that in order to run this plugin, you will need version 4.8 or better. The installation process is pretty straightforward. You log into your WordPress account and open the plugins menu, and then click on “Add New”. Type in “Gutenberg” inside the search field in order to find it, and then simply click on “Install Now”. After the plugin has been installed successfully, click on the “Activate” button to start running it. That’s all there is to it.
How to Use Gutenberg?
After installing Gutenberg and attempting to create a new post, you will notice that nothing has changed and that the old editor is still there, but that because Gutenberg WordPress Editor is shown as a separate item in the admin menu. It will stay that way until developers work out all of the bugs and kinks of the plugin, and until it has been tested by a large number of users. Only then will they decide to make Gutenberg the default WordPress editor. For the time being, you can easily switch between two editors using the drop-down menu on the right-hand corner of the page.
When you access the Gutenberg features, you will be able to choose between two options: New Post, and Demo. What Demo does is generate a post which allows you to view every single feature available, including text, images, buttons, tables, and every other type of block, along with different examples of block alignment. This basically works as a tutorial of sorts and allows you to get to know the feature inside and out.
If you decide to create a new post, you will see that a blank page now takes up most of the screen, which not only makes for a cleaner look, but you also have more room to work with. All of the options for blocks are hidden behind the settings button. Moreover, the toolbars are context-based, which makes for a pretty intuitive interface. Gutenberg also beats the old editor when it comes to the post preview, which will look exactly the same as the actual published content.
Adding a new block can be done by clicking on the ‘+’ icon located below existing blocks, and after you click on it, you will gain access to three tabs: Recent, Blocks, and Embeds. To position or move the blocks across the page, hover your mouse cursor over the block for the arrows to appear on the left side of the block. Aligning them is also simple because you can do so directly from the Block tab.
Apart from block functionality, Gutenberg also brings plenty of new options, even for existing WordPress features. First, there is the table of contents. Since Gutenberg is capable of identifying blocks which contain headings and subheadings, it will generate a table of contents which is shown inside the sidebar, with all existing headings right there at your disposal. This is very helpful since it acts as a quick overview of the entire document. Each heading also acts as a shortcut to that particular part of the text and will save you a lot of time scrolling, especially if you are using a mobile device to create or edit your post or page.
Then, you have the anchor tag which allows you to link to a section inside the document. For example, you could have an extensive pillar post which lists all its major sections and allows you to add an anchor to a heading, which will then enable to reader to jump to that section of the article.
One of the most annoying things about the old editor was the media library. Gutenberg WordPress Editor does away with all that with its responsive galleries. When you add a Gallery block, it enables you to upload groups of images to the gallery right there on the spot, as well as to add images and media from your existing WordPress media library.
Pros of Gutenberg
There is no doubt that Gutenberg comes with a lot of new stuff, and most of it is an improvement:
- Easier Post and Page editing – New Gutenberg WordPress editor allows for easier use, better control, and access to both the back end and the front end.
- Building your content – With Gutenberg, you can now build your own content much easier. This is where some of its competitors, such as Medium, had the upper hand since they allowed users to simply build their posts in a natural and logical manner.
- Blocks – Not only are blocks easier to create, edit, and manage, but they will also save you a ton of time because you can save each layout as a reusable block. If your posts or pages need to follow a certain visual identity of branding, you will think this is the best thing since sliced bread.
- More space – New toolbars are hidden, and even when they are shown, they don’t take up much space. Also, there is much less scrolling involved, which will be appreciated by mobile users.
Cons of Gutenberg
While Gutenberg is excellent, users will have to face some limitations:
- Lack of markdown support – Currently, there is no support for markdown in Gutenberg, which is certainly a bit of a letdown, but it may or may not be added in one of the future versions.
- It takes time to get used to it – while absolute beginners will love Gutenberg, more experienced users will have to learn how to adapt to this new way of putting together posts.
- Lack of compatibility – Gutenberg requires you to have WordPress 4.8 or better, which is not a problem. But, since WordPress supports thousands of different themes and plugins, Gutenberg will not work with all of them, which is to be expected.
- No API – If you are a developer, you need APIs, especially if you are building themes and plugins. However, this is currently in development, so it might not be that much of problem in the future.
It’s easy to see why Gutenberg WordPress editor has caused such controversy because it complexly changes the way you approach post and page creation. Whether it will be accepted as the new default editor or not remains to be seen. It is very clever and intuitive for most users, but it might not prove to be as popular with develops or those using a lot of plugins. However, it is superior to the old editor in many ways, and with a few additional features and improved support, it is very likely to replace it down the line.