Over the past years, WordPress stuck to its good ol’ visual editor and didn’t introduce many changes. But hey, why fix something that is not broken? In most cases, this wouldn’t be a bad thing, but sometimes, a change is more than welcome, especially when competitors like Medium or Ghost come with a unique and refreshing experience for its users.
Apparently, WP ignored this aspect, so a group of contributors and volunteers started working at the WordPress Gutenberg editor for the past year, in their attempt to make adding rich content to the platform simpler and more enjoyable. But is the overall experience that good?
Let’s find out more about this editor and see if it’s actually worth it.
What is this Gutenberg editor?
Generally speaking, we can call it a new editor for WordPress, named after the man who invented the printing press with movable type, Johannes Gutenberg. Unlike the standard visual editor, which requires HTML and shortcodes in order to obtain the desired results, Gutenberg wants to make this easier, especially for first-time WordPress users.
Currently, the final version wasn’t released yet, so you can try the beta version. And it won’t get integrated into the platform until it gets 100,000 active installs. But believe us, it’s worth giving it a try, especially if you want to provide some feedback.
It’s available for installation in the WordPress repository and you can find it by searching it within the dashboard, under “Add New” plugins. You need WordPress version 4.8 or higher to run it, by the way.
After installing it, you should see links right under your posts that allow you to open up the WordPress Gutenberg editor. Once this will be merged with the Core, you will be able to access it by simply pressing the Edit links.
Besides this, it is also accessible from the new menu in the dashboard, which also includes a demo and the ability to create a new post using Gutenberg. It’s highly recommended to explore this option until you learn to get around with it.
What’s good about the WordPress Gutenberg editor?
Ok, now that we know what’s the whole deal with this editor, let’s take a few minutes and see what are some of its biggest pluses, which make it worth installing.
It’s definitely a step forward for visual editing in WordPress. The classic editor is around for years and, despite being very easy to use, it’s not exactly the most amazing experience. Gutenberg brings a more intuitive interface for new users, helping them learn how to share the first posts faster and easier.
It uses HTML comments to store block info. Definitely one of the major advantages of this new editor is the fact that it stores information about blocks in HTML comments. Therefore, these are seen just on the back end of the site, without being rendered on live pages.
It won’t have side effects after disabling it. There are a lot of WordPress page editors already available, but some of them, after uninstalling, can have a negative impact on your site. Or, simply put, they will break your website. It won’t happen with Gutenberg.
It offers a solid HTML5 output. Technically speaking, Gutenberg blocks output content, like section and figure, through HTML 5 tags. Using them will help you future-proof all the content created in the new editor.
It gives you the possibility to write your own blocks. In Gutenberg, developers can create their own blocks of customized content. Let that sink in for a while.
The user interface isn’t the best. Sure, it may look revolutionary and relatively easy to use, but the truth is that performing some of the simples tasks require more clicks than in the standard WordPress editor. For example, in order to update a page, you need to make two clicks, instead of just pressing “Update”
And we’re not done yet. Gutenberg for WordPress has an admin menu consisting of three columns. All good until now but the editor and the sidebar will eventually get crowded and scrolling around on smaller display can be confusing.
Oh, and let’s not forget about meta boxes, essential for a well-optimized page. These are actually hidden somewhere under extended settings, underneath and beside the editor.
It has some accessibility issues. Since the WordPress Gutenberg editor is still in its beta version, such things are normal. Therefore, if you want to install it, you should be aware of its accessibility issues on using the back end, as well as the content output by it on the front end, like inline CSS.
Images don’t look so good. Well, this is a bit exaggerated, since the real problem is that you can’t wrap text around an image, like in the regular WordPress editor, as images have their own block. This shouldn’t be such a big issue, but if you care about the look of your pages, this is actually very important.
The same problem appears when you’re trying to embed audio or video, as these also require their own block.
There are no shortcodes in paragraphs. Unfortunately, you can execute shortcodes, neither in text columns or paragraphs blocks in the current version of the editor. In order to make them work, they much be placed in the shortcode block. And I bet that you aren’t fancying this.
This current situation can cause some problems, as long as your shortcodes produce inline content. However, they will work when Gutenberg is added to an existing site.
And this wraps it up. Overall, the WordPress Gutenberg editor looks like a promising project, even in its current state. We’re looking forward to seeing the final variant, ready to be used by everybody, as we’re convinced that it has the power to change the way we’re using the world’s most popular content management system.
What are your thoughts on Gutenberg? Would you use it instead of the current WP editor?