What Is Gutenberg? A First Look At The Future Of WordPress

Currently WordPress uses the WP Editor which allows users to create pages, posts and other content types. Also known as the TinyMCE Editor, it features a row of toolbar icons that look like this:

Take a good look because sometime in 2018 this is likely to disappear (or not be prominently featured in WordPress anymore. Exactly how Gutenberg will be rolled out is still a mystery but most believe it will be included in WordPress v5.0.

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Gutenberg, the name of the new system you’ll use to create content in WordPress, has been on a fast track towards release. It will revolutionize the way WordPress works. In the past WordPress evolved slowly giving users a chance to understand and accept changes. But not this time. This is going to be very different. Gutenberg is coming on fast and you ought to be aware of what is in store. In short, Gutenberg uses the block editing system you have seen if you use platforms such as WIX or SquareSpace. Even email distribution systems like MailChimp use it. If you use a page builder like Elementor or Beaver Builder you already have an idea what I’m talking about. With Gutenberg you’ll use drag and drop (not yet developed as of this writing) to create rows and columns in your page. You’ll then add text, images, videos, buttons and all manner of UI elements into Gutenberg blocks or, as the smart people who are creating Gutenberg call it, “Gutenblocks.” Don’t you love it? 🙂 Why is WordPress doing this? To stay up with the competition and to set the standards for how web pages are made for years to come. WordPress is not in that position even though WP is the most widely used CMS by far right now. Gutenberg is supposed to make it easier to onboard an expanding base of users who like the way SquareSpace, WIX, Medium and other CMS work. The goal is also to make current users work with a system that will support grid layouts, something that has been number one in the Suggestion Box for years. And it’s a giant step to the Holy Grail of simple, in-browser design (but we are not there yet).

Sounds Great But…

Here are some of the unanswered questions that the smart people are working on.
  • Will Gutenberg be backwardly compatible with all plugins and themes? Not likely. There is a good chance that some sites will break in Gutenberg. I’m not saying a large number so don’t panic but an earthquake of this magnitude will cause a number of sites to crack.
  • Will some plugins become obsolete due to Gutenberg?Yes.
  • Will there be a way to use the current WP Editor instead?This one is very hotly debated. No one seems to know. I’ve heard there will be a way to use what probably will be called the “Classic Editor.” Or someone will create a plugin so you’ll have access to it if you don’t like Gutenberg.

Have A Look

Here’s How Gutenberg Works This video was made a few months ago and there have been changes since so keep that in mind.

You Can Try Gutenberg Now

Get a jump on what’s coming by installing Gutenberg as a plugin. Don’t use this on an active live site. because Gutenberg is under development. It will have some bugs and need some security fixes. Set up a free test site with my favorite free host, Poopy Life then try out Gutenberg. Keep in mind that when Gutenberg is released it one’t be a plugin. It will be in core!

What Does Gutenberg Mean For You?

It’s going to have an impact no matter who you are. Whether you use WordPress every day or just once in a while this is going to change everything. What you think of WordPress, how you work with it for you or client sites it’s all going to change. I know I’ll be spending lots of time training and re-training people in class and in my WP A To Z Series.

What’s This Mean For WordPress?

Everything. The WordPress community and the folks at Automattic (the company that manages the development of the WordPress open source project know that a lot is at stake here. If Gutenberg is a smash it will gain an even bigger share of the market of CMS. That will be great news for everyone who has a financial stake in seeing WordPress succeed. If Gutenberg flops it could mean the end of WordPress. It’s that big a deal! What do you think? Please let us know by leaving a comment below.

9 thoughts on “What Is Gutenberg? A First Look At The Future Of WordPress”

  1. This is going to be a huge change. I wonder if WP should be moving so far away the framework end and into the design and development areas. I like the different builders out there like Divi, WP Bakery, etc. If WP is trying to replace them, will WP move out of the free market? On the other hand, I see a lot of business potential in fixing all the broken sites that are sure to come. And therein lies the problem. If site breakage and/or plugin breakage is widespread, the negative publicity could be crushing. I don’t know, just thinking out loud here.

    Reply
    • Totally agree Steve. I wonder why Automattic did not buy a page builder like Elementor and use that as a framework for development. I’d like to see Gutenberg rolled out in the way much smaller changes have been made which is to leave a legacy system in place for a few years before the older method is removed. I understand why Gutenberg’s development has been so fast but as they say, “Haste makes waste” and we sure don’t want to see that happen to WP.

      Reply
  2. I’ve been following Gutenberg and I’m worried too. The way it’s come out , I don’t know if it’s the editor improvement or a page builder altogether . I feel if Gutenberg changes the way we code themes, backward compatibility will not be guaranteed . In such a case, there will be 2 different scenarios. 1. WordPress will lose its user base, just like joomla did while transitioning from 1.5 to 2.5. 2. If people chose to stick with Gutenberg , rejoice !! We developers might have a lot of work coming to us. It’s too early to predict anything ATM.

    Reply
    • One thing I’m hearing – and I’ll get more on this in 2 weeks when I go to WordCamp Us in Nashville – is that not only will Gutenberg be in core there is not likely to be an option to roll back to the TinyMCE editor.

      I can’t imagine how many people will be shocked to see what happened to WordPress after they update to 5.0.

      As your post suggests, Gutenberg may spell the near death of WordPress or be a gift to everyone working in the WP ecosphere.

      Reply

Leave a Comment

9 thoughts on “What Is Gutenberg? A First Look At The Future Of WordPress”

  1. This is going to be a huge change. I wonder if WP should be moving so far away the framework end and into the design and development areas. I like the different builders out there like Divi, WP Bakery, etc. If WP is trying to replace them, will WP move out of the free market? On the other hand, I see a lot of business potential in fixing all the broken sites that are sure to come. And therein lies the problem. If site breakage and/or plugin breakage is widespread, the negative publicity could be crushing. I don’t know, just thinking out loud here.

    Reply
    • Totally agree Steve. I wonder why Automattic did not buy a page builder like Elementor and use that as a framework for development. I’d like to see Gutenberg rolled out in the way much smaller changes have been made which is to leave a legacy system in place for a few years before the older method is removed. I understand why Gutenberg’s development has been so fast but as they say, “Haste makes waste” and we sure don’t want to see that happen to WP.

      Reply
  2. I’ve been following Gutenberg and I’m worried too. The way it’s come out , I don’t know if it’s the editor improvement or a page builder altogether . I feel if Gutenberg changes the way we code themes, backward compatibility will not be guaranteed . In such a case, there will be 2 different scenarios. 1. WordPress will lose its user base, just like joomla did while transitioning from 1.5 to 2.5. 2. If people chose to stick with Gutenberg , rejoice !! We developers might have a lot of work coming to us. It’s too early to predict anything ATM.

    Reply
    • One thing I’m hearing – and I’ll get more on this in 2 weeks when I go to WordCamp Us in Nashville – is that not only will Gutenberg be in core there is not likely to be an option to roll back to the TinyMCE editor.

      I can’t imagine how many people will be shocked to see what happened to WordPress after they update to 5.0.

      As your post suggests, Gutenberg may spell the near death of WordPress or be a gift to everyone working in the WP ecosphere.

      Reply

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