WordPress is the most popular content management system(CMS) out there. With more than a quarter of the websites using WordPress, its CMS capabilities are proofed day in and out. Since its first days, it has evolved from a simple blog management system to a veritable CMS that can be used to build anything.
Talking about building stuff, if you haven’t heard the news already, WordPress is working on a new editor called Gutenberg, which is due for the next big WordPress 5.0 release. The work on the editor has been now going for quite some time and the goal is to provide a better, seamless editor experience to its users, something similar to what we’re used to with page builders like Visual Composer and Elementor. The demo has been up already, both as a website and as a plugin. We also got our hands on it and went into the nitty gritty of using it, as an advanced editor which could keep up with the big boys.
So, in this article, we’ll see how Gutenberg works as a page builder and we will go through the pros and cons of the Gutenberg WordPress editor. But before we start, let’s find out more about it.
What is Gutenberg?
Gutenberg is the name of the WordPress’s new (visual) editor. It’s named after Johannes Gutenberg – the inventor of the printing press – that 500-years-old movable type gadget which revolutionized the way people wrote.
So, why Gutenberg?
The current WordPress editor is intuitive and straightforward. However, it lacks the modern functionality that an editor should have. For example, there is no drag and drop functionality. To insert diverse elements, you need to either use HTML or rely on shortcodes. That’s not convenient, isn’t it? This is where Gutenberg comes in. Gutenberg introduces a new concept of “little blocks”. This makes the whole concept interesting as it brings a plethora of advanced layout options, powered by a frontend drag&dop visual editor.
Gutenberg is not yet officially launched which means it is still in beta phase. You can try out the beta version. However, I recommend you use it on your test website. Also, you should check it out for any compatibility issues, slowdown or other potential issues that the plugin could generate. Only install it on your live website if you’re absolutely sure it is 100% compatible with it and it doesn’t break any functionality – an advice which should be used with any other plugin as well.
How to install Gutenberg?
Before we deep dive into the pros and cons of the Gutenberg, let’s learn how to install it. You could install it like you usually do from the Wp Dashboard, Plugins->Add New and typing in Gutenberg and then clicking on the Install button.
As I previously mentioned, be cautious when installing the plugin on a live website.
Using Gutenberg as Your New Live Editor
Once you install it, you should find a “Gutenberg” button on any post and page you’re editing in the backend. This button opens the Gutenberg editor. This means that both the editors can be accessed and used at this moment. However, it is not sure if they will keep it that way when the Gutenberg will be eventually released. The main goal is to actually replace the current/old editor with the new one so…
You could also access the Gutenberg demo from the dashboard. To do so, you need to go to the menu and find “Gutenberg”. Once you click it, you will see two options: “New Post” and “Demo.” This is where you can try out all the features and functionality that Gutenberg has to offer.
Compared to the old one, Gutenberg offers more writing space and a visual and clean interface, which means that it can help improve focus and productivity.
Gutenberg’s Main Advantages
- TinyMCE is a big part of the WordPress editor. However, relying too much on it was not helping WordPress to move in the right direction. With Gutenberg, the theme, plugins and the core will be tightly integrated to provide a great editing experience…hope so…
- Gutenberg mimics the Medium style editing experience. In general, it should be considered a good idea as it will give users an easy way to build content. So, if you love the Medium editor, you’re going to like Gutenberg as well.
- Gutenberg introduced a new concept called “Blocks”. It is a unique way to create posts and pages if you are just starting to blog. These blocks also free your creativity when it comes to building pages. . Overall, blocks are a great way to create and visualize your page without losing the functionality of the site.
- If you are a productivity freak and don’t like distractions, then you will love Gutenberg. It comes with a full-screen template to keep you out of any backend distractions and help you unleash the artist from within…
- The whole block system is mobile-friendly. Not only the pages you create using the Gutenberg editor are mobile-friendly, but you can also use it to edit your pages or posts on the go.
- The biggest positive change that Gutenberg editor brings in is that it is very user-friendly. This means that it can be picked up by newbies with ease – aligning with the overall WordPress philosophy.
- Last, but not the least, the editor is designed to be your 1st choice when it comes to building websites with WordPress, in the way you’re used to(and I’m mentioning here the great user experience brought by Visual Composer and Elementor page builders).
The Cons of Using Gutenberg
Now, that we got a glimpse of what it has to offer, let’s see what pain points the editor is currently facing with – at the moment of writing this article(July 2018).
- There is no markdown support in the beta version of the plugin. It might be added in future, though.
- Just like any good editor, the learning curve might be quite high for some users which haven’t worked with a page builder before.
- Metaboxes are an essential part of any editor. Gutenberg, during its beta phase, shows partial support for metaboxes. Things like hiding page titles, having unique options for each page are still things for the future. For now, it only supports Yoast SEO which is a good sign considering that other developer’s meta boxes will be supported soon.
- Even though the editor can be used to create a responsive design, it doesn’t support responsive columns yet. This should be a temporary issue, as more features are added to it on a daily basis.
- Compatibility issues can be a significant concern for many WordPress users. Since the WordPress ecosystem has thousands of plugins and themes, making them work with Gutenberg could be quite a challenge.
- Gutenberg editor might be not as accessible as you might think, especially for developers. Developers heavily rely on APIs and similar stuff to build themes and plugins. However, at the time of writing, APIs are still in development.
Gutenberg editor should be seen as a pioneering sign of where WordPress is heading to. Although being scheduled for release with the WordPress v5.0, the overall community reaction towards it is quite negative.
With better 3rd party editors available, the community inclines towards making Gutenberg an optional feature of WordPress. If this is going to happen, it will be just a plugin among tons of other plugins. However, the WordPress dev team seems to be strictly and religiously following their roadmap. At this moment, all we can do is either get involved in the development process and contribute to the plugin, or wait and see what’s going to happen.
We have been impressed with what Gutenberg has to offer. It has the potential but requires a lot of work to be ready for the WordPress ecosystem. For you as a user, we recommend waiting for a stable release before trying it out. If you are a business and heavily rely on the editor, we would recommend trying it out first. If everything feels right, you can go forward with the update. Otherwise, you can wait for a better release later on.
So, what do you think about the release? Comment below and let us know.