The WordPress team is calling the new post editor “Gutenberg” (you know, after the guy who invented the printing press and changed media forever).
If your business or nonprofit has a WordPress website you should know what you’re in for and how to prepare before clicking the “update” button to WordPress 5.0.
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What is Gutenberg?
The classic WordPress editor is showing its age. It isn’t drag and drop, it gets cluttered by plugin features, and it requires authors to keep clicking “preview” to see what their post will look like.
Gutenberg is supposed to solve all of this.
With WordPress 5.0 Gutenberg will replace the classic editor completely. If everything works well on release day you will be composing blog posts using rearrangeable content “blocks” instead of a single giant block of text, interacting more intuitively with plugins, and previewing your post as you compose it rather than toggling between the editor and preview.
Whether or not all of those goals will be met on day one of WordPress 5.0 remains to be seen. But whether Gutenberg is an instant success or a slow burn it will affect how your business or nonprofit uses its website.
WordPress’ upcoming Gutenberg update will affect your business or nonprofit by…
1. Forcing you to develop a new workflow
Have you ever tried to use a different type of computer? You know, like you’ve used Windows forever and when you sit down at a Mac you’re completely lost?
Some of you may feel that way when you first fire up Gutenberg.
Sure, the formatting controls have moved as have most of your plugin and widget settings. But even more significantly, the entire philosophy of the user interface has changed. Transitioning to content as multiple movable “blocks” is a big change (for the better) and will come with a learning curve for some users.
This means that your current workflow for composing and publishing a post may need to change. Do you recall when Microsoft introduced the “Ribbon” in Office. If so, you may remember the frustration of searching for all of the formatting options you used to know by heart. But, for most of us, once we got used to the Ribbon our productivity increased. Gutenberg is like that. In the short term you may feel lost but once you develop a work flow you’re going to be thanking Automattic (the team behind WordPress) for the update.
2. Rendering some of your plugins unusable
Most major plugin developers are primed and ready for Gutenberg’s launch.
If WordPress developers like myself have been testing with it you know plugin developers are doing the same.
But not every plugin is going to be updated. It’s just the way of things. I once had a simple iOS app on the App Store. I maintained it for two years before Rystedt Creative took too much time and the iOS app took a back seat. It hasn’t been updated since (nor is it currently available). Some WordPress developers are in a similar situation. This is their side hustle and so when the update overhead gets too heavy and/or their full time gig gets too demanding their plugin just drops support.
Even developers who want to update to support Gutenberg may not have their software ready on time. Updates take work to develop and not every developer is working on their plugins regularly.
Be prepared for some of your plugins to not work when you install Gutenberg.
Which ones? Some plugins that have settings available on the post editing page may disappear, break, or have reduced functionality until they are updated for Gutenberg.
Others, like Yoast SEO, are primed and ready.
The Gutenberg team is attempting to make updating plugins for the new software as easy as possible but be prepared that it may be a bumpy start.
3. Reducing the learning curve for new blog contributors
When launching new websites for clients, whether on WordPress or something else, I am often asked to also provide a how-to on publishing blog posts and other content on the new site.
Let’s face it, the Web isn’t always as straightforward as we would like.
Gutenberg is designed to help reduce the learning curve associated with composting a blog post through WordPress.
Some of the new features coming in Gutenberg that make learning WordPress even easier include:
- Pre-formatted “block” types like paragraph, heading, list, quote, gallery, cover image, and even button, page break, and text columns
- Drag and drop functionality for rearranging blocks
- Individual formatting for each block
- What-you-see-is-what-you-get editor for themes that support it
- Default color options for background and text
- …and more
4. Increasing your productivity
If you don’t write your content in HTML Gutenberg will increase your productivity.
Formatting options are always nearby, making changes are easy and immediately visible, and rearranging your content is now even simpler than cut and paste.
Now what if you write your content offline and then add it to WordPress later? Won’t “content blocks” force you to paste each section separately?
No, not necessarily. Gutenberg still allows you to paste your content into the editor and then convert it to blocks.
Just add a “Classic” block, paste your entire post, then convert to blocks, and make any changes you need to!
WordPress’ 5.0 Update with Gutenberg is Coming “First Half of 2018” (so any moment now)
Gutenberg was originally slated for release at the beginning of 2018. Then it got pushed to “first half of 2018”. Now we’re into June and the exact release date is still “TBD”.
But it is coming sooner rather than later.
Are you ready for the big update?
You Can Prepare for Gutenberg by…
Getting to Know Gutenberg Today
Gutenberg is available today as a plugin for your current WordPress 4.x install.
Just go here to download the plugin for your website.
You can install Gutenberg (preferably onto a test website first) and begin learning the software.
Then, when WordPress 5.0 releases you won’t have any learning to do – you’ll be ready to blog with the new editor!
Installing the Classic Editor Plugin Before Updating to WordPress 5.0
Whether you’re installing the Gutenberg plugin or updating to WordPress 5.0 the old Classic Editor will no longer be visible.
So what happens if one of your plugins doesn’t play nice with Gutenberg? You may find yourself longing for the Classic Editor with all its clunkiness.
The good news is that a team of WordPress contributors have developed a Classic Editor plugin that will allow you to compose a post using the Classic Editor if you need to – even with Gutenberg installed!
All your plugins should just work in the Classic Editor after all.
This plugin is going to be a life saver for some websites. With the Classic Editor plugin you can update to WordPress 5.0, use Gutenberg for new content when it fits your needs, but always have the Classic Editor to fall back on when you need a legacy plugin.
If you haven’t installed this plugin do so before updating to WordPress 5.0.