WordPress 5 and the Gutenberg Editor: These Things You Should Pay Attention to

Leefke Krönke Last updated 10/23/2020
8 Min.
WordPress  Editor Gutenberg

WordPress 5 and the Gutenberg editor are here. Gutenberg thus replaces the TinyMCE editor, which has been the standard WordPress editor for years. To prepare you for the changeover, I will show you today what the Gutenberg editor is all about and what changes you need to be aware of now.

Updated 04.12.2018

Update: Important info - Updated on 06.12.2018: WordPress 5 with the Gutenberg editor was released yesterday evening (CET). So it's high time to get to grips with it now. After all, WordPress 5 with the Gutenberg-editor brings some changes. In our e-book you will learn what the new editor means for your business and how to prepare for the update.

Gutenberg and WordPress  5 E-Book

If you were to count which word in the WordPress community has fallen the most in recent months, then it would most likely be "Gutenberg". The subject of these Gutenberg discourses is neither the politician, nor the inventor of printing (at least only indirectly), but the next great WordPress feature: the new editor!

Since there is a lot of information and opinions about the Gutenberg-project, I will give you a short overview about the new WordPress -editor and which advantages and possible hurdles you and your customers have to face.

Why does WordPress need a new editor anyway?

The new Gutenberg-Editor is supposed to revolutionizeWordPress and ensure that our favorite CMS remains accessible and competitive in the long run. To learn more about the development and implications of the Gutenberg editor, check out the Talk by Gutenberg-Lead Matias Ventura at WordCamp Europe 2018.

It's time for WordPress ' next big thing, the thing that helps us deal with our challenges and opportunities. The thing that changes the world. Gutenberg . - – Matt Mullenweg

Currently, the new editor exists only as Plugin and is still in the beta phase. However, this will change soon, as Gutenberg will become the new standard editor with the update to WordPress 5.

For a long time it was unclear when Gutenberg would be ready for the merge into WordPress Core. A few weeks ago came the clarification: In his keynote at WordCamp Europe, WP co-founder Matt Mullenweg mentioned August 2018 as the target. However, the integration is tied to some prerequisites attached. Thus, it is not unlikely that the Gutenberg roadmap will be postponed further.

The Gutenberg editor is block-based  

First of all I would like to show you the special features of the new Gutenberg editor compared to the classic TinyMCE editor.

Basically, TinyMCE is limited to the most necessary functionalities for creating and editing content (see screenshot below). However, if you want to implement a special layout or certain functions with your posts or pages, you usually won't get very far without HTML, CSS, shortcodes and the like.

TinyMCE WordPress  editor
The old familiar interface of the classic TinyMCE editor.

The classic TinyMCE editor is similar to common text programs such as Microsoft Word or Google Docs - a white site , on which you can write and insert media. The new Gutenberg editor is designed to make working with WordPress even easier and more accessible. How does it work? Quite simple: In the new WordPress editor there is only one element: blocks.  

The Gutenberg WordPress editor provides specific blocks for each element of a post (e.g. headlines, text, quotes, lists, images, ...) from which you "build" the final article. A block is therefore to be understood as a building block that provides certain functionalities and that can be used to implement current WordPress elements such as shortcodes, widgets and menus in the future.

Gutenberg editor vs. page builder plugins

Due to the block system, many WP community members have already compared the Gutenberg-Editor and Pagebuilders drawn. Although Gutenberg is supposed to replace the TinyMCE editor with WordPress 5, Matt Mullenweg has made it clear that WordPress will consist of blocks in the future.

A common misconception about Gutenberg is it's just an editor. [...] Gutenberg is really about introducing this concept of blocks that can simplify the WordPress experience throughout things. It's going to cover writing, editing and customization. - Matt Mullenweg

If you are interested in what the Customizer with Gutenberg might look like in the future, you should watch the Loop Conf talk "Customizing the Future" by Mel Choyce watch it.

Gutenberg's similarity to pagebuilders has also led to the discussion how the integration of the new editor will affect existing pagebuilder businesses in the WordPress ecosystem. That the classic pagebuilders will slowly die out is one of the predicted scenarios.

To the reactions of Beaver Builder, Divi, Elementor , Visual Composer and Co., the best known pagebuilders are working on Gutenberg compatibility and don't seem to have any existential worries. Only the makers of the pagebuilderPlugins Tailor pulled the ripcord relatively fast after the first Gutenberg-beta was released, theypulled the ripcord and discontinued their Plugin .

This is how you create a post in Gutenberg

When you create a page or a new post with the Gutenberg editor, you will first be presented with a tidy writing area that contains only a headline and paragraph block.

WordPress Gutenberg editor
This is what the Gutenberg editor looks like when you create a new post.

As with the TinyMCE editor, the article's permalink is automatically created as soon as you fill in the title block. You can convert the existing paragraph block to any other block and add new blocks. To do this, you can choose from a selection of different content blocks.

To help you find the right block for the functionality you need, the blocks are divided into the following categories: Most Used, General Blocks, Formatting, Layout Elements, Widgets, Embeds. There is also a search function.

WordPress -Editor Gutenberg: Blocks
You can either select blocks from predefined categories or search for them specifically.

Which new possibilities the Gutenberg editor offers and how it changes the writing flow, I will not explain in detail here, because others have already done this in detail:

What does the WordPress community say about Gutenberg?

Since Matt Mullenweg announced in early 2017 that WordPress was getting a new block editor that would completely replace the TinyMCE editor, there has been some decent headwind from the community.

Under countless articles and blog contributions to the Gutenberg-Editor become heated discussions in the comments and the overall impression is that many WP users feel ignored in the decision process. A reaction to these negative voices is an article by Gutenberg-Lead Matias Ventura, in which he applies the Theseus paradox to WordPress and again highlights the advantages and vision of the Gutenberg editor.

"There might be a time when the old ways become obsolete and disappear, absorbed by the richer and clearer interface of blocks, but we are doing as much as possible to make this a process. The old doesn't have to disappear suddenly, it can be gradually shaped into the new." - Matias Ventura

Conflicting opinions on the new Gutenberg editor

The split opinion of the WP community towards the new WordPress editor is also reflected in the rating of the Gutenberg-Plugins 175 times the Plugin was rated with five stars and 269 times with only one star.

However, it should be said at this point that the Gutenberg team handles criticism in an exemplary manner, answering all negative reviews on a factual level, addressing the concerns of the authors and asking for suggestions for improvement.

WordPress -Editors Gutenberg Rating
The Gutenberg-Plugins rating (as of July 2018).

Currently, the Gutenberg-Plugin has over 10,000 active installations. The integration into the WP-Core with WordPress 5 should take place when the Plugin is active on over 100,000 sites . If you have already tested Gutenberg , you can support the Gutenberg-Team with little effort by leaving a rating with your feedback.

What does Gutenberg change for you and your customers?

If you are a web designer WordPress sites for your clients, you probably have many questions: How will the Gutenberg editor affect my work? How will my clients get along with the editor? Will my (customer)sites still work properly after the update? And what does this change mean for WordPress in general?

One thing is clear: you are not alone with these questions! The sad news is that there probably won't be a definite answer until the update to WordPress 5 arrives and your customers are confronted with it. But to make sure you're as prepared as possible, here's an overview of the most frequently mentioned advantages and predicted problems of the Gutenberg editor.

PRO - These advantages bring you the Gutenberg-Editor

  • Creating posts is more intuitive and especially for WP newbies easier. So Gutenberg should help with that, WordPress more accessible more accessible.
  • With Gutenberg functions or layouts such as multi-columns, which were previously only possible through HTML, shortcodes, widgets and so on.
  • Developers can create their own Gutenberg blocks and thus extend the functionality of their Themes and Plugins .
  • Gutenberg's clean surface with plenty of whitespace makes for a more pleasant typing experience without distractions.
  • The creation of WordPress contributions and sites with Gutenberg comes close to the WYSIWYG principle (What you see is what you get).
  • Through the new editor shows WordPress innovative and remains competitive against the competition from Wix and Co.
  • Our Performance Comparison has shown that WordPress 5 is the best load test significantly better than WP 4.9. However, since this is still an alpha version, the results are only to be understood as a tendency.

CONTRA - You will probably face these hurdles

  • Since WordPress users first have to get used to the new interface, the new editor will probably disturb the workflow at first. workflow.
  • If you offer a WordPress service, you will have to deal with an increased support volume after the Gutenberg integration. increased support traffic can be expected.
  • Developers who want to work with Gutenberg can't get there JavaScript bypassed. It's not for nothing that Matt Mullenweg said back in 2015: "Learn JavaScript deeply!
  • It is to be expected that not (yet) all Plugins and Themes compatible with Gutenberg compatible when the editor is integrated into the WordPress core.
  • There will most likely be bugs and conflicts that lead to e.g. incorrect sites , Plugin-problems and frustration with WordPress . Especially regarding the compatibility with custom fields and MetaBoxes many WP users are concerned.
  • For simple blogposts using the different blocks may be more cumbersome than with the classic TinyMCE editor.
  • The UX of the HTML view is different from the classic editor, which bothers some users (see figure).
WordPress -Editor Gutenberg: HTML view
In the Gutenberg editor you can choose the HTML view for each block.

Our conclusion: Keep calm and test!

So what's the best way to prepare for Gutenberg ? Since the new editor is still under development, the Gutenberg team encourages all WP users to test it. Starting with the update to WordPress 4.9.8 at the end of July, there will even be an official prompt "Test Gutenberg!" in the WP dashboard.
The more feedback and bug reports there are, the better the editor will work later on. After extensive testing, you can report your comments in the WordPress support forum or open an issue on GitHub.

Important: Since the Gutenberg-Plugin is still in beta phase, you should not test the new editor on your livesite , but in a test environment (make a backup before!). As a RAIDBOXES customer you can create a test environment with one click Staging environment of your site and start right away.

If Gutenberg crashes your site or causes other problems during your test, you have two options:

  1. Before the big version jump to 5 you can fix your WordPress version.
  2. After the 4.9.8 update you install the Classic EditorPlugin (currently still in beta). This way you can continue to use the TinyMCE editor in WordPress 5 for the time being.

Do you have any further questions about the Gutenberg WordPress editor? Then feel free to leave me a comment here. If you want to talk about Gutenberg and other topics, please have a look at our RAIDBOXES Slack -Community for WP-Professionals drop by!

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