WordPress and the Gutenberg Editor

WordPress and the Gutenberg Editor

WordPress made its way to the web in May 2003 as a free and open-source content management system (CMS) that has since revolutionized content management. WordPress holds an impressive 55% 1 share of the global CMS market – powering nearly 30% of all websites2.

WordPress was originally based on a popular blogging software at the time called b2/cafelog that had been discontinued by the developers. Over the past 15 years, WordPress has continued to evolve and has seen over 276 releases… with arguably the biggest change making its debut later this year with the release of WordPress 5.0.

“The promise of the early web was that everyone could have a website but there was something missing. Maybe the technology wasn’t ready.” – Matt Mullenweg (Founder and CEO of WordPress3)

WordPress has spent the last decade mastering their platform and slowly chipping away at adding what was missing without risking drastic changes to the core technology. As an open-source platform, developers have been able to experiment with their own ways of improving user interfaces by making their own content editors with various technologies. Some of which may no longer be usable.

The Future of WordPress – Gutenberg Editor

Project Gutenberg was started by the WordPress team in the pursuit of revolutionizing their publishing platform by replacing the core WordPress editor and lay the foundation for WordPress’ future.

Their goal was to simplify how content is created, customized, and interacted with – regardless of technical ability. The new Gutenberg editor uses “blocks,” which are pre-coded features that can be dragged into place and brings published pages in line with modern coding standards.

The initial phase focuses on a content-first approach with the introduction of blocks and will replace the post editor with the release of WordPress 5.0. This allows the user to focus on how content will look without having to worry about other configuration options and it introduces what will become a fundamental role of WordPress in the future.

Phase two will focus on introducing Gutenberg to page templates and begin slowly phasing out traditional usage of shortcodes and meta-boxes. Blocks will become the new mechanism for building content features and will eliminate the need for old development tactics. Support for existing pre-Gutenberg functionality will remain but may require slight code changes.

WordPress plans for the third phase to take Gutenberg beyond posts and page templates and into full website customization — to create an experience that provides users with an instant understanding of how to use WordPress and 90% of plugins.

Community Reaction to the Gutenberg Editor

Gutenberg is a BIG change for WordPress and many developers have mixed feelings about the transition. Developing blocks is much different than creating plugins and features in the past. There also remains quite a bit of uncertainty as to how things will migrate and display with Gutenberg. The Gutenberg demo plugin is causing panic in the developer community due to compatibility issues with themes and plugins. Unless you dive into the Gutenberg code, there is very little documentation at this time for preparing for the change. Companies have invested millions on developing themes/plugins and Gutenberg could be a huge setback.

People have a tough time with changes to something they’re familiar with. In time, people will adjust and come to terms with the change. Gutenberg will provide developers with a more seamless development process with greater capabilities and will provide users a straightforward interface with little technical skills required… if everything goes according to plan.

Gutenberg could further revolutionize WordPress’ usability or potentially lead to its demise. Only time will tell.

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