Revisiting Gutenberg

It’s been a while since Gutenberg first came out as a beta plugin for testing. If you’re not in the loop, Gutenberg is the new editor for WordPress that will likely come out sometime next year. It’s more or less a block based editor where you can insert text blocks, quote blocks, embed blocks, etc. It’s a current trend for editors on the web, so naturally WordPress is trying join in on the trend. I first reviewed Gutenberg when it came out this summer and thought it had some potential. Then I put it away while working on WordCamp DFW. After that passed, I started using it again to write posts and try it out in more detail. How do I feel about it now? Well, I have some thoughts.
The Gutenberg editor.

Writing feels very much the same, if not easier

Having used Gutenberg to write posts over the past couple of weeks, I feel like I’ve noticed a difference in my writing process. Like before hand, I would write posts from top to bottom and if I got stuck, I would just put it down, leaving other sections untouched and taking a much longer time. But with the block-based editing in Gutenberg, I’m more inclined to work section-by-section. If I get stuck in one section, I’ll just move to another to knock that out before returning to the previous section. It’s made writing easier and quicker, which is nice feeling. It’s also has less distractions to sidetrack me from my writing. I usually have Yoast SEO items in the publish area which tell me how my post is doing with SEO and readability and it really bothered me. I would be writing  But with Gutenberg, they aren’t there, which honestly feels great, and other distractions like word count and all of the TinyMCE buttons at the top editor aren’t there to keep me from writing. There’s a noticeable difference in my writing time, and I love it.

Still needs more time

But it’s still not quite ready to be rolled into core at the moment. There are a number of problems that need to be resolved by the team before it goes into production. For starters, there are still issues with custom fields. I know Advanced Custom Fields isn’t working with Gutenberg, and there are a few issues I’ve noticed with Yoast SEO. Custom fields support is relatively new to the project, so I’m sure those issues will get cleared up fairly soon by either side. Then there needs to be a bit more education on the blocks and how to create them for the new editor, especially since the TinyMCE editor is essentially no more. And plugins and themes need the knowledge and time to make the switch so that their users have no problems. And finally, we still need to figure out how this is all going to play with the other page builders out there like Divi, Visual Composer and Beaver Builder. Gutenberg is essentially a page builder, so it still remains to be seen how that will affect a decent percentage of WordPress users. And that speaks to why Gutenberg can’t be rushed out the door. I think there’s a lot of worry about it shipping with a lot of errors and that those errors will turn users away from using WordPress. And that helps nobody. So, while Gutenberg is slated to be rolled into core with WordPress 5.0 whenever it comes out, the people working on it need to be sure that it’s near perfect whenever it’s released.

But the potential is still there

Now, having said all of that, I still think Gutenberg will turn out well. The potential is there. If you use Gutenberg with the mindset that it’s not a complete product right now, you’ll have a much better time. Like I know that Advanced Custom Fields isn’t quite working with Gutenberg, and that’s okay. I can deactivate Gutenberg and use ACF, and I know that either the Gutenberg team or the ACF team is going to get it sorted out before it gets rolled into core. Gutenberg is a nice change of pace. It’s clean, minimalistic and focused solely on writing and creation. And for those who want to make their post or page spiced up a bit, it’s much easier to add cool images, cover images, blockquotes and other items. And I’m sure that page builders that already do this will be able to adapt to make it all work. It’s still going to take some time, but I feel confident in Gutenberg being the future for WordPress.