By now you’ve probably heard whispers (or shouts) about Gutenberg, WordPress’ new page editor. Opinions about this new feature are varied, but most people fall into one of two camps: love or hate.
Regardless of where you fall, Gutenberg is set to launch in WordPress core starting with version 5.0. (No definite date has been given, but the current version at the time of writing is 4.9.8 – so, soon.)
What is Gutenberg?
So, right now this is typically what you’ll see when creating a page or post on your WordPress site:
This editor is great for formatting text and adding images and links. What it isn’t great for is creating fun, custom layouts. Gutenberg is setting out to change that.
The Gutenberg editor is based on blocks (similar to WordPress widgets) that can be added, edited, and rearranged as independent pieces. The goal is to reduce the amount of custom code required to make unique page layouts and free you from the limitations of the existing text editor.
Sounds great! Why would anyone hate it?
One of the biggest concerns people have is compatibility issues with existing themes and plugins. Fortunately, Gutenberg has been in development for a while as a plugin, so many theme and plugin providers have had an opportunity to test their products and make changes as necessary.
Aside from that, change is hard. Even little changes can through our whole workflow off balance, and this is a huge change to WordPress.
How can I prepare?
The best thing you can do is educate yourself. I wouldn’t be surprised if we all see an uptick in requests from clients as they start to experience the new editor.
Following are some of the best resources I’ve found for getting familiar with Gutenberg and its effects on the web design industry.
Kinsta provides a great overview of Gutenberg’s blocks and features. They also include a list of pros and cons so you can dive a little deeper into the differing opinions.
This is another detailed overview of Gutenberg’s blocks provided by Smashing Magazine, with its own list of pros and cons.
More of a video person? Check out this video for a very broad overview of Gutenberg.
This short post by Invision offers some insight into the impact Gutenberg will have on web designers. I think point number four, the risk of repetitive design and layouts, is a good one to consider moving forward.
WordPress.org has created a page that allows you to get the hand-on Gutenberg experience. You’ll notice that anything you hover over on the page is editable. Check it out so you’re familiar with it before using it on a live site
So, with Gutenberg I’ll be able to make the custom site of my dreams?
Eh, depends on your skillset… Out of the box, Gutenberg will still have limitations. Fortunately, Gutenberg has left the door open for the development of custom blocks.
Also, one of the most popular plugins for building custom WordPress sites, Advanced Custom Fields, is ready for the Gutenberg release.