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Meet Gutenberg – The New WordPress Editor

Jenna DehnJenna Dehn/Digital Marketing Strategist
October 25, 2018

Johann Gutenberg invented the first commercially viable movable-type printing press, in 1448. What does he have to do with WordPress?

Gutenberg wasn’t much of a web developer, but he was a revolutionary communications innovator. So WordPress has named its new page editor after the printing pioneer, and they didn’t just pick the name out of a hat. WordPress’ Gutenberg will provide users with blocks of content that they can easily move around their websites – rather like blocks of type Gutenberg moved around when he printed his first run of 200 Bibles.

Gutenberg is an advanced content editor that adds many benefits, including much-enhanced what-you-see-is-what-you-get. Content published on the site will look very much as it does in the admin section. Gutenberg is the future of writing and editing content in WordPress.

Why is WordPress changing it up now?

Gutenberg likely represents a late reaction to competitors with more user-friendly ways of creating and editing content. It will be the official default editor upon release of WordPress 5.0, but you can download the plugin now and start playing around.

How will Gutenberg change WordPress?

WordPress is taking the Gutenberg rollout as an opportunity to upgrade core technology. The whole user interface will change. The current visual editor relies heavily on short codes and HTML, which burden non-technical users. A website should not be that difficult to manage.

So say hello to blocks and goodbye to the TinyMCE editor. Gutenberg is introducing a block-based system that makes building content more intuitive. Need a paragraph? Use the paragraph block. Have an image? Use the image block. Have a video? You guessed it!

 

Some commonly used blocks in the Gutenberg editor.

Each block can be duplicated and easily moved around on the page. But the best part: You can re-use these blocks. You won’t waste time rebuilding the same blocks again and again. You can save them to a readily accessible Reusable Block Library, and editors can drop this content anywhere they want.

 

Gutenberg will offer a preview of each block, so you know exactly what content you are adding to the page.

This new block-based system might sound familiar to those who manage their websites with such page builders as Beaver Builder, Divi, or Elementor, which already have block-based systems that allow users to drag and drop content onto web pages.

Such page builders also provide immense flexibility and control over the look of their websites, without forcing users to get into the code. Gutenberg is still in development, so it is not nearly as robust as these builders – yet. Many of these competing page builders are taking Gutenberg seriously and are already working on ways to better integrate their tools with Gutenberg.

They’re not the only ones preparing for the Gutenberg era. Plugin developers such as Yoast SEO are investigating its implications and figuring out how to integrate with the new block-based system.

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Changes Under the Hood

Gutenberg is dramatically changing WordPress behind the scenes. In the past, WordPress placed backward compatibility at the forefront of every upgrade. Not so with Gutenberg.

A major goal behind the new editor is an overall upgrade to modern technologies (React, REST API). Plugins or websites that run on dated technology and older versions of PHP will break. Note that Gutenberg’s block system is based in JavaScript.

The Future of the Gutenberg Editor

Google and WordPress have started working together to increase website speed. WordPress, home to around 30 percent of all websites, isn’t winning awards for platform speed. Code bloat from themes and plugins tends to slow down WordPress sites.

Code bloat is redundant or useless code that sits on a website and contributes nothing of value. It includes optional parts of a template’s design or functionality that you have optioned to ignore.

Gutenberg will create a standard way of building WordPress sites. However, WordPress isn’t there yet; Gutenberg is still in beta. But once the block-based system is finalized, expect to see page layouts and templates roll out as part of the editor. We predict that once Gutenberg gets rolling, it will eliminate the need to purchase website templates that come with a lot of unused code that slows down your site’s performance. This alone will make WordPress sites faster and more efficient.

 

Jenna DehnJenna Dehn/Digital Marketing Strategist

Jenna Dehn is a Digital Marketing Strategist and Account Director at Northwoods. She focuses on applying strong expertise in data-driven, long-term strategic planning for clients. She uses her interest in data and storytelling to help companies start or improve their web design, SEM, content marketing, and marketing automation strategies. She also enjoys creating infographics and is certified in Google Analytics and Google AdWords.

Connect with Jenna on LinkedIn | Read Jenna Dehn's Blogs

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