What I think of Gutenberg

Niall Deakin
07 Jun 19

Intro

A brief disclaimer; I didn’t like Gutenberg when it was first announced. I honestly thought it was going down the route of all the other WYSIWYG editors on WordPress.
And for a while, that’s what it looked like.

However, now it has been released and I’ve had a, albeit brief, chance to play with it, I am pleasantly surprised.

WYSIWYG

In my opinion, Gutenberg simply prettifies the whole page/post writing process. It’s no secret that all previous versions of WordPress essentially pulled from the design and mechanics of document processing (i.e. Microsoft Word, etc.) and that is fine; it brings that familiarity and makes the ease of writing so much simpler.

With Gutenberg, they’ve done away with the traditional “kitchen sink” and now everything is in “blocks”, where each has it’s own formatting area.

So, instead of writing up a huge article filled with different formats, it’s essentially divided up into more manageable chunks. So instead of copying and pasting this paragraph somewhere else on the page, I can simply drag and drop; a small detail, but it would come in handy.

Not only that, but whenever I press the Return key to start a new paragraph, it essentially creates a new block. In coding, this would simply be the P tags < p >. If I wanted to create a Header, I can simply format that block to be a Header < H1-7 >, or anything else for that matter.

Overall, I prefer this method than the previous version because you are doing away with messy custom HTML scattered all over an article and brings a form of uniformity to the site.

Development

Now here’s what I love the most about Gutenberg, it finally tackles the problem of all those third-party WYSIWYG editors. You know the ones I’m talking about, where you actually need a level of skill in order to use.

All the drag and drop features, having images and articles colliding with one another, the padding and margins screwing up the whole site. It’s safe to say that I am not a fan of them, and any developer worth their salt would agree with me. They’re messy and complicated and often need more work than it’s worth. I had one client spend a whole week trying to write an article using one such editor.

I believe with Gutenberg, as previously stated, will simplify the whole process and you won’t get caught up with all those complicated layouts and formats, having to tweak every little block to be “just right”.

Speaking with other developers, it looks like it will be a very straight forward process to design and develop your own custom blocks too.
I’ve yet to try this, so I cannot say for certain how, but from what I’ve seen it will be a simple matter of creating a block yourself whilst writing an article and then saving it like a template, called a “Reusable Block”.

I’m assuming along these lines, my fellow developers and I can create custom blocks built straight into the template, such as a “Call to action” block. Currently my go to method is either an option to display some custom HTML or using short-codes.
I believe creating custom blocks will make this much more manageable and be able to be used throughout the site.

Templating

As a developer, I often use Custom Page Types and templates. Since switching over to WordPress 5, I’ve noticed that CPT’s don’t use Gutenberg as default, but use the old version; which is great because it doesn’t break all the work I’ve done previously!

Kudos for the team at WordPress for this.

I’m sure there is a way, but I’ve not had the need to, so I won’t expend energy trying to figure it out just yet, but all future development will include this as an option.
It’s a tricky one because not everyone has moved over to WordPress 5, so as with anything, whatever projects I carry out need to be “backward compatible”. I’m hoping it’s not a huge mess.

Conclusion

In conclusion, I’ve come to realise that my writing style has not changed since I was in highschool.

Apart from that, I’d recommend people look into using WordPress 5. If it’s a new project, jump straight in, if you’re upgrading, use a Dev site first.

Gutenberg is a very handy feature, one of which I am surprisingly happy with. Despite the fact that it is “the future” of WordPress, but it makes writing a more pleasant experience.

If you really don’t like Gutenberg, there are plugins out there which will enable you to use the old editor, but as for me, I think I’ll be looking forward.

Development, Gutenberg, Templates, WordPress