A sketch of  Gutenberg (person) on top of a book.

What is Gutenberg?

Gutenberg is WordPress’s future default editor. It’s been completely redesigned to be similar to Medium and other “drag and drop” type editors. This allows bloggers to write posts that are more dynamic and interesting which can, in turn, engage readers.

The Gutenberg editor (which you can try out in all of its glory here) is named after Johannes Gutenberg (pictured above). Gutenberg is the inventor of the first commercial printing press to use movable type (in 1439), a development that fundamentally changed human communications. That’s a pretty big name for a WordPress editor to live up to.

WordPress’ Gutenberg editor is an attempt at making a better, more distraction-free writing experience for bloggers. It has new, built-in features like galleries, tables, audio clips, buttons, columns and embeds. Even plain text blocks are getting new features such as background colours, text colours, font size adjustment and drop caps.

Release Date?

Numerous release dates have been provided by the makers of WordPress. As of this writing, the WordPress 5.0 update that will be released on November 19, 2018 November 27th TBD will make the Gutenberg editor the default.

Building a new editor that can work with a multitude of different plugins, in different browsers with different languages, and work for people with disabilities is no small task. Once Gutenberg becomes the default editor, things are going to change for content producers of all types, as well as designers, developers, and all manner of front-end coders.

The Reality

For bloggers in particular, this new editor is being billed as an innovative new way to write and present content. Gutenberg will allow writers to add new features to their posts without a need to hire a developer.

For professional WordPress developers, a slightly different story is emerging. Most commercial WordPress sites and blogs (like the ones that Manoverboard builds) are heavily customized and are already designed in the way that Gutenberg will work: using the “layered” or “block” approach. Content is designed to work in layers on a page and a layer can be moved and modified on a page as needed.

With the rollout of Gutenberg, developers will need to adopt some new practices. For some developers who use commercial themes, Gutenberg may create numerous challenges to the way they work. (For the record, Manoverboard builds all of its sites by hand and with custom code; no commercial themes are used for our clients.)

So, to Gutenberg or not to Gutenberg?

Here at Manoverboard, we will adapt to Gutenberg and grow with it as it is rolled out.

Once the editor becomes a standard in WordPress 5.0 and it has been fully assessed, we will carefully test sites to ensure compatibility with plugins, content and third-party tools. After determining a good course of action, we will roll out updates.

For now, if you have a WordPress site, we recommend that you do not update to version 5.0. If you do, it’s possible to roll the site back to a previous version but not without some work and plenty of anxiety. Our recommendation: leave your site on version 4.x for now and let others be your beta testers! You could also install the Disable Gutenberg plug-in to prevent your site from updating.

Importantly, clients on our Maintenance Plans will have nothing to worry about. We proactively manage your site and will only apply Gutenberg when it is necessary.

The Gutenberg editor is (almost) here to stay. If you have any questions about the editor or its rollout, please don’t hesitate to let us know.

Image credit: By LoretoLeon9 [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], from Wikimedia Commons