What Does Gutenberg Do For WordPress Websites?
The latest version of WordPress was rolled out on the 6th December 2018. If you follow WordPress-related news at all, over the past year you will have heard of why this is considered a huge deal in the community, or you might be interested in knowing how this new update will affect your WordPress website. Let’s explore.

What is Gutenberg?

Gutenberg is the name for the new WordPress block editor, which replaced the WordPress TinyMCE editor as the default WordPress editor in WordPress 5.0. Named after Johannes Gutenberg who was the original inventor of the movable type over 500 years ago with the printing press, this is the biggest update WordPress has seen to the visual editor in the last few years.

Gutenberg was the official project name while the editor was under development, although you will now simply know it as just “the WordPress editor” because it is now officially part of the core WordPress software.

What does Gutenberg do?

As WordPress say on the new Gutenberg editor, “The entire editing experience has been rebuilt for media rich pages and posts. Experience the flexibility that blocks will bring, whether you are building your first site, or write code for a living. Without being an expert developer, you can build your own custom posts and pages”.

Built with modern technology, designed for compatibility.” What Gutenberg brings, is a tighter integration between the WordPress CMS core, the developers of your website or your theme, installed plugins, and the editor. Regular users will also have the new ability to build blocks. “Discover the flexibility to use media and content, side by side, driven by your vision.”

What is a Gutenberg block?

Gutenberg is designed for users to create content in a more visual way than the previous WordPress editior, TinyMCE. To do this, Gutenberg includes a library of pre-built elements, known as blocks. Each block can be added to a page or post and manipulated individually. Some of the basic components for content creation would include:

  • Headings
  • Paragraphs
  • Images
  • Galleries
  • Videos
  • Buttons

Some of the more complex blocks include the table block, or the live HTML block where users can insert their HTML code and preview this within the block, saving us flicking between the visual editor and text editor modes. You can also add additional CSS classes to certain blocks. With Gutenberg, it is now even easier to embed sharable content from platforms including YouTube, SoundCloud, Instagram, Flickr, Twitter, Reddit, and many more.

Developers are also able to create their own third-party blocks that are accessible via plugins for flexibility. Blocks can be dragged up and down to be rearranged, and because each block is individual and separate, you can even add custom backgrounds for specific blocks. So, in general, Gutenberg is designed for flexibility and in-depth content control.

What are the benefits of the Gutenberg WordPress Editor?

It is already evident that Gutenberg is going to make it a lot easier to compose regular content such as standard pages or blog posts. For publishers that prefer the newer medium style of the editing experience, Gutenberg provides a less distracting content management system with additional screen space with a “writing first” style focus. This will make the process of adding rich content to WordPress a simpler process even without any prior knowledge of creating web content.

For content enthusiasts, another feature of Gutenberg mentioned in the development logs, is the addition of an API specifically for handling content pasted from other sources. If you currently use WordPress as your website CMS platform or for your content marketing, you will know that pasting content into the previous TinyMCE editor from Microsoft, Google or other web sources would break. We are relieved we no longer have to toggle between the text and visual editor no more!

With an interactive design and engaging interface, the Gutenberg editor is also extremely responsive for content editors using their mobile phones for publishing new content. From a content perspective, this really is the future for creating rich content from anywhere in the world.

Are there any disadvantages to Gutenberg?

On a surface level, we have found the Gutenberg already lacks two essential things from a website development perspective. Although the new Gutenberg blocks feature the drag and drop functionality for you to rearrange your on-page content, the new WordPress editor is missing free-form flexible columns, although there is a basic column block and third-party blocks available.

Other functionality that Gutenberg seems to miss is multi-column support with unlimited columns allowed, pre-made templates for pages such as FAQs and About pages, advanced styling options for custom margins & padding, and options for responsive design.

With this in mind, Gutenberg is built for most “standard” content and not for building complex pages such as a landing page where the design should be considered based on the user’s web journey- at least during Gutenberg’s initial release.

Is the Gutenberg editor the future of the CMS?

While Gutenberg is still new and has its detractors, it’s officially part of the WordPress core thanks to the release of WordPress 5.0. For casual WordPress users and content marketers, after initial growing pains, the new editor will bring a more flexible content creation experience and the additional elements will allow non-developers to easily create feature rich content on standard pages and blog posts.

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