Gutenburg is the named update for WordPress 5.0 that aims to replace the standard page editor with a block style editing system with options for layouts and text styles. The focus is to make it easier for people with no coding experience to build and style pages & posts.
Currently there is a large push back from the developer community and for good reason. The new update is a big one and is expected to break features on older WordPress websites.
The WordPress website states the update will be ready 2018. At the time of this post that would mean the release is coming sometime in the next couple months.
There is a beta version available for testing. It is best to create a fresh install or a copy of your current WordPress site to test out the new editing experience.
The main purpose of a WordPress website is to make it easy for people to publish content. The current method of publishing content using the WYSIWYG editor in WordPress is inconsistent and difficult for the end user to work with. Gutenberg replaces the current content editor with a tool that will allow the user to better edit the content on the pages. What this comes down to is ease of use for the client and not the developer. Gutenburg brings WordPress back to its roots of becoming a solid content creation tool for people without coding knowledge. If you look at the popularity of SquareSpace and WIX you will see why WordPress is changing the default editing experience. These 2 platforms use similar “blocks” to design the page layouts, making it easy for the user to create page content.
Developers that built WordPress websites are not happy with this change and many are moving to platforms like Craft CMS and Statamic. This platforms are great for the end user but require an experienced developer to set-up and maintain which can get expensive. One of the reasons WordPress powers 1/3 of the websites is low cost to set-up a site and maintain it.
Developers will complain now but they will adapt. Plugins that currently work with WordPress will get refactored to continue to work with WordPress 5.0. There will be some turbulence in the coming months and sites will go down. In the long run this is a good thing for everyone because it focuses on what matters the most and that is the person that uses WordPress to create web content.
Page Builders, What have they become?
I have developed many sites that use some form of page builder. Examples include the “Divi” WordPress theme or the WP Bakery Page Builder plugin (Visual Composer). What these tools have become more a tool for the entry level web designer and self-titled “web developer”. A tool for “developers” that do not know how to code but call themselves “WordPress Developers”.
Too Complex for the client
In the past I have created sites for clients with the goal in mind that the client will be able to edit pages easily and effectively. The problem is that these page builders have too many options and can be very confusing to someone that has no knowledge of how to use them. I have scraped this approach for pages with custom fields where the client can edit content but not alter the design.
Our goal with the new WordPress 5.0 and allow this update to help our clients everyday content posting even if it makes our lives as the developer a bit harder. What this update comes down to is the client and the person actually posting the content. In the long run we believe this will allow WordPress to become something more and give the user a overall better experience.