The Gutenberg Update–How Much Will WordPress Change?

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Coming Soon to a WordPress back end near you; the Gutenberg Editor update

The plan is, whenever WordPress Core 5.0 rolls out, that Gutenberg could be the new default editor in WordPress. It’s been causing a lot of commotion on the support groups and feedback that we’ve seen has been primarily negative. Since we love change at Orange Ambition, we thought we’d give it a little test drive and see what all the fuss was about.

When we say there’s a lot of commotion, we really mean discussion, and there’s lots of it! We really wanted to focus on what this would mean for users of current page builders and themes such as DIVI, so started our research in the Elegant Themes blog to see what was going on over there, and found this little round up article they wrote. There’s quite a varying degree of opinions on the subject. And some interesting articles that show lots of the functions too. Kinsta has a great write up over here. And lastly, Chris Lema has some insights into what he interpreted as the goal of these changes here. He decided things changed somewhere along the way.

What’s the Difference?

What changes will you notice if they roll out the Gutenberg editor as the new default? Well, it’s going to be a pretty drastic visual change.

 

The first thing we noticed after downloading and installing the Gutenberg Plugin (not meant for live sites, still in development), was how narrow it was laid out on the screen. In toodling around with it for half an afternoon, we found both some good and some not so friendly things going on. First, instead of a nice wide space to work in, things get narrowed down into blocks of space, stacked on top of each other. At Orange Ambition, we do tend to use page builders on quite a number of sites we build, so we were looking forward to test driving the Gutenberg Editor. Once we got in though, things felt hidden and not intuitive. If you’re adventurous though, and willing to experiment and poke around, you’ll find lots of interesting things.

 

The Gutenberg Posts blocks allow some neat embedding features.

The Gutenberg Posts blocks allow some neat embedding features.

Not an intuitive, “drag and drop” style builder. Still pretty intuitive though. But, you won’t be building on the front end as it stands right now.

The team developing Gutenberg is said to be working to ensure compatibility with many of the highly popular plugins. It will be interesting what challenges a company like Elegant Themes will come up against in making something like the DIVI theme compatible with it’s built in builder or the ever popular Beaver Builder by The Beaver Builder Team.  In it’s current form, the builder in the DIVI theme is completely stripped away of almost all functionality when the Gutenberg plugin is activated. The only thing left as evidence of DIVI is the page layout format tool, and it gets shoved far down to the side and almost hidden.

DIVI builder is completely hidden and barely of any use after installation of Gutenberg

 

 

Compatibility

Posts are backwards compatible, and shortcodes will still work. We are continuously exploring how highly-tailored metaboxes can be accommodated, and are looking at solutions ranging from a plugin to disable Gutenberg to automatically detecting whether to load Gutenberg or not. While we want to make sure the new editing experience from writing to publishing is user-friendly, we’re committed to finding a good solution for highly-tailored existing sites.

https://wordpress.org/plugins/gutenberg/

At the end of our play session with Gutenberg, Orange Ambition was left with the feeling that WordPress is working to take control back from all the page builders (DIVI, Beaver Builder, Elementor, Site Origin’s Page Builder, etc.) out there and bring it in-house, but so far, it’s half-assed. So hopefully, in their compatibility workings, they do automatically detect other page builders in existence on the site already and don’t interfere. Perhaps with time and development, as is their goal at WordPress, we will see this morph into a powerful customizer tool which includes front-end editing. Only time will tell. As a WordPress user since about 2.0, the Zebra has always been happy with the changes that have been implemented by WordPress. Changes just take getting used to. It’s funny though, that many of these changes that have been implemented over the years, we don’t use them here. They’re made more for the casual users. Which is good for the marketplace. Let Matt Mullenweg take over the world of Wix and Squarespace users and tempt them with something just as simple and user friendly as what they’re trying to achieve in the Gutenberg Editor. The Zebra here just asks for a toggle switch to shut it off if desired, according to what’s appropriate for the client situation. All page builders and customizers and previewers have their own quirks, and Gutenberg will surely be no different.