The ecosystem of the most popular Content Management System today, WordPress, revolves around plugins, themes, integrators and services, which helps transform it into something more sophisticated. But now WordPress wants to focus on being the most user-friendly interface by improving functions and adding more usability features into its core feature set. So in an attempt to streamline, and simplify the content creation experience, Gutenberg, the WordPress editor is all set to replace the current TinyMCE backend editor. The new publishing experience has created a lot of buzz among WordPress users as Gutenberg looks to move beyond posts / pages into site customization, visual editing, and drag-and-drop elements. Gutenberg will make the editing experience better for content creators, with users no longer needing extra plugins to manage something as simple as layouts. Gutenberg is an obvious reaction to competitors of WordPress; the writing experience of Medium.com, the quick and easy site builds using Wix and Squarespace.
What is the Gutenberg WordPress Editor?
The new Gutenberg editor gets its name from Johannes Gutenberg the founder of the printing press. It looks to provide a rich and user-friendly, enjoyable editing experience for content creators by optimizing the back-end editor to better reflect the visual appearance of the content on the front-end. The Gutenberg editor is currently available as a plugin before being launched as part of WordPress 5.0 core in the first half of 2018. For a quick overview, you can check out this live demo (video) presented at State Of The Word 2017.
Improved Content Creating Process
The current visual editor of WordPress requires us to know cryptic Shortcodes and HTML to make most things work, In the “classic” editor, there is often disconnect with how content looks when it’s being created and how it appears on the site. And there is spacing issues in the classic editor with posts containing mixed content types, such as text, multimedia or forms, etc. A Gutenberg post is based on blocks, wherein each block represents a different type of content, which means fewer behind-the-scenes code changes. Block positioning can be moved up or down so that site owners know exactly how their content will look on their website as its being created.
Blocks are used to help simplify finding, inserting, and working with different page building elements (shortcodes, widgets, custom HTML, images, text formatting, and embeds) into a single, searchable flow and UI. Here are the blocks and embed which authors can use to customize the content and its layout:
- Pull quote
- Custom HTML
- Custom Test Verse
- Text Columns
- Latest Posts
- Short Codes
- Text columns
Any kind of media content, be it YouTube, Twitter, Cloudup, Instagram, Slideshare, Dailymotion, Flickr, Spotify, Reddit, Vimeo all can be easily embedded in the blocks. The ease of use and usability of the editor should make for easier onboarding of new users.
More Intuitive Interface
Gutenberg is definitely a reaction to the quick and easy site builds, templates and mobile interface editor in Wix and Squarespace, which makes for easy content creation. Whereas in WordPress presently, you have to use shortcodes, widgets, TinyMCE etc. individually but with the new update, users will only have to know about the different blocks, which will be the same whether being used for a post, page or sidebar. The blocks will work even with any new plugins, without any need for further changes.
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Block Information Stored In HTML Comments
With the new update of Gutenberg, WordPress will now store information about the blocks in the HTML comments. These comments will not be rendered on live pages and can only be seen at the back end.
Disable Gutenberg Without Breaking Your Website
If you happen to uninstall Gutenberg, it won’t hamper your website design in any way. When you reactivate Gutenberg again, you won’t lose the previously arranged blocks as the HTML comments are retained in the content. Unlike what happens with the current content editor in WordPress, with the new update, HTML code will not appear in page source.
With Gutenberg, developers have the option of writing the blocks their own way. Also, the option of copy-paste has now been built rather efficiently in the new update. The content output of Gutenberg blocks uses HTML5 tags like section and figure.
The post locking feature in WordPress currently prevents authors from overwriting each other. With Gutenberg, locking can be done at the block level, which opens up the flexibility of having multiple people work on sections of the same content without interrupting each other.
What Happens To Existing Content?
As mentioned previously data will continue to be stored as HTML in post_content, so essentially nothing will change for existing content. Within Gutenberg, the Classic Editor plugin will be embedded as a Classic Text block to handle any legacy content within a block of its own. Essentially, this will help preserve publishing continuity and ensure a smooth upgrade process.
Developers that typically use a combination of custom fields and metaboxes so that clients can add all the data needed to be displayed on the site in a prescribed style will need to prepare for 5.0 so that their clients aren’t affected by Gutenberg. Those who have extensive integrations with the current WordPress editor will prefer a gradual transition. You can start experimenting and creating content in Gutenberg right away to learn and adapt gradually. Gutenberg provides a clue of what WordPress of the future will be like- highly customizable, user-friendly, and full of new features