If you’ve been using WordPress for a while to create content, you’ve probably developed a “working relationship” with the post editor. It sort of works, but not always intuitively, and not always with enough flexibility.
The jargon meter goes crazy when you start talking about “Shortcodes,” “Custom Fields,” or “Metaboxes.” Add to that the numerous page builders out there like Visual Composer, Beaver Builder, or Elementor that all have slightly different ways of working with content.
So many people have developed workarounds to avoid using the default WordPress editor that it seems hard to imagine a world where we “just use the editor” to create content.
But, times are changing. Some big and exciting changes are coming to the WordPress editing experience in version 5.0.I’ve taken the new editor for a spin, and came away feeling excited to write in the WordPress editor!
Introducing: Project Gutenberg
Project Gutenberg is the code name for the project to overhaul the editing experience in WordPress. While there isn’t a scheduled date that this new version will be released, it’s expected to be fairly soon. Active development is still happening, but every day, more and more official information is being released.
This improvement is long overdue. For the last ten years, WordPress has had essentially the same post editor, and while this has worked well and improvements have been made – those changes have been small and incremental in nature.
Gutenberg, on the other hand, is an entirely new experience. (But don’t worry, it won’t take long to learn!)
A few of the new features
This demo reel gives a good introduction to what the Gutenberg editor will be, so I recommend taking a few minutes to watch it.
There are so many flashy things in there, it’s easy to miss the attention to small details. For example, did you notice the warning when the text color was not a high enough contrast, and therefore might be an accessibility issue?
Overall, Gutenberg is bringing a lot more flexibility to content creators while also helping to create a better site experience for users. While that demo reel gives a great overview, here are a few of the features I’m most excited for.
1. You can add new blocks using “slash” autocomplete.
In Gutenberg, you can add new “sections” to a post or page via blocks. For example, you could have a text block, then an image block, then a form block, then back to a text block…and then you can totally move those around without breaking your site’s style guide. It gives content creators the ability to create dynamic layouts based on specific content, instead of being stuck to a single template (or having to call on developers to help).
And with the “slash” autocomplete, adding new blocks will be a seamless typing experience as you’re whipping up new content!
2. Headings and anchors are simplified.
With the new Gutenberg editor, the UI for managing headings allows you to easily visualize the content’s outline. Plus, this will make choosing the right heading for SEO purposes even easier!
There’s also a simplified way to add anchor tags, which allow you to link to different sections within a piece of content. If you’re a fan of adding skip links in your articles, your life is about to get a whole lot easier!
3. Create reusable content with shared blocks.
As a content creator, you probably have a few CTAs you tend to reuse, right? Maybe it’s promoting an ebook, a downloadable content upgrade, or a contact form. Either way, I’m sure you’re also familiar with the scenario where you update something about the CTA (either the design or content), and then have to go back and update posts using the outdated version.
Gutenberg is introducing shared blocks, which allows you to create reusable content that only needs to be edited in one place. They can be used on completely different posts across the whole site, and only require a single update to change them all. AKA, a content creators dream!
Here’s a video of that workflow (because I know you can’t wait for this feature to roll out).
I want to try it!
“That’s cool, a demo video – but I want to feel what it’s like when I use it!”
You can! While this new editor isn’t complete and work is still being done to squash bugs and create features, you can get a feel for Gutenberg and what’s to come by installing the Gutenberg plugin.
Note: Since this plugin is still in development and it’s drastically different than the normal post editor, I highly recommend only installing it on a new demo site or a local site in Local. This will alleviate any risk to your live site!
If you really enjoy your experience, I would recommend using Gutenberg on a copy of your existing site, and seeing if there are any issues caused by conflicting plugins. If there are, get in touch with the developers of those plugins to see how they are preparing for and integrating with Gutenberg. If there aren’t any conflicts, just get excited for the final release of Gutenberg to launch!
Where do I learn more?
No one knows exactly when Gutenberg will be coming to the WordPress core, but it’s definitely coming in Version 5.0. If you’re excited by this upcoming change, you might want to check out the Gutenberg Times, which is a curated list of articles about the new editor.
Beyond that, here’s a list of my favorite places to keep up with development:
- Gutenberg Times: A curated list of Gutenberg resources.
- Gutenberg Handbook: A good overview of Gutenberg, along with the beginnings of documentation.
- Gutenberg Plugin Github Repo: Where active development is happening.
- Gutenberg Development Updates: Development notes and communication.
- Shoptalk Podcast #298 – Gutenberg with Tammie Lister and Matias Ventura: An interesting podcast with the design and development leads.
- Create Gutenblock: A tool to help create custom Gutenberg blocks
- Local: A free local development app where you can install the Gutenberg plugin for testing.
Have you tried Gutenberg yet? What features are you most excited for? Share your thoughts in the comments below!