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What is WordPress 5.0 Gutenberg?

Following hundreds of thousands of users giving feedback via the beta plugin, Gutenberg launched as the default editor in WordPress 5.0 in December. It’s fair to say this received, and continues to receive, mixed reviews.

WordPress Gutenberg

WordPress finally released a plugin for the star of Version 5.0 – Gutenberg – at the back end of last year. Following hundreds of thousands of users giving feedback via the beta plugin, Gutenberg launched as the default editor in WordPress 5.0 in December. It’s fair to say this received, and continues to receive, mixed reviews.

So a month in, we’re going to give you a recap on what it was meant to be, and how it’s looking now.

What is WordPress 5.0 Gutenberg?

Gutenberg is a multi-stage release – or rather, a change in philosophical direction – that WordPress is hoping will take their editor to a new age of block use and user ease. This release had been a long time in the making, with loads of contributors and volunteers working on it throughout last year – and for good reason. WordPress had fallen behind in the ability to give bloggers and other website managers an easy-to-use, low-restrictions website editing tool without lots of plugins, and considering how many people rely on it, this – the company felt – had to change.

WordPress 5.0 Gutenberg is named after Johannes Gutenberg who, half a millenia ago, created a printing press with movable type. This is a tip of the hat to what the WordPress team was hoping to implement: an easy, natural ability to design and publish smart pages without any experience in coding.

In its beta form, through the plugin, it appeared WordPress was embracing the idea of little blocks within which to work in their visual editor. This official example gave a clue as to how the likes of Medium have played a part in its workings. As we’ve now seen, this appearance was correct, leaving many users wondering why the new version implements things already available in other plugins.


WordPress Gutenberg visual editor


And what was the point of the Gutenberg plugin?

The purpose of releasing a plugin that gives an insight into the future release offering was to enable community feedback and the erasure of bugs and issues. As WordPress founder, Matt Mullenweg, highlighted a while back, he wanted to get 100,000 active installs on live sites prior to merging it with an actual version offering.

Once installed, a link under each of your posts to open the plugin’s editor meant users could still flick back and forth between the old editor and Gutenberg. However, once rolled out embedded in WP5.0, it was to be the default editor.

The ability to switch back and forth is something many are now wishing were part of 5.0. In fairness to Mullenweg, he flagged that the aim was to “create a new page- and post-building experience that makes writing rich posts effortless, and has “blocks” to make easy what today might take shortcodes, custom HTML, or “mystery meat” embed discovery.” In one sense, that’s what they’ve delivered. In another, it’s easy to feel the frustration.

If you’re feeling the latter, you can install a plugin enabling you to edit in the Classic Editor mode.

Okay, so what are the major changes in Gutenberg and moving forward?

As we mentioned above, WordPress sees Gutenberg as more than a part of the latest update. Gutenberg is their way forward, and it has changed and will change a lot of things for WordPress users.

The most notable in this first stage is the block-based editor which may retire many a page builder plugin to the history books. Child themes will be simpler to build, and designing your own pages will be much more accessible to the average layman rather than a place for coders.

The future also looks like being one of incremental, unannounced changes. 5.0 marks the start of ongoing releases without WordPress flagging to the world the release date. This will make it easier for them to iron out bugs and properly test the release without the pressure of deadline day and the world watching.

An interesting one for app developers is that the WordPress Rest API – relied on by developers – will be going through some revisions that the team hopes will make it far easier to use the platform as a framework.

Have you used Gutenberg? Have you had any issues dealing with the changes? Get in touch and let the Wolf pack target your perfection.

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