New CMS Editor Puts Spotlight on WordPress’s Future

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How WordPress Gutenberg will Impact Websites and Design Expectations

WordPress’s first-year anniversary of the Gutenberg CMS editor is here and reviews are a mixed bag. The release has been greeted with great fanfare as the first significant addition to WordPress’s quiver in more than a decade. However, it’s reception has been met by many WordPress purists with dismay. After all, in some circles, changes to the venerable open-source platform is tantamount to sacrilege. Many are concerned that if Gutenberg becomes ingrained into its ecosystem, the new editor will be incompatible to existing WordPress websites.
However, it’s important to keep in mind that the editor is still very much in beta and will evolve over time. Never-the-less, Gutenberg’s roll-out will dramatically impact on how the back-end functions. The new editor will be wrapped up in the new WordPress 5.0 version. A number of early adopters have argued for it to remain as a plugin. The Gutenberg editor has thus far logged more than 200,000 downloads and has been installed on about 10,000 sites. That’s enough to garner some feedback as to its popularity and performance.

Although it would be a misnomer to describe Gutenberg as simply a page creator, the new editor has a feel similar to the WordPress-centric DIVI. That popular theme platform by Elegant Themes employs the intuitive front-end editor that has impacted how many websites are created. DIVI has been used by developers and designers who need to build a website fast. I’d estimate that 60% of DIVI is incorporated into the new editor. As is with Gutenberg, DIVI is capable of making changes instantly. There is no waiting to find out how the content looks. It happens instantly right in front of your eyes! The challenge for DIVI users trying out Gutenberg will be that “all the functions aren’t where they are supposed to be”. Many new Gutenberg users have reported it to be non-intuitive.

The moniker “Gutenberg” was not lost on the developers. The famous inventor brought the movable type printing press to fruition more than 500 years ago and the invention is a precursor to the digital landscape we enjoy today. The Gutenberg label acts as a metaphor for the new technology that the editor represents. The first change you’ll notice is the older, recognizable interface is history. In its place is a clean writing environment populated by great typography and plenty of space in which to showcase your content. At first, its unfamiliarity embraces you like a cold shower. Once that phase passes, take a breath and give it a shot. You won’t be disappointed in the absence of custom post types, embeds, widgets, and their weird interfaces.

Using the Gutenberg Press simile, traditional content blocks have no purpose once they are used, much like the movable type blocks employed more than five centuries ago. The Gutenberg blocks have the capacity to revitalize themselves permitting the adjustments and changes to be made with the “movable type” needed for a reprint. Gutenberg’s primary objective is to simplify the website-building process by eliminating the shortcodes and HTML currently required in the open-source web-building universe. The goal is to make the technology available to everyone, regardless of skill levels. The heart of Gutenberg is composed of reusable blocks that allow you to focus on content rather than being weighed down by a myriad number of configuration options. The project is in its first of the three-stage reveal. It begins with the redeveloped editor, followed by page templates development and, the final stage as a fully developed customizer.

Before Gutenberg, the content existed in one massive HTML file. Now Gutenberg allows for content to be created from one source. Detailed instructions are derived from three concise documents: the “Developer and Designer Handbook”, the “Gutenberg Handbook”, and “The Language of Gutenberg”. The new editor imbues the user with each block articulating its own layout and settings. With WordPress 5.0, the user has full control over all individual blocks. Developers are biting at the bit to take advantage of these great features rather than be enslaved by many of the editors currently out on the market. Gutenberg will supplant TinyMCE as the default content editor. WordPress will have succeeded if it makes adding rich content an enjoyable experience.

The new release will move the needle in making WordPress a true visual editor. Additionally, downloading the WordPress editor is not deleterious to your site’s health and well-being. The special HTML comments are stored in the content permitting you to reactivate Gutenberg without sacrificing previously arranged blocks.

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