Gutenberg: The Major WordPress Update Coming in 2018??

December 28, 2017 | Business Owners, Wordpress
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Have you heard of Gutenberg? We’re not talking about Johannes Gutenberg and the printing press, but the major update to the editing screen of WordPress coming in April. The biggest update to WordPress since it’s launch, it will change how you edit your pages and posts.

While this the update is being heavily debated on the programming side, it’s a good thing for many reasons for the user.

UPDATE: This update has been pushed back indefinitely. Possible timing is September/October or December 2018.

How it works now

Right now, when editing pages or posts, you have two main options:

Option 1: the Tinymce

You have a simple WordPress setup that shows you a old Microsoft Word-type visual interface:

This WYSIWYG interface works fine for simple text-based pages and posts. You can use shortcodes inside of it to make columns or other layout setups, but at the end of the day, what it provides is very basic.

Option 2: Specialized Builder (Like Visual Composer)

If you have a Visual Composer or similar builder plugin installed, you have a customized screen here instead of the simple screen shown above. It usually shows columns, specialized setups for images, buttons, and the like. It might look something like the image below:

WP Bakery

Why is WordPress changing this now?

WordPress has been around for quite a few years, so it might seem weird that they’re deciding to drastically change something so fundamental to their user interface. But with over 28% of the entire internet using WordPress to power their websites (including the White House!), WordPress has simply outgrown this simple WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) editor. And while other page builders have stepped up to fill the gap, having a unified system will be better in the long run.

What will it look like?

Don’t panic. The new look isn’t difficult to use. It might take a few minutes for you to get the hang of it, but it’s cleaner and much easier to create whatever you’d like.

Below, on the left, is what Gutenberg looks like, while on the right is what your current editor might look like (if you have a different visual composer setup, your’s will look different).

Like the current editor, you’ve got a title area and the text area. You’ll be able to add columns, shortcodes, headings, etc. under the Insert button, and the Post Settings (in grey) will allow you to switch views between visual and text.

The overall look is cleaner and more modern, updating the editor for 2018.

Will Gutenberg break my site?

It might. Plugins and Themes are built with the current WYSIWYG system in mind; switching could cause issues. However, like always, WordPress core developers are working hard to make sure these issues are kept to a minimum.

But before you update to the new WordPress Gutenberg system (currently set to come out in April 2018, moved back from the original date of January 2017), you’ll want to test the update on a staging site just to make sure.

Can I try Gutenberg out?

Yes! You can try Gutenberg, the current version, by installing the plugin called “Gutenberg”. This is, of course, not the final plugin setup, since we’ve got at least another 4 months of editing to be done on it. It does have the basic look and feel of Gutenberg, but keeps the setup separate from your pages and posts, creating a new link in your admin called “Gutenberg” with the new setup so you can try it out.

Why do some Programmers hate it?

There’s been a lot of debate back-and-forth about Gutenberg. It’s using a different coding language called React.js. Since WordPress (and the internet) primarily runs using PHP (about 80%), adding in React.js as a backbone language of a major portion of 28% of all websites is a big step.

The way the coding is set up is also disliked. The system will use coding comments (kind of like footnotes in a book) to control some of the styling. This is not up to par with coding standards. However, current page builders like Visual Composer use extreme shortcodes to render the page, adding what some developers believe is way too much extra coding that bogs down the loading speed of the page.

What about Advanced Custom Fields (ACF)?

If you’re using Advanced Custom Fields for your website page layouts or additional information on your page, they are hard at work updating their plugin so it will update without any hitches. You can read what they say about integrating their plugin with Gutenberg in their ACF: A Year in Review post.

Summary

At the end of the day, Gutenberg will be a huge step forward for most users. It will provide a unified approach to page and post layouts and will make things that were practically impossible in the simple WYSIWYG system easy: for example, tables and columns.

However, this is a change for WordPress! To make sure everything runs smoothly, reach out to your web developer or contact us at White Fox Creative at 661-306-4443 or [email protected].

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