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An Introduction To The New WordPress Gutenberg Editor


If you’re like most bloggers, you probably use WordPress to power your blog. WordPress is, in my opinion, and that of many others, the best tool to use for running a blog. Not only is it the best, it is also the world’s most popular content management system, powering almost 30% of all websites on the internet.

That said, I have a big news about the world’s most popular content management system.

It is about to get a completely redesigned editing experience.

Yes, the way that you write your blog posts in WordPress is about to change massively. It is expected to give you a lot more flexibility in writing and structuring your blog posts.

This change is coming in the form of the new WordPress Gutenberg editor.

In this post, I’ll introduce you to what the Gutenberg editor is, give you a brief look at explaining how it works. I will also tell you when you can expect to see the new editor, and share a few other minor relevant details.

What Is The WordPress Gutenberg Editor?

Gutenberg is a completely redesigned editor aimed at replacing the current TinyMCE editor that WordPress has used for, well, pretty much forever.

Gutenberg’s goal is to make it easier and more accessible for casual users to create unique content structures by using blocks (I’ll explain this in a second).

Or, in the words of Matt Mullenweg, co-founder of WordPress:

The editor will endeavour to create a new page and post building experience that makes writing rich posts effortless, and has “blocks” to make it easy what today might take shortcodes, custom HTML, or “mystery meat” embed discovery.

In case you’re not familiar with what I’m talking about when I say TinyMCE editor, this is what the current WordPress TinyMCE editor looks like:

gutenberg-editor

In contrast, here’s what the new WordPress Gutenberg editor looks like:

But apart from the new interface styling, the real change that Gutenberg will bring is in that block-based editing approach.

How Does The WordPress Gutenberg Editor Work?

If you’re using WordPress, I’m sure you’re familiar with how the current editor works – you have a single box where you write your text, add your images, embed videos, etc.

Gutenberg changes that by letting you write your posts using multiple “blocks”.

A “block” can be pretty much anything. For example, these count as a block:

  • A paragraph of text
  • An image
  • An embedded video
  • A quote
  • A button

Here’s an example of how the different blocks work. In the GIF below, you can see that I have added four different blocks:

  • Two paragraph text blocks
  • One image block
  • One video block

How blocks works

And because each block is a separate entity, you can also easily apply a color background to just a single block:

Styling blocks

But here’s the really cool part about blocks:

Developers will be able to write their own blocks as well, which paves way for the elimination of things like shortcodes and embed codes.

For example, rather than needing to insert a shortcode to add a gallery to your post, you’ll eventually just be able to use a “gallery block” to insert your gallery and see a live preview in the editor itself.

In a nutshell, the new WordPress Gutenberg editor sits somewhere in between the current TinyMCE editor and more powerful page builders.

With it, you’ll be able to build more attractive pages without needing to know any code. And that should unlock a ton of helpful new functionalities for your blog!

When Is The WordPress Gutenberg Editor Going To Be Officially Released?

The WordPress Gutenberg editor is scheduled to be released as part of WordPress 5.0, which is the next major WordPress release (WordPress is currently on WordPress 4.9.X).

Unfortunately, we don’t know the exact date of the WordPress 5.0 release. What we know is it is scheduled for some time in 2018. And it’s past behavior holds, WordPress 5.0 should ship around June 2018.

However, this is one of those situations where the team won’t ship WordPress 5.0 until Gutenberg is ready. So June 2018 is definitely just an estimate based on previous release schedules – it may well end up later than that.

Will You Have To Use The WordPress Gutenberg Editor When WordPress 5.0 Is Released?

While Gutenberg should give you more flexibility in the longer run, I understand that you might not want to use Gutenberg right away. Especially because it might take some time for you to get accustomed to Gutenberg and integrate your existing publishing processes with the new editor.

Don’t worry, though. While Gutenberg will replace the default editor, you’ll be able to install the Classic Editor plugin to either:

  • Completely replace the Gutenberg editor with the current TinyMCE editor
  • Add alternate links to the Posts and Pages screens to allow access to both Gutenberg and the TinyMCE editor

How To Try The WordPress Gutenberg Editor Beta Right Now

Like I said, the Gutenberg editor won’t be officially released as part of the WordPress core until WordPress 5.0. But that doesn’t mean you have to wait until then to try out the Gutenberg editor.

The Gutenberg editor has actually been publicly available as a WordPress plugin at WordPress.org since June 2017.

That means you can install it on your site and start playing around with it today.

However, remember that while the editor has made a good deal of progress, it is still in its beta phase.

For that reason, I recommend against installing this plugin on your live website.

Instead, create a safe local WordPress install using something like XAMPP or WAMP.

That way, you can make yourself familiar with the new editor without putting your real site in any danger.

Then, install the Gutenberg plugin like you would any other plugin.

Once you install the plugin, your site will automatically use the Gutenberg editor for all new posts and pages. But, if needed, you can still access the classic editor by using the drop-down next to the Add New button:

wordpress-gutenberg-editor

Gutenberg Might Have Growing Pains, But It Should Be Good In The Long Run

WordPress has been using pretty much the same TinyMCE editor for as long as most people can remember, so I think it’s fairly unavoidable that there are going to be growing pains when WordPress 5.0 comes.

You will need to learn a completely new interface, which is obviously going to take some adjustment.

But in the long run, that new interface should give you more power to create awesome content.

To further help you get ready for the Gutenberg editor, I’ll be posting a more in-depth Gutenberg tutorial in the coming days that will actually show you how you can use Gutenberg to write and style a blog post.

Now I want to hear from you. What do you think about the Gutenberg editor so far? Do you like it? Or do you still prefer the current WordPress editor? Let me know in the comments!

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Updated: January 26, 2018 — 12:45 pm
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