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An Introduction To The Gutenberg Editor

In a number of ways, WordPress has changed quite drastically since its early blogging-focused days. Nonetheless, a few elements have been slightly altered from its inception, like how the editor works. The WordPress community has offered a few alternate options for some time, but now, there’s a new editor on the horizon. The WordPress team is hard at work on a new project that aims at revolutionising the way you create content – the Gutenberg editor.

This post covers everything you need to know about the Gutenberg editor – its history, goals, and what it can do so far. We’ll then look at the plugin and try it to see the kind of functionalities it offers. Without further ado, let’s jump in.

Why You Should Consider Updating your WordPress Editor

If you’ve spent some time on WordPress, you’re likely very familiar with the classic editor. It lets you create pages, posts, and other types of content for your website, and has two main options; visual and text. The visual editor has buttons that help you format content, and provides a preview feature to see how your post will look like in the front end. The text editor ideally shows you the raw HTML codes of the page/post, and features “quicktags” that you can use for formatting.

Many users find these options in the classic editor straightforward and easy to use, considering that they are beginner-friendly and uncluttered. However, some people still find the default editors lacking in terms of options and functionality. For this reason, they turn to other plugins and specialised tools to enhance their editors so that they can meet their needs better.

Even more, WordPress is now in direct competition with other website builder platforms like Wix, Squarespace, and Medium. The platforms all offer their own sets of comprehensive editing options, some of which can make the default offerings on WordPress seem insufficient. As such, an update has been long overdue, which is why the core team at WordPress is working on Gutenberg – a reimagined editor being built from the ground up. Although the project is still in beta and isn’t yet ready for live sites, it’s worth getting on board right away.

An Introduction to the Gutenberg Plugin

Each year, WordPress developers make decisions on a number of focus areas for their upcoming developments. One of their major goals for 2017 was to update the editor on their core platform. Currently, Gutenberg is only available to test in the form of a plugin, but it will eventually be included in the core files of WordPress.

Overall, the goal of Gutenberg is to update the classic WordPress editor and in the process provide a better user experience. It’s purposefully built to make the content creation process a little simpler and more intuitive for the average user while reducing the reliance on custom HTML and shortcodes.

To achieve this, Gutenberg employs a set of blocks that can be used to customise the content and layout natively in the editor. This functionality is similar to what you’d typically do on a page builder that lets you arrange pre-built elements and personalise them as you wish.

Notable Features:

  • A new standard editor that can be used to create pages, posts, and other types of content.
  • Advanced layout and formatting options that don’t require any coding skills.
  • You can now arrange and customise your content visually with the “blocks” feature.

Price: Currently, the Gutenberg editor is being offered as a free plugin, for testing purposes only. Since it’s still in early beta, it’s not advisable to use on live sites.

Getting Started With Gutenberg

If you want to try out the new editor for yourself and find out what’s all the fuss about it, you can simply download and install it on your WordPress site. However, since it’s still in beta, only use it on a test website to be safe.

When creating a new post on Gutenberg, navigate to the “New Post” option in your WordPress dashboard. If you’re working with an already existing post or page, hover over the title and click on the “New Gutenberg” option.

Here, you will see that the content is arranged into distinct ‘blocks’ with an option to create new ones by selecting ‘Insert’ at the right top corner, or by clicking on the “+” icon at the bottom part of the editor. There are several block choices including image, text, list, and gallery, each with a different set of options. For instance, when you create an image block, you’ll see a pop-up bar that lets you change the alignment and size of the picture, add a link, and edit the original file.

You can ideally rearrange the blocks by clicking the up and down arrows that are next to each other. The sidebar also brings some extra options based on the kind of block you have selected. For instance, in a text block, you can choose whether to enable or disable drop caps.

When needed, you can easily switch to the text editor by selecting it at the top left corner. The new Gutenberg editor still uses blocks, but it displays them as a code instead of the visual elements.

Finally, you’ll see that the page-related options or the general post options are now organised in a sidebar located under the Document tab. That’s where you can add tags and categories, change the status of the content, set a featured image, and more.

What the Future Holds for the Gutenberg Editor

So far, users have been showing mixed reactions to this new editor. It’s easy to see this especially in the wide variety of user reviews left on the Plugin’s directory page. Some people really love the modern look and user-friendly design, while others feel that the editor isn’t intuitive enough and doesn’t provide new features.

From our own experience, the editor brings some promising features, though it still has a long way to go. The new design offers more space for writing, and it conveniently organises your page or post related settings in one simple sidebar. The new block system is quite intriguing as it mimics other popular page-builder tools. Nonetheless, Gutenberg is a bit more cluttered and comparatively less intuitive to use than the classic, default editor. Moreover, it currently has rather limited options for customising the blocks.

Ultimately, Gutenberg is still in the early stages of development, and it’d be unfair to judge it too harshly. From our perspective, it’s a promising step in the right directions, though more work is needed to make it a viable replacement for the classic editor. Plus, there are many features that are still in development such as drag-and-drop functionality, support for custom post types, and editor style. There’s also a Classic Text Block in development that will ideally reproduce the classic editor as a single block. This will come in handy for people who prefer the old editor.

Presently, its developers project that Gutenberg will be ready for inclusion in WordPress 5.0. So, until then, we recommend that you keep a close eye on the project to see how comes along over time. Reserve the final judgement for the finished product. Of course, if you are interested in how the new editor evolves, you can always get involved!

Conclusion

The Gutenberg editor project is an attempt to spice up on of the WordPress’ key features – the editor. It aims at providing an updated editor that’s more flexible and user-friendly than the current, classic editor is.

As discussed above, the Gutenberg editor works by offering “blocks” that can be manipulated to create personalised posts and pages. This way, it’s very similar to the existing page-builder plugins. So far, it’s a bit limited in terms of what it can accomplish, but most of its additional features are still in development. Nonetheless, it’s clearly an intriguing endeavour that worth looking out for, and even getting involved if you like it.

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