Your WordPress editor is about to get a makeover! While the details aren’t complete yet, we know that soon, the way we edit our content in WordPress is going to change. It’s called the Gutenberg Editor, and the time has come for you to prepare for it.
Typically when you log into your website, you go to a Post, Page, or other “thing” to add or edit text, images, and more. Central to your website experience is a the big blank Text Editor. Most of the stuff you want to show your users goes into this Text Editor. If your site has a bit more customization, you’ll have extra meta boxes to add extra bits of information and content. Whether it’s for SEO or linking to related resources, these meta boxes aren’t always displayed in the editor where they show up in your content. Heck, sometimes they don’t even show up in your content at all.
When you think about, it’s not the most intuitive way to deal with your content. How did we end up here? Years ago, the WordPress admin interface was revolutionary, if you wanted to publish and still own your content. Instead of having to learn HTML, you could simply enter a username/password, write, and show the world—totally friction-less. Just type, publish, and it went live.
As website complexity has grown and site owners have figured out how visitors use websites, our understanding of content has expanded well beyond just a wall of text and a picture. Content, these days, can be relationships to other posts and products, supporting images, sales pipelines, tutorials, forms, and a billion other things. Essentially, web publishing has outgrown the humble Text Editor view. WordPress agencies and plugin developers have been dealing with this by bolting on meta boxes as needed.
WordPress core developers see this Frankenstein approach as problematic. The solution is Gutenberg. Named after Johannes Gutenberg, who invented a printing press with movable type more than 500 years ago, the Gutenberg Editor is very much beta software. Each point (0.0.x) release of Gutenberg has significant changes and improvements over the previous, so it’s difficult at this point to see where it will end up. Because the developers are seeking active feedback, each update polishes the user experience a bit more. However, we’re still months from Gutenberg being part of WordPress core. So, expect many more changes before all the dust settles.
Gutenberg is an attempt to make the editing experience feel a bit more logical. This is accomplished by treating everything as a block. Ideally, this will make the task of creating content much more intuitive (and heck maybe even fun?). One of the biggest changes that hasn’t been accounted for in Gutenberg is what to do with all of the “legacy meta boxes.” In some cases, they’ll make sense as a block that is added to the content. But some meta isn’t necessarily something you’ll need to display. That kind of content doesn’t fit in the Gutenberg block model.
We expect Gutenberg will ship in WordPress 5.0. That’ll probably be in the second quarter of 2018. In the meantime, it will be important to stay on top of both WordPress core and plugin updates as some of the groundwork for dealing with Gutenberg will be laid before it’s available in the backend. Start thinking about the metadata you use in your posts. Unlike when Facebook changes the interface, WordPress is giving us a huge amount of notice. If you need help in either of these areas, reach out to experts at Maintainn. They’re actively preparing for Gutenberg and are fluent in all things WordPress.
Also published on Medium.