Do We Really Even Need Gutenberg?

by Jul 26, 2017Wordpress Themes2 comments

Yes I am asking this big question that can totally change how we even create a post of page in WordPress.  For people that do not know what Gutenberg is it is going to be the full on replacement to the Tiny MCE editor we have currently have in WordPress.  The idea started in 2016 and is finally supposed to be released by the end of the year for the WordPress 5.0 release.  This was held off from being released in the 4.8 version of WordPress.


Now this is a look at the Tiny MCE editor we have now.  A heart and soul of the WordPress backend.  Without it we do not create posts or pages with it  Now with my image you see extra things like Insert Shortcode which is from the Shortcodes Ultimate plugin which is one of the greatest wordpress plugins of all time. Now with Gutenberg we get an editor that is vastly different from the Tiny MCE one we all use to day. To get a taste of what is to come we have a beta plugin out you can look at in a version 0.5.0.  I started out with version 0.2.0 of the plugin for this article and since writing it has been updated a few times to a newer version.  I did text this plugin out on a test server install on WordPress. After you install the beta plugin you get a new menu option where you can try out a new post.  This is what you will see,



Boy does this look different. so naked here.  At the top corner you can choose from visual and text.  On the other side of the screen you have forward and backward buttons.  Missing is the screen options item. A post settings button you can click and turn on/off all of the sidebar options if you want.  Another thing Is you do not know how big the editing area is for now.  This can be a problem if your blog posts are fixed width in a boxed layout. The sidebar area has gone through some changes since version 0.2.0 which is needed.    The documents section shows off the same standard wordpress options we already use, but in a much more minimalist look. Table of contents is brand new for version 0.5.0 of the plugin and has to do with the heading block, but not that useful right now.  They also have in a block section which holds block options like CSS class, drop cap, and more.  More on blocks below. Now this new editor works in blocks. Blocks here are like DIVI modules as you can move them up and down.  Now we do get a load of so called block here. You see that circle plus thing.  Well if you click on it these are blocks you will now see.



Okay what we have are a lot of different blocks here we can use.  A lot of this stuff we already use like text, quote, and list.  Now Embeds have been apart of the WordPress core for a while here, but with Gutenberg it brings theme upfront.  In the previous version this was one gigantic list.  For the newest version they did the right thing and broke it into three groups. Now Lets take a look at a text block:


As you can see it has some options here like bold and center text, but it also has this one sidebar option here.  I like the idea of sidebar options here, but this beta sure does leave things out like font and font size.  Also on the left hand side of things you have up and down arrows.  Blocks here can move up an down if you want to change position of content.  That is great.



But they also have something included that is classic text.  This block has been updated since 0.2.0 of the plugin to look a whole lot more like what we currently use.  Still no option to add in an image or work with plugins that already put stuff in that area, but they are moving it along in the right direction.



This is an embed here of a youtube video.  All you do is put in the URL of the video and you are good to go.  As you can see this has some different options on it.  Now options on top have to deal with size and position.  One can go fullwidth.



Okay this is the final block wee are going to look at here.  This one is  the table block.  I want to highlight this one as it has gone through some improvements since version 0.2.0 of the plugin.  You now have the ability to add and remove columns and rows which you could not do before. From my playing around with the blocks in the plugin I had installed it was like using the DIVI theme, but only in single column mode only.  With columns being something used so much by websites today like a business site listing what services they offer this will be something that will have to be addressed. Save





How about Text mode?


as you can see up on top you get a minimalist looking section of things you can do.  Each block gets starting and ending comments added to it which I think is nice.  Even in text mode you can click the insert button and insert something such as a button and all the code will pop right up.



How well does this work with plugins and themes we already have?

This is one big question here the beta plugin sure did not answer for me.

On the plugins side: Plugins like All In one SEO, woocommerce and Shortcodes ultimate have major interactions with the post editor.  Are they going to need major code changes just to work with WordPress 5.0?  The plugin beta only showcased a sidebar worth of items.  Will we even get items in the middle of the screen like you get with woocommerce or All In One SEO now like we have now?

Page Builder plugins like the DIVI Builder and Elementor are something of standard with websites now. Do they need major changes just for them to work with wordpress 5.0?  Besides that when we use a plugin like the DIVI Builder and a blurb module you are really using a whole lot more of the module settings so I am not so sure what Gutenberg really brings to the table here.

On the themes side: Will this even work cleanly with an old theme that has not been updated in a while?  Themes may have to do some functions.php additions to get this to even work right.  Will it be just some standard code to ad to the functions.php file for it to work? Theme developers though could create custom blocks which would be nice to see.

On the DIVI theme side of things can we add in any block we want while using a text module??  That sure will be interesting.

And when it comes to old posts how well are they going to look under the Gutenberg editor.  Will it be easy to even edit that old post if you had to do it?

So do we really need Gutenberg??

In this writers opinion I am going to have to say no for now, but I am also in a wait and see mode here.  Granted I did see an interface that looked nice and was easy to use, but fully lacked functionality I wanted and certainly can use an official video or two to show off how to even use this type of interface.

The only thing that was brought to the front here was all the embeds.  So I say why not just add a Tiny MCE menu item next to add Media called Embed Insert.  If you click on it you can bring up a full list of things you can embed.

I am also in a wait and see mode as we can certainly get some more versions of this plugin before the end of the year is up.  We had two of them as I was writing this article which certainly is moving this idea and interface in the right direction, but a whole bunch of my concerns have not been addressed in a big enough of a fashion in order to move me up to a thumbs up on this idea.

Next up from me is plugin roundup.


    • Richard Ginn

      All plugins are impacted including woocommerce. Yes a woocommerce product is a separate post type, BUTT even that uses the same TINY MCE editor used for a regular post type.

      Now Woocommerce may be able to opt out of using the Gutenberg interface, but the people behind the plugin have barely touched meta data that all wordpress plugins use.



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