The Gutenberg editor has generated unprecedented controversy within the WordPress community. This modular block editor hasn’t been universally well received, especially since it replaced the template-driven interface familiar to so many users. The Classic Editor has since been relegated to plugin status – a managed decline before its scheduled deletion in 2022.
Anyone installing version 5.0 of WordPress will now be greeted by a very different interface. And although the Gutenberg editor isn’t immediately intuitive, it does represent a significant advance over the previous editing system, abolishing any need to use HTML or shortcodes. If WordPress was being launched tomorrow, and these two options were on the table, there’s little doubt Gutenberg would be seen as superior to the Classic Editor. Its misfortune is that it follows a content management system which has been used worldwide for 15 years.
So where do you start with Gutenberg? When WordPress opens, the editor displays considerably more white space for content entry. This represents an immediate advantage for users working on smaller laptops or tablets while editing with a smartphone becomes feasible for the first time. Switching between visual and text editor modes is handled by a dropdown tab in the top left corner.
The Insert button (top center) represents the fulcrum of WordPress. This is where the all-important blocks are located, which are used to add content of differing forms. Each block may be an image or a gallery, body text or a heading, etc. Recent choices are shortlisted for convenience, and there are some innovative new features like live HTML. This effectively combines the visual editor’s WYSIWYG interface with text editing, supporting code changes on the fly.
Previously, tables could only be added using third-party plugins, or by physically coding HTML. Now, a simple 2×2 grid appears when a table block is dropped in. It’s easily expandable to three, four columns, or more, and supporting as many rows as required. Key options like justification and hyperlinks are listed above the first field; there’s even a table of contents dropdown. This expands upon the welcome presence of a word/block/heading counter beside each text box.
Another simplification over the Classic Editor involves being able to drag and drop photos directly into an image block, rather than having to access an image page and upload/select a file. It’s also possible to embed multimedia content from 30 host websites including YouTube, Twitter, SoundCloud, and Hulu.
Das ist Gut
Gutenberg has been in beta for most of last year, and its launch represents the first iteration of an interface which will undoubtedly be refined further. WordPress has the potential to expand the use of buttons, for instance, since these are currently limited in use. Traditionalists may shudder at the Classic Editor’s relegation to plugin status, but newcomers to WordPress will find block-based page design far more intuitive – and fun. With more familiarity and superior block options, it could elevate WordPress to a whole new level.