Gutenberg: A Major Change to the WordPress Editor

Screenshot of the Gutenberg Editor
The Gutenberg Editor is a major change in the look, feel, and functionality of the WordPress editor. Like all major changes, some will like it, some won't.

You know how, when you want to write something for your WordPress website, you first log into that area called the Dashboard (sometimes also called the “back end”), and then go to work on either a post or a page? The look, feel, and functionality of that is undergoing a major, major change.

This article is a quick introductory overview.

Major Change to Designing & Editing Content

A big change is coming to the place where you create and edit your post and page content, giving you much more control over the layout, the way things look on the “front end” for your visitors. This change will arrive with the next major release of WordPress, which is version 5.0, and titled “Gutenberg.”

If you think about it this way, right now all your content goes into one “column,” essentially, or one big “block.” You type all your text into that one big area, and then add images or additional styling, never leaving that one area.

Gutenberg replaces that one big area (or “column,” or “block”) with the ability to put smaller bits of content into multiple individual “blocks.” Doing that gives you a lot more control over how things turn out on the front end.

Why is WordPress Making the Change to Gutenberg?

For years the editing interface was top-notch, but as competition grew other solutions created nicer, easier to use tools. Companies like Squarespace, Wix, Medium, and Weebly, while not nearly as technically capable, made the process a content-creation process friendlier. It is time for WordPress to step up.

Think of Gutenberg as a Set of Building Blocks

Gutenberg has blocks for all kinds of content, including (but not limited to):

  • Heading
  • Paragraph
  • List
  • Image
  • Image Gallery
  • Cover Image
  • Video
  • Quote
  • Columns

Each one of these blocks comes with special styling abilities, and it’s easy to create new blocks, or to move existing blocks around.

Here’s what WordPress has to say about the new capability:

Meet your new best friends, Blocks

Blocks are a great new tool for building engaging content. With blocks, you can insert, rearrange, and style multimedia content with very little technical knowledge. Instead of using custom code, you can add a block and focus on your content.

Without being an expert developer, you can build your own custom posts and pages.

Quick Example: Adding a Cover Image Block

Large images are frequently used at the top of a page, especially on the home page, and they often have text placed “on top of,” over overlaying, the image.

In Gutenberg, this is called a “cover image block.”

Insert Block 2 1

Where to See and Test the New Gutenberg Editor

Try out Gutenberg for free, online, right here

You can use the new editor right there on the page… just click into one of the content areas to play around.

A single block is nice—reliable, clear, distinct. Discover the flexibility to use media and content, side by side, driven by your vision.

Video Intro to Gutenberg: A Deeper Look

Adam Preiser is the man behind WP Crafter, a wonderful resource for non-technical folk. Because the content is so useful, his YouTube channel has grown to over 83,000 subscribers!

In this overview you’ll see quite a bit about the interface – helpful because everything is moved around. Watch the 16-minute video below for a deeper look at Gutenberg.

Gutenberg is a Dramatic Change

Your first time into it will likely seem daunting. But the good news is that you don’t have to use it exclusively because the “regular” way is still available if you install the WordPress Classic Editor plugin.

Install the Classic Editor to give yourself breathing room, creating content your normal way. After you’ve created something, take the time to create it again (in a new post or page) using Gutenberg; so you can learn at your leisure. When you’re done with the Gutenberg post, you can just delete it.

Is the Change to Gutenberg Required?

If you don’t install the Classic Editor plugin, yes, Gutenberg is all you have (unless you’re using a page builder).

If you do install the Classic Editor, you’ll still want to learn the Gutenberg way, because eventually the “classic” way will stop working.

How Do You Get Gutenberg?

The new editing experience (not a cliché, it really is that) will be installed automatically when WordPress version 5.0 is installed.

Can You Delay Gutenberg?

Yes, and it’s actually a good idea. Gutenberg will arrive as part of the WordPress version 5 release, so simply waiting to install V. 5 will work.

It’s also a good idea to wait on V. 5 anyway! You’re better off waiting because it is inevitable that there will be some bugs and fixes required. Unless there is some pressing need, wait at least until V. 5.1 is ready.

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