WordPress is an open source project, sponsored and influenced in a large part by a commercial company called Automattic who run services such as WordPress.com and WordPress VIP.
The project was kicked off by Automattic’s CEO and the founder of WordPress, Matt Mullenweg, who wrote a post in January 2017 with the mission statement of Gutenberg:
In simple terms the idea is to replace the ubiquituous WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) content editor with a more interactive user interface which allows users to build content from different types of blocks.
The reference to shortcodes has for a long time been the way to get more complex content into WordPress pages, however, at Studio 24 we don’t tend to make much use of shortcodes for our client sites.
You can see a demo at https://wordpress.org/gutenberg/
It’s a great idea and one that resonates with how we build sites at Studio 24. For a long time we’ve used a component design approach to allow clients to build pages out of different components (such as a quote, or set of images side-by-side). At present we use a mix of plugins to achieve this in WordPress (FewBricks and Advanced Custom Fields). Gutenberg could replace this with native functionality.
However, it’s not all good news. This represents a very major change for WordPress, for good intentions, but one which may come with a lot of complexity on how to build custom website designs, how to migrate from an older version of WordPress and how to manage content for users.
The end result back in June was that using Gutenberg could potentially triple development costs for custom designs built for websites using Gutenberg – not something we are prepared to recommend for our clients.
Gutenberg has changed a lot since June though it’s still technically complex, has potential usability issues, and currently has serious accessibility issues that won’t be fixed for launch. That alone exludes the use of Gutenberg for any mid-to-large sized organisation (not withstanding accessibility is a legal requirement in the UK and elsewhere).
The launch date for WordPress 5.0 has been much vaunted, it may be released later this week on 6th December, it may be mid-to-late Jan 2019. Personally I think they should wait until early 2019, we certainly don’t plan to update any client sites with WordPress 5.0 this close to Christmas. Find out more on the WordPress 5.0 release plan.
At present we advise to not use Gutenberg. Sites will run fine with the Classic Editor and until Gutenberg is released it is difficult to fully advise our clients. However, long-term we believe moving to Gutenberg is a requirement of using WordPress. So a strategy will need to be put in place.
Progress is good, though the evolution of Gutenberg has been fraught with poor communication with the community and missed opportunities like accessibilty. I sincerely hope the project has a successful launch and we look forward to investing more time developing with and getting more involved in Gutenberg in 2019.
Some useful links from other resources on the web:
- The Night Before Gutenberg – post from ACF, a plugin which is not currently 100% compatible with WordPress 5.0 which we use on all client sites
- Should you update to WordPress 5.0? – simple, pragmatic advice from Yoast
- Pressing questions about Gutenberg: The new editor in WordPress 5.0
- Official WordPress 5.0 release schedule