Many WordPress web developers may already be familiar with Gutenberg. Though WordPress has been praised for being a fully customizable platform with a growing, dedicated community of developers, there are still some gripes with the content management system. For example, the visual editor has not been updated in a very long time. However, in June 2017, WordPress founding member Matt Mullenweg announced that he and other contributors had been working on an update to the visual editor that will be included in WordPress 5.0. The update was to be known as Gutenberg.

Gutenberg is a take on the new editor for WordPress. It was named after Johannes Gutenburg, who invented a printing press with popularizing moving type over 500 years ago. The current visual editor require many of us to utilize shortcodes and HTML for the editor to function. The purpose of Gutenberg is to make this easier, by using ‘little blocks’, or small sections that you can edit, one at a time. The team also hope to add more advanced layout options as it develops. The blocks can be moved up and down or deleted, as with other popular page builders. The block feature scales well with mobile. Here is an example of what a post built with Gutenberg will look like.

Gutenberg is currently running in its beta testing phase before being included in the next core update WordPress 4.9 (though many believe it won’t be ready until core update WordPress 5.0) As of writing this post, it is only available as a plugin and the current iteration will work for WordPress 4.8 and above. Currently, there are over 2,000 active downloads for the plugin. However, in its beta testing phase, it has some of the most polarizing reviews from users with an average score of 2.5 out of a 5 star rating. Most reviewers are either loving or hating the current version of Gutenberg, with very few meeting in the middle. Here are the current pros and cons for the new visual editor.

Pros

  • Gutenberg is similar to Medium, where blocks are easy to use and can be easily edited as changes are needed.
  • It provides more screen space with a less distracting experience.
  • The functionality is better geared towards the beginner than the current visual editor.
  • The new alignment options allow for larger resolution screens, full-width templated and responsive sites.
  • Currently works great on mobile as edits can be done quickly.
  • It has the potential for theme and plugin developers to create their own custom blocks.

Cons

  • Copy-pasting is difficult.
  • Changing a line of text in a header requires two actions instead of one.
  • Image editing and video embedding is limited.
  • Page and post editing capabilities do not live up to expectation.
  • It is currently missing Markdown support.
  • Though it is easy for beginners, it may also be more difficult to learn.
  • Currently doesn’t support custom plugin meta boxes, such as Yoast.
  • Backwards capabilities for themes and plugins may be a huge issue going forward.
  • Makes WordPress more complicated than it has to be.

Though there have been many reported issues for the visual editor, there is hope that many of these problems will be resolved before Gutenburg is included in the core. As it stands now, only time will tell.

If you would like to test Gutenberg for yourself, be sure to download the plugin right here: https://wordpress.org/plugins/gutenberg/