WordPress Gutenberg – What you need to know
November 27, 2018
If your website runs on WordPress, you might want to pay attention to the upcoming Gutenberg update. Unlike previous WordPress updates, this update debuts the overhauled editor – impacting how everyone creates new content. Read our post below to find out more.
What Are WordPress Updates?
Why is the Gutenberg Update different?
Do I Need to Do Anything to use Gutenberg?
Can I keep using the Classic Editor?
Video of us trying Gutenberg
WordPress & Updates
WordPress is the most popular CMS in the world. With this popularity comes some unwanted attention from hackers and people with bad intentions.
There are literally millions of websites running WordPress software.
If hackers can find a way to break into just one of these websites, they can potentially use the same method to access others. This gives them the ability to install adware, malware or other malicious code on thousands of sites using just one exploit.
Fortunately, the good folks at WordPress know this and are very proactive in helping users keep things secure. They do this by regularly releasing minor updates and security patches to the software. These security patches address known vulnerabilities & update features. Most of the time these are minor patches, but they shouldn’t be ignored. Many WordPress sites and hosting providers automatically apply security patches as soon as they are released.
Occasionally, WordPress releases a major update that includes more significant changes to the platform. For Example, an update from 4.9.7 to 4.9.8 is a minor security patch, but an update from 4.x.x to 5.o would be considered a major update. The latest major update from WordPress is Version 5.0 and it is being referred to as the Gutenberg Update.
What’s new in Gutenberg?
In Version 5.0 (aka Gutenberg), WordPress introduces a major overall to the text editor used to write posts/pages. This is significant because it impacts thing people do most often in WordPress – write and publish content. The idea behind the new Gutenberg editor is to improve and simplify the process of building new posts/pages. It’s quite a bit different than what you might be used to.
Here is a screenshot of the Classic Editor in WordPress:
Here is a screenshot of the new Gutenberg Editor in WordPress:
Just looking at the new Gutenberg editor you can see the editor is totally different. The whole idea of this new editor is that it will allow people to better control and handle their content. Instead of adding text in one big box, like the classic editor, the new Gutenberg editor uses movable blocks. You can create and customize as many different blocks as you want when making your content – similar to the idea of a page builder.
If you’ve ever used WordPress before you might know the frustration of trying to apply different styles using the classic visual editor – especially in long posts or pages. Alignment issues and problems using headers and font styles could get tricky. If you had some HTML or web experience it was almost easier to jump into code view and apply the tags manually.
Content blocks in the new Gutenberg release should make it easier for users to control the different individual elements that make up a page/post. It’s also possible to save and reuse common elements that might reoccur throughout the post. You can drag and drop blocks to different areas of the page and move them around once they are created.
Do I need to do Anything to use Gutenberg?
Gutenberg will be included in WordPress Version 5.0. If you want to experiment with using it or play around without upgrading your WordPress website, you can install it as a plugin. If you currently have custom pages/posts templates, you might want to check with your development team or web manager before you implement Gutenberg.
At VWM, we always recommend making a full backup of your site before updating to a major release. Often times plugin conflicts or other unintended issues can arise when updating. It’s good to know you can revert back to the existing install if things go south. If you use a development server it might be better to test it there before deploying to production.
Can you keep using Classic Editor?
Short answer – YES! There are a lot of mixed reviews of Gutenberg out there and some users prefer to keep using the classic editor. The good news is that you can continue to use the classic editor, even if you update to WordPress Version 5.0. WordPress has even said it plans to officially support the classic editor Plugin through 2021.
Classic Editor options available by default and Classic Editor Plugin:
We recently updated a development site to Version 5.0 with Gutenberg and it looked like there was more than one way to revert back to the classic editor. First, without doing anything we noticed that when you mouse over a post you see a text link below with the option to use the classic editor, as well as in the drop down above for creating a new post.
If you absolutely do not like Gutenberg and want to always use the classic editor, you can change a setting to replace the new Gutenberg Block Editor entirely with the classic editor. First, install the classic editor plugin and then navigate to the Settings > Writing menu area. You’ll see a radio button option under classic editor settings (screenshot below)
Watch this video of our first attempt using Gutenberg. I took a little bit to get used to and we might stick with the classic editor plugin for now.
Still hungry for more info on Gutenberg? Here are some other blog posts and related info we found useful:
Smashing Magazine – The Complete Anatomy Of The Gutenberg WordPress Editor
Kinsta – Diving Into the New Gutenberg WordPress Editor (Pros and Cons)
Delicious Brains – Is Gutenberg the End or a New Beginning for WordPress?