In December 2018, WordPress rolled out their Gutenberg block editor. They called it Gutenberg, because they expected it to change the world of WordPress as dramatically as the first movable-type press changed the world back in 1440.
At the time, there was plenty of debate among WordPress users and developers about it. Was it a good idea? Would it make adding and editing content easier, or harder? Was it ready for prime time?
Matt Mullenweg, one of the original WordPress co-creators, had announced Gutenberg back in 2017. Initially an optional plugin, it became part of WordPress core with WordPress version 5.0 at the end of 2018.
It was easy to not use it if that was your preference — just install a plugin called Classic Editor, which turned off Gutenberg and left you the familiar editing interface you were used to. And because of a few bumps along the way, that’s what many WordPress users decided to do.
Fortunately, Gutenberg has been vastly improved since the original rollout, with more features added or improved with every WordPress update. WordPress will stop supporting the Classic Editor at some point in the future, probably in 2022.
According to WordPress:
“We call the new editor Gutenberg. The entire editing experience has been rebuilt for media rich pages and posts. Experience the flexibility that blocks will bring, whether you are building your first site, or write code for a living.”
WordPress promises that Gutenberg will let you:
- Do more with fewer plugins
- Work across all devices and screen sizes
- Create “modern, multimedia-heavy layouts”
- Look the same in the back end as it does in the front end
Since I teach WordPress and build WordPress sites for a living, I switched to Gutenberg early on.
I’ve seen it improve and change steadily, and I believe that, if you’ve been clutching tightly to your old friend the Classic Editor, this is an excellent time to let it go, and switch to Gutenberg. Because it actually does do what WordPress promised — it reduces the need for plugins, provides a media-rich experience, and works beautifully across devices.
In this article — the first in a two-part series — we’ll take a high-level view of Gutenberg. In the next article, we’ll look at some of the specifics of working with the blocks that are especially useful for web writers.
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