Content creation is the center of WordPress and its success. The default editor TinyMCE has served the community quite well. However, this year marks a significant change in WordPress history: the release of Gutenberg.
What is Gutenberg?
Gutenberg is a completely different approach to the default WordPress Editor. The traditional input window of TinyMCE Editor will be replaced by a visual input method. Blocks will serve as the elements of the page. Each block may contain texts, images, buttons, or even Youtube videos. Blocks are easier to manipulate in the page.
While it is not new, having it at the core of WordPress may be a good change. Or otherwise. Wix, Squarespace, and other visual front-end editors prove to be successful with users. The positive reception of such web builders may lend itself with the release of Gutenberg.
Gutenberg sits on an indecisive 2.5 stars. It pulls polarizing opinions from content creators and developers alike. Experienced developers are uncertain about its workflow. The significant difference from the current editor to Gutenberg still has a murky future. On the other hand, users who focus more on content are excited about its inclusion in the core. They don’t have to install a third-party page builder anymore. There is always a struggle to learn a new builder every time. Having the consistent experience makes content and page creation less intimidating.
WordPress.com vs. WordPress.org
There is a concern with the WordPress community and its roots. Many noticed that the release of Gutenberg leans towards WordPress.com. The blogging platform is where the majority of Automattic’s revenue comes from. Many feel that the chunk of WordPress.org community is left out from the brainstorming.
It is important to note that WordPress.com and WordPress.org have evolved very differently throughout the years. WordPress.com now enjoys being one of the top blogging platforms around. On the other hand, WordPress.org became much more than a content platform. It has become an all-around platform for any web presence.
There is a concern about the effects of Gutenberg, largely on WordPress.org. Developers will have to redevelop themes, plugins, and other parts of their products. Even the philosophy of the different elements of WordPress will need rethinking.
Will there be a separation between WordPress.com or WordPress.org users? How will developers react to its rapid timeline? How much work will the current developers do? Can smaller developers survive its arrival? Is this a perfect time for a WordPress fork?
Right now, no one but the Gutenberg developers has the answers.
Issues with Gutenberg
As with new technologies, there are concerns arising from its current version. At this point, Gutenberg pulls extreme reactions from users. The initial release typically reflects the general roadmap of the features. However, the unclear and ambiguous release concerns a lot of developers and users.
Where are the Metaboxes?
The changes in the editor interface itself bring a concern to plugin developers. A lot of plugins uses the meta-boxes located at the bottom of the current WordPress editor. Gutenberg does not currently have metaboxes. This becomes problematic as much functionalities happen in the metaboxes.
Simply, plugins like Yoast SEO to WooCommerce will find it difficult to integrate with Gutenberg. Right now, you will not see Yoast SEO on the page. Basically making it useless. Countless built-in integrations will stop working.
The development of theme itself would have to change. The underlying philosophy of theme building faces a challenge with Gutenberg. A lot of themes offer out-of-the-box functions and pages. However, the flexibility of Gutenberg may make it obsolete.
Why would anyone buy a theme with “Teams”, “About Us”, and similar pages when you can create these in Gutenberg? Why consider a large Hero image widget when you can create a “banner” image block? Do you want a theme’s widget or just easily recreate in Gutenberg?
This sounds like a good news to users. However, a lot of theme developers faces a massive rewrite of their codes. There is also a concern about changing the architecture of theme and how it fits with Gutenberg.
In essence, there should be a restructuring of the meaning of “theme.” The developers now need to think of things they can offer beyond the abilities of Gutenberg. Themes will now need to focus on design than pages.
The slew of page builders from Visual Composer to Elementor faces a tough competition. Having a third-party page builder with Gutenberg makes it redundant and useless. However, the current state of Gutenberg feels like it still cannot compete with the page builders around. The user is now stuck in the middle.
Moreover, a lot of themes come packaged with specific builders. Their pages are wrapped using the page builders. Now, the developers have to decide whether to pull their partnership with the page builders or work around Gutenberg. Whichever it is, there is a lot of work ahead for the developers.
Future of Gutenberg
At this point, there is a lot of conversation surrounding Gutenberg. There is a lot of speculations and what-ifs. The imminent arrival of the editor later this year will change the face of WordPress.
Plans for Metaboxes
There are a lot of conversations about where to put the metaboxes. For now, there are no specific plans for it. And, this concerns a lot of plugin developers. However, one thing is clear, there are plans to integrate metaboxes in future versions.
The lingering questions stem from the integration of metaboxes. Will it affect each block individually? How will it affect preview? Will there be any issues with block-to-block interaction?
Many questions are still unanswered and only time will tell
Possible WordPress Fork
There is no certainty yet on whether Gutenberg will cause a WordPress fork. If there is an official fork, it will definitely divide the community. It is undeniable that the success of WordPress is because of the strong community. Moreover, having two versions is a nightmare to maintain. It requires twice, or more, than having just one.
On the other hand, not forking means becoming backward compatible. Gutenberg is being introduced very fast. The past changes in WordPress were gradual. However, WordPress users will have to get used to it fast. Not having backward compatibility means a massive overhaul of products surrounding the platform. And if Gutenberg receives a lukewarm reception, a fork will eventually be forced.
There are still a lot of concerns and apprehensions regarding Gutenberg. On a positive note, it might be the solution long sought out by users. The drag-and-drop system at the core of WordPress will drastically change the future of the platform. However, if it flops, WordPress will lose support from its core community. Some may even consider other CMS until issues are resolved.
One thing is for sure, the imminent arrival of Gutenberg will produce a whole new WordPress.