You should use the Gutenberg WordPress editor — here’s why

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Turning over a new leaf

Sometimes you have to rip the band-aid off quickly, even though it hurts. In certain instances, this advice also applies to the new editor available since WordPress 5.0, sometimes referred to as the “Gutenberg WordPress editor” or simply “Gutenberg.”

Within the WordPress community, there has been extensive conversation (and some conflict) regarding the new editor. Some members of the community thought it was released at an inopportune time. There was even a fork of WordPress in hopes, in my opinion, to stop Gutenberg from making it to the core of WordPress.

It is my perspective that WordPress needed to change. WordPress has been around for over 15 years, and it powers 32 percent of websites. Any change that affects that much of the internet takes time to settle. We know that sometimes you can’t rip that bandaid off because doing so could break a website, or confuse the end user. In other cases, ripping the bandaid off is the right decision.

So, what do we do? There are two options, stick with the original editor or switch to Gutenberg.

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If you want to, you can stick with the classic editing experience

The Classic Editor, or the pre-Gutenberg way of editing on WordPress, is going to stick around for several years. Within four days of the WordPress 5.0 release, the Classic Editor plugin had 800,000+ active installs. That indicates to me that many people are hesitant to start using Gutenberg. If you aren’t quite ready to use Gutenberg but you still want the other capabilities of the current WordPress release, sticking with the classic editor is a solution, but only a temporary one.

4 reasons why the Gutenberg WordPress editor is the better solution

I have already ripped the bandaid off of a few existing sites and switched to the Gutenberg editing experience. All the sites my agency currently has in development have Gutenberg installed. My goal is to switch every site I maintain to Gutenberg within the next month.

If you are still clinging to the past, let me give you a few reasons why you should consider using Gutenberg:

  1. The original editor (TinyMCE) is not enough for most users.

  2. Gutenberg is the future for WordPress developers.

  3. Gutenberg is a better user experience.

  4. Gutenberg opens up a new market for developers.

Now let’s dig into how the Gutenberg WordPress editor will transform your site into a multimedia powerhouse.

1. The original editor (TinyMCE) is not enough for most users

man laptop Gutenberg WordPress editor

Most people have at least one plugin that interacts with the editor, and TinyMCE was built to edit text only. But users need a better way to implement other types of content. I would assume that every user has run into the need to put shortcodes or straight HTML into a page to get the effect that they are trying to achieve. Gutenberg helps with this use case.

With Gutenberg, editing is done via “blocks.”

Text editing is just one type of “block” available to you. If you want to add images, Gutenberg gives you a gallery block. If you need to display a YouTube video, you can add a video block. The web has changed and people expect an easier way to do these things besides dropping in shortcodes and HTML.

But if you really like using the original editor to write paragraphs, that is no problem. According to the Gutenberg FAQ, TinyMCE is still around:

TinyMCE is one of the best tools for enabling rich text on the web. In Gutenberg, TinyMCE does exactly that. Nearly every text field you’ll find is augmented with TinyMCE for rich text.

So, it is not the death of the text editor, but it is taking what used to be TinyMCE and making that a block for text. Then every other piece of content will reside in their respective blocks.

2. Gutenberg is the future for WordPress developers

Photo: WordPress

If you are a WordPress developer, you should embrace Gutenberg. Yes, it was nice being able to write a plugin and only needing to know PHP and a little JavaScript, but now many user experiences take advantage of the capabilities afforded by various JavaScript libraries. Gutenberg is a modern interface, and it relies heavily on React.js.

Though you don’t need to know React.js to write a block, it will help to know it.

One of the many WordPress core contributors has written a blog post to handle this in more depth. It is called “Do I Need to Learn React to Build Gutenberg Blocks?” and I recommend reading it.

3. Gutenberg is a better user experience

Nowadays, we expect more from our systems. I remember when Gmail first came out. I was amazed that I didn’t have to refresh the page to get new mail. WordPress, at least on the admin side, was a little behind on making the interface interactive via AJAX. Requiring a page reload to see your changes take effect is no longer the case. With Gutenberg, the admin interface is very responsive and it reacts (pun intended) quickly to changes via JavaScript.

4. Gutenberg opens up a new market for developers

The Gutenberg block ecosystem is going to explode, and that is going to be good for both the end user and for developers. There are a lot of plugins that will need to be rewritten to make them compatible with Gutenberg. This affords opportunity for new entrants into the ecosystem. If you are a developer and can beat the “incumbent” to market, you could reap the benefit of the shift to blocks. Changes in an economy don’t happen often, and WordPress 5.0 and Gutenberg bring noteworthy change to the WordPress ecosystem.

After the Guten-dust settles…

Gutenberg is not a page builder, it is a content creation tool. In my opinion, this is the first shift to making WordPress more like a page builder. There will be more radical changes in WordPress once the Gutenberg dust has settled.

At some point, we all will be using some type of builder that is natively contained in WordPress to edit the header, footer and sidebars. Be ready for more change.

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Image by: Background photo created by valeria_aksakova -