What is Gutenberg?

The new editor for WordPress that everyone is talking about was named after Johannes Gutenberg, (Swedish – pronounced Yo-han-is) who was responsible for introducing the mechanical printing press into Europe in the fourteen hundreds – nothing to do with the editor as such, but I suppose they had to call it something.

What does Gutenberg do?

In a nutshell, it extends the functionality of the existing editor giving the user more freedom with their layout and making it much easier to use. To be clear though, this isn’t the same editor.

While the current visual editor is reasonably easy to use for anyone familiar with basic desktop word processors, it does require some knowledge of shortcodes and HTML to get full use of its capabilities. The essence of the Gutenberg editor is to make things much easier through the use of little blocks or small editable sections that can be edited individually

What is the main reason for the shift over to the new editor?

Matt Mullenweg is an American Entrepreneur who is best known for developing the free open source WordPress content management system, now managed by the WordPress foundation. It was developed with the spirit of free enterprise in mind giving the user a strong community base to encourage ease of use and further development.

This was Matt’s reasoning for the editor. “Theme developers won’t need to bundle tons of plugins or create their own page builders. There’ll be a standard, portable way to create rich layouts for posts and guide people set up right in the interface, no 20-step tutorials or long videos needed. Every theme will be able to compete with multi-functional premium themes without locking users into a single theme or compromising their experience”.

Since its initial release in May 2003, WordPress has undergone many changes. Originally released for creating Blogs, it has now become the most widely used content management system famous for its extendibility with the use of third-party plugins. This has always been encouraged from day one, made easier as the project is open source with the core code being available to all who wish to become active developers.

There’s always been an argument that this also helps hackers find loop-holes to compromise the software. In reality, the foundation is always one step ahead tightening security and this is the main reason that it is crucial to keep the software and any plugins up to date.

However, good as the software clearly is, many will agree that the only thing that’s been letting it down for a long time is the editor.

WYSIWYG or not WYSIWYG, that is the question

WYSIWYG, or ‘what you see is what you get’ is a term frequently used in web and desktop publishing software that basically should do what it says on the tin. This is not always the case, however, and the original WordPress editor known now as ‘Classic’ was no exception requiring the additional support of plugins such as Tiny MCE to restore more control and customisation back to the user. It’s been long overdue, but it’s here at last – Gutenberg does indeed bring WordPress’s content editing closer to a true WYSIWYG standard. It’s still not perfect but it’s getting there, and further revisions can only improve on this with the core development team acting on customer feedback.

How does this affect third-party plugin developers?

There has always been an emphasis on the importance of third-party developers to keep their software up to date, staying within the boundaries of compliance to the WordPress core files. Really, this is no different. The editor is really there to make it easier for anyone to manage their own blog or website content. It still won’t make you a designer, and you simply can’t replace the finished professional look of a website site that has been undertaken by a professional web designer as opposed to a DIY solution. In these cases, the responsibility to make sure their software doesn’t conflict with the new changes rests with them, and not the end user.

How will this affect Blue Whale Customers?

In short, it won’t. The software we use has its own page builder which is fully compatible with the update. Our customers really have no need to use the editor anyway.

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