At some point today, 6th December 2018, WordPress is scheduled to release the latest version of its software, 5.0. This is a major release, and it has a powerful new feature that users will need to get to grips with. It goes by the name of Gutenberg, and it’s set to change the way you add content to your WordPress site. Here’s all you need to know.
What is Gutenberg?
Gutenberg is a fresh take on the standard WordPress text editor. Taking its name from Johannes Gutenberg, inventor of a printing press with movable type, its aim is to make it easier for WordPress website owners to display their content in new and visually appealing ways.
It works on the principle of “blocks“. With blocks, you can insert, rearrange, and style your content with very little technical knowledge. Now things like multi-column layouts, which previously required specialist skills, can be easily achieved with a few simple clicks.
Whereas the classic WordPress editor just gave you one big box in which to input all your page content, Gutenberg allows you to add as many as you like, and to control how they interact. Being able to achieve more complex designs from within the WordPress core means users won’t need to download as many plugins or widgets to create the layouts they want. This means faster, less bloated and more secure websites.
The Death of Page Builder Plugins?
In particular, we very much hope that Gutenberg will spell the end of the various “page builder” plugins that are available in WordPress. These plugins, if you’ve never heard of them, ostensibly try to achieve the same thing as Gutenberg – to give those with no coding knowledge the ability to create more complex page layouts.
There are loads of different ones out there, but one thing unites them all: they produce poor, bloated code and cause websites to run slowly. They are generally to be avoided like the plague.
Gutenberg doesn’t yet have as many features as these page builder tools, but it is still in its infancy and we expect many exciting new developments to be added over time.
Wanna Take Gutenberg for a Spin?
Gutenberg has actually been around for a few months already to allow users to test it and provide feedback to the developers. It is available to download directly via the Plugins section of your WordPress admin area. So even if WordPress don’t end up releasing version 5.0 today (they have a rather patchy record as far as sticking to release schedules), there’s nothing stopping you having a play around with it ahead of its release.
That said, installing software that is still under development on a live website can be risky. So if you don’t yet dare install Gutenberg on your website, WordPress have set up a demo webpage which you use can use to get to grips with it.
What If I don’t Like it?!
It’s always hard to adjust to new features and Gutenberg will definitely be no exception. We found it a little fiddly at first, but soon worked out the basics – and we’re sure you will too. Once users start to appreciate the power Gutenberg gives them over the presentation of their content, we reckon it will prove a big hit. In any event, once WP v.5.0 is released, Gutenberg will be here to stay…
That said, there are genuine concerns amongst WordPress users and developpers that Gutenberg may cause conflicts with existing, especially older, WordPress sites. In certain cases, themes and or plugins that were not designed to run the new software may cause sites to break.
Luckily, WordPress have thought of that. If you have issues with Gutenberg on your website, you can download the Classic Editor plugin, which restores the original text editor to your site.
Bear in mind though that the Classic Editor will be phased out over time. Going forwards, all WordPress themes and plugins will be designed with Gutenberg in mind, so sooner or later you will have to take the plunge.
Help – I Am a Port 80 Customer and I am Stuck!
In the immortal words of Douglas Adams, Don’t Panic! If all this talk of Gutenberg is freaking you out, or if you need any help installing or using it, Port 80 is here to help.
The good news is that if you’re a Port 80 Premium Hosting customer, you don’t need to worry about a thing! As with all WordPress updates, we will take care of upgrading your site to v.50 on your behalf. And if we spot any problems with your website post-upgrade, we’ll sort them out for you too.