You may be hearing all about the new and improved Gutenberg editor in WordPress. But what is Gutenberg? Where did it come from? And what exactly does it bring to the table for users? Let’s explore the history of Gutenberg and its amazing evolution into a flagship product.
What is Gutenberg?
Gutenberg Editor is named after a German inventor, Johannes Gutenberg. His invention, the printing press, sparked a revolution in the publishing industry. WordPress, via the Gutenberg editor, aims to bring a similar revolution to the digital publishing world.
Gutenberg made its first appearance with WordPress 5.0 back in 2018. Initially, Gutenberg was only available as a plugin, but since then, it has evolved into a Full Site Editor and was launched with WordPress 5.9 in January 2022.
Gutenberg aims to replace the original WordPress editor, which was developed using TinyMCE. This change represents a substantial shift in how we produce content on WordPress.
What’s so special about this new Gutenberg editor? Let’s take a closer look.
The WordPress Block Editor (Gutenberg) offers a more complete experience than the Classic Editor. This is why we strongly recommend giving it a shot. However, the data indicates that a large number of users are still using the Classic Editor. That’s why we’d like to discuss the many reasons why you should consider making the switch.
The Classic Editor has been the editor of choice for WordPress when it comes to creating posts and pages. It consists of a text window and a toolbar with formatting controls.
With the Classic editor, users have to go through a number of steps to add images, create galleries, embed videos, and other types of content, making it slightly more difficult to use than other popular website builders.
All in all, the WordPress Classic Editor has a steeper learning curve and adheres more closely to contemporary web standards.
Gutenberg, on the other hand, offers a modern and improved method of writing. With the Gutenberg editor, each component acts as an independent block. You can reposition these blocks, modify their properties, and generate markup. All without having to write a single line of code. That’s why in a short time, the power of Gutenberg will become virtually unbounded.
Now that we better understand the advantages of Gutenberg, let’s dive into the history of Gutenberg and see how it is an improvement over the Classic Editor.
Why this change is so important?
The Gutenberg Project is literally the epicenter of all the innovation within the WordPress space. Consider it this way. The only car race you can hope to win by utilizing outdated technology is a race for historic cars. If you want to get ahead, especially in SEO, you must use a Block Editor. Your competition will, so if you don’t, you’ll be lagging behind.
If you’re already working well with the Classic Editor or some other page builder, you may be wondering why should you bother switching to a completely new editor? Let’s get this straight: the block editor is just the beginning of a much longer process. Soon you will see blocks everywhere in WordPress, even in the administrative areas. Therefore, getting accustomed to the block editor is a must for the future. What got you to where you’re now may not be the best solution to get you where you want to go next with your business.
Compared to the Classic Editor, Gutenberg provides a much simpler and more natural experience. It is geared towards common users, who aren’t necessarily web specialists or have a strong technical profile.
However, if you compare it with page builders, Gutenberg has fewer options out of the box. But, on the flip side, page builders consume a lot of resources that are frequently left unused. There are also add-ons, resulting in technical debt or a lack of optimization, which may cost you time and money in the future.
Gutenberg only becomes more complex for those who are capable of managing it. Even though the native features remain limited, Gutenberg can become a testing ground for new blocks and themes. Thus, opening up possibilities for further advancements.
The Blocks concept
Gutenberg’s evolution is a drastic shift from the Classic editor. Its interface is completely revamped, which makes writing a seamless experience.
Gutenberg offers a library of pre-built components known as blocks. Each block can be personalized once it’s added to a page or post. These blocks range from basic components like paragraphs and headings all the way up to complex forms, buttons, tables, and more.
We can separate the native blocks into five groups.
- Layout blocks (columns, groups, buttons….)
- Embedded content blocks (Facebook, YouTube, Twitter….)
- Formatting blocks (custom HTML, table, code.…)
- Widget blocks (shortcodes, calendar, archives…)
- Common blocks (title, paragraph, image….)
One of the distinguishing features of Gutenberg is that you can use third-party plugins to extend its functionality. These plugins add their own set of blocks alongside default Gutenberg blocks. If you take a look, you may already find some new blocks in Gutenberg that are added by various plugins.
For instance, you can now include a gallery as a block with the help of plugins. This is much easier as opposed to the conventional shortcode method used previously. In addition, there are many plugins out there whose primary purpose is to add new blocks to your world. For example, the Otter Blocks plugin provides you with blocks for pricing tables, testimonials, icons with calls to action, etc.
Create Your Own Gutenberg Block Patterns
One of the best things about WordPress is that you can change it and customize it in many ways. You can personalize everything on the platform to fit your needs.
Now, instead of creating the same block layout every time, you can create reusable Block Patterns. A Block pattern is a collection of multiple blocks arranged in a particular order to create a layout.
Now that we have a better understanding of the Block Editor, get ready to dive deep into the history of Gutenberg. We’ll start with the man who inspired the Gutenberg editor and see how Gutenberg has evolved over the years.
Gutenberg’s history and evolution
Johannes Gutenberg was a German inventor, publisher, and printer. He was born into a poor merchant family in Mainz, Germany, and was the man who invented the printing press. His invention had a tremendous impact on the communication and education of people all over the world.
He came up with the concept of making movable characters that could be reused. His printing press works by aligning the characters, dipping them in a little bit of ink, and putting the whole thing down on paper.
Gutenberg’s invention was revolutionary to the world of publishing. Likewise, WordPress aims to bring a similar revolution to digital publishing. To accomplish that, WordPress introduced a new content editor into its version 5.0. A revolution based on blocks called Gutenberg.
Gutenberg’s evolution from the Classic Editor is quite significant. As such, the whole interface has been transformed.
We’ve had a brief look into the history of Gutenberg. But the evolution of Gutenberg isn’t complete without its Full Site Editing capabilities. Let’s go through Gutenberg’s evolution from a simple WYSIWYG editor to a Full Site Editor.
Gutenberg Full Site Editing Perspectives
WordPress 5.9 is one of the most significant updates in the history of Gutenberg. Its release in early 2022 marked the debut of the Block Editor, which catapulted Gutenberg’s evolution.
Since its release, it’s widely argued that Full Site Editing will change how everyone uses WordPress. A bold claim indeed. But as you are well aware, change inherently brings with it a complex web of threats, opportunities, and questions, such as the following:
- Can Full Site Editing provide editorial teams with the game-changing innovation they have been hoping for so long?
- Is it wise to give site admins the ability to easily edit the appearance and functionality of their website?
- Or is it full of risks?
There are a lot of things to say about Full Site Editing, but most of the content we’ve seen is made for people who use WordPress for simple website needs.
In the following section, we’ll have a look at an overview of Full Site Editing. For a better understanding, let’s take the example of a media company. It involves a lot of complicated workflows, custom features, ad tech, and a lot of traffic.
benefits and risks of Full Site Editing
Which groups in a media company will get the most out of Full Site Editing?
Content and editorial team members will benefit the most from Full Site Editing. Because, in theory, they can now make brand new articles and landing pages without having to know how to code. In the past, content creators could only change themes and templates that were already there.
As a marketer, you can add forms to different templates via the Full Site Editor. This means you can do subscription-building and lead-capture work without having to code each form.
What are the risks of Full Site Editing for a business with complex publishing requirements?
Until now, you might have observed one thing: complete freedom brings risk. It’s important to know that anyone who has access to the Full Site Editor can use all of its features. You can’t stop certain team members from making changes to menus or fonts.
Just imagine what could happen if you let your editorial and marketing teams have free reign over your fonts, layout, and user experience (UX). In reality, you don’t need to change most of your front end so often. And when you do, it’s best to call in an expert.
The Most Time-Saving Default WordPress Blocks
The Gutenberg Editor comes loaded with blocks for several types of content elements. These blocks facilitate the addition of common elements such as buttons, cover images, tables, and more. To add these web elements to older versions of WordPress, you had to install plugins but not anymore.
Some super-useful default WordPress Gutenberg blocks are mentioned below.
- Table Block: It allows you to quickly and easily create basic tables in WordPress posts and pages.
- Embed Blocks: You can find many embed blocks for popular websites within the Block Editor – Gutenberg. They allow you to embed tweets, YouTube videos, and other media.
- Shortcode Block: This plugin makes it simple for you to include shortcodes in any posts and pages.
- Cover Block: Cover Block lets you incorporate amazing cover images into your articles and pages.
- Button Block: It includes call-to-action buttons which you can add to your WordPress pages and posts.
- Media & Text Block: It allows you to add an image and text side by side. For beginners, doing this with the old Classic Editor was a daunting task.
- Columns Block: It makes creating multi-column layouts for your blog posts and pages easier.
Above were some of the cool features of the Gutenberg block editor. Now, let’s dig into some of its shortcomings.
Gutenberg Missing Features
Following are some essential features you might not find in Gutenberg editor.
- At the moment, Gutenberg lacks tools for viewing and managing the mobile version of a website. However, considering the growing importance of mobile, this may be something that Gutenberg incorporates in the future.
- Custom Content Type (CCT) is a handy little feature that allows you to store data in a separate table. This improves website loading speed and saves space. However, Gutenberg lacks this functionality at its core.
- Gutenberg is currently constrained by the container of the post. You can control the number of columns along with the width of the individual blocks and sections. However, It would be great to have the option of switching from a boxed to a full-width layout.
- Gutenberg’s style settings could use some improvement. Right now, we only see simple inline styles, and we can only assume that more style settings will be added over time.
That was a bit of the history of Gutenberg. Now let’s look forward and see what new opportunities await us in the future.
“Gutenberg is the future of WordPress for the next decade“Matt Mullenweg (State of the Word 2021)
WordPress 5.9 marks the beginning of Gutenberg’s evolution towards Full Site Editing (FSE). It surely will prove to be a big step in the history of Gutenberg.
Full Site Editing allows you to create each and every part of your website using the Gutenberg editor. For instance, you are no longer restricted to the default header options. With Full Site Editing, you can create completely unique headers for your posts and pages.
comparison with Popular Editing Alternatives:
Gutenberg vs Classic Editor
- Gutenberg has a more visual background in terms of design.
- You don’t have to use shortcodes to embed content because you get a unified block system.
Gutenberg vs Page Builders
- Since Gutenberg is a core feature, you don’t have to worry about its compatibility with other plugins.
- Even though Gutenberg is a core feature, developers can add support for it to their plugins. Thus, all the plugins will eventually become compatible with Gutenberg.
- Gutenberg generates code that is cleaner and lighter. Therefore, a page built with Gutenberg will load faster than the same page made with some page builder.
The Future of Gutenberg
When Gutenberg launched in December 2018, people had no idea what to expect. Looking at the history of Gutenberg and its evolution, one can only expect great things to come. Gutenberg’s evolution over the years marked it as one of the most advanced editors for WordPress.
Gutenberg was initially launched as a minimum viable product (MVP), but ever since, we’ve witnessed Gutenberg’s evolution into a more mature project. Finally realizing its ultimate objective of providing a unified Full Site Editing experience.
By now, we can see why Gutenberg is the publishing platform of the future. The change to Gutenberg is now inevitable. Soon enough, you will witness the whole web world shift to the all-new Block Editor – Gutenberg.
If we want to progress, it is imperative that we consistently incorporate change into the work we do. There is no reason to restrict ourselves to only the default Classic Editor. If we do, it will be hard to cope with upcoming advancements in web publishing.
Looking into the history of Gutenberg, it is evident that Gutenberg is the way to go. Therefore, make sure to incorporate Gutenberg into your content strategy. After all, it is the future of WordPress and digital content.