Gutenberg is coming. Are you ready for a more modern website editor? A major update to WordPress is just around the corner — version 5.0! Along with it, WordPress watchers are expecting to see the first public release of a newly reimagined pages/posts editor, which developers are calling “Gutenberg.” What should we be doing to get ready for Gutenberg?

You’ve probably already seen this announcement in your WP Dashboard:

Ready for Gutenberg? Gutenberg Is Coming

What’s Different in Gutenberg Editor?

The fundamental new concept in web page editing with Gutenberg is Blocks.” Think of Blocks are chunks of content. You build a page by assembling a collection of Blocks. In the Gutenberg editor, every paragraph of text is a block. You can click and drag blocks to arrange them. Images are blocks. Embedded media such as audio and video are blocks. Design elements such as rule lines, lists, subheads, and quotations — these are all Blocks in Gutenberg.

The Block model implies there will be many different kinds of Blocks besides the chunks of content described above. One local WordPress developer here in Albuquerque, 11Online, has been preparing for the arrival of Gutenberg by inventing new kinds of Blocks — animated graphical pie charts, line charts, bar charts, and statistics counters, for starters. You can check out these first “premium blocks to build beautiful WordPress pages and posts” at Block Party, an ecommerce site for purchasing commercial Blocks.

Once Gutenberg is released in the WordPress core, we can expect there will be an explosion of new Block development. It seems likely there will be a new WordPress repository for free Blocks, similar to the Plugins repository. It also seems likely that some Plugins will be re-written as Blocks, so their functionality can easily be dropped into any page or post in the Gutenberg editor.

What is less certain is how Gutenberg will evolve, once it becomes available in public release. Many WordPress developers are anticipating a full-featured page layout editor, with table-like elements such as rows & columns. And sections — Blocks within Blocks. Also fine-grained style controls such as padding, margins, line-height, before/after spacing, and font selection. It remains to be seen whether these features will appear in the Gutenberg road map as the roll-out unfolds over the next several months.

When Will Gutenberg Arrive?

The roll-out schedule has already begun, starting with the Gutenberg plugin that is now available in the free WordPress Plugin repository. The first public beta WordPress v5.0 is scheduled for release soon — on October 19th, 2018. The general public release is scheduled for November 19th, 2018. That has some developers and webmasters — me included — saying “Yikes!” because this release date hits just as ecommerce sites are ramping up to their peak business cycle during the gifting/holiday season from Thanksgiving through Christmas.

The WordPress developer team is allowing flexibility in this schedule, and have already said that if they need more time to get it right, a realease on January 9th – 22nd, 2019 is possible.

Trying Out Gutenberg

Your webmaster has been reading up on it. I’ve attended presentations by local WordPress developers, and checked out the current options for installing pre-release “beta” versions of Gutenberg. There are two ways to begin exploring and getting some hands-on experience:

  1. Install Gutenberg plugin
  2. Install a beta WordPress release which includes the Gutenberg editor.

BEWARE! Neither of these options are recommended for use on a LIVE production WordPress site. If you want to get an up-close in-person experience with Gutenberg, you can install and activate the plugin on your Oakley Studio Staging website. Then try out some test posts with it there. This plugin adds all the current functionality of Gutenberg, in a plugin that can be deactivated and removed when the final release comes in WP v5.0.

Are You Ready for Gutenberg?

In order to prepare, here’s more helpful commentary on Gutenberg, from Elegant Themes blog:

We’ve known for months that Gutenberg is coming. Some were expecting to see it by end of this summer. That time is now passing. With little to do but wait, you are now informed. So, say with me, “Yes, I’m ready for Gutenberg!”