Let’s face it. Only the seriously nerdy look forward to product updates, and WordPress’ 5.0 (WP) upgrade represents a substantial change to the editor, code-named Gutenberg. According to the WP marketing people, Gutenberg’s “a bold leap forward.” That’s marketing speak for a learning curve of WordPress’ block-based editor.
What to expect from WordPress 5.0
The biggest change for most of us is the block-based editor. Blocks are content elements that you add to the edit screen to create content layouts. Each item you add to your post or page is a block. There are blocks for all common content elements and more can be added by WordPressplugins. There are blocks for paragraphs, images, videos, galleries, audio, lists, etc.
Previously if you wanted to add a table in your content, you needed a separate table plugin. With Gutenberg, you can simply add a table block, select your columns and rows, and start adding content.
- Each block comes with its own toolbar that appears on top of the block. Each block can also have its own block settings, which show up to the right of the edit screen.
- You can move blocks up and downvia drag and drop.
- One more thing that’s pretty cool: Blocks can be saved and reused individually—if you’re blogging and insert a call to action, for instance, you can save this and auto-insert it into your next blogpost.
You may already be using block-based editor technology
HTML email applications are using blocks, making it easy for those with little-no experience to easily drag and drop elements into place to create newsletters. I just used MailerLite, a MailChimp product, and it’s based on drag-and-drop block components.
WordPress owns the market on websites for small-medium-sized businesses as well as for individuals. Its power has always been ease of use and the gazillion plugins that dramatically expanded its functionality—a whopping 60,000 unique plugins in the WordPress plugin directory.
Gutenberg: A better visual representation of what your page will look like
Squarespace and Wix have become very popular website platforms, and they’re eating into WordPress’ market share. WordPress believes that with Gutenberg: “The editing experience will give users a better visual representation of what their post or page will look like when they hit publish.” Clearly, by improving WordPress’ site-building functionality, the WP team is determined to hold onto their market share.
If you prefer not to use the Gutenberg Editor, you can keep the classic editor by installing the official Classic Editor plugin. However, that’s not a great idea. There will be software upgrades, and you’ll be missing out on functionality and may run into compatibility problems.
Gutenberg affects themes and plugins, too
Aside from the editing experience, look for the emergence of Gutenberg-friendly themes, which will be designed to take advantage the editor’s new features. A few themes have already been released, such as Atomic Blocks and the new default theme, Twenty Nineteen that are Gutenberg-first focus.