If your website is built on the WordPress platform then the next release of the software – number 5.0, named Gutenberg – is something you need to be aware of. This version offers some real benefits, but also potential problems.
A new WordPress release is quite common, and depending on security settings, minor updates can happen almost without the website owner realising. Every year or two though, a major release is scheduled, and Gutenberg falls into that category. Because of the nature of the update though, WordPress developers (like us), have been given regular previews in order to prepare for the release.
What’s all the fuss about?
With the release of Gutenberg, the team behind WordPress have decided to update the editor that sits at the heart of the WordPress CMS. The current editor (based on the TinyMCE plugin) is functional, but has fallen behind what other newer CMS systems offer. The ‘new kids on the block’ of the CMS world such as SquareSpace, Wix and Craft, offer a much sleeker editing experience. To be able to maintain its position as the leading platform, WordPress needs to completely overhaul it’s writing and layout capabilities.
Block by block
A major part of the new editor is the ability to set the layout of the page using ‘blocks’. These are preset types of content, such as Text, Image and Media. Those familiar with plugins such as SiteOrigin will find a certain familiarity with how these work. On first use the ability to drag and drop content areas, to set layout structures and types, is wonderfully smooth.
The editor itself is clean and lean, and again feels so much more modern compared to the current setup. The animation below shows how easy it is to add text over an existing image.
All good then?
Up to a point. As much as we love the new editor and the way it uses the block system, there are some concerns. For a fresh install on a new website we found Gutenberg to run smoothly and quickly. But when integrated with a website that’s been around for a few years, some cracks did start to appear. A mature WordPress site inevitably has built up quite a variety of plugins. We found that care needed to be taken in order for problems not to occur. Our main issue seemed to be those plugins, such as Advanced Custom Fields, and how they incorporated existing content with the new editor. On a couple of occasions some content was inaccessible in the admin area, something many users would find unusable.
We liked Gutenberg and it’s crisp efficiency. But care does need to be taken when installing the update. It may be that plugin developers ensure that their plugins will seamlessly work with Gutenberg, and the well-known ones mentioned above probably will. Let’s hope so!
If you have a WordPress website and would like advice or help on maintenance, we’re always happy to chat. Just give us a call on 07449 045955 or use the email form on our contact page.