Announcing a new way of authoring posts: Gutenberg

If you’ve logged into lately, to edit your blog, you may have noticed a new announcement from the WordPress team about a new feature called ‘Gutenberg’.

This is a screenshot of the message inviting blog authors to try the new 'Gutenberg' editor.

What is ‘Gutenberg’ all about?

‘Gutenberg’ is the name of the new visual editor for WordPress posts and pages.

The ‘Classic’ WordPress post editor – the one we have been using to create posts in WordPress for many years – is built around a single text box. This text box editor is similar to those found in word processing software, enabling the author to enter text, embed images, links and multimedia. It’s easy to author a basic text-based post, but more difficult to customize the look and structure if you aren’t familiar with HTML (the code used to build web pages).

This is a screenshot of the Classic WordPress post editor.
Fig. 1 The Classic WordPress post editor.

The new ‘Gutenberg’ post editor works a bit differently, and treats different pieces of your post as separate content ‘blocks’. There are blocks dedicated to creating headings, inserting images, bulleted lists – and more block types will be designed to help you author pages that are visually interesting and more accessible.

Fig. 2 (video) The new Gutenberg, block-based, post editor.

This represents a bit of a learning curve for many of us, but can make it possible for those of us who don’t know HTML to make creative posts that look great.

Please keep in mind that this is a very new tool, and there are some features yet to evolve fully, and some bugs to be worked out.

Try Gutenberg for yourself has set up a site that allows you to actually TRY some of the Gutenberg features, without actually installing it on your blog site. This is a great way to get a sense of how Gutenberg works, and gain a better understanding of ‘blocks’.

  • Click the link to go to the test site.
  • Try to edit the title, subtitle or the contents of any of the blocks on the page.
  • Click the ‘+’ icon to add a new block. This icon can be found in the top-left corner of the page, and surrounding the existing blocks on the page.

How does this impact my blog?

Right now, you have the choice to begin using ‘Gutenberg’ by enabling a plugin. This will switch the main post editor on your blog from ‘Classic’ to ‘Gutenberg’. You can switch back at any time, or choose to edit any of your posts in ‘Classic’ mode if you wish.

We recommend only enabling the Gutenberg plugin on your existing blog if you have the time to review it carefully, and ensure it doesn’t interfere with the existing content on your blog. Feel free to request a separate blog that you can use purposely for testing Gutenberg.

Later this year, however, WordPress will release version 5.0, which will have the Gutenberg editor as the default.

The team is currently investigating options that will allow us to keep both the Gutenberg and Classic editors. More information will be provided as we get closer to that time.

Helpful resources

I will try to post new tutorials and resources as I find them. Because the tool keeps changing, some of the how-to pages are already outdated (but may still be of use).