Gutenberg is the name of the new editing experience that is due to be released as part of WordPress 5.0. In New York on Saturday, I gave a talk on the What and Why of Gutenberg, which was well attended and prompted lots of questions from the audience. Here are some of the answers to the questions I heard.
Myth #1. Gutenberg will be released soonIt is important to note that version 4.9 of WordPress is not out yet. Version 5.0 of WordPress is not due to be released until 2018, and the new editing experience is still under constant construction. There is no reason to panic. The team working on Gutenberg is listening carefully to the issues that users, developers, administrators, and designers might encounter during this change. There is a lot of hard work going in to make sure there is an orderly transition into the future of content creation. The Gutenberg team has not yet submitted what is known as a merge proposal to bring Gutenberg into WordPress Core. Even after it is proposed, it could take a long time for WordPress Core to accept it. As an example, it took the REST API more than 12 months to move from initial merge proposal to a release of WordPress. It is not possible to say exactly when it will be released, but it is at least several months away and probably many more. Matt Mullenweg, the leader behind WordPress 5.0, has made it clear “Gutenberg will ship with WordPress 5.0, but the release will come out when Gutenberg is ready, not vice versa.”
Myth #2. You can not turn off the new editing experienceA user interface change this big may well require training and time to plan. To avoid your IT help desk getting flooded with calls, you will still be able to upgrade to WordPress 5.0 yet keep the current editor experience. A plugin, Classic Editor, is already in the plugin directory and does it exactly this. (If you prefer puns, there is also the cleverly named Glutenberg Free plugin.) You may also have spent time extending the current editor with custom toolbar buttons. Within Gutenberg, there is a Classic Text block. The Classic Text block is essentially the current editor. Any previous customizations such as custom buttons or custom views will show up in this block. Posts created in the pre-Gutenberg era should load into the Classic Text block with no problems. Using the Classic Editor plugin or the Classic Text block will give you time to train your users and transition your customizations to the new editing experience.
Myth #3. No support for meta boxesMeta boxes are a feature of WordPress that enables information about your content (known as metadata) to be entered. For example, the Yoast SEO plugin uses meta boxes to let users enter keywords associated with a blog post, among many other SEO-related activities. Meta boxes are an essential part of WordPress and support for meta boxes has always been planned. It is finally here! It has been merged in and is available in version 1.5 of Gutenberg released on Tuesday, October 24. The current implementation has an area below the editor called “Extended Settings,” and this is where you will find your meta boxes. Here is an example of Yoast SEO settings loaded in this Extended Settings area of Gutenberg version 1.5:
Myth #4. No support for custom post typesIn WordPress, custom post types enable developers to build specific content entry forms for different types of content. The concept has been essential for WordPress to evolve from a blogging platform to a full content management system. An example: on the team page of the Ephox website we use a custom “Team Member” post type with a profile image, name, and title to create a listing of our employees. Custom post types are an important feature of WordPress and version 5.0 will, of course, support it. The plan is to allow custom post types to specify the blocks they require, as well as define a default block for the post type. They will continue to be an important in WordPress 5.0 and beyond. Custom post types will also be able to hide much of the new editing experience. Complicated edit screens (such as WooCommerce), will most likely do this for some time as they transition to using blocks.
Myth #5. Shortcodes will not workShortcodes enable you to insert dynamic content into WordPress content and will continue to work. As mysterious as they are to many new users, they are a fundamental part of WordPress today and are not going away anytime soon. Shortcodes will continue to work as they do now, but according to the FAQ:
We see the block as an evolution of the shortcode. Instead of having to type out code, you can use the universal inserter tray to pick a block and get a richer interface for both configuring the block and previewing it. We would recommend people eventually upgrade their shortcodes to be blocks.In other words, blocks are an easier, more visual way to accomplish what shortcodes have previously.