POSTED BY: Caitriona Butler

New WordPress on the Block

12th Dec, 2018
Coloured chalk

New WordPress on the Block

On the internet, WordPress is everywhere. Approximately 75 million websites are powered by WordPress which means it runs over 30% of the entire world-wide-web. It can be found everywhere from e-commerce websites to the websites of gourmet restaurants, small business websites to the websites of international corporations. Naturally, this website runs on WordPress.

WordPress owes much of its success to the fact that it is both free and open source. It leverages a robust and vibrant open source development community and is surrounded by a thriving ecosystem of free and paid themes and plugins. The range of available plugins is vast and if you know where to look you can find a solution for almost anything you might wish to implement on your website.

Like any successful tool, the powers behind WordPress know that they need to adapt with the times to stay current. Even hugely popular platforms must evolve, or risk losing market share, which is why WordPress has just dropped a big change in the shape of a much-anticipated major release: WordPress 5.0!

WordPress 5.0 sees a complete reimagining of the text editor – the tool used to compose and update content on a WordPress website. The new editor is called Gutenberg after the inventor of the printing press – an invention that revolutionized the way people wrote. With the Gutenberg Editor, WordPress are hoping to do something similar. They want Gutenberg to modernise the WordPress writing and editing process making it easier and more streamlined than ever before.

WordPress creator Matt Mullenweg describes Gutenberg:

The overall goal is to simplify the first-time user experience of WordPress — for those who are writing, editing, publishing, and designing web pages. The editing experience is intended to give users a better visual representation of what their post or page will look like when they hit publish. As I wrote in my post last year; Users will finally be able to build the sites they see in their imaginations.

The main change that Gutenberg introduces is a new concept of reusable content “blocks” instead of a single giant blob of text. You will be able to compose posts and pages using new rearrangeable block layout options, all powered by Gutenberg’s drag & drop visual editor. It brings the promise of new functionality, enabling developers and designers to create reusable modules “blocks” for design and content.

It’s a big change! And as with any big change there has been some opposition from the people that liked it just the way it was. But happily the majority of the WordPress development community have embraced the new editor and most major plugin and theme developers were primed and ready for Gutenberg’s recent launch. Of course there is the possibility that there will be teething issues with some themes & plugins. We should be especially wary of those that have not been updated recently.

If you are worried about incompatability issues, the good news is that you don’t have to use the Gutenberg editor just yet. You can choose to install the “Classic Editor” plugin that has been developed by core WordPress contributors and that will keep pages using the pre-Gutenberg editor. WordPress have committed to supporting this plugin until 2022, which allows plenty of time until Gutenberg has been thoroughly tested, bugs resolved, and themes and plugins upgraded.

I wouldn’t wait around for too long however. Everything is pointing towards Gutenberg being the first in a series of big changes coming to WordPress over the coming year.

Matt Mullenweg again:

The Editor is just the start. In upcoming phases blocks will become a fundamental part of entire site templates and designs. With blocks, people will be able to edit and manipulate everything on their site without having to understand where WordPress hides everything behind the scenes.

It looks like WordPress is gearing up to enter a new block-centric phase. Exciting times ahead!

Caitriona Butler, Web Developer.
Caitriona can usually be found crafting robust and effective responsive web sites across a range of programming languages & technologies at Neworld, a branding, creative and web agency based in Dublin.