Pete—
Burgess

Playing with Blocks

December 6, 2018

So today is a big day for those of us who spend time in WordPress land. WordPress 5 is out and along with it a new editing experience called Gutenberg.

With the Gutenberg content editor, users are now able to update and layout their content using “blocks”. Out of the box you can insert a block for various content elements; headings, paragraphs, images, media embeds, etc. Not only can you add blocks, you can also reorder and/or reposition blocks. This is true WYSIWYG and probably the most powerful enhancement to WordPress in years.

My take is that Gutenberg is WordPress (specifically WordPress.com) playing catch up to services like Squarespace. Squarespace is great and does a wonderful job empowering “non-techie” users to make beautiful websites. With Gutenberg and its blocks, WordPress can now do the same. This is exciting stuff for users but also for developers building with WordPress.org. With Gutenberg, developers can continue to build on the flexible WordPress ecosystem while providing an easy to use interface for users. There is a new handbook that explains this in detail but developers and designers can take advantage of blocks as well, controlling how blocks are displayed or making your own blocks for users to use.

As exciting as this is, it’s going to take some time getting used to. Fortunately, the team at WordPress understands (at least from my “outside looking in” vantage point). So the Classic editor will still be available as a plugin until 2021. Why use a plugin instead of just waiting to update? Well, version 5 has other enhancements as well. I am not going to run down through all of those enhancements. You can check them out for yourself on the WordPress website but just the security updates alone should make you consider updating as soon as you can. That being said, if you don’t already have one, get yourself a staging environment and test, test, test before you push that update button.

For me, this is wonderful timing. I have a fresh new site to build with WordPress 5 on the backend. Seriously, this is only post number two so I pushed the button and updated. I’ve also activated the new beautiful Twenty Nineteen default theme temporarily to get familiar with how the new editor works. This is exciting. I mean, who doesn’t get excited about playing with blocks?