Support » Plugin: Gutenberg » Worthwhile (possibly non-) Canadian Initiative

  • While I’ve been building sites from CMS-like tools since the early 2000s I’ve recently started building sites with a page builder. (One that doesn’t leave millions of $^!#^ shortcodes in the content, though now that I’ve made the conceptual shift I probably would if I had no other choice.)

    My assessment of Gutenberg comes from that perspective. And so I both really love the idea and… I’ll just say I’m optimistic that someday Gutenberg will be just as seamless and useful.

    It’s worth pointing out that tools like page builders, not to mention competitors such as SquareSpace, Wix, Medium, and even old-school HTML builders like Apple’s iPage and GoDaddy’s “site builder” tools are all so popular because they let non-developers do things that really ought to be in WordPress core. Like, you know, columns, but also all the other nifty modules you get with even the oldest old-school page builders!

    The current release doesn’t yet do all the nifty things I saw in a demo of what I’m guessing was a nightly “developer” build. But it was still easy enough to use. Creating a blog post was about as easy as the old way. Except that the contextual controls in the sidebar are a lot easier. And except that the composed page looks more like the published end result. And except that a lot of the controls like Publish are more intuitively laid out.

    Having built or rebuilt close to 200 sites I’m pretty confident I could build a pretty nice site even if I had to go back to WordPress 2.x. (It would take longer, but I could do it.) So as a developer/designer ease of use isn’t my highest priority for clients.

    What IS my highest priority for clients is how easy is training? Teaching someone how to use WordPress 2.x was… time consuming! Teaching the basics of how to work with a site built with, say, Beaver Builder now takes an average of 30 minutes. Over the phone. I don’t anticipate training a user to work with a Gutenberg site will take any longer.

    My biggest concern as a developer has been that the Gutenberg backend (database) doesn’t seem to be as modern as the front end. As I understand it all the nifty addressable blocks will be left in blobs (technically longtext) in the database, meaning that reusing them as independent entities will be messy and processor intensive.

    That said, the way all the current page builders handle things is EQUALLY messy… and yet more, and more, and more people are using great page builders like Beaver Builder or Elementor, or less back-end elegant ones like Divi, Aveda, and Visual Composer. So… even if nothing else is done Gutenberg will be no worse than the emerging status quo page builders are leaving us with. And the developers of Gutenberg have a roadmap and the keys to the WordPress internals.

    The big concerns developers have about metaboxes, custom fields, and accessibility are very real, legitimate concerns. They really do have to be dealt with if the Grand Vision of Gutenberg Everywhere is going to work.

    Bottom line: it’s a good thing the current version is clearly marked as “do not use in production” because it’s… not even a little bit ready yet. But it shows a lot of promise. I really appreciate the effort to turn WordPress into a blocks-based rather than template-based system. Hope they succeed. I’d much rather drop all the current workarounds (page builders, ACF) and have all this in core, where plugin (and block!) developers can start extending it.

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  • Plugin Author Tammie Lister

    (@karmatosed)

    Thanks for leaving a review and seeing the promise of Gutenberg. It really is a foundation but also a work in progress. Each review (like yours), helps make this better and gets the product further along the path.

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