A year with Gutenberg: WordPress’ new editor has proved its worth

One year ago, WordPress 5.0 landed, and with it, a new default editing experience, made possible by the Gutenberg project.

The Gutenberg project originated as plugin backed by the core development team that aimed to offer a modern replacement post editor for the world’s most popular content management system.

Last year, Gutenberg was merged into core for the final WP release of 2018… a move that attracted significant opposition and criticism within the community of people that use and work with WordPress.

Anyone not wanting to switch to Gutenberg upon installing WordPress 5.0 was given the option of retaining the classic editor with a plugin appropriately named Classic Editor. And many people took advantage. The Classic Editor plugin has over five million installations, according to the statistics maintained by the WordPress.org plugin directory.

As a longtime WordPress beta tester, I had the opportunity to try out Gutenberg long before it was ever merged into core.

And while Gutenberg was certainly rather rough around the edges in its earliest incarnations, it has matured beautifully into a modern post editor that offers an empowering writing experience.

One year after its incorporation into core, my assessment of Gutenberg is overwhelmingly positive. It has proved its worth.

What makes Gutenberg superior to the Classic Editor?

Several things.

  • Gutenberg is clean. The editing interface is simple and elegant, encouraging distraction-free writing.
  • Gutenberg is logical. Content is organized into blocks, which can be paragraphs of text, images, videos, embeds, or anything else.
  • Gutenberg is fast. Really fast! It loads quickly and it publishes content faster than the classic editor. This could be my favorite attribute.
  • Gutenberg is always improving. The bugs and flaws that existed at the outset are gone, and the editor keeps getting better.

I especially love the pre-publish checks that Gutenberg runs. This functionality is not available with the Classic Editor except through a plugin.

I have used both Gutenberg and the Classic Editor on different sites since WordPress 5.0 was released. In each of the sites I’ve installed since last December, I’ve chosen to keep Gutenberg as the default editor, rather than installing the Classic Editor. And I haven’t regretted that choice.

Once you get used to Gutenberg, you start to appreciate what it can do for you. Gutenberg really is more intuitive than it might appear at first glance. If you’re used to the Classic Editor, then you probably have a sort of mental equivalent of muscle memory that may hinder your Gutenberg experience at first. But once you get past that and start mastering Gutenberg properly, you may well have different feelings about it.

In my view, the best way to get acclimated to Gutenberg is to set up a brand new WordPress website for fun or for testing purposes. Make a site that is dedicated to an activity or hobby that you enjoy.

For example: If you love cooking, then why not set up a WordPress site that hosts your favorite recipes and food preparation tips?

If you love knitting, why not create a blog or personal site about knitting?

If you enjoy reading, how about setting up a site where you can share your favorite books and news articles you’ve recently read?

What I’ve found is that getting to know Gutenberg on a brand new WordPress site is the best way to develop good feelings for it. A brand new post editor doesn’t feel out of place in a brand new website, you see.

There’s nothing wrong with continuing to use Classic Editor on your existing sites, especially if you use plugins that aren’t yet compatible with Gutenberg (although most major plugins in the WordPress ecosystem now get along just fine with Gutenberg). But if you have not tried Gutenberg at all, or have concluded it’s no good based on the many negative reviews that have been published about it, then you’re missing out.

My advice is to make up your own mind. Gutenberg has its legions of critics, that’s for sure, and many of the concerns they raised when the editor was in its intensive development phase were wholly justified.

But the Gutenberg of December 2019 is also much more polished than the Gutenberg of December 2018 or July 2018 or earlier. Don’t let the views of other people prevent you from trying Gutenberg for yourself and reaching your own conclusion based on your own experience.

I look forward to seeing Gutenberg reach higher heights in 2020.

This post was authored in Gutenberg, WordPress’ next-generation post editor, offering a smooth and pleasant writing experience. To take Gutenberg for a test drive yourself, simply install a new WordPress site and start drafting and publishing content. Once you’ve mastered it and decided it’s for you, you can deploy it on older WordPress sites by disabling the Classic Editor plugin.

Written by Andrew