Gutenberg, the new WordPress content editor, is coming, and it promises an entirely new way to create and organize content on your WordPress site. Planned to launch with WordPress 5.0, Gutenberg is based on a system of block templates – movable containers for editing everything from text to images and multimedia. And while the Gutenberg project comes with a lengthy list of premade block templates designed to handle most basic content creation tasks, users can also customize these blocks or add specially developed custom blocks for their own unique needs. The WordPress editor Gutenberg project is creating a platform that allows you to use a customized layout for the text, images, and components of a blog post.
Gutenberg is a New Kind of Content Editor
Gutenberg is a page builder, a WYSIWYG content editor that relies heavily on editing and formatting visual elements. This represents a major change to the familiar WordPress rich text editor that allows a user to insert any kind of content, from all kinds of sources, into a simple content box that can contain both text and a variety of multimedia and image features. However, even though this open editor comes with an extensive set of editing tools and options for inserting and adjusting images in both HTML and visual modes, it doesn’t offer much flexibility for controlling the appearance of a page or post.
Gutenberg promises to change all of that. Named for Johannes Gutenberg, the inventor of the printing press, this new WordPress editor is based on a system of blocks, self-contained elements that can be selected from a menu of preset block types or installed as custom block plugins. To create a media-rich post or page in WordPress, users simply choose the blocks they need, size them as they wish, and add the elements that they want to appear on the page. Gutenberg’s developers say this makes it easy for users of all skill levels, from beginners to experienced developers, to design visually appealing, media-rich WordPress pages and posts without having to adjust for different file types and interfaces.
Gutenberg has been available for a while as a plugin for interested users to install alongside the standard text editor, but it will be a part of the WordPress core when WordPress 5.0 rolls out, sometime in late 2018.
What Are Gutenberg Blocks?
In Gutenberg, every page or post is made up of a collection of individual blocks, which can then be arranged as a user wishes and filled with the relevant kind of content. Block presets are accessible from the Add Block menu in the Gutenberg dashboard, and users can choose from blocks for things like titles, text, dividers, headers or video in order to construct a page or post. Blocks can be moved or resized as needed to achieve the look and layout a user wants, which offers far more flexibility and control over the look and feel of the content than the standard editor does.
Selecting a particular block opens all the tools that apply to the block so that it can be edited as needed. For example, selecting a header or paragraph block opens an array of editing tools similar to those on the standard content editor, and choosing an image block brings up tools needed for resizing and positioning visual content from either an external source or the site’s media library.
Blocks make it easy for users to actually see the layout of a particular piece of content before it is published, and to move and edit elements as often as needed to get the right look. Gutenberg also includes some templates and allows users to create and save their own, which can help to streamline the content creation process. The Gutenberg block library is extensive, but in some situations, it might not have the kind of block a user needs. Like premium or free WordPress themes and plugins, custom blocks can be purchased from third-party developers who produce specialized WordPress assets, or they can be created by users with coding skills.
Working With Custom Blocks in Gutenberg
Gutenberg blocks can fill many functions that are usually provided by WordPress plugins, such as adding galleries, slideshows, and other specialized elements that aren’t part of the WordPress core framework. Custom blocks for specific functionalities are generally developed as plugins, too, since they act as containers for content, not simply as modifications to a theme’s appearance. In this way, they remain independent of updates or changes that affect the theme itself. While there are many great WordPress plugins available, the Gutenberg project offers a different approach to the editing process of a blog post.
Custom blocks can add even more flexibility and niche-specific functionality to a WordPress site’s pages and posts, and combined with preset blocks from the block library, they can streamline the content creation process considerably. With custom blocks for a website’s specific needs, users can create unique, media-rich content in minutes, with no coding required.
Custom blocks for Gutenberg can be purchased from theme developers and marketplaces worldwide. Because Gutenberg was created by a team of WordPress developers, it’s free and open source like WordPress itself, so anyone is free to create assets for it. Custom blocks can be downloaded and installed like other plugin options. Once installed, they appear in the Gutenberg block library for use like other blocks.
Building Custom Blocks for Gutenberg
WordPress users with coding and web development experience can also create their own custom blocks, or modify existing blocks for added functionality. Custom blocks generally function like plugins, so users with experience building plugins can create them from scratch for specific purposes – but a number of block-building tools are also available to streamline the process and make it easier to create and register a custom block for use by the entire WordPress community. These block generating toolkits, such as create-guten-block, can be deployed on a test site and configured to meet user specifications, then installed on a WordPress site.
Gutenberg is a “drag and drop” page building tool that can make content creation easier and faster for both new and experienced WordPress users. For nervous new adopters, WordPress says it will continue to make the “classic” content editor available alongside the Gutenberg block editor as users adjust to the new tool, but with an extensive library of preset blocks and the option to add custom blocks for all kinds of specific functions, Gutenberg will change the way users think.