What Does Gutenberg Mean for Developers?

Gutenberg, the first new content editor for WordPress in over a decade, is ready to roll out sometime in mid or late 2018 with the release of WordPress 5.0, and its arrival is already being met with nearly equal parts of anticipation and dread among WordPress developers and designers.

Gutenberg promises to make it easier than ever to create dynamic, rich content in posts and pages with its system of visually based content blocks. But, although Gutenberg makes the tools of page building available to everyone, this new content creation system may also open new doors for WordPress professionals willing to work with, not against, its new features and functions.

Gutenberg Changes the Content Creation Game

Currently, the default WordPress content editor runs on a version of TinyMCE, a versatile rich text editor that includes both Visual and Text modes. It’s a simple content window that allows users to input text and insert images. For other kinds of tasks, such as inserting an image gallery or embedding multimedia content, users must typically turn to plugins or themes designed for specific functions such as a landing page or e-commerce site. Integrating and managing all these different elements can be difficult. But a page builder can simplify the process—and Gutenberg is a robust and efficient page builder.

Page builders can create a dynamic post or page that integrates all these functions, and they make it easy to set up a website without any coding or site design experience. Until Gutenberg, page building plugins could be added to a WordPress site alongside the default editor, offering users the option of drag and drop page design as well as the flexibility of the core editor. But Gutenberg brings page design functionality to the editor itself with its system of movable, editable blocks that can contain everything from text to embedded media. And, once WordPress 5.0 rolls out, Gutenberg will be the default editor for the WordPress core.

Gutenberg is a system that, as its developers at WordPress.org point out, revolutionizes WordPress content creation by making it possible for even a beginner with no site design experience to create rich, visually appealing pages and posts in minutes. But where does that leave seasoned developers and designers who have worked hard to acquire the specialized skills needed to build custom sites from scratch—or to create the many third-party WordPress themes and plugins that extend the functionality of WordPress sites?

Gutenberg Offers Users New Options

Page builders of all kinds offer a do it yourself solution to creating a website. That accounts for much of the appeal of “drag and drop,” site design options like Wix and SquareSpace. Now, Gutenberg brings a page builder system to the basic WordPress framework, too—and that can appeal to a wider group of new users who might otherwise not feel comfortable with the DIY approach to creating a WordPress site.

But just because users can create appealing posts and pages on their own doesn’t mean that they will or that they should. Developers who can work with the features and functions of Gutenberg will still be in demand for clients who don’t want to take on the job of building pages at all—and for helping DIYers solve problems with the pages they’ve created on their own.

Gutenberg Can Make Site Development More Efficient

Some developers view building sites with page builders rather than custom coding as a shortcut that’s less professional than custom coding from scratch. But using Gutenberg’s block structure for site design can be an efficient way to quickly develop a site that meets a client’s expectations.

Working with Gutenberg’s tools can streamline development tasks in other ways, too. Within Gutenberg, it’s possible to make custom adjustments to existing blocks in order to fine-tune the look and performance of an existing WordPress site. And it might also be necessary to make some adjustments to site’s core code to ensure that all its components are working well with Gutenberg.

Gutenberg Creates Design Opportunities

As the new default WordPress editor, Gutenberg is a part of the WordPress core, not simply an added option. And like other parts of WordPress, Gutenberg can also be modified and expanded by any member of the WordPress community. That opens new opportunities for designing custom blocks to meet specific needs or for modifying existing blocks to add custom functionality.

Some WordPress experts predict that in the same way that many third-party developers are constantly creating new WordPress themes and plugins, designers may find a new niche for themselves in creating Gutenberg blocks that can be sold and managed like any other WordPress asset. Likewise, many WordPress professionals offer tutorials and courses on using WordPress for non-designers and beginning users. Now, some may opt to offer training in using Gutenberg as well.

Gutenberg’s developers say that this new editor will forever change the way people think about and use WordPress. By making it easier than ever for even beginners with no coding experience to create striking webpages for sites of all kinds, Gutenberg advances the original goal of WordPress: to democratize online publishing. But the advent of Gutenberg also opens new doors for experienced WordPress users and development professionals willing to think outside the coding box and apply their skills in innovative ways.

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