WordPress 5 With Gutenberg Releases Thursday 6th December 2018

WordPressAfter pushing back the release date of WordPress 5 from 27th November to an unannounced date, the new release date has, early hours of today, been announced as Thursday 6th December 2018.

This is a very soon date which gives people little time to plan.

From feedback on the announcement page, it appears the majority think the date is driven by the WordCamp US conference. An event should never be the driver for software release; the driver should be that the software is ready and Gutenberg appears not to be ready.

You can edit your wp-config file to prevent an upgrade (if you host your own site) or can install the Classic Editor to get the old functionality back.

Click to show/hide the Gutenberg for WordPress Series Index

Is Gutenberg for WordPress Accessible?

GutenbergUnfortunately, the short answer is, no, Gutenberg is not really accessible.

This is my understanding from the Report on the accessibility status of Gutenberg post on wordpress.org.

For a new method of editing, it seems quite shocking that accessibility, in this day and age, has not been a major consideration from the start. Showing how dire the situation is, Rian Rietveld, the accessibility team lead, has resigned.

The only real recommendation is to revert back to the current standard experience, by installing the Classic Editor, but this has been announced as only supported until 31stDecember 2021. After this the Classic Editor will no longer be supported.

Click to show/hide the Gutenberg for WordPress Series Index

What Happens To My Existing Posts When I Upgrade Gutenberg for WordPress?

GutenbergUpgrading to Gutenberg is not necessarily a choice that users of WordPress will make for themselves. If you’re hosted on WordPress.com or deployed your site via a web host, you will have little to zero say about when you upgrade.

Your existing posts will be editable via Gutenberg, and will show with the entire post in a single block; be very cautious about allowing Gutenberg to migrate them to blocks, as in my testing I have found this usually corrupts the post (this may be due to how I’ve created my posts, but the conversion appears to hate any styling.

You can revert to the standard experience, by installing the Classic Editor, but any migrated posts will remain changed. The Classic Editor will remain available via a plugin, but it has already been announced that it will only be supported until 31stDecember 2021. After this the Classic Editor will no longer be supported.

Click to show/hide the Gutenberg for WordPress Series Index

What Are Gutenberg for WordPress Blocks?

GutenbergIn the last post, I mentioned blocks a fair bit, but maybe didn’t explain blocks well enough. WordPress has an FAQ which describes blocks:

What are “blocks” and why are we using them? The current WordPress editor is an open text window—it’s always been a wonderful blank canvas for writing, but when it comes to building posts and pages with images, multimedia, embedded content from social media, polls, and other elements, it required a mix of different approaches that were not always intuitive:

  • Media library/HTML for images, multimedia and approved files.
  • Pasted links for embeds.
  • Shortcodes for specialized assets from plugins.
  • Featured images for the image at the top of a post or page.
  • Excerpts for subheadings.
  • Widgets for content on the side of a page.
  • As we thought about these uses and how to make them obvious and consistent, we began to embrace the concept of “blocks.” All of the above items could be blocks: easy to search and understand, and easy to dynamically shift around the page. The block concept is very powerful, and if designed thoughtfully, can offer an outstanding editing and publishing experience.

Basically, every section of a post is a block; headings, paragraphs, images, lists, galleries are all separate blocks. WordPress also recommend that all meta field and shortcodes are upgraded to blocks (this last is more one for plugin developers).

Unfortunately, blocks, unlike current standard plugins, are not created with PHP, but Javascript and a framework such as React JS (which Gutenberg itself uses).

This massively decreases the accessibility of creating extensions for WordPress as PHP is easier to learn than Javascript. Whether you think this is a good or bad thing depends on your view of the world. People often deride PHP, but it has meant a proliferation of plugins available so almost any requirements you might have can be met by an existing plugin. Unfortunately, not all of these plugins are high quality, so some care must be taken with the plugins used.

The bar has been raised for accessibility in that Javascript is harder to learn than PHP, so some of the poorer developers may drop out, but it also means that the slightly better developers will be writing bad Javascript blocks, so the overall quality may not change at all.

What you’re likely to have is less plugins providing blocks.

Click to show/hide the Gutenberg for WordPress Series Index

What is Gutenberg (for WordPress)?

GutenbergDo you use WordPress? Are you Gutenberg ready? Do you know what Gutenberg is?

For many people who would answer yes to the first question, I think there are probably many who would answer the second question I pose above, by asking (my third question) “what is Gutenberg?”

I’ve been aware of Gutenberg for quite a while now, as I am a hobbyist WordPress plugin developer, but it has been down my list of things to deal with.

Unfortunately, while I am still not ready due to other things I need to deal with, it’s time for decisions to be made. “Why?”, you ask; because Gutenberg is almost here.

Ok, time for a definition:

Gutenberg is a take on a new editor for WordPress. It is named after Johannes Gutenberg, who invented a printing press with movable type more than 500 years ago. The current visual editor requires a lot of us to utilize shortcodes and HTML to make things work. Their goal is to make this easier, especially for those just starting with WordPress. – Kinsta.com

This definition is a fairly common one that you will see; stating that Gutenberg is a new editor.

But, this isn’t actually accurate. Gutenberg as an editor, is phase one of the implementation of Gutenberg in WordPress. Introduced initially as a plugin, the description of the plugin starts with this:

Gutenberg is more than an editor. While the editor is the focus right now, the project will ultimately impact the entire publishing experience including customization (the next focus area). – Gutenberg Plugin

When WordPress 5.0 rolls out, it has just hit Release Candidate status, but the release date for the final is now not known, Gutenberg will become the default editor as it is rolled into the core of WordPress and ceases to be a plugin. Gone will be the old editor, unless you choose to install the Classic Editor plugin. This will only buy you a certain amount of time though, as that plugin is only officially supported up to the end of 2021. However, in the three years until then, later phases of Gutenberg will be created and integrated into the core of WordPress which will further change the experience.

And as the statement above shows, it will impact on every aspect of the publishing experience including customisation.

My big issue with Gutenberg (actually I have several), is that it mixes content with structure. In a later post, I’ll expand further on this. I’ll also do some other posts around Gutenberg including on blocks (going to be important) and the actual experience.

Click to show/hide the Gutenberg for WordPress Series Index

Gutenberg for WordPress: Series Index

GutenbergWith Gutenberg soon arriving in WordPress, I’m going to be doing a little writing around what it is, what it means and what the future might hold.

This post is the series index, which will automatically update as each post in the series goes live.

What is Gutenberg (for WordPress)?
How Does Gutenberg for WordPress Work?
What Are Gutenberg for WordPress Blocks?
What Happens To My Existing Posts When I Upgrade Gutenberg for WordPress?
Is Gutenberg for WordPress Accessible?
WordPress 5 With Gutenberg Releases Thursday 6th December 2018
Stop WordPress Updating to Version 5
What If Gutenberg for WordPress Doesn't Work For Me?
Before Upgrading to WordPress 5 And Gutenberg
ClassicPress: An Alternative to WordPress is Ready for Live Sites

WordPress and the Problem With Gutenberg

WordPressI’ve already posted about the problems I’ve encountered testing the Gutenberg Editor, which basically makes it unusable to me.

However, the problems go far beyond this as you can install the Classic Editor to retain the current functionality. The problem for the future, is that Gutenberg is not intended to simply be an editor, but a fundamentally new paradigm for site building with WordPress.

This appears to be a reaction from Automattic (the company behind WordPress.com and which controls WordPress.org) to the progress of Wix and Squarespace.

Gutenberg is intended to become WordPress’s answer to competition by these site builders, but, very unfortunately, this development seems to be driven by commercial pressures on Automattic for WordPress.com and without considering the needs of the wider WordPress community.

I am at the starting point of considering replacements for WordPress (on which I host several sites) as Gutenberg is unusable in current form and, from all appearances, Automattic is all in and will continue to rush forward with Gutenberg (there has been a number of, ignored, requests to delay the implementation of Gutenberg phase 1 in WordPress 5).

There is a very good, and long, write-up of the details and potential impact of Gutenberg on Delicious Brains.

From a personal point of view, I have two issues:

  1. I can no longer write posts the way I do, and from what I’ve seen so far, can’t post formatted code which works using Gutenberg. This means I can only use WordPress for as long as the Classic Editor is supported; which from the announcement will be until 2021 at the latest.
  2. I’ve added a lot of functionality to my sites by writing Plugins for WordPress (although not all of the plugins I rely upon have been released publicly); from my reading up on Gutenberg, much of the functionality I rely on in plugins for WordPress cannot be replicated easily in Gutenberg blocks and, if they can, will rely on me learning more development languages which I don’t have time for as things stand.

I have an issue to resolve with my web host in the next few days after which I’ll start taking a look at some alternatives. ClassicPress is a key one that I’ll be taking a look at, as it is a fork of WordPress 4.9 aimed at businesses and recently reached Beta release.

Gutenburg Editor Makes WordPress 5 Unusable (For Me) Without Classic Editor Plugin

WordPressIn the last post I noted that WordPress 5 would ship with Gutenburg as the defailt and highlighted how you could avoid this by installing the Classic Editor plugin.

I’ve been doing some additional testing, and I’ve discovered that Gutenberg will make it impossible for me to blog the way I currently do. I include a lot of screenshots and code samples in my posts, and Gutenberg is not allowing me to format posts as I do now.

Not only does Gutenberg force more clicks of the mouse to do standard tasks when creating a post, it is also stripping out the majority of the formatting I have in my posts.

As I use a lot of images and code samples, I write my posts in Notepad++, for word completion and syntax highlighting, and then paste into WordPress. When I do this, it either strips out the HTML formatting or removes it entirely. The same happens whether I am pasting into a normal block or an HTML edited block.

The posts I’ve tested with have ended up unreadable due to this.

While I can upgrade to WordPress 5, I can only do so if I also install the Classic Editor plugin.

WordPress 5 Releases With Gutenberg Editor As Default: How to Keep/Get Classic Editor Back

WordPressGutenberg has been available for a while as a buggy plugin for WordPress, but when WordPress 5 launches it will include Gutenberg in the core.

I’ve been testing my plugins against WordPress 5 and have had a try of Gutenberg.

My first impression was that it was very poor; I left it for a while and tried again and I’ve changed my opinion to horrific. It may be usable to non-technical people with no experience of WordPress (I’m not one of them so can’t judge that), but for someone like myself, Gutenberg just seems to hide everything away. Also on the hugely negative side, it adds a huge amount of unnecessary comments to a post.

The only positive is that the Classic Editor is still be available as a plugin:

Classic Editor Plugin

If you install the Classic Editor plugin prior to installing WordPress 5, it should remain the default editor even after the upgrade.

I do have concerns about the Classic Editor being shunted into a plugin and only updated until 2021.