New Content Creation Process Designed to Build Dynamic WordPress Pages Around Blocks
Automattic released a new editor for WordPress web page creation this week as the company prepares to launch a full version upgrade of the CMS this fall. WordPress is the most popular platform in the world for web publishing with an estimated total of 30% of all websites on the internet using the script. The changes introduced with the new Gutenberg editor will affect millions of active users, many of whom are unskilled in the technical issues of web development. One of the most common problems in new software launches is change aversion, which is one reason why platforms with extremely large user communities like gMail, Word, Facebook, etc. keep their popular services standardized for long periods of time. While the Gutenberg editor is relatively easy to use and intuitive, the transition to a new content creation process will undoubtedly upset a few people initially before they learn to operate it. As a consequence, Automattic is making it easy to continue using the old editor for any website publishers unwilling to make the change. Because Gutenberg is an open source project, it has already been ported to work with the Drupal CMS as well. What remains to be seen is how much conflict the new format will have with third-party themes, widgets, & plugins which build around custom-coded solutions. The new Gutenberg editor gives WordPress users an advanced preview of the changes coming with the new WP 5.0 platform release, and is currently available to install on all active websites through the administration panel with one click.
Gutenberg Editor Review: How the New Format Compares to the Classic Editor
Gutenberg is designed to make building web pages easier for users by implementing a modular construction system built around blocks. Unlike the Classic Editor which is built around TinyMCE & functions like a word processing system with buttons for fonts, text sizes, images, links, etc., Gutenberg just presents the user with a blank page initially. In the top left corner, there is a small button which produces a drop-down menu with a tiered list of all the available block options. Users simply begin typing on the page, adding the title, text, & paragraphs, then choose a block when they want to add unique page elements. According to Automattic:
Authoring richly laid-out posts is a key strength of WordPress. By embracing blocks as an interaction paradigm, we can unify multiple different interfaces into one. Instead of learning how to write shortcodes and custom HTML, or pasting URLs to embed media, there’s a common, reliable flow for inserting any kind of content... WordPress already supports a large number of blocks and 30+ embeds, so let’s surface them.
There are block choices for paragraph text, images, headings, gallery views, lists, quotes, audio files, videos, cover images, widgets, & any other features enabled by plugins that are installed in the CMS. After a few minutes, it is easy to begin building complex pages around the block standard. The categories, tags, featured image, & metatag functionality displays in a new accordion-style menu with drop-down choices, making the entire screen view quite minimal.
The New Gutenberg Text Editor Experience for WordPress 5.0:
In order to understand the changes introduced by the Gutenberg editor, it is helpful to view the two standards side by side:
Everything is a block. Text, images, galleries, widgets, shortcodes, and even chunks of custom HTML, no matter if it’s added by plugins or otherwise. You should only have to learn to master a single interface: the block interface, and then you know how to do everything.
The Classic Editor for WordPress 4.x: Note that in the Classic Editor (above) the interface functions like a word processing application. According to Automattic,
Gutenberg is more than an editor. It’s also the foundation that’ll revolutionize customization and site building in WordPress.
WordPress 5.0 Compatibility:
"We recommend migrating features to blocks, but support for existing WordPress functionality remains. There will be transition paths for shortcodes, meta-boxes, and Custom Post Types."
Change Aversion in the Software Development Lifecycle: Managing Major Upgrades
One of the major aspects of Agile project management for open source projects like CMS websites & mobile apps is continuous integration/continuous delivery (CI/CD). WordPress is one of the best examples of this in practice, pushing out regular security updates and platform upgrades to core code, plugins, & themes that usually can be installed with a single click by the users. However, change aversion in software tools that users have come to know & love by becoming familiar with them every day in their work-flow processes can still be problematic for development companies to manage. As Google Venture's Aaron Sedley wrote:
A savvy change-management strategy can cut down on negative reactions, focus users on benefits, and make the change more successful. While we’re still learning with every launch, some principles are emerging to mitigate change aversion:
- Warn users about major changes.
- Clearly communicate the nature and value of the changes.
- Let users toggle between old and new versions.
- Provide transition instructions and support.
- Offer users a dedicated feedback channel.
- Tell users how you’re addressing key issues they’ve raised.
Interface changes are the real hornet’s nest, where upsetting users’ established habits and expectations can have dire consequences.
The good news is that Automattic has followed all of these rules precisely. By introducing Gutenberg months ahead of the WP 5.0 release, they have given the user community the chance to install and test the software on their existing sites in advance of the platform upgrade. This avoids surprises for people who use WordPress every day in their work. Automattic has also released copius documentation on Gutenberg, as well as publishing the open source code on GitHub for review. The Classic Editor for WordPress can still be installed as a plugin for any business, team, or individual who does not want to make the change to Gutenberg. As the new interface design & workflow process is not being forced on users without any options for personal choice, there should be a minimal amount of negative reactions from the community.
Gutenberg Editor Review: An Advance Preview of WordPress 5.0 Changes
The bottom line is if experienced WordPress users do not want to make the change to content creation with Gutenberg, they don't have to and can continue using the Classic Editor as long as they wish with their codebase as a plugin. There is already a large collection of documentation about the new editing process published by Automattic for anyone who does not find the use of Gutenberg intuitive, as well as extensive developer resources for building new custom plugins & themes around the framework. Overall, Gutenberg looks to be rolling out initially as a successful upgrade to WordPress 4.x, but it does significantly change the editing and content creation process. Many users will not recognize the new system, but it gives an advance preview of what to expect with the major platform changes coming with the release of WordPress 5.0.
Gutenberg for Drupal:
The Drupal Gutenberg project aims to provide a new publishing experience based on WordPress’ Gutenberg editor. The live demo on the site currently provides a frontend interactive implementation of Gutenberg inside Drupal, similar to WordPress’ “Frontenberg” demo on wordpress.org.'