Yesterday, I upgraded to the newly-released version 4.9.8 of WordPress (soooo close to 5.0!) which allows you to opt into the new Gutenberg editor (available as a plugin). Gutenberg is the single biggest change to the WordPress blog post editing screen in years, and has been in testing for some time. The scale of the changes are probably why it’s available as a plugin for now, and not yet fully bundled with WordPress itself.
Gutenberg reflects the progression of WordPress from simply a blogging system to a more general-purpose content management system that can be used for a wide variety of web sites. When you create a new blog post, you insert ‘blocks’ of content. These blocks can be paragraphs of text, pull-quotes, images, or rich media such as embedded video or image galleries. Blocks gain some additional functions that were not previously available, including drag and drop re-ordering, and the ability to save blocks as ‘resuable content’ for future repeat use.
The new content editor will be familiar with anyone who has written posts on Medium as Gutenberg works in a very similar way. It’s also worth remembering that the last time the WordPress content editor underwent a major change, few people were using tablet computers and the iPad hadn’t yet launched. Whilst the drag and drop function doesn’t seem to work on a touchscreen, the new interface does seem to work better on handheld devices.
I expect that Gutenberg will become the default editor in WordPress very soon. If you use WordPress regularly, I would advise you to opt into it, to get to grips with it. The ‘classic’ editor is still there to go back to if you find it too frustrating but Gutenberg is likely to be the future. And it’s updated regularly in response to feedback, so any issues that you do have should be ironed out in time. It’s taken me a little time to get used to, but I’ve written this and yesterday’s post in it.