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Gutenberg: how’s it coming along?

Tuesday, February 13th, 2018

Last weekend, British Columbians took time to reflect upon their loved ones. Family Day represented both a reward for surviving the 365-day-long month that is January and an opportunity to reconnect with family. For a certain British Columbian, it felt like another holiday. It was Christmas Morning for our Designer & Developer, David, as he got to open the present that is Gutenberg. As a reminder, Gutenberg is WordPress’ answer to the contemporary web design focus on rich content. This is exemplified by using photos, videos or the like to build webpages and it will be “effortless” with Gutenberg, WordPress’ first ever visual editing tool.

There is another important thing to note here. David, perhaps, is actually showing his opinion on the great debate of opening Christmas presents early. Gutenberg isn’t fully released yet and remains a beta stage plugin. This allows for WordPress to continue to tweak it while developers play around with it on non-live websites. An additional side to this also pertains to WordPress as a whole. The full-on release of Gutenberg is set to coincide with WordPress’ next offering: 5.0. In 5.0, Gutenberg will be the default editor. This means it is of paramount importance for WordPress to iron out all the kinks.

WordPress 5.0 still maintains a vague release date of 2018. So, the true “present” for David was the first time he was able to use Gutenberg’s new scripting language. The new project has moved away from PHP – WordPress’s primary scripting language for the last 15 years – into the niche realm of a new JavaScript library called React; React being created by a tiny American company known as Facebook. David was able to add to the benefits of this tool we examined back in October. In his words:

  • “Coding using Facebook’s React in JavaScript is just mind-blowing. So, so, different, but easier and, just, cool.”
  • “Simple but more importantly fully customizable, tweakable, and extendable.”
  • “Compared to working in WordPress at this exact moment, Gutenberg juts makes things better. It’s better at the developer, user and new-to-web-content levels.”

To give visual evidence of that last comment, check out this video from the Gutenberg project’s co-lead Matias Ventura.

Even though we think very highly of the visual editing tool, Gutenberg is not without it’s critics. The thing that confounds us and continues to make Gutenberg a topic of our blog are these negative reviews it continues to receive. On the plugin page, one star reviews outnumber five star feedback by a score of 162 to 115. It also has a changelog attached to it’s updated versions that it closer in length to War and Peace than, say, Slack’s changelog.

Our hope is that these one star reviews are constructive in nature and contribute to improvements to the project as a whole. Our overall takeaway from all of this? Our Designer & Developer, David, was spending the Saturday of a long weekend playing around with webpages. It’s a pretty positive thing when page managers and our clients will have to do something in their 9-5 that developers are happily doing on weekends. Needless to say, we are super excited to start delivering this experience to our clients.

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