Since the inception of WordPress in 2003, the TinyMCE text editor has been used to create blogs and websites. Although it is simple and accessible, it has its limitations. Being a basic text editor, one has to download themes to edit and adjust the website, which are skins for the website; thus, one has limited control over the look and feel of these themes. These limitations were addressed by the page-building plugins of themes like Elementor, Divi, Bakery, Thrive, Beaver Build, and many more, which allowed versatile features to customize these websites.
However, most of these plugins were (and still are) paid. Thus, in 2018 WordPress developers introduced ‘Gutenberg’ alternatively known as ‘WordPress block editor’ which aims to be an efficient editor that can provide similar features as page builders.
It has been four years since its launch, and apparently, Gutenberg has received mixed reactions from the designers and developers, which raises the question; of whether one should use/migrate to it. This blog will delineate the answer to this question; and more!
Gutenberg Block Editor, what is it?
- Gutenberg Editor is an open-source block editor, named after Johannes Gutenberg, who invented the moveable printing press about 500 years ago.
- WordPress 5.0 replaced the Classic TinyMCE WordPress editor with Gutenberg as the default editor.
- Gutenberg Editor follows a block-based approach in which it treats every object as a block, be it text or image.
- Gutenberg divides the page into blocks and delivers more extensive choices for editing the design and functionality of your page, some of which include customizing text color and adding images, videos, and buttons.
- These blocks may be used to create more sophisticated layouts, such as a multi-column design or arranging columns to form a cohesive section.
- The Gutenberg project aims to be a Full Site Editing platform, rather than being just a text editor. For example, one can create custom headers and footers rather than using the limited WordPress themes.
Although the Gutenberg WordPress editor seems to be efficient, there are popular alternatives to it. Is it a more promising choice than others? In the following section, we’ll answer this question.
Gutenberg vs Popular Alternatives.
There are mainly two alternatives to Gutenberg:
- TinyMCE editor: The classic editor that WordPress used before WordPress 5.0.
- Page Builder Plugins: Third-party plugins that incorporate visual, drag-and-drop features to WordPress.
According to design flexibility, TinyMCE is the least flexible, whereas Page builder plugins are the most flexible.
Classic TinyMCE editor < Gutenberg < Page builders
- Gutenberg vs TinyMCE
- Gutenberg offers a better visual background.
- A unified block eliminates the usage of shortcodes to embed content.
- In long posts, it often gets hard to manage the text because each paragraph is an individual block.
- Although Gutenberg’s performance has improved over time, it can still lag on massive posts, which is unlikely to happen with the classic editor.
One can use the TinyMCE editor as default by disabling the Gutenberg editor altogether.
- Gutenberg vs Page Builders:
- Gutenberg, being an open-source project, is free to use.
- , being a core feature, has no compatibility issue.
- Gutenberg, being a core feature, all developers can incorporate it into their plugins, boosting compatibility.
- Gutenberg generates code that is clearer and lighter. Thus, when all other factors are equal, a Gutenberg-based design will often load quicker than a page builder-based one.
- Although Gutenberg offers better visual editing than the classic editor, it isn’t as seamless as a page builder.
- Most page builders deliver more design flexibility and layout options than the Gutenberg editor.
Gutenberg, the pros
In a blog by ultimateblocks.com, Ben Sibley, the founder of CompleteThemes said,
“The biggest “pro” of the Gutenberg editor is that you can effectively design your content”
In the same blog, Charlie Livingston, founder of aThemes said,
“The Block Editor is unquestionably the future and I only expect it to grow and improve over time.”
Brian Jackson, co-founder at Forgemedia mentioned many a factor that gives an edge to Gutenberg; some of which are:
- “Markdown support is a lot better than it used to be. You can more easily copy things between other markdown editors, and it will work right out of the box. Another bonus is that copy/pasting from Google Docs no longer results in a bunch of messy code.
- I love no longer having any page reloads when saving a draft or updating a post. It’s a lot less disruptive than it used to be.
- You can do all sorts of things with blocks now. I redesigned all of my WordPress sites from the ground up using completely blocks. They make my life easier and are still lightweight and fast in terms of performance.”
Thus, Gutenberg exhibits an upper hand over many other alternatives, some of which are discussed below:
- Easy drag-and-drop Interface- In Gutenberg, one can easily drag and insert blocks to create the page layout and design them accordingly.
- User-friendly features- Gutenberg WordPress Editor provides user-friendly features which make it simple to build and manipulate web pages. For example, the block handler included with WordPress 5.6 allows one to transfer a block from one region of the website to another. And thanks to the inline editing feature for pictures included with WordPress 5.5, one can effortlessly crop and resize any photos in Gutenberg.
- Effortless Content creation and customization- Gutenberg blocks such as ‘Headers,’ ‘Pullquotes,’ ‘Paragraphs,’ ‘Lists,’ ‘Tables,’ and ‘Images’ make it easy to produce engaging content with the block editor. These blocks are further customized to induce uniqueness in the web pages.
- Block Patterns and Pattern Directory- Gutenberg allows the reusability of blocks to provide a consistent design to the posts and pages. One can select multiple blocks at the same time and group them together to save them as reusable blocks in the editor. It also offers block patterns, which can be inserted and customized seamlessly.
Pattern Directory, introduced in WordPress 5.8, allows one to browse for more block patterns, which can be inserted by simply copy-pasting it in the editor.
- Built-In Template Editor- The Template editor in Gutenberg helps convert any image or post into a ready template that one can insert, and reuse. This will allow you to develop web pages faster and produce content more easily.
- Responsive and Fast- One of the reasons for Gutenberg’s popularity is that it is lightweight, and the web pages built using it are very responsive across all devices. While creating the web pages, one can easily preview the response on a desktop and other devices.
Gutenberg, the cons
However, the WordPress editor was released to make article production more fluid and efficient, but it did not meet with the anticipated success and acceptability. Some of the possible factors which led to this are:
- Steep learning curve- Learning to make web pages using the block editor takes some effort and experience, especially for novices or people who are more used to the Classic Editor. The UI is unlike any other editor or page builder, thus novice users may find it difficult to adjust and learn how to employ the blocks quickly to create web pages. Ivica Delica, co-founder of Freelancer Tools says,
“Not very user-friendly and harder to use for the experienced WordPress users, with a big learning curve.”
- Plugin compatibility issues- Since there is an abundance of WordPress plugins, there might be many famous plugins that are still not compatible with Gutenberg. These issues can hamper seamless content creation and webpage building.
- Yet to see many improvements- With every update in WordPress, the block editor sees many improvements, but, at this moment it is neither as versatile as the Page builder plugins nor as user-friendly as the TinyMCE editor. Harsh Agarwal, the founder of ShoutMeLoud said,
“The only thing that I miss about the Classic editor was the joy of writing and simplicity.”
Gutenberg editor is far from being a full-fledged web-building site, atleast at the moment. The editor has its fair share of pros and cons, but, it is expected that the developers will add many features eventually to increase its accessibility and user-friendliness. One might say that, sooner or later, Gutenberg will definitely be a viable choice of every other WordPress developer.!