Use WordPress? Everything is about to change.

When the Gutenberg press arrived in the early 15th century, it changed the way literature was produced and released forever after. Manuscripts, which were meticulously transcribed by scribes with ink and quill, were replaced by printed sheets, which could be mass produced (think the internet but in 1436). Information and ideas could be widely spread through pamphlets and books, and the Renaissance era was kickstarted, leaving the late Middle Ages behind.

Disclaimer: Loomo is ready to help you prepare your site for Gutenberg (or fix it if you’re reading this after Gutenberg’s release). If you don’t want any help from the phenomenal Loomo development team, you don’t have to keep reading, but still might learn something useful ;)!

What does this have to do with WordPress? Well, according to WordPress’ parent company, Automattic, we’re about to see the same shift, and WordPress hopes to leave its pre-JavaScript era behind for its own platform renaissance.

What is Gutenberg?

The TLDR takeaway here is that WordPress is releasing Gutenberg in the next core update (5.0) in early 2018. This update is a drastic change to WordPress’ content editor, and many sites that were built with old versions of WordPress (4 and below), will be affected by this change. If you’re on a maintenance plan with us, lucky you! Loomo will make sure you weather the storm, with minimal disruption. If you’re not, here’s what you need to know.

Gutenberg replaces the standard text editor, which has been part of the WordPress platform since the beginning, with a visual content editor (think page builder) that uses blocks for content styling and layout. The biggest problem with blocks is that they’ve never been used for WordPress development before (ever!), so no sites are going to inherently be prepared for Gutenberg. And, if you don’t take any of the steps below to prepare, you may find your site broken when the update happens.


There are a few saving graces, however, depending on how your site was built. If your site is already built with a page editor, like many of ours, you can disable Gutenberg and maintain the current look of the site. Many of the major themes, like Avada, and page builders, like 
Beaver Builder, will no doubt have an action plan in place to keep disruption to a minimum. If your site hasn’t been updated recently by an experienced development team, you may need some help.

How can I prepare for GutenbErg?

Pre-release (Early 2018)

As of writing, Gutenberg is available as a plugin for testing on development sites. The current version of the plugin is likely/hopefully pretty close to the final thing, so we can start preparing sites for its release through isolated testing environments. What this means is that we’ll take your current site, load it up on our local servers, test it out with Gutenberg, and let you know what needs to be done.

To submit a site for testing with Loomo, email [email protected] with the subject line “HELP with Gutenberg!”, and we’ll reach out for more details.

Otherwise, you can load the Gutenberg plugin up, being careful not to do so on a live site, and see how well it handles your content. Some sites will be fine, but others will be seriously hurt by the update. The good news is that most sites, like blogs, that just use text content will be fine. More elaborate layouts, however, will need help. Read more below to find out what you can do about it.

Post-release (The Distant Future*)

So, Gutenberg has already dropped (or you’ve loaded up the testing plugin), and your site is probably not looking great if you’re reading this. Don’t fret, we have you covered. Fortunately, blocks are relatively easy to build for developers (experienced ones, at least), and most of the standard content, like pictures, galleries, text, headers, etc, are already pre-built by the WordPress team. If you just have a blog, you can probably make do with just updating your content to fit the new formatting. If you have a more elaborate site, like a small business site or a brochure site, you’ll need someone (wink wink) to update your content to use these new blocks. Loomo has been building a repertoire of content blocks for our current clients. Other development teams have likely done the same.

The Fix

For the Loomo-free approach, you can use something like https://ahmadawais.com/create-guten-block-toolkit/ to create your own blocks, and there are numerous tutorials to help you understand and create the new blocks. Here are a few we particularly like:

The caveat, of course, is that you need to know ES6, React, Webpack, Babel, Node…all right, all right, I’ll stop scaring you. Just send us an email if these terms are terrifying.

Conclusion

Gutenberg is a BIG CHANGE and it has been met with an equal measure of anger and excitement by the WordPress community. Loomo’s official position is one of excitement because it’s good for every platform to grow. With Gutenberg, WordPress ups their game against some of the bigger players in easy-to-get-started website development, like Wix and Unbounce, and attempts to shift in a new direction before it becomes obsolete. This is a good thing, even if it’s frustrating right now. The problem, of course, is that this big shift will likely break a LOT of current sites, and that’s not something anyone enjoys dealing with.

Remember, Loomo is here to help you replace your medieval scribes with a shiny new Gutenberg press (lead plates and all!), so reach out to [email protected] and we’ll get you set up and on your way!

*Despite what you may have heard from New Zealand’s 3rd most popular comedy alt-rock duo, Flight of the Conchords, the distant future is not the year 2000. It’s probably closer to the year 2019.

 

Loomo Bug