Ordinarily, we don’t get excited about the latest version of WordPress or other CMS systems but the launch of WordPress 5.0 is an exception to this rule.

The reason for this is that version 5.0 brings with it a completely new and revamped page editing system known as Gutenberg which is based on a block framework. Gutenberg is the new default editor and replaces the classic TinyMCE editor which has become synonymous with WordPress. In this article, we’ll take a look at what’s new in WordPress 5.0 and why the default editor has been changed.

Why the change of editor?

One of the main reasons for the new Gutenberg editor is based on the fact that WordPress needs to compete with newer website building platforms such as Wix and Squarespace. While WordPress continues to grow each year and remains the clear market leader when it comes to CMS website platforms, both Wix and Squarespace are seeing huge growth numbers. This latest update brings the WordPress interface more in-line with its competitors helping it to continue to dominate the market.

Is Gutenberg compatible with all themes?

Gutenberg is now the default editor in WordPress and so has been built to work with any WordPress theme. This doesn’t mean that all themes will be compatible with Gutenberg though so it is worth checking if the theme you want to use has been developed in line with the new block system approach of Gutenberg. Themes which have this compatibility will allow built-in-styling for the full range of blocks as well as a number of pre-made templates to help you create a beautiful website.

TinyMCE vs Gutenberg

When you first open Gutenberg it quickly becomes clear that Gutenberg offers a much cleaner writing experience than the previous TinyMCE editor. Gone are the controls at the top of your page or post as they have been replaced with a document and block settings section on the right-hand side. This block-based system means that everything works in a standard and straightforward way of giving the user the ability to add any type of content they want easily to their pages.

The trouble with the TinyMCE editor was that everything was reliant on shortcodes, custom post types, embeds and widgets to get the content you wanted on a page. Everything had its own quirky interface and behaviour with limitations for where and how content could be added to your site. The introduction of blocks in Gutenberg means that users have complete control of their content and how this is displayed on the page.

Is Gutenberg a page builder?

One of the most common misconceptions about Gutenberg is that it will replace page builder systems. This isn’t going to happen anytime soon. Gutenberg can help users create more complex page layouts than ever before but it still doesn’t have the flexibility or power of current page builders.  Some of the things missing from Gutenberg that are standard in page builders include:

  • Free-form drag and drop editing
  • Full multi-column support
  • Pre-made templates
  • Responsive design settings

Do I need to use the Gutenberg editor on my site?

Those that have updated to the latest version of WordPress will automatically have been swapped to the new Gutenberg editor. If you would like to deactivate Gutenberg and return to using the classic editor you can do this by installing the official Classic Editor Plugin. This will let you switch back to the TinyMCE editor and let you edit your pages in the way that you always have.

Our verdict

Personally, we love the new Gutenberg editor and think that after the initial honeymoon period the majority of users will grow to love the added flexibility it offers. With big plans to introduce a seamless page editor experience in the future, this is only the start of an exciting phase in the WordPress journey.

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