Has WordPress jumped the shark? Is Gutenberg the New Coke?

You can pick your comparison, but there’s no doubt that legions of loyal and long-time WordPress users are having fits over the radical change in the WordPress editor, dubbed Gutenberg.

As users upgrade to the newest version of WordPress, they are greeted with a box that asks them to choose an editor – the new Gutenberg or the legacy editor. Do you dance with the “one that brung ya” or do you step out and take your chances on the new hottie in town?

Gutenberg installation options

At this point, the legacy editor is still available – and will probably be available in some form for a long time – via a plugin. However, I believe that some day the legacy editor will be permanently put out to pasture.

Here’s why: It’s being reduced to a plugin, which will require tweaking and testing every time WordPress issues an update. Sooner or later no one will want to support the legacy editor plugin and/or the changes to WordPress will be so radical that it simply becomes incompatible.

Medium on mega-overdrive

Anytime you select text or a box, standard WordPress type formatting and editing options appear at the top of the box: text alignment, bold, italics, link, and strikethrough. Keyboard shortcuts still work for standard text formatting choices. Also note that when you’re working within a box, the right-hand sidebar will give you additional formatting options.

If you publish on Medium, the Gutenberg user interface will look familiar. You build a page by repeatedly stacking a box on top of or below the other. (I suppose this should really appeal to anyone brought up building with Legos.) Once you start typing your content, every time you hit “return” it automatically creates a new box for the paragraph, although the “box” is essentially invisible until you hover your mouse over it after it has been created.

Adios Jetpack?

On Medium, basic formatting and graphics placement are pretty much all the options available in the boxes. However, in WordPress, you have a much bigger assortment of functions available to you via the boxes.

Generally speaking, if your plugins are Gutenberg compatible, chances are you’ll access them by adding a box to your blog or page, whichever you’re creating.

The biggest problem for me was dealing with the Jetpack social share plugin. So far it looks like Jetpack isn’t well integrated into Gutenberg. I’ve had to jump back to the legacy editor to edit how my posts are featured in my social media when I publish a new piece of content.

Considering how Jetpack has been almost synonymous with WordPress, this is a big deal…so they gotta be working on it, right?

There are some technical advantages promised by the Gutenberg content blocks. WordPress envisions the ability to build an entire website using content blocks. That’s not far-fetched; several third-party WordPress plugins, like WPBakery Page Builder (formerly Visual Composer) use blocks. Also, according to Yoast, there are SEO advantages associated with blocks because you can better control metadata.

Those points are all well and good for power users, but just getting over the initial shock of a radical new user interface is what most WP loyalists are contending with right now.

My philosophy is that you should jump right in and start using it. Try to go cold turkey and kick your addiction to the legacy editor. The change IS happening; there’s no turning back and the longer you drag your feet, the longer it will take you to discover the advantages of Gutenberg and “get with the program.”

Wisdom of the aged

Let me confess something to you: I’m an old fart. Really. I started collecting social security last month, and here’s something I’ve learned through observation over the years:

Those who don’t keep up with the changes in technology lose their cultural intelligence.

The ability to successfully navigate and leverage new technologies is required to stay relevant today. Further, when you lose touch with new technologies, those around you begin to think you’re less intelligent. And it gets worse, you become more frustrated, your outlook darkens, and eventually society just passes you by.

I’m talking big picture with those comments, but in a smaller way they apply to the topic here, Gutenberg. WordPress is the single most vital content management system in the world and with Gutenberg, WP is working hard and making a bold move to maintain that position.

Get on the bus, Gus.

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