Try Gutenberg

WordPress 4.9.8 is scheduled to be released tomorrow, and it contains a prompt to ‘Try Gutenberg’. The aim is to get as many people to test Gutenberg – the new content editing experience for WordPress – and provide their feedback, before it becomes part of the core WordPress system. Scroll down to the bottom of this post for a video explaining a bit more about Gutenberg.


Should I try Gutenberg?

If you have a spare moment and/or need to create some new content on your website, give it a go! You’ll need to install the Gutenberg plugin to try it out (make sure you take a backup before installing the plugin), then create a new post or page and see what you think. Even if you don’t keep the Gutenberg plugin enabled, it’s always good to know what’s around the corner and coming your way!


Will it work with my theme?

In theory, Gutenberg is built to work out of the box. A lot of the content blocks that Gutenberg offers have styling built in, so they should look ok even if your theme hasn’t specifically been built to work with Gutenberg. There are however some caveats:

  • There are some blocks that need styling adding in (e.g. the ‘quote’ and ‘pullquote’ blocks) – which would mean an update to your theme.
  • There is also some functionality that themes have to opt into – e.g. for the image block, a theme must declare support (& add associated styling) for wide and fullwidth images. If your theme has not been built with Gutenberg in mind, these options won’t be available to you.
  • Things get more complicated where content is created/laid out using shortcodes and/or custom fields – for example, if you have row/column shortcodes in your content. The concept of blocks in Gutenberg means moving away from shortcodes and, perhaps to a lesser extent, custom fields. The downside is that development work is required to support this move, and if you have a custom theme, it may mean quite an overhaul to get it completely Gutenberg compatible. And it still remains to be seen how some of the more complex use-cases will be dealt with in the Gutenberg era.

Will it work with my theme? If you are using a custom built theme (highly likely if you’re a Hexagon client!), the short answer is likely ‘Yes, but’. It will work to a certain extent (& may well be fine for creating new blog posts and relatively simple content). But to get full compatibility, some development work will be required to bring your theme inline with Gutenberg. Which brings us onto the next question…


Will I have to use Gutenberg?

Once the Gutenberg project becomes part the core WordPress system, it will replace the default content editor. In theory this will happen any time from August onwards (previously April), but I suspect it will be pushed back again.

There is a ‘Classic Editor’ plugin available which reverts the system back to using the classic editor – useful if there are any compatibility issues with your theme, or if you’re just not quite ready to use Gutenberg yet.

It’s difficult to give a blanket piece of advice on whether to use Gutenberg or stick with the Classic Editor. The ideal of course is to use Gutenberg – it brings some exciting new possibilities and it’s the direction WordPress is going in. But for some sites, it will be appropriate to install and use the Classic Editor until the opportunity and/or budget exists for bringing your theme inline with the Gutenberg way of doing things.


Can I preview Gutenberg without installing it on my website?

For those that haven’t already seen Gutenberg, the video below gives a good introduction from┬áMorten Rand-Hendriksen/LinkedIn Learning. There’s also a live demo here:



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