Gutenberg 1.9 Update: Two Big Promises

Despite WordCamp.US having only 4 of 52 sessions devoted to Gutenberg, the impact of the Gutenberg editor went well beyond Matt Mullenweg’s State of the Word presentation. There has been a number of comments post WordCamp.US about Gutenberg’s impact on the broad WordPress Ecosystem. But there also has been two updates to Gutenberg 1.8 and 1.9. So this post will look at both topics in reverse order – first gutenberg 1.9 observations then Impact of Gutenberg on the WordPress Ecosystem.

Gutenberg 1.9

It is becoming clear that Gutenberg is likely to be a viable replacement for the Tiny MCE or WPEdit-powered Visual Editors. The problem is that the target is moving in WordPress. The  latest PageBuilders are so good from Beaver Builder [freemium], Divi {premium], Elementor [largely free], SiteOrigin [largely free], and Thrive Architect [premium]; that most most DIY CSI WordPress Developers are using these front-end PageBuilder tools, not the traditional Visual Editor.  And even at 1.9 Gutenberg is well behind the best frontend PagBuilders as seen below:

Gutenberg still hides the page or posts default window sizing:
The true frontend default width is 1200 pixels, but Gutenberg makes users work in a 800 Pixel edit view regardless of the true page width. I tried to get Gutenberg to display this disparity but the Gallery block though it offers resizing icons – it does not not currently resize.  So Gutenberg looks like it will not be a true frontend editor like PageBuilders, say Divi or Elementor users are familiar with. Also note the Convert to Block commands above – these work to convert Classic Editor Blocks to Gutenberg basic blocks. But be careful, returning to Classic Editor layout is not available.

Also the breaking of the Gutenberg space into rows with columns is still not there except for Text-only columns [user have to do backend HTML+CSS magic]. But the Gutenberg creators are promising to move to CSS Grid which when it comes will likely be a very positive development. Meanwhile getting blocks into columns is still a Gutenberg arcane art:

In this case a work around using HTML resulted in the following statement from Gutenberg:

If you want to keep track of the latest Gutenberg testing and error conditions to confirm that the problems you are seeing are also being encountered by others – go to GitHub Gutenberg Issues for most recent list.

Now to see what is being planned and promised for Gutenberg there are two good sources. First,  Matias Ventura is the lead developer on Gutenberg and he posts ongoing updates here. In addition there is a clear Gutenberg Philosopy of Design to be found in the Gutenberg Handbook which shows the near term goals and the long term aspirations. From this handbook , one of the key promised Gutenberg features is the ability to apply CSS styling to  block contents. So far up to Gutenberg 1.9 that styling is woefully behind Pagebuilder capabilities.

Summary

Gutenberg again appears to be a viable TinyMCE competitor although, its font, styling and special function capabilities have a way to reach parity with TinyMCE and the WPEdit powered Visual Editors. However, Gutenberg is not close to matching  the true WYSIWYG Frontend editing capabilities of current WP PageBuilder. And those tools have set their sights on providing the overall SiteBuilding goals that is one of  Matt Mullenweg’s directives for Gutenberg. Yes, Gutenberg is promising CSS Grid layouts for Columns tied into Gutenberg templates. And there will be CSS Styling of block contents. Despite the progrees the Giutenberg  since February of 2017,  it will be a challenge to deliver these capabilities in the targetted May 2018 launch of Gutenberg in WordPress 5.0.