Not the ship of Theseus

WordPress 5.0: A Gutenberg FAQ

Update: On December 6th we released WordPress 5.0. It was definitely the most controversial release in a while, but the usage and adoption metrics are looking similar to previous releases. I’m looking forward to continuing to iterate on the new block editor!

We are nearing the release date for WordPress 5.0 and Gutenberg, one of the most important and exciting projects I’ve worked on in my 15 years with this community.

I knew we would be taking a big leap. But it’s a leap we need to take, and I think the end result is going to open up many new opportunities for everyone in the ecosystem, and for those being introduced to WordPress for the first time. It brings us closer to our mission of democratizing publishing for everyone.

I recently visited WordCamp Portland to talk about Gutenberg and WordPress 5.0, which will also include the new default theme Twenty Nineteen, which you’re seeing me test out on this very site. There were some great questions and testimonials about Gutenberg, so I’d urge you to watch the full video and read the WP Tavern recap. I’ve also visited meetups, responded to review threads, kept an eye on support, and I’m in the middle of office hours with the core community.

As we head toward the release date and WordCamp US, I’ve put many questions and answers into a Gutenberg FAQ below. For those who have other questions, I will be checking the comments here.

It’s an exciting time, and I’m thrilled to be working with y’all on this project.

Not the ship of Theseus

What is Gutenberg?

Gutenberg, for those who aren’t actively following along, is a brand new Editor for WordPress — contributors have been working on it since January 2017 and it’s one of the most significant changes to WordPress in years. It’s built on the idea of using “blocks” to write and design posts and pages.

This will serve as the foundation for future improvements to WordPress, including blocks as a way not just to design posts and pages, but also entire sites.

The overall goal is to simplify the first-time user experience of WordPress — for those who are writing, editing, publishing, and designing web pages. The editing experience is intended to give users a better visual representation of what their post or page will look like when they hit publish. As I wrote in my post last year, “Users will finally be able to build the sites they see in their imaginations.”

Matías Ventura, team lead for Gutenberg, wrote an excellent post about the vision for Gutenberg, saying, “It’s an attempt to improve how users interact with their content in a fundamentally visual way, while at the same time giving developers the tools to create more fulfilling experiences for the people they are helping.”

Why do we need Gutenberg at all?

For many of us already in the WordPress community, it can be easy to forget the learning curve that exists for people being introduced to WordPress for the first time. Customizing themes, adding shortcodes, editing widgets and menus — there’s an entire language that one must learn behind the scenes in order to make a site or a post look like you want it to look.

Over the past several years, JavaScript-based applications have created opportunities to simplify the user experience in consumer apps and software. Users’ expectations have changed, and the bar has been raised for simplicity. It is my deep belief that WordPress must evolve to improve and simplify its own user experience for first-time users.

Why blocks?

The idea with blocks was to create a new common language across WordPress, a new way to connect users to plugins, and replace a number of older content types — things like shortcodes and widgets — that one had to be well-versed in the idiosyncrasies of WordPress to understand.

The block paradigm is not a new one — in fact many great plugins have already shown the promise of blocks with page design in WordPress. Elementor, one of the pioneers in this space, has now introduced a new collection of Gutenberg blocks to showcase what’s possible:

Why change the Editor?

The Editor is where most of the action happens in WordPress’s daily use, and it was a place where we could polish and perfect the block experience in a contained environment.

Additionally, the classic Editor was built primarily for text — articles have become increasingly multimedia, with social media embeds, maps, contact forms, photo collages, videos, and GIFs. It was time for a design paradigm that allowed us to move past the messy patchwork of shortcodes and text.

The Editor is just the start. In upcoming phases blocks will become a fundamental part of entire site templates and designs. It’s currently a struggle to use the Customizer and figure out how to edit sections like menus, headers, and footers. With blocks, people will be able to edit and manipulate everything on their site without having to understand where WordPress hides everything behind the scenes.

What does Automattic get out of this?

There have been posts recently asking questions about Automattic’s involvement in Gutenberg compared to other contributors and companies. There is no secret conspiracy here — as project lead I was able to enlist the help of dozens of my colleagues to contribute to this project, and I knew that a project of this size would require it. Automattic aims to have 5% of its people dedicated to WordPress community projects, which at its current size would be about 42 people full-time. The company is a bit behind that now (~35 full-time), and the company is growing a lot next year, so look for 10-15 additional people working on core and community projects. 

In the end, Gutenberg is similar to many other open source projects — Automattic will benefit from it, but so will everyone else in the WordPress community (and even the Drupal community). It’s available for everyone under the GPL. If the goal was purely to benefit Automattic it would have been faster, easier, and created an advantage for Automattic to have Gutenberg just on That wasn’t, and isn’t, the point.

Is Gutenberg ready?

Absolutely. Our original goal with Gutenberg was to get it on 100,000 sites to begin testing — it’s now already on more than 1 million sites, and it’s the fastest-growing plugin in WordPress history. There is a lot of user demand.

The goal was to both test Gutenberg on as many sites as possible before the 5.0 release, and also to encourage plugin developers to make sure their plugins and services will be ready. With everyone pitching in, we can make this the most anti-climactic release in WordPress history.  

In the recent debate over Gutenberg readiness, I think it’s important to understand the difference between Gutenberg being ready code-wise (it is now), and whether the entire community is ready for Gutenberg.

It will take some time — we’ve had 15 years to polish and perfect core, after all — but the global WordPress community has some of the world’s most talented contributors and we can make it as good as we want to make it.

There is also a new opportunity to dramatically expand the WordPress contributor community to include more designers and JavaScript engineers. With JavaScript apps there are also new opportunities for designing documentation and support right on the page, so that help arrives right where you need it.

Someone described Gutenberg to me as “WordPress in 3D.” I like the sound of that. Blocks are like layers you can zoom in and out of. The question now is: What are we going to build with this new dimension?

Do I have to switch to Gutenberg when WordPress 5.0 is released?

Not at all. When it’s released, you get to choose what happens. You can install the Classic Editor plugin today and when 5.0 is released, nothing will change. We’ve commited to supporting and updating Classic Editor until 2022. If you’d like to install Gutenberg early, you can do that now too. The Classic Editor plugin has been available for 13 months now, and Gutenberg has been available for 18 months. Both have been heavily promoted since August 2018, and more than 1.3 million .org sites have opted-in already to either experience, so nothing will change for them when they update to 5.0.

How can I make sure I’m ready?

Before updating to 5.0, try out the Gutenberg plugin with your site to ensure it works with your existing plugins, and also to get comfortable with the new experience. Developers across the entire ecosystem are working hard to update their plugins, but your mileage and plugins may vary. And you can always use the Classic Editor to address any gaps.

As with every new thing, things might feel strange and new for a bit, but I’m confident once you start using it you’ll get comfy quickly and you won’t want to go back.

The release candidate of 5.0 is stable and fine to develop against and test.

When will 5.0 be released?

We have had a stable RC1, which stands for first release candidate, and about to do our second one. There is only currently one known blocker and it’s cosmetic. The stability and open issues in the release candidates thus far makes me optimistic we can release soon, but as before the primary driver will be the stability and quality of the underlying software. We made the mistake prior of announcing dates when lots of code was still changing, and had to delay because of regressions and bugs. Now that things aren’t changing, we’re approaching a time we can commit to a date soon.

Is it terrible to do a release in December?

Some people think so, some don’t. There have been 9 major WordPress releases in previous Decembers. December releases actually comprise 34% of our major releases in the past decade.

Can I set it up so only certain users get to use Gutenberg?

Yes, and soon. We’re going to be doing another update to the Classic Editor before the 5.0 release to give it a bit more fine-grained user control — we’ve heard requests for options that allow certain users or certain roles and post types to have Gutenberg while others have Classic Editor.

What happens after 5.0?

We’ve been doing a release of Gutenberg every two weeks, and 5.0 isn’t going to stop that. We’ll do minor release to 5.0 (5.0.1, 5.0.2) fortnightly, with occasional breaks, so if there’s feedback that comes in, we can address it quickly. Many of the previous bugs in updates were from juggling between updates in the plugin and core, now that Gutenberg is in core it’s much easier and safer to incrementally update.

What about Gutenberg and accessibility?

We’ve had some important discussions about accessibility over the past few weeks and I am grateful for those who have helped raise these questions in the community.

Accessibility has been core to WordPress from the very beginning. It’s part of why we started – the adoption of web standards and accessibility.

But where I think we fell down was with project management — specifically, we had a team of volunteers that felt like they were disconnected from the rapid development that was happening with Gutenberg. We need to improve that. In the future I don’t know if it makes sense to have accessibility as a separate kind of process from the core development. It needs to be integrated at every single stage.

Still, we’ve accomplished a lot, as Matías has written about. There have been more than 200 closed issues related to accessibility since the very beginning.

We’re also taking the opportunity to fix some things that have had poor accessibility in WordPress from the beginning. CodeMirror, which is a code editor for templates, is not accessible, so we have some parts of WordPress that we really need to work on to make better.

Speaking of which, CodeMirror was seeking funding for their next version — Automattic has now sponsored that funding and in return it will be made available under the GPL, and that the next version of CodeMirror will be fully accessible.

Finally, Automattic will be funding an accessibility study of WordPress, Gutenberg, and an evaluation of best practices across the web, to ensure WordPress is fully accessible and setting new standards for the web overall.

After WordPress 5.0, is the Gutenberg name going to stick around?

Sometimes code names can take on a life of their own. I think Gutenberg is still what we’ll call this project — it’s called that on GitHub, and you’re also seeing it adopted by other CMSes beyond WordPress — but for those outside the community I can see it simply being known as “the new WordPress editor.”

With the adoption of React for Gutenberg, what do you see as the future for React and WordPress?

In 2015 I said “Learn JavaScript deeply” — then in 2016 we brought the REST API into Core. Gutenberg is the first major feature built entirely on the REST API, so if you are learning things today, learn JavaScript, and I can imagine a future wp-admin that’s 100% JavaScript talking to APIs. I’m excited to see that happen.

Now, switching to a pure JavaScript interface could break some backward compatibility, but a nice thing about Gutenberg is that it provides an avenue for all plugins to work through — it gives them a way to plug in to that. It can eliminate the need for what’s currently done in custom admin screens.  

The other beautiful thing is that because Gutenberg essentially allows for translation into many different formats — it can publish to your web page, it can publish your RSS feed, AMP, it can publish blocks that can be translated into email for newsletters — there’s so much in the structured nature of Gutenberg and the semantic HTML that it creates and the grammar that’s used to parse it, can enable for other applications.

It becomes a little bit like a lingua franca that even crosses CMSes. There’s now these new cross-CMS Gutenberg blocks that will be possible. It’s not just WordPress anymore — it might be a JavaScript block that was written for Drupal that you install on your WordPress site. How would that have ever happened before? That’s why we took two years off — it’s why we’ve had everyone in the world working on this thing. It’s because we want it to be #WorthIt.

And WordPress 5.0 is just the starting line. We want to get it to that place where it’s not just better than what we have today, but a world-class, web-defining experience. It’s what we want to create and what everyone deserves.

Was this post published with Gutenberg?

Of course. 😄 No bugs, but I do see lots of areas we can continue to improve and I’m excited to get to work on future iterations.

87 thoughts on “WordPress 5.0: A Gutenberg FAQ

  1. I am super stoked by seeing your blog in the twenty nineteen theme, 🙂
    Can’t wait to use the theme on my personal blog which is on once WP 5.0 goes live.

      1. I came across your old site recently. It looked very rudimentary and way out of date. I was surprised. Was that intentional? The new look is a big improvement.

  2. Please keep speaking frankly like this. I have been using Gutenberg and creating tutorial videos on Gutenberg for the past 4 months. Initially people didn’t like the change, but then that started to shift as I released more tutorials on it and people started to see it.

    Matt, people need to just see it and experience it for themselves!

    Keep doing what you are doing.

    Adam @ WPCrafter

    P.S. You are always welcome to come on my YouTube channel to speak to the 85k subscribers there and the million who watch my “WordPress For Non-Techies” videos each year.

  3. Paragraph text is a bit too big in this twenty nineteen theme. I believe it’s still a progress but nonetheless it’s exciting to see how gutenberg play along with theme and post layout. So far the experience is good.

    1. Font size is always a debatable matter. Personally I find the font on many sites too hard to read and prefer 16 to 18 px. Why strain and damage your eyes.

  4. Might as well make it official and drop the WP moniker and just call it Gutenberg. WP is history and so am I. Glad you like it, but I feel it is a HUGE STEP BACKWARDS! But then gotta keep all those barely educated millenials happy.


    1. If you want to stay on the current experience, please install the Classic Editor plugin and when you update your site to 5.0 the editor won’t change at all, besides the normal updates and improvements we make to TinyMCE. We’ve committed to supporting Classic Editor until 2022, so there’s no rush.

  5. This post definitely answers so many community concerns about Gutenberg. However I miss some news or updated roadmap for the Gutenberg Phase 2. Will we have a single page app kind of experience with the Gutenberg phase 2? What will happen to the customizer & widgets APIs?

    Anyways, I am super excited with Gutenberg. It is definitely re-setting the competition with WP products (plugins/themes). And opening up a lot of new opportunities for the WP community.

    1. Phase 2 is going to be bringing blocks to widgets and menus, so you’ll be able to use any block in any widget area, and any widget or menu in any post or page.

      We’re going to show a lot more of Phase 2, and maybe even beyond that, at WordCamp US next week in Nashville. You can get free livestreaming tickets for the event here:

      1. Thanks for greate article @Matt, i has brought more light on future of Gutenberg 🙂 Do you alredy have any plans in what Phase we could get complex tool to build full website with blocks (header, footer, custom single post templates, archive templates)? And one more question – do you have any plans to add more design options into Gutenberg? I mean – we alredy have possibilty to create controls for selecting color, with Gutenberg API easy to create controls for background, box-shadow, etc. But the only way to apply these options on frontend is an inline-styles. Thats why currently its hard to create some complex design options for blocks, hover styles, mobile styles etc.

  6. We develop plugins for users. Thus, we can’t force them to not upgrade or install the Classic Editor plugin to prevent unwanted bugs that might happen. And there are serious bugs regarding backward compatibility (more than 30 on Github) that affect our plugins. I think there might be some for other plugins as well. So, please forgive me, but I have to say Gutenberg is not ready yet, in term of coding.

    1. Gutenberg isn’t meant to have perfect backwards compatibility — looking at what your plugin does, which is very similar to what Gutenberg itself does, I fully expect you’ll have to do some work to fully take advantage of blocks. That’s why when we introduced Gutenberg I talked about how sometimes it’s important to break back compat, not too often, but about once a decade the technological landscape has advanced enough that you can make a jump to something new that requires work, but is worth it. Gutenberg is the basis of the next decade of WP, so the updates you put in now will pay back until the late 2020s.

  7. “Bonjour” @matt,

    First, thanks a lot for your time and efforts to explain where we are and where we go. This is very important to take users & contributors by the hand when we introduce such a major change into a tool that is so widely used and that we love like it was ours !

    I’ve contributed to Gutenberg and I do agree it is a real great improvement for users (UI) and for plugin developers (Blocks API & content standardization).

    From what I read & hear inside the community, there have been a lot of misunderstanding, there are still some doubts and there are also some costs. It’s probably part of communities lifes : but I’d say our community is, at least, wounded.

    You probably already thought about it, but I’d suggest you, once 5.0.0 is released, to share with the community about what went great & what went not so great during the 5.0.0 development cycle and how we can avoid to reproduce what went not so great. I had the opportunity to participate to a community summit before the WordCamp Europe in 2017 and I think this kind of event is really nice to say the things we need to say to each other to heal ourselves.

    I’m very excited by how WordPress future is shaping ! I’m wishing WordPress the best for this 5.0.0 release.

    “À bientôt”

  8. Frontkom just launched the very first Gutenberg powered site on Drupal today! It’s a campaign builder for Children’s cancer association in Norway. Blocks used: Mix of core Gutenberg blocks, Gutenberg Cloud and Drupal core. Thanks to Gutenberg, it is easy to spin up new landing pages – truly empowering.

    Big thank you from the Drupal community!

    1. I haven’t checked out the updates to Beaver Builder yet but my understand is they’re going to be totally complementary to Gutenberg, same with Elementor. I think Gutenberg will open up block editing to an entirely new audience in WordPress and create a lot of opportunity for the WP-based page builders and themes.

      1. Yup! That’s correct. Gutenberg and Beaver Builder can run on the same WordPress install without any issues. Saved content from Beaver Builder can be used in Gutenberg, and you can use Beaver Themer to design layouts for posts or CPTs created with Gutenberg.

    1. I’m very sorry that you’ve had that experience so far. Is there anything you can share about the new users you’ve introduced Gutenberg to that could help inform our future iterations? 5.0 is not the end of the race, it’s the starting line. We plan to continue listening, working, and iterating all through 2019.

  9. Thanks for this post Matt, I have the classic editor installed on my sites as I’ve been hesitant to move forward with Gutenberg. Most of my clients don’t understand and don’t want to be bothered with this change. Somehow I need to generate positive energy and prove the benefits, but that has been difficult with talk surrounding this new editor. People resist change. But your post above does help. It would be great to see a non-technical social media campaign about how Gutenberg is helping small business, would love to see that on the WordPress Facebook page, on Instagram, and YouTube. Help us sell the change.

    1. I love your idea for a non-technical social media campaign that highlights the benefits for small businesses and people who build sites for others!

  10. > There is only currently one known blocker and it’s cosmetic.

    Thanks for writing up the thoughts.

    In light of above quote doesn’t ring very truthful. Editor rendering performance situation on lengthy content is still crazy bad, while available engineers have already put in rounds of optimization work, but managed to get it only a quarter better thus far.

    Here’s really hoping there’s a plan for it and there’s no drastic architectural issue.

  11. First off I really appreciated the chance to connect one-on-one yesterday and for this.

    As I mentioned I do feel everyone could use at least a few weeks to develop and test our plugin integrations with Gutenberg now that things are actually locked into an RC. While we don’t want Gutenberg to get “mouldy” it could use some time in the freezer and still be edible 🙂

    I’m also still very concerned with the proposed fortnightly point releases, given that the 5.0 betas broke many integrations and continued to add new features and UI changes. The plugin and theme ecosystem that’s helped make WordPress what it is today has for years relied on a stable base platform to build upon. If these (automatically pushed) point releases have a good potential to break existing Gutenberg integrations, current plugin/theme developers won’t have the resources to fully test against every point release before it’s launched and will feel the brunt of the support burden when things break. Not to mention having to do something for a user depending on whether they’re on 5.0.0 vs. 5.0.1 vs. 5.0.2 will be a nightmare.

    Giving us time to properly test and wrap up our integrations against the RC will let us find those bugs we don’t yet know about, fix usability issues we already know about, and help make this release the best it can be with a bunch of stable integrations out of the gate.

    1. We learned a lot from the 5.0 beta process and won’t allow a breaking change like that into a release again. There was more than I expected in the transition from being a plugin to being in core, especially with integrations.

      The good news is the RCs have been smooth sailing.

  12. From a fellow Houstonian, keep doing great things, Matt! Change isn’t easy, but you and the team are doing a great job trying to ease this transition! Thank you for your transparency!

  13. Thank You Matt, the theme you just had before this 2019 one. Will THAT be available to download? I always liked your themes you had on MA.TT

    Please make WP5.0 come out December 1, WordCamp Toronto 2018 is that day. Yes I know December 1, 2018 is in 30 minutes from me typing this sentence.

    Keep up the great work.

  14. For the past 11 years I’ve been a happy user of Word Press, but since the release of Gutenberg on I’ve lost some of my sleep. I would like to spend the rest of my life in WP, but now I have doubts as to whether this will be possible because, with Gutemberg, I have no pleasure writing. Ah … the classic block… but we know that it is only will be maintained until 2022.

    Why did not you make a “writer mode” in the paragraph block, with everything the traditional editor has? What is the big problem with that? Why can not I simply write the way I like, with justified paragraphs, with colors to highlight ideas, etc? I do not care what the designers think: my blog, my style!

    This boy, months in advance, said everything I feel now:

    I’m very frustrated.

    1. It’s called the Classic Editor and it’ll be around for a long time :). While you’re continuing to use the current editing experience, you can engage deeply with the Gutenberg team to make the new editor everything you need it to be. Best of both worlds!

      1. Gutenberg was made according to a logic that puts everyone who likes to write in the background and the team constantly ignores criticism in this regard.

      2. I don’t want to sound like a broken record but this is just the beginning, not the end. Along the way there will be forks, reversions, failures and successes. And of course what’s there right now is not perfect – I feel the same way too.

        As someone who knows the team behind this personally, I can guarantee you that they have good intentions and are only human. They need your help and great ideas to make Gutenberg everything it can and should be.

        Impugning their motives doesn’t seem fair. If the product has flaws it’s because it was made by a finite number of humans in a finite amount of time. If people feel ignored it’s because prioritisation is hard and writing software is even harder, and writing core software for a system with 10+ years of baggage is almost impossible.

        But unless you buy into the idea that block based editing is not and can never be the future of WordPress, I can only hope that you stay with the WP community, that you bring your best ideas and patches, and that we show the world what we can do together.

    2. I loved this part of the article.

      Gutenberg is most likely an almost knee-jerk response to the threat of the mobile adversaries and a few other competitors that offer simplified backend interfaces. However, the paradox in this solution is that it alienates almost its entire user base of mostly diehard professionals who create websites, and in their place, it attracts the rabble of casual “bloggers” who just wanna show the world how inspired and empowered they are.

    3. I feel for you buddy its going to be such a mess for 12-18 months. This is disruption not change. Pre Christmas too what a mess.

  15. Super excited about the launch of Gutenberg, hopefully early next year as I hear. I think it’s an important step in making sure that WordPress can not only catch up to the 50% share but also put WordPress alongside the modern tools where writing experience is much better when compared with the Classic Editor.

    Also with sort of a merger between the WordPress & JavaScript communities — things are looking good, there are huge tooling projects (built by giant tech companies like Google, Facebook, Netflix, etc.) which now work for WordPress development as well (or will work soon Hint. WordPress Localised Lighthouse). This alone cannot only help the WordPress community step forward but we can also expect much better jobs and professional ecosystem that supports open source at a larger scale.

    Having said that, there are still many things we need to work on. I along with several other developers like Zac Gordan — have invested a fair amount of time in making sure that getting started with Gutenberg is easy.

    As per my research, almost 8 out of every 10 Gutenberg plugins being released on are based on top of create-guten-block. This is a testament towards the need of better tooling projects for WordPress to keep things simple amidst ever complex and always changing React.js/JavaScript development practices.

    ✅Agencies like Human Made have also been hard at work, with impressive work from K Adam White, WebDevStudios WDS Blocks, and 10up’s Gutenberg testing — it looks like we are getting there with Gutenberg.

    I’d like to thank everyone involved in the Gutenberg project and would like to ask y’all to keep an open mind for this one. Peace! ✌️

  16. I’m getting more familiar with Gutenberg and find it easier to use every time I create a post. With that said, I have difficulty with inserting links in my posts. They either don’t look right and I can’t center them, sometimes, and then sometimes they work like a charm. Can this process be made simpler?

    1. A colleague of mine will get in touch to follow-up on what you’re running into. Everything can be made simpler and easier, if we stick with it. 🙂

  17. Well, it is what it is at the end of the day.

    I do like some of the features, such as more precise image management and allocation. And it’s great that you can style blocks individually, this was definitely lacking in modern WordPress experience.

    And yes, I do believe that Gutenberg has the potential to encourage better storytelling. More often than not, we don’t realize we need and/or can use something until it has been put right in front of our eyes.

    At the same time, I can understand why some are unhappy. Even myself, after having used Gutenberg for a few months, I feel as though I much rather write my posts in Pages or Google Docs and worry about the formatting later. Perhaps it’s the pessimist in me, but ‘click for tat’ doesn’t feel that great in the context of writers loving to write.

    The design possibilities look promising. Great themes have been built already, and looking forward to plugins that will provide extensive Blocks and functionality.

    Last but not least, good luck. There’s not enough reasons for me not to use Gutenberg now and come release.

  18. Notice how the comments section on your blog allows people to write intuitively and simply by adding multiple paragraphs in a single block? Like word processors, like DTP software, like presentation software, like paper?

    So can you give writers a single good reason why splitting up paragraphs into separate blocks simplifies and enhances the writing experience?

    That different sections or styles use separate blocks has a internal logic, but splitting body copy up into separate blocks is a code-first decision, not a user centric decision, and one that complicates the writing experience, forces people to reject and abandon thousands of years of writing culture.

    You are forcing humans to write in a new, non-intuitive un-human, inhuman way. That is not simplifying things.

    Yours, desperately hoping for for some WordPress love.

    1. This is a good point, and one we went back and forth a lot in the Gutenberg design process. The problem isn’t paragraphs, it’s the things that you may want to insert around the paragraphs like images. Pretending that the structure underlying the HTML doesn’t exist is what we tried for many years, now we’re going to try exposing it more so people can have a better mental model and control over what’s going on. This tweet is a good example:

      1. I do not want and do not need this; I just want to continue to write with the resources of always and do not understand the difficulty of keeping this in the experience natively provided by WordPress. Is that too much to ask?

    2. +100 (or more) to paulmarsden’s comment.

      After almost two years of Gutenberg it still feels wrong to have every paragraph in a new block.

      Writing in a Classic Block feels like relief. Sure, I could do that and let the editor convert the text to blocks, but that feels like buying a new car and then enter it through the sunroof as the doors won’t open.

      And the problem IS paragraphs. “body copy” is called “Fließtext” in German (literally “flowing text”). Gutenberg chops it to pieces and takes away the flow.

      I see the point in having a new block for say a gallery, but a new block for every single new paragraph is just plain overkill.

  19. Matt, thanks for sharing this! I think one of the biggest missing ingredients of this process has been a look at the hows and whys. In some ways, I think having this discussion more out in the open earlier on would have saved a lot of grief for everyone.

    To me (who is not a hardcore dev), so much of the discussion was on GitHub or the Make WordPress blog. Those are great forums, but I think more general public forum such as this really benefits the whole community. A place where everyone can easily participate without knowing React, for example, opens things up to everyone.

    I’m using Gutenberg daily and like a lot of things about it. There are some small usability issues I run into, but I know they’ll get ironed out over time.

  20. Onboarding, i.e. starting a new site, is still far too difficult compared to Squarespace. The whole process of choosing a template especially. There are too many providers offering overlapping wordpress services

  21. Matt, thanks for allowing me to speak with you from Chicago, IL USA on November 29, 2018 at 2:00pm regarding Gutenberg.

    I am very excited about Gutenberg as I mentioned. My goal is to help lead the adoption of Gutenberg here in Chicago as I did in helping create awareness for WordPress in Chicago when I created the very first Chicago WordPress Meetup Group on November 28, 2008. So it was actually kinda cool I got to speak with you personally almost 10-years to the date of when I founded Chicago WordPress Meetup Group.

    I will also follow-up on the recommendation you made for the proposal idea I shared in our conversation. I will reach out to Andrea Middleton at the WordPress Foundation and see how can help advocate Gutenberg adoption in Chicago and the major, surrounding Midwestern cities with larger WordPress Meetup populations.

    Thanks Matt!


    Dante Hamilton, founder
    Chicago WordPress Meetup Group

  22. Hi Matt,

    I have no claim to fame except that you liked one of my posts years ago (where I said what I would do if I were in your shoes regarding a security review)… so I’m going to try to do that again here by focussing on some solutions that have occurred to me while trying to more clearly understand the merge of Gutenberg into core.

    You say, “the overall goal is to simplify the first-time user experience of WordPress”… great! I understand and applaud the vision to give new users a better editing experience. But at the same time – and because of it – I urge you to deeply reconsider the actual block editor *rollout process*.

    I’d suggest this has nothing at all to do with whether the Gutenberg editor itself is “ready” or not – it could be the most perfect page editor in the world, but I feel like focussing on that is entirely missing (or distracting) from the real challenge, which is that the rollout into core must serve two contrasting user needs:

    1. Innovation. Serving new users a better editing experience.
    2. Stability. Serving *existing* users what they already have.

    The elephant in the room here is, existing sites already have content, and some of them already use other editors or page builders. By updating to WordPress 5, many will lose access to those editors/builders simply because they are integrated into the existing editor screen hooks, because Gutenberg takes over the editing screen. And it is of course not just those, but any other plugins and custom integrations that work with the existing editor screen. This is quite simply a negative user experience that, which similar to a site getting hacked, some users just won’t know how to recover from because they won’t know or understand what has changed (and sadly some of those will abandon WordPress altogether as a result.) Plus, allowing the declaration of metabox support in plugins to determine which editor is used creates an inconsistent user experience (as they could be active or inactive), and user settings for default site and post type editors (assuming they are made available) need to be honoured above this.

    But more than this, the update to WordPress 5 seems to assume that people are ready to try Gutenberg, when in fact, they may still not have even heard of it! Sorry to say, but the combined install counts for Gutenberg and Classic Editor plugins compared to the huge number of WordPress installs, show that the “Try Gutenberg” panel of 4.9 was totally insufficient to inform and prepare users on such a massive scale – triggering an alert email to all accounts with administrator (and possibly editor) roles would have to be the minimum for preparation for a possible “breaking change” this major – because of course not everyone updates via the WordPress admin and so won’t necessarily see that panel at all.

    It seems like from what I’ve read in your comments here – that you believe that a kind of “breaking change” is somehow required, that it’s “okay” to abandon backwards compatibility for major changes like this, ie. that this innovation must be had at the expense of stability. I truly and respectfully disagree, and suggest that any kind of “breaking” is entirely unnecessary! There is no requirement I can see for Gutenberg to break anything. Please please correct me if I’m wrong, I really and truly cannot see *anything* that could not be worked around on that front. (Sidenote: if you’re truly determined to make a breaking change, why not bump to a minimum of PHP 5.3 to enable the use of anonymous functions and namespaces that could be used to solve possible framework and dependency version conflicts etc.?)

    I believe instead, that breaking change is avoidable, and that it is entirely possible to both respect the existing user base and developer community, and offer new users the new editing experience. To do that, the true goal of the rollout process, for it to be as “anti-climactic” as you are claiming it could be, would need to be to *prevent* this potential negative user experience from happening in the first place. “We’re going to be doing another update to the Classic Editor before the 5.0 release to give it a bit more fine-grained user control…” is a good step, but still one that actually won’t prevent this user experience from happening, just allow those users to fix the newly-created problem after the fact. Why not instead solve the problem for them in the first place before releasing?

    So I digress with that in mind, and here give 3 possible solutions to achieve this:

    1. Non-intrusive. Include Gutenberg in core, but keep the existing editor as the default for existing installs. Allow users to “opt-in” rather than opt-out by giving them a button to switch to the new editor for any post with existing content. This would organically grow use and support for the new editing experience, give it more to time to evolve and gather more user feedback and bug reports with the least impact and breakage of existing sites.

    2. Technical. Have Gutenberg load *through* the existing editor page rather than replacing it. This has the advantage of being an “upstream” change that solves some of the later downstream challenges, eg. with metabox support and missing on-page hooks etc. It could also allow for on-screen editor switching, and thus give the easier option to users to change their existing content to Gutenberg formatting on a per-post basis as wanted. Even though the decision to replace the editor screen was made early on in Gutenberg’s development, it seems to me the underlying assumptions for that decision have changed by now, and the option to replace the editor screen could be easily reconsidered even at this late stage. It may not be as “performant” at the start, but that is a secondary that could be resolved by having more time for optimization freed up from these backwards compatibility concerns.

    3. Permissive. Instead of expecting users to install a separate plugin, push the “Classic Editor plugin” into core in the same release as Gutenberg. Or in other words – since it doesn’t really do anything yet than provide a user option to use Gutenberg or not! – simply provide that option in the Writing Settings screen. And of course include the “more fine-grained user control” options from the outset, as this will be the number one thing that can prevent breakage by allowing users to choose what suits their site and post type setup. Then, the after-update screen could simply give users the Classic Editor option(s) to let them make default editor selection(s) for their existing setup (but of course won’t need to be shown on a new install.)

    …or some combination of the above. But most importantly, some more respect needs to be given to end users to be able to choose *much more easily* both if and how they want to use the new editor. For I’d suggest that it is offering that respect that will mean MORE people will actually give Gutenberg a chance. But without it, inevitably there will be plenty more negative reactions to what feels like something being forced on them.

    Because there is a point where the philosophy “decisions not options” can go too far. While that philosophy has created a stable basis for WordPress to grow as a platform by choosing sane defaults for users, if you look at the current WordPress developer ecosystem today, what everyone is creatively building is often in providing MORE options, and it is that ecosystem of more flexibility that users are loving as much as WordPress itself. Given that, when is it time to consider if that philosophy has been outgrown by the community and no longer what it needs? Or at the very least, considering if the new block editor is a “sane default” for existing sites?

    Overall it seems to me like the current rollout process has made a lot of complex technical decisions to avoid one obvious and simple thing, to simply give the user a real choice for going forward – not just with or without Gutenberg – but with any combination of both using Gutenberg and not using it. Certainly both Gutenberg and core developers are doing the best they can given the current directive of how this rollout is to be achieved, but since you are the release lead, again I urge you to reconsider all these possible solutions before going forward. Thanks for your time in reading this, and while I am here, thank you for ***everything WordPress*** <3

  23. I have rolled out the Gutenberg plugin on all of our sites and have no intention of installing the Classic Editor plugin. I’m simply afraid of being left behind since there is so much new to explore in the Gutenberg World…

    If 5.0 breaks something, well then I’ll just have to fix it… Moving forward…

    1. The tools to write well is the least an editor should guarantee; if there is no solution to this problem in Gutenberg, I, and many of those I know, will simply switch platforms.

  24. Some of the biggest bumps in the road for Gutenberg have been around communication, so I appreciate this thorough and transparent summary. The bottom line is that if the WordPress mission is to democratize publishing, it must keep pace with user expectations for simplicity and flexibility — especially first-time users. Yes, the rest of us will need to evolve and adapt our workflows, but the potential benefits are great and transformational. I think we all want to see WordPress remain strong and viable in the coming years, so I entreat users of all types and levels to contribute your feedback and solutions as the editing interface moves into the future. Change is inevitable, but in open source we all have a voice.

  25. Now that the Automattic accessibility audit of Gutenberg is back on, can you tell us if this will be separate from the WPCampus audit or will Automattic be funding the WPCampus audit?

    On the one hand, I hate to see WPCampus have to crowd-fund it. On the other, I like the idea of two audits from two firms to compare and contrast.

  26. It’s good you’re addressing some concerns, but the elephant in the room is the Gutenberg plugin’s abysmal rating of 2.3/5 stars. There’s no spinning that, the fact that ratings aren’t improving over time, or how major plugin devs are deeply concerned about where WP is headed. I’ve been around since the early days of the b2 fork, and while there have been some controversies in WP’s history, I’ve never seen anything like this.

    Continuing to go ahead with what a majority of the community appears to loathe is a strange move that butts up against WP’s philosophy “that the core should provide features that 80% or more of end users will actually appreciate and use.”

    Gutenberg will obviously be useful to some, which is great, but will it be useful and appreciated by 80% or more of end users? So far, all signs point to no. So why is it still full steam ahead? Is it any wonder people have developed conspiracy theories?

    I can’t help but think there’s some loss aversion going on here, that core devs and decision makers may be, understandably, unwilling to admit the colossal amount of work they’ve put in for the core may actually be better suited to an optional setting or plugin. It sucks. I get it.

    But many (most?) users of the core do NOT want to be Weebly or Wix or Squarespace users—or even users—for a reason. Worse, Gutenberg presently interferes with lots of administrative processes made possible by other plugins and customizations. For every person or company that’s prepared for this by installing the Classic Editor, there will be several others who haven’t, who may not even use the dashboard to realize Gutenberg is on the horizon.

    I also strongly agree with Paul Marsden above. Gutenberg interferes with the natural writing process, which is more meandering and fluid than is allowed by the block system. I personally write, with HTML included, in a text editor, which allows me to move content around faster than Gutenberg ever will. I then paste my finished work to WordPress. This is a common workflow for freelance writers, who often send Word or other text/HTML documents to editors / content managers, who then paste the text into WP.

    To date, Gutenberg has yet to properly accept what I paste into it. It often breaks complex tables, occasionally freaks out over nested content, and completely ignores some code for embedded content. I dislike page builders immensely, but even if I didn’t, Gutenberg wouldn’t be appropriate for most of my writing.

    There are an astonishing number of red flags waving, so I’ll continue to be a squeaky wheel because I love WordPress and want it to succeed. I’m not at all pleased with where things are headed, but this open communication feels like a small step in the right direction, so thank you.

  27. Part of me is very excited to try Gutenberg but for all my (many) existing sites that have little or no regular content updates it just worries me that it will not be fully backwards compatible with all the older themes and plugins.

    So I really appreciate the Classic Editor – my feedback is that I would prefer that be a default for all existing sites and Gutenberg be the default only for new installs.

  28. Gutenberg – I love it.

    I switched it off a few weeks ago!

    As a Head of IT I am very used to dealing with resistance to change and all of that stuff. I am also aggressive about resolving any issue which will negatively impact “my” end users.

    As a WordPress user I AM that end user, My posting / blogging / writing time is limited. I need the tool to just work!!
    At every Gutenberg update something else has broken. I don’t have time to troubleshoot it – I need it to work.

    Gutenberg – I love it. But I’ll let it mature for a while before hitting the WordPress 5.0 update button.

      1. I’ll be watching WordPress 5 as patch releases come out. I’ll definitely be using it at some point.
        A key for me is mobile performance, though I am not fond of the app. Gutenberg worked well, despite its issues, when used on a mobile phone (Huawei Mate 10 Pro) to produce a simple “couple of photos and some text” post.
        Watching and waiting… .

    1. It’s not from Automattic, it’s made by an open source team with hundreds of contributors, the majority of them not even from Automattic. Different folks from the company contributed a ton of work, of course, and I’m proud of that.

  29. Hi Matt, reading through the FAQ’s here and also watched the State of the Word today…wanted to first say thank you for showing a slide with a theme I made “Salal”. Anyway, it’s mentioned that the Classic Editor will be supported until 2022 (the end of 2021) which is good news for many. However, with the additional phases of WordPress you are planning, removing widgets, the menus, etc., this is going to dramatically change the back-end of WordPress in the next short-while.

    Does this mean that users will still have to use a new dashboard, customizer, and blocks for widgets and menus, while creating posts with the classic editor? The concern is how this will work if the new phases will basically need Gutenberg and blocks to manage a site while someone is using the classic editor? For me, my concern is being able to manage a complex website with tons of content (various types of content) and widgets.

    1. I don’t know exactly how that would look yet — it is possible someone could use classic for writing posts and blocks for managing their sidebar.

      1. Thanks for the follow up Matt. Any rough estimate when you might know when a beta of this (phase 2) will be available? By late Spring or summer 2019 perhaps?