Gutenberg Fuckup

Image | RF dreamstime

WordPress Gutenberg? Yes[ ] No[ ] Maybe[ ]

Gutenberg, the new editor on board with WordPress 5.0 by default, divides the minds. The ratings the plugin has received so far are, let’s say, not overly enthusiastic.

Gutenberg Ratings

It is important to understand what Gutenberg has in store for us in order to make good strategic decisions for ourselves and our customers. The following article will support you in this.

What is the Problem?

First of all, WordPress is an OpenSource project, in which many developers have participated since 2003 free of charge. It is subject to the GPLv2 (or higher) license. In 2005, the inventor of WordPress,Matt Mullenweg, founded Automattic. Automattic’s business model is based on paid WordPress products. Among the products are the hosting service WordPress.com, the plugins WooCommerceJetPack, Akismet, the avatar hosting service Gravatar and many more.

What is now causing the restlessness is that WordPress.org, the “genuine and free” WordPress, does not belong to Automattic, but rather to the OpenSource community, which has invested a lot in further development, and has been very successful for many years. Automattic makes its sales with the plugins and services docked to WordPress and thus has a strategic interest in the software that does not necessarily coincide with the interest of the community. Maybe you have invested in WordPress to sell your own themes, plugins or services? If Automattic now decides to publish Gutenberg quickly, this may be exactly what you least want for your product and business model.

Pro-Gutenberg

It is indeed the case that the TinyMCE, which comes with WordPress, has been quite old-fashioned for some years now. A contemporary way to arrange content on articles and pages like with a page builder makes sense. That’s probably why there are so many page builders who are fighting a real battle for market share.  With Gutenberg, however, Vanilla-WordPress is definitely taking a big step forward. Provided the general conditions are correct, but more about that later.

Gutenberg Pragmatically

Some agencies from the WordPress universe are now simply saying ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ and preparing for the new climate. Elmarstudios makes its themes Gutenberg-Ready, Elementor creates a Gutenberg Blocks Plugin, Pootlepress develops Storefront-Blocks, ACF introduces Gutenberg Blocks and an Embed Privacy Plugin already exists, which loads Gutenberg-Block contents GDPR-compliant only after the user’s consent.

Contra-Gutenberg

Many people and agencies who have been involved with WordPress for years, such as Automattic, have developed their products around WordPress. Themes, plugins and page builders; they have invested in these products and they are now often the basis of their existence. Especially the page builder market is highly competitive. WPBakery, The Divi Builder, Beaver Builder, Elementor, Thrive Architec or the one from SiteOrigin … all Page-Builders that become more or less obsolete with Gutenberg. Maybe not completely but Gutenberg will be Page-Builder, and certainly also themes with integrated Page-Builders like Avada and Enfold, cost a lot of sales and market shares. Gutenberg may not be the greatest page builder far and wide, but he’s on board with WordPress. Simply so, without costs and additional expenditure.

Apart from the potential loss of revenue, a full-stack WordPress developer – someone who can design and manipulate SQL databases, codes PHP, knows HTML and CSS well, and can code JavaScript – would need to learn React to write Gutenberg Blocks. In fact, according to a Twitter survey 70% of WordPress developers have no experience using React at all. It could as well be categorically rejected by some devs because React is the JavaScript library from Facebook. In 2017, there were disagreements over the licensing of React and Automattic wanted to move away from it. So it’s a political issue and a dependency on Facebook WordPress is putting up with React, Gutenberg’s core technology.

All those whose livelihood threatens to swim away with Gutenberg will of course defend themselves against the new in-core editor with everythiing they got. But Automattic flexes its muscles as they push that thing through.

Gutenberg in Action

I know most PageBuilders more or less intimate, but in order to be able to form a well-founded opinion on Gutenberg, I had to examined the Gutenberg-Plugin intensively. I developed a multilingual, DSGVO-compliant InfluencerBlog with PolylangPukekoCloudflareCDN and of course Gutenberg.

POTR Galery
Pia On The Road w/ Gutenberg

Operational it isn’t that bad at all, which will also be due to the fact that Gutenberg is at the beginning of his life cycle and is therefore not overloaded with functions. Small, pretty galleries can be arranged with it and the workflow is quite intuitive and fluid. Blocks can be transported between pages by copying the HTML and I especially like the distraction-free mode.

Of course all this is not finished yet and has to be sanded down, but that’s what’s happening right now. There are two points though that I’m worried about.

Data protection and GDPR compliance

All embed blocks that can be used to embed content from social networks such as Twitter, YouTube, Facebook and the like are a DSGVO nightmare in their current form. How can you make sure that the overzealous editor just doesn’t use all the embeds? Well, probably via a filter in the child theme that swallows the whole embed category, but fortunately there is also the Embed Privacy Plugin for this and in the Core Privacy V2 Roadmap a remedy was announced for this. WordPress traditionally doesn’t care much about GDPR, but optimistic as I am I’d say: check!

Release without Accessibility

I would like to say in advance that from January 2010 all new EUROPA websites will have to be developed in accordance with the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0, Accessible Level AA. This IPG rule is a binding requirement and must be respected in the development of EUROPA websites. Currently, work is underway to extend this rule to business, and this is a good thing, as the Internet is often particularly important for people with disabilities.

Recently, Rian Rietveld suddenly resigned from her position as Gutenberg’s accessibility lead. New accessibility lead is Matthew MacPherson and guess what Mr McPherson is doing first: announce that he would rather release it for the users who will find it usable … and accept not everyone can use Gutenberg on Day One and closes with the words: No one is forcing anyone to use Gutenberg when 5.0 launches. So this is the new Accessibilitychief at Gutenberg. Someone has obviously been pushed to this position that places release date above accessibility.

It’s not just me who doesn’t like the way Automattic deals with topics that are important to the community. I’m very curious how Gutenberg and the acceptance of the community will continue.

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