Gutenberg and the WordPress of Tomorrow by Morten Rand-Hendriksen

While attending WordCamp US 2017, there were a number of sessions that stood out to me. Gutenberg and the WordPress of Tomorrow by Morten Rand-Hendriksen was one of them.

Hendriksen explains the state of WYSIWYG in WordPress and how it doesn't really exist but Gutenberg provides opportunities to change that. He explores developing sites without being confined to a small view port. He also performs a live demo of Gutenberg showing off its capabilities.

An interesting outcome from his presentation is the amount of optimism and excitement it generated from the audience. During the question and answer session, a member of the audience commented on how far Gutenberg has advanced in the last three months and that it looks cool to use now.

To gain insight into how Gutenberg can moonshot WordPress over its competition, watch Hendriksen's presentation.

80 Comments


  1. Re: “Gutenberg can moonshot WordPress over its competition”

    Please explain. What do you consider to be the “competition”?

    Gutenberg is too little, too late. Most people struggle to explain what it is, why it’s better than existing editor, or why it’s supposedly better than whatever they think the competition is (Squarespace etc?).

    It seems Gutenberg is severely limited by its ties to the legacy of WordPress. Which could be why it takes a nearly one hour presentation to explain it?

    Don’t WordPress users need and deserve better? :)

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    1. +1

      @Matt never clarifies what “competition” is. Squarespace/Wix/Weebly is WordPress.com’s competition and has nothing to do with .org. This is a pretty obvious conflict of interest.

      WordPress.org is already winning the CMS competition by a long shot (Joomla is at 6% compared to WP’s 60%).

      Gutenberg is not what the .org community wants. Implement it in .com because I understand that’s where Matt gets his income from, but leave .org alone on this one.

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      1. @Andrew

        Great points. Your comments also point to another elephant in the room, WordPress.com vs. WordPress.org.

        Like the headline of this article, most people don’t distinguish between the .com version and the .org version. A re-branding is long overdue, and the longer it takes, the worse it gets. Unless, I guess, Matt has plans to merge the two?

        I also must disagree about who the “competition” is. I think a broader interpretation is necessary. For most end users, they’re probably looking for the best website solution, not the best open source vs. closed source website builder, etc.

        It’s like the famous misstep of the train industry back in the day. Train companies thought their competition was other train companies. But actually, their competition was of course, all methods of transporting people and goods. As a result, they were caught flatfooted by the airplane and automobile industries.

        Hopefully WordPress learns from the mistakes of the train industry, and realizes that their .org competition is not just other open source options. WordPress.org’s competition is all established and upcoming website / blog services.

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      2. Competition is often cited as Squarespace, Wix, their new user experience as well as their UI, editing, and other experiences. How do you know Gutenberg is not what the community wants? I was in a room with 2,000 WordPress people at WordCamp US as a live demo was performed of Gutenberg and the level of excitement and optimism expressed by people was hard to miss.

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    2. Well Mr. Negative, if Gutenberg is too little, too late, than what do you propose? It’s like you’re writing it off before it even has a chance. The one hour presentation isn’t about explaining it, it’s about the Why.

      Is there anything about WordPress, its community, or its ecosystem that you see as a positive? You’ve used the comment section on the Tavern for many months as a soapbox to air your seemingly never-ending list of grievances with the software. At what point do you move on from something that gives you so much grief?

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      1. Negativity: It may frustrate you, but a lot of people have “negative” things to say about WordPress, including web designers, developers, end users, etc. And not because they’re overall “negative” people or are unfairly attacking WordPress. But because WordPress, as even Matt agrees, has become too expensive and complicated for most people. And don’t forget, as popular as WordPress is, 70% or so of website owners still choose something else.

        Gutenberg: I haven’t seen an article or presentation that makes Gutenberg look like a “moonshot WordPress over its competition.” Most people seem to be confused by it, hate it, or still unaware of it. I think it’s more accurate to say that Gutenberg is an attempt by WordPress to not fall too far behind the competition. Whatever it is, it’s still an incomplete solution that doesn’t eliminate the fast growing market for 3rd party plugins like page builders (whether you love ’em or hate ’em).

        Competition: Are you referring to WordPress.org, WordPress.com, or both? Don’t you agree that the .org and .com versions are confusing to a lot of people and very bad branding?

        WordCamps: While these are popular events, they are basically rallies for people who make their living using WordPress. So I don’t see them as being truly representative of how the “world” views WordPress or Gutenberg.

        Thank you for “listening.”

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      2. Careful, Jeff, things like ” You’ve used the comment section on the Tavern for many months as a soapbox to air your seemingly never-ending list of grievances with the software. At what point do you move on from something that gives you so much grief?” are VERY close to ‘be positive or leave’ and while I don’t think that’s what you mean, you DO control what shows up so I think you want to be incredibly impartial in appearances as well as fact (and you have to this point).

        In fact, I think his point is a good one – how DO we know this is what people want? There doesn’t seem to have been any focus group research, etc. There’s no clear statement of the WHY. What’s the market demand? What do actual users of WP want? What are their frustrations, etc? More importantly, why are we asking this on a website like this vs finding the answers on an official WP page?

        Yes, you saw a good reaction in Wordcamp US… how representative is that of the people who do frontline, day to day content management with WP? Not very. Aside from the people who live nearby everyone there cares enough about WP to fly in, get a hotel, etc.

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      3. Jeff, I think it would be helpful if you compare the amount of time and expense “free” WordPress requires compared to other software. Maybe you can, but I can’t think of any other popular software (open source or not, web-related or not) that requires the amount of time and expense as WordPress does.

        That’s why so many people are expressing their frustration. To most people, WordPress is just one of many applications (“tools”) they must use and rely upon. They don’t “love” it any more than they “love” Word or Chrome, they simply want to use it to perform a necessary function.

        For example, most hammers are just tools to most of us. But some hammers can evoke strong emotion because they are from someone or sometime special in your life.

        So please understand that most people are not emotionally attached to WordPress, and their criticisms should not be seen as a personal attack. Instead, they and their feedback should be valued. Simply put, they just want and need WordPress to perform as it is marketed. They certainly shouldn’t be attacked and put down for taking time out of their busy days to express their generally well-articulated opinions.

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      4. I am leaving WordPress for pretty much the reasons “Mr. Negative” has stated. I spent most of my time to work on my sites this year on evaluating and test driving other CMS. I found a few which I liked and now I am moving my sites to b2evolution. I have four moved so far.

        The biggest problem with leaving WordPress was moving content into a new CMS. Too few have a good, working, method to make this simple. I hope that will change. I’m really happy to read that others are not so impressed with WordPress. When I started looking at other options late in 2016 I had to explain to even my web host why I wanted out of WordPress. I was even attacked by someone who came from WP Tavern to leave a very nasty comment on my own site.

        Anyway, I agree about Word Camps. It’s like asking members of a cult how much they like the cult. People are biased.

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      5. “Well Mr. Negative….”

        Seriously??? WTF? You openly admit that you don’t have clients Matt (oh…I mean Jeff – easy mistake) yet you think it’s ok to put down someone that does.

        What makes you think you have the place to even consider talking like that to someone who make his living with WP?

        You’re becoming more and more a shill for Ma.tt every single day. It’s growing very tiring…

        WordPress is going to live or die based on what the dev community at large decides to do with this disaster. My company has 100s of clients invested in WP and I’m gonna be one pissed off MFer if this wanna-be page builder borks everything (obviously the final version will be tested to death before I ever let it near a client site – that alone is going to cost me a small fortune).

        We may just end up forking <5.0 and keeping it internal. It might be cheaper for me in the end. Lord knows I can pay my guys to fix bugs rather than test something that will likely never even see the light of day for us.

        If there is a mass exodus when 5.0 screws every single WP site on the planet (and it will based on the current trajectory) WordPress .com AND .org will die a very quick death. King Matt is certainly betting the farm on this 1st generation page-builder.

        The competition (Beaver Builder, Divi, etc, etc, etc) is light years ahead and doing a better job than core will EVER be able to do since they can't seem to make any decision unless they argue about it for years. To pull this off with a perfect team would be virtually impossible. With the sorry state that core has been in for years – it's never happen.

        Go ahead Matt (argh….Jeff) – feel free to call me Mr. Negative as well. You don't have a butt load of income on the line so what do you care? If WP self-destructs you'll just have more to write about.

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      6. And, Jeff, you respond with ‘Lol’. I’m done here. You’re sounding more and more like some teenage gamer than a responsible adult and given that you don’t actually have anything on the line in business terms, your opinion isn’t really worth much here.

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      7. I can see how you interpreted my response that way, but come on, the whole “You’re becoming more and more a shill for Ma.tt every single day. It’s growing very tiring…” is laughable and so, lol in my eyes was an appropriate response. I don’t need to run an agency or be a consultant with clients to know of and understand the risks of the transition. I’m very aware of what’s at stake for many people, in fact, JJJ, Morten and I had a great conversation about this on episode 297 of WordPress Weekly that I encourage you to listen too. You and others have legitimate concerns. I believe there are smart people doing what they can to solve the technical problems and help ease the transition as much as possible. Now, you might not agree based on certain Github issues not being responded too or the lack of a definitive roadmap, but I’ve got faith. Matt has a lot at stake as well as the success of Gutenberg is on his shoulders.

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      8. By the way, we plan on having Matt Mullenweg on WordPress Weekly for Episode 300, if you’d like, you can send me a list containing a few questions or concerns you’d like me to bring up to him directly.

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      9. Wow just wow is all I have to say. @bob, your reply is classic. I get that you are worried about income. But here is a perfect example of testing and working with it while it’s in a workable state, before it’s widely released. Take two, three days and see how it operates. Than bash / praise it and try to offer solutions to fix the problems you see.

        My company decided that we would take the risk and run Gutenberg in production. Mind you, we have made some slight modifications to make it work for our case, but it works. It does the job we want it to do.

        The reasons we chose to move in this direction, it solved many problems other “well established” page builders brought up.

        1) Post meta is that. It’s a meta field. Using content in post meta is a hack. The lookups to Post meta can easily slow a site down. When you have +10,000 uniques a day, performance is everything and using your DB efficiently is important. You can cache all day long, but there is still a lookup needed. Gutenberg stores all content where it’s supposed to be, in the post_content field.

        2) Most “established” plugins are full of code / bloat that we don’t need or want. Again, this is a performance decision. We rolled the idea of building our own. Didn’t work in our timeline and Gutenberg was announced on the day we decided to move forward with our giant rework of our bloated WordPress.

        There are other things I can point to that go beyond what an “established” page builder offered us vs what Gutenberg did for us out of the box.

        Sure this is beta software, but in the end, need to embrace the direction. Our main site sees +10,000 unique hits a day. This is clean and efficient, most of all, our content creators love it. Since, at the end of the day, these our the main stakeholders / clients, we will continue to use Gutenberg and look forward to when this is added to core.

        Ultimately, one thing everyone is ignoring, this is open source. If you don’t like what’s happening, get involved. Don’t make excuses. The big agencies pay a single individual or teams to be a core contributor. If you have a staff of people, ask one or two to get involved. You know what’s best for your clients. So stop whining and get involved.

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      10. This is great to hear. What challenges have you run into so far with running Gutenberg in production?

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      11. No worries Rick. That’s about what I expected out of Jeff.

        He’s paid by Matt to run this site. The more FUs there are with WP the more he has to write about. Bad WP = job security for him. Someday Matt will throw one of his famous little hissy fits and Jeff will be out the door – with no clients to back him up.

        Sorry if I hurt your wittle feewings Jeff. You have nothing at stake here so your opinion is worthless.

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      12. You didn’t hurt my feelings. You made me laugh and brought a little bit of joy to my life. Even the Grinch who stole Christmas figured out a way to be nice. Happy holidays Bob.

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      13. Gutenberg stores all content where it’s supposed to be, in the post_content field.

        🙄

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    3. What do you consider to be the “competition”?

      The competition to WordPress status quo is anything and everything not WordPress. That includes Wix, SquareSpace, The Grid, Medium, Ghost, custom site building engines from hosts, and everything else. On top of that comes emerging platforms, changing end-user behavior, new publishing and aggregation tools like AMP, Facebook Instant Articles, Progressive Web Apps, etc.

      For WordPress to thrive, it has to evolve with the expectations of its users and their end-users. Staying where we are now because it’s convenient means we’ll be left in the cloud of smoke from the jet engines of everyone else in a year.

      Gutenberg is too little, too late. Most people struggle to explain what it is, why it’s better than existing editor, or why it’s supposedly better than whatever they think the competition is (Squarespace etc?).

      I created my talk to fill this vacuum. One of the major challenges to Gutenberg and WordPress is communicating what’s going on and where we’re going. The short answer is WordPress is moving from page- and post-based content displays to dynamic blocks placed in views that can be templated. This is in line with where the rest of the web is going, and is WordPress’ opportunity to take the lead and move web technologies forward.

      It seems Gutenberg is severely limited by its ties to the legacy of WordPress.

      It is right now, but it doesn’t have to be. Lots of people are working on evolving WordPress beyond its current legacy debt. You can be part of that process too. This is open source: What You Contribute Is What You Get.

      Which could be why it takes a nearly one hour presentation to explain it?

      Gutenberg can be explained in 5 minutes. Providing the historical context, what new capabilities it grants WordPress users, and where it allows us to go next takes a bit more time. Then you need to leave room for questions so people can contextualize what they’ve heard in a meaningful way.

      Don’t WordPress users need and deserve better? :)

      WordPress users deserve the best the community can provide. If you have an idea, step forward and propose it. Contribution comes in all forms, not just pull requests. Take this opportunity to help shape the future of our shared project, and help it move forward by providing constructive critique and new ideas.

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      1. Hi Morten,

        Nicely put. If more WordPress pros were so level-headed and not so defensive and fanatical about WordPress, it would encourage more constructive dialogue, which in turn would lead to a better WordPress world.

        Though I appreciate your thoughtful comments, I must take strong exception to “This is open source: What You Contribute Is What You Get.” That’s a cop out for WordPress.

        Firefox, Chrome, and Android are also examples of very popular open-source software. But unlike Firefox etc, many in the WordPress community seem to believe that anyone who uses WordPress (and especially anyone who criticizes it) is somehow obligated to donate their valuable and limited time (and creative ideas) to help fix what ails WordPress, including even NON-programmers and END-users who make -0- income from WordPress.

        That is clearly a flawed and unsustainable strategy, especially if WordPress expects busy business people to keep choosing or sticking with WordPress. This is particularly true since WordPress is being pushed so far beyond its core functions, that WordPress sites basically require a bunch of third-party services and plug-ins, some of which are also “open-source software,” but many of which are freemium or paid for services and software. Do you donate your time to every piece of “open-source” software that you use?

        Again, I respect and appreciate your comments. But strongly disagree that just because someone uses WordPress, they shouldn’t air their grievances unless they’re willing and able to work for free for WordPress because it’s open-source software. That sorta of thinking makes the WordPress community look way out of touch, and also too much like a cult. :)

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      2. Most of the competition cited above are those of the wp.com + Jetpack family, not wp.org users, and so should Gutenberg be targeted. I don’t think it’s “too little too late”.
        From your presentation it does look as a really great tool and fantastic innovation.
        But simply at the wrong place, targeting wrong audience.

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      3. @scott

        But strongly disagree that just because someone uses WordPress, they shouldn’t air their grievances unless they’re willing and able to work for free for WordPress because it’s open-source software.

        That’s not what I’m proposing, though I can see how it may have come across like that. My point is because WordPress is open source, the application evolves along whatever path the community chooses. For people with a vested interest in WordPress, be that a business, an enterprise solution, a plugin, a theme, or a blog, taking part in the conversation and expressing what they want, what they need, and where they want the platform to go is contribution to the project.

        You are absolutely right that open source in general and WordPress in particular have a huge problem with expectations of free labor, and this is something we need to address in a constructive way. However, in this context I am not asking people to donate their time to the project. Instead I’m asking them to think about how this project affects their work/life/product and share that information with the community so issues can be addressed and great ideas can be promoted.

        My mother taught my brothers and I that it’s important to make a distinction between critique and criticism. One is constructive, the other destructive. Because the majority of people who contribute to WordPress are doing it for free or for meager pay, providing constructive feedback is vital for the ecosystem. That’s not because they are weak or sensitive or anything like that. It’s because they are human beings who donate their time and work to a larger project and try to build solutions that help millions of people around the world publish their ideas and creations online. Being repeatedly told your work is bad or that you are destroying things when you are trying to make them better is demoralizing no matter what situation you are in. Having someone step in and say “hey, I see what you are trying to do, but this is not working the way I expected. Here’s what I think should happen instead” on the other hand is both helpful and constructive.

        Think of it this way: Even a comment here on WPTavern is a contribution to the WordPress project. If that comment helps move the project forward, even when “forward” ends up meaning “backwards” or some new direction, it is an important contribution. If that comment merely trashes the project and builds animosity, nobody benefits and the project suffers as a result.

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      4. My point is because WordPress is open source, the application evolves along whatever path the community chooses.

        That’s naive. Gutenberg is being developed because Matt wants it to be. There was no demand from ‘the community’ for it or for it to be the gang feature in 5.0. That’s Matt.

        Yes, the community influences things but let’s not pretend that Automattic doesn’t have a huge influence. I don’t MIND that, but this fantasy that some large community decides things really needs to go. Open source projects are always move in directions that the most involved developers are interested in.

        That’s fine in most cases but WP is, I think, so large that it’s inevitable that a tiny percentage of people will be the ones most involved. IF even 10% of the people who actively create themes and plugins actually started being submitting pull requests etc the system would break.

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      5. You bring up valid points. When Morten raised the issue of Telemetry in WordPress and obtaining usage data on a large scale to help make informed decisions, I thought about the 80/20 rule and I also wondered why Gutenberg was a thing. To my knowledge, there have not been hundreds or thousands of people clamoring for a new editor or for something that Gutenberg in its full implementation will enable. So then, what is the Why behind Gutenberg? That is what I think Morten addresses in his video. But at the end of the day, Gutenberg is a project that was created by Matt and by getting a few Automatticians to work on it, is bypassing the typical WordPress development process to speed up the timeline of its eventual inclusion into core.

        Matt decided that Gutenberg is the future of WordPress and is doing what is necessary to make it a reality sooner rather than later. It’s one example of him being the captain of the ship and telling everyone on-board we’re going a certain direction. You can jump overboard or come along for the ride and hope for the best lol.

        If you take a clean install of WordPress, how many features do you think are largely influenced by Automattic? Meaning, they fulfill a purpose specifically for the benefit of Automattic?

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      6. @ Rick,

        That’s naive. Gutenberg is being developed because Matt wants it to be. There was no demand from ‘the community’ for it or for it to be the gang feature in 5.0. That’s Matt.

        +1. You have proved consistently to be a voice of reason and sanity throughout this unnecessary episode.

        @Morten,

        Being repeatedly told your work is bad or that you are destroying things when you are trying to make them better is demoralizing no matter what situation you are in. Having someone step in and say “hey, I see what you are trying to do, but this is not working the way I expected. Here’s what I think should happen instead” on the other hand is both helpful and constructive.

        Sorry, Morten, but trying to justify your previous comment to Scott with this argument doesn’t wash either. Because it means, in the end, that the only people who can legitimately offer critical comments are those with the technical expertise to suggest an alternative technique. That rules out the overwhelming majority of WordPress users.

        Sadly, it’s also been among the most common responses of those developing Gutenberg.

        It’s also 100% wrong to for someone to develop something like Gutenberg and ask for feedback, and then to complain when the feedback isn’t what the developers want to hear.

        In any event, it’s almost impossible to avoid making what you call destructive criticism when constructive criticism is entirely ignored.

        Here’s a prime example. Not so long ago, the buttons on the TinyMCE toolbars were changed around. While this change makes semantic sense, user feedback showed that it was essentially pointless because the overwhelming majority of users start by opening up all the toolbars anyway so that all the buttons are visible before they start writing.

        Yet what do the Gutenberg developers do with the buttons? Hide them away until the user clicks on the right place to make them available! What? Are you kidding me?

        But that’s not all. A reviewer called @angejann made this cogent comment on wordpress.org:

        From a UX/Accessibility point of view, it is disappointing to see the block options hidden under a plus icon, instead of utilising the available space (given there is not an extensive number of blocks) and creating a visually beautiful toolbar akin to successful word processing apps.

        The response from Tammie Lister is telling:

        I’m interested when you say about a toolbar, do you not feel that having everything on display would be too much for users?

        No, Tammie. And you should already know that. Fortunately, @angejann remains calmer than many others would in such circumstances, and simply refers Tammie to this.

        Well done, @angejann, for keeping cool. But it’s easy to see why others don’t when even the simplest constructive criticism gets repeatedly ignored.

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      7. @Morten

        Your intentions seem thoughtful and genuine. However, it’s getting to sound like we’re talking about the “Church of WordPress.”

        To put it bluntly, this whole warm and fuzzy WordPress “community” stuff is illogical, vague, and unsustainable, especially for software that’s being pushed and marketed to be used for business sites.

        There are no defined roles, no defined tasks, and no defined timelines, There’s no defined anything really. The WordPress “community” claim is being used as something to throw at someone who says they’re frustrated with WordPress.

        It’s like caring enough about your local “community” to go to a city council meeting to raise a stink about broken streetlights, and then for the city council’s response to be blaming you (and your neighbors) for not doing enough to maintain the streetlights (while you’re not at work or spending time with friends and family?).

        BTW, did you know Squarespace reportedly raised about $200 million at a $1.7 billion valuation? (note: I’m not promoting Squarespace, and do not currently use it)

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      8. Morten,

        The frustration you sense here is because feedback is ignored or trivialized. Hell, look at your GitHub issue about providing a plain language roadmap (https://github.com/WordPress/gutenberg/issues/3354). Still open. Not assigned. 45 days later.

        When polite feedback is ignored and swept under the rug, you get impolite feedback. As someone who’s led large product efforts, it’s apparent to me that there’s no actual management. There’s UX/UI design and there’s Dev leadership but theres no product leader (and no, Matt doesn’t count). That we don’t even have a date and critical feature set at this point, much less defined use-cases and personas is, frankly, amazing. And not in a good way.

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  2. I watched the video of the WordCamp in Nashville….a couple disconcerting things that caught my attention…from audience questions where Matt really didn’t answer fully.

    1. One asking about people who won’t use Gutenberg, does it mean that plugin and theme devs will have to maintain two versions; one for the current classic editor and one for Gutenberg? Seems as though the answer was a bit too confident that this won’t be needed and not to worry.

    2. Another asked about the choice of using the classic editor. Matt started to answer then a slight pause with “for a little while”. Meaning that sure, the plugin for the classic editor can be used….just for a little while then you’re out of luck after that.

    I watched the demos and even if others may disagree, I am thinking about the typical WP user who will find it messy, confusing, hard to find things (and remember where things are), and discover too many mouse clicks are involved. Everything is spread out and around.

    I’m still not sold on Gutenberg, but as a theme developer, I will still need to make sure my themes are kept simple for Gutenberg compatibility. It’s going to put limitations on theme design.

    A friend of mine said what WordPress should have done was fork a separate WordPress that is built from the ground up without dependency of PHP and built around Gutenberg for “blog sites” only. Then, rebuild the existing WP for more of a full CMS concept.

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    1. 1. Definitely something that will need to be addressed.
      2. The Classic editor plugin will provide the buffer time window necessary to ease the migration. At some point, it would likely make sense to stop maintaining it or put it up for adoption. In WordPress, you’re ever rarely out of luck.

      “It’s going to put limitations on theme design.” How? From what I saw, Gutenberg opens up incredible opportunities for Theme Design or more appropriately, templates for blocks. View port confinements will be eliminated and users/developers will be able to have content or blocks exactly where they want them. How does that limit theme design?

      https://wordpress.org/plugins/disable-blogging/ here you go, no forking necessary for a more CMS concept.

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      1. In Lean WP I am planning to address Gutenberg too, so that would be another option for more focused towards CMS concepts.

        I have tried the classic editor plugin, but find it a pain, because it still let’s me tick a box before the classic editor is back. It is clearly designed to try and win more souls for Gutenberg instead of simply disabling the lot.

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  3. An interesting outcome from his presentation is the amount of optimism and excitement it generated from the audience.

    That tells us that Morten was a good presenter. It tells us nothing about Gutenberg.

    moonshot

    I think you mean “longshot.”

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    1. I was in a room with 2,000 plus WordPress users during the Gutenberg demo at WCUS and the excitement and optimism was there and expressed by many in the audience. Many of whom walked away impressed with what is possible in Gutenberg already. I guess that means Matias is a good presenter too when in fact, it was Gutenberg doing most of the presenting.

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      1. I’ve been on demonstrations literally hundreds of times bigger than that. By the end of most of them, most participants have left with a palpable feeling of “excitement and optimism.” Yet, guess what: that was despite the subject of the demonstration, not because of it!

        If people get excited and optimistic at an event, it’s always because of the presenter(s). Otherwise, there’d be no point in having such events. You could simply send out a newsletter instead.

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      2. You have to ask yourself Jeff….of the 2000 or so participants, how many were developers (especially those who live for Automattic) and how many were typical end-users from the “millions” out there who use WordPress…It’s really going to be the end-user who determines the success or failure of Gutenberg and Matt’s vision of WP. For developers, it will be a headache for many, but eventually most will have no choice but to adapt.

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      3. Jeff, is there a video of that session?

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  4. What I have not seen yet in any talk or blog post out there is a step-by-step guide to converting a plugin that registers a simple custom post type with a metabox with some fields (a text field, a textarea, a dropdown and a image, for example) and a couple of custom taxonomies to a fixed Gutenberg template. Yes, I know about wordpress.org/gutenberg, but I’m missing a detailed and thorough tutorial to help me convert my plugins to the new paradigm. Is there anything like that out there?

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    1. Indeed Robert, there’s some basic examples in this handbook but no explanation about how to include for example input fields in a block. So for me these examples are useless.

      Found out today that just adding rest API support while registering the custom post type and custom taxonomy works for now; the content of my meta box and custom cats are listed in the Gutenberg editor.

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  5. I remember when Gutenberg first came out, and it was severely lacking in features. Back then I was very wary of the way this would look like. But seeing presentations on WCUS (from my living room, but still) I was really pleasantly surprised and optimistic. The way it works, and the possibilities that it offers are great.

    I think that people are still worried because they didn’t track the progress the Gutenberg editor is doing.

    Sure there are concerns – meta box support is still not perfect, and I know a lot of people are building their sites using ACF as a ‘site builder’ (which has its own drawbacks), plugins will have to be updated to work with it – I have two that I haven’t tested with Gutenberg, and I still didn’t try it with my theme, so plugin and theme devs will have to spend some time testing it. And the issue is that the time they test things is the time they are not making any money. And they kinda need that to live…

    Also not to mention the backward compatibility that I think is still not solved – I tested the Gutenberg on sites with existing content, and just wrapping everything in a ‘neutral’ block is not ideal.

    The point is – sure there is still much to be done, and we have about 4 months until it lands in the core, but it is a way forward, and I really like what it will bring (from user and developers point of view).

    Plus using CSS grid is a great way to pave the way forward for the whole front end community :)

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    1. I think Gutenberg will be fine for new sites. Possible UX and retraining issues aside, that part doesn’t really concern me. My concerns are really in two groups:

      1) Migrating existing sites, esp with ACF fields. I don’t use ACF as a site builder, I use it to structure content so that the people who manage the content don’t have to know anything about HTML etc and can simply fill out fields. Intelligent use of ACF can also let me enforce things about that content so that a content manager can’t accidentally screw up.

      There are two sub-points here: First, that if the sites don’t migrate cleanly there could be substantial development needed to move them forward and someone has to pay for that. It’s hard to tell a client that they need to when they aren’t going to see anything new out of the investment. If I have to eat those hours, then I’m paying by giving free development away. Second, that we don’t have a roadmap with critical feature list and don’t know if there’s a stable API for plugin devs to develop against, combined with the fact that we STILL don’t have a release date that’s more specific than 2018 which, of course, is useless for planning purposes.

      2) Less critical but still important, we don’t have a final solution for things that are, in fact, very important in the real world of client development e.g. metaboxes in general (not just ACF). Again, a roadmap and commitment not to release until a critical list of things is in place would help greatly here.

      The lack of those things brings up the heart of this concern – planning for our businesses and our clients. If Gutenberg release was slotted for, say, Q3, I know what I can do, esp if I know certain things are critical path and will be there for release (ACF, etc). The lack of transparency and uncertainty around dates and first release features makes some of us nervous about doing larger, more complex projects.

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      1. By my count that’s a least 4 further comments since you said “I’m done here.”

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      2. Oh look, we have a comment cop. Nice try Neil, but the comments are moderated and not approved in the order I submitted them. Also…look at the timestamps. You DO know how to read them, yes? I’m guessing not because the comment you replied to was published 3 days before my “I’m done” comment.

        Now, do have anything useful to add or are you just here to troll?

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  6. If Gutenberg marks a shift in WP then I think it’s all for the better. Technology and user expectations have changed since WP’s original (and v2.7) UX foundations were laid out, and it’s time to revamp and look to see what is happening now and in the future. As such, I see WP’s lack of frontend editor disconcerting, and other aspects such as customisation and menu management UX disparate and mildly frustrating to use — which they are still slowly improving.

    I really do hope Gutenberg inspires a revolution in WP’s way to remake itself into a leader not just in installs, but in UX, workflow and developer experience too.

    As such for me WP is not usable unless it has at a bare minimum ACF, Yoast, a cache plugin, and at least 2 extra security plugins (iThemes Security and Wordfence).

    Using tools like ACF for the extra/custom data entry aspect is an improvement over WP’s interface/editor, but it’s still the same old school UX which suffers from page reloads and clunky interfaces.

    If Gutenberg (and the school of thought that arises from creating it) succeeds to engender a more modern application framework and workflow for WP, then I can look over its minor flaws in design for the improvements it brings, much like I look over other minor flaws of WP in my day-to-day use.

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  7. I thought WP competition was Ghost.
    No, sorry, just kidding but I still don’t understand what sort of competition is the one that represents just a tiny fraction of WP’s market share. Are those CMSs really a threat for WP or is it just a fairy tale?

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  8. What bothers me the most about Guternberg is that it was chosen to devote the most attention to, instead of developers being directed to focus on more important issues, like fixing things that WordPress still hasn’t done right, rather than building a new product to fix something that works fine.

    Sure TinyMCE isn’t perfect and may not be everyone’s favorite content editor, but it works, and has reliably for some time. Unlike, for example, the horrid Media library. Anyone ever time renaming or replacing a media file? Simple, basic, essential operations are impossible without relying on third party plugins. The interface is kludgy and hasn’t been improved in years. It’s the red-headed stepchild of the WordPress coding community, and is constantly ignored.

    And what about the thousands of bug reports that sit untouched for years at core.trac.wordpress.org? Why not focus on those, before reworking existing features that work?

    Just read the plugin reviews at https://wordpress.org/plugins/gutenberg/ and you can see how split the community is. The choice to devote so much time, resources, and effort that serves such a small group is disconcerting, when there are many other areas that should be given attention. The decision to highlight and accelerate Gutenberg development over many other issues in WordPress is what concerns me the most.

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    1. And what about the thousands of bug reports that sit untouched for years at core.trac.wordpress.org? Why not focus on those, before reworking existing features that work?

      This is what puzzles me the most about this project. You can find bugs literally rotting for years in the Trac, many of them with patches already available and not a single core dev wants to help fix them. Instead they find the time to work on adding features nobody asked for, such as scheduled changesets in the Customizer. Really?

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  9. This almost makes Gutenberg not look like a horrific shit-show. My main concern at this point is how Gutenberg will work with future versions of ACF. If you can just dump ACF fields into your Gutenblocks. That wouldn’t be too bad. Provided that it only queries the db for fields/gutenblocks that are present on the page.

    What I am opposed to is the idea of using Gutenblocks in the header/footer. That is a terrible idea. Your header and footer SHOULD be static. This idea makes me want to kill puppies.

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      1. Thanks for the link. Very interesting.

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  10. @jeff, believing your own marketing is a very dangerous thing to do. So many features start with a marketing bang and end in the garbage can of history.

    Remember tumblr clone AKA post formats? or the time every post here had an embed? would you say that there were no 2000 people excited about those features at the time? and where did they end? at best insignificant.

    No matter how many standing ovations gutenberg will get, right now it is technically flawed and has a problematic UX. The fact that 2000 people got excited like they were teenager girls in justin biber concert, and all from a bunch of slide shows showing eye candy just makes me sad.

    There probably would have been 10 times more people cheering if matt would have announced that wordpress will no longer support EOL PHP versions

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    1. Yes, I remember Post Formats and I’ve advocated for their removal or substantial improvement in the past two years. There are no guarantees that Gutenberg is the answer or that it’s the direction WordPress should go, but I’m willing to have an open mind to see how it plays out. I don’t develop or maintain sites for clients so my viewpoints and opinions are selfish.

      You, like Scott, have consistently used the comment section on the Tavern to air a never ending list of grievances with WordPress, its leadership, and other aspects of the project.

      I’ll ask you the same question I asked him, why do you continue to use WordPress if so much of it causes you grief and distress. Can you list at least five positive attributes of the software?

      If I were to read only your comments on this site, you’d have me thinking that WordPress blowing up into a giant fireball and disappearing from the web would be the best thing in the world to happen.

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      1. RE: “I don’t develop or maintain sites for clients so my viewpoints and opinions are selfish.”

        I’m NOT trying to attack you. But I think that comment explains a lot. WordPress “clients” (end users) are arguably the most important audience. But they’re largely ignored, ridiculed, or silenced by WordPress blogs if they dare try to express their opinions about WordPress.

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      2. I think you need to step away from the keyboard for a bit Jeff. You’re VERY close to sounding like you dislike any criticism of WordPress when you say things like “why do you continue to use WordPress if so much of it causes you grief and distress.” People can like a product overall and still criticize it.

        Many of us make some or all of our living using WP and massive changes to that are concerning. It’s well within our rights to criticize things if we don’t feel they’re headed in the right direction. WordPress leadership could have easily avoided much of this discussion around Gutenberg if they had clear answers to what are, frankly, basic questions. Who are the competitors? To .com? To .org? What are the results of focus groups around this? What’s the roadmap for Gutenberg? What features are critical for it to be released? What features are NOT?

        The fact that we’re asking these STILL is, yes, concerning and calls into question the management of the project and of WP. Those questions mostly vanish if they’re answered clearly and in detail. It’s rather telling that they have not been.

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      3. It’s not that I don’t like criticism of WordPress, it’s that there are people who make it seem like their only mission is to criticize the project. Like, there’s never anything positive to say about what is going on. It’s always bad and the people involved are idiots. I read all the comments that are published here and when an overwhelming majority are of a criticizing nature of one thing or another, then I become curious as to why they continue to use or build on top of something with so many problems or does things in so many ways they disagree with.

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      4. Jeff – people tend to criticize because there’s nothing really to discuss when things are great. “Hey, I updated WP and nothing bad happened” isn’t going to get posted. “Crap I updated Woo to 3.0 and X broke!!” is.

        You also have a different perspective than many of us. I don’t know what you do for a living but for those of us using WordPress as a solution to deliver sites to clients, huge seismic shifts in how it work has a lot of implications, some rather scary. If you just use WP to run this site you can so whatever you want. You can move to 5.0 beta, stay at 4.9 for 2 years, whatever and there aren’t implications for you financially (I would suppose, at least). We don’t have the same options.

        If I get interest in a $10k site next month… do I build it on WP? Will 5.0 be out in Feb? March?? July? Can I build on ACF knowing its features can be supported in Gutenberg? THOSE are some of the issue we have and it affects our ability to pay bills, etc.

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      5. I’ll ask you the same question I asked him, why do you continue to use WordPress if so much of it causes you grief and distress. Can you list at least five positive attributes of the software?

        People that wordpress cause them grief and despair have already abandoned the room. As one of the most knowledgeable people regarding wordpress had said (somewhere on trac) “it takes minimal effort to recreate wordpress in node.js”.

        I also do not care any longer. This is not about “5 positive attributes”. There are basically three major ones, there is documentation, experience/knowledge base, and it is possible to make money with it. None of those relates to the quality of the software itself, both in terms of code and UX. In both of those aspects it is mediocre at best.

        WordPress was great as a blogging tool 10 years ago, but moving into professional tool requires different things. After all, if a blog gets hacks, is there anything of value actually being lost?

        On the modern web, for a “pro” type of site you need to install at least 5 plugins just to be able to get all the minimal components in place. Do you think anyone enjoys the stress involved in finding them, installing, configuring and updating them in addition to core?

        Less than 24 hours ago I set a site over https. Do you remember https Jeff? I think you cover the advance in its usage any time there is some PR about it. It is even something matt was proud of in WPUS. How hard is it to make wordpress work properly with HTTPS? It should be trivial, but on my server I had to write code into my config file to do it because wordpress core still can not properly detect the setting. Now imagine it was someone that can not read and hack wordpress code, what will he do, how much fum will it be to him?

        There is a saying “All happy families are happy in the same way, all the miserable ones are miserable in their own unique way”. At this point in time wordpress includes so many unfinished edges it basically ensures there are many “miserable” users. Most of them just do not know that it do not have to be like that.

        And getting back to gutenberg…. remember the thing I just said about knowledge base and documentation being a major factor in why people use wordpress? Well, with gutenberg you will say good bye to all that goodness. No wonder people are starting to look at other CMS because with gutenberg wordpress becomes a new CMS that requires time and money to learn, so maybe it is a good time to start looking at alternatives.

        I personally do not think so, I think that abandoning all the lessons that were learned and coded, which will most likely end in relearning them, is a mistake. A more mature way to handle the situation is to fork wordpress and fix all those things which core ignores because they have no eye candy factor to them. Actually right now I am working on a fork, it most likely will take time and unlikely to succeed, but who knows, there is always a 1 in 100 chance something good will come out of it.

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  11. Putting aside the very valid technical and timeline issues, there is another thing to consider.

    As someone who worked at a large non-profit for a decade, what CMS to use frequently comes down to a higher-up’s perception, and that higherup’s benchmark is “How easy is this thing to use?” followed/proceeded by “How much is this going to cost?” To those questions the answer they wanted was “So easy that (insert name of least adept employee) can do it.” and “Way less than the following alternatives.”

    The person making the ultimate decision is many times not remotely technically oriented. They are used to a drag, drop simple universe. They want everything to be that easy. It’s how their Macbook works, their iPhone, and every ad they are seeing on TV/online. They will also ask their kids and grand-kids what they are using because they are digital natives, and those kids also want total drag drop ease.

    I’m not saying it’s right or wrong, but that’s what happens. WordPress needs to evolve to meet that expectation. The rail-road analogy a couple of posts above is spot on in this regard.

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  12. Although I’m worried about plugin and theme support for Gutenberg, I must say I really liked the presentation of Morten. It’s almost a Gutenberg tutorial. And a look into the future. Nicely done :-)

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  13. WordPress blowing up into a giant fireball and disappearing from the web would be the best thing in the world to happen

    Now wouldn’t that be something :D

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  14. Most of my sites are heavily reliant on CPTs, custom fields and metaboxes and one to/many to many relationships.

    I have been very wary about Gutenberg, but after those presentations and also Riads post on AWP FB group and his blog:
    https://riad.blog/2017/12/11/with-gutenberg-what-happens-to-my-custom-fields/
    https://wordpress.org/plugins/gutenberg-custom-fields/

    Basic early demonstrations of a plugin to create blocks as custom
    fields, using templates and writing to post meta. I am increasingly confident that those plugin publishers (authors of ACF and Toolset particularly) will be able to come up with excellent solutions.

    I know it will be costly for them, but given their companies future hinges on it….. because… This is disruptive technology, as such there is real opportunity for some skilled developers to supplant ACF/Toolset/Pods in this plugin niche, that is if they aren’t able to rise to the occasion.

    I honestly don’t believe they won’t rise to it, they have the skilled developers and the resources, so I am fairly confident the sites I built using these tools will have an upgrade path if I’m patient.

    I am more worried about the sites I’ve built using CMB (to a lesser extent – great community), and my own custom coded custom fields/metaboxes. But then again, i taught myself how to do it myself to increase my skillset and value, so again, I can benefit from this disruption by getting stuck in and prepared.

    I can see how this could be a hassle for those with hundreds of sites that will need attention, and my sympathies go out to them. But it’s happening and it looks like it could be very very good indeed.

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  15. Putting aside all the burdens loaded on the agencies around the world by a very strict, almost non optional timeframe (I know about the plugin.), two things really worry me, especially after watching Mortens talk.

    1) Meta-Information. I know this is a hot topic and much discussed, but a lot of our livelihood depends on this being implemented properly. So the notion of all that information living in the content blob and that being fine is very disconcerting.

    2) Abstraction of content. For all my career I was told, that using inline styles is stupid. I still can’t wrap my mind around the fact of setting for example font sizes for EVERY DEVICE your content will be shown on. How is that a good idea?

    So I’m torn at the moment. While I really like the possibilities of Gutenberg, I really fear of the livelyhood of WordPress in an enterprise environment.

    I currently believe that we sacrifice the ‘content management’ part for the ‘wysiwyg’ part.

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  16. I know I have probably a different and more ‘extreme’ view than the majority of people here but I actually think that Gutenberg is a welcome innovation, and it’s not too late too little but too fast too soon. My impression is that Matt decided to push Gutenberg ahead no matter what without thinking of all the consequences but if he really wants to go for a breaking change then he should be brave enough to do it for everything else.

    Since Gutenberg will break backward compatibility then why don’t they drop support for PHP 5.2 and go for 5.6 or even 7? Why don’t they rethink the data structure to make WordPress more efficient and modern? And I could go ahead with more questions because once you give up legacy support you are suddenly open to a whole world of innovation that allows you to embrace new technologies.

    But if they want to keep compatibility with old plugins, then they need more time to think of a solution that allows to use the more advanced editor for those publishers who want to embrace it while making sure that old plugin keep working. And this won’t happen by next April for sure.

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  17. Has anyone tested a site that has thousands of pages yet? Not just blog posts either. But actual pages that may be long-form, complex, old, possibly filled with html, divs, shortcodes, tables, etc.

    I assume no one has, since Gutenberg plugin doesn’t yet usurp the current editor.

    My biggest fear is that thousands, hundreds of thousands (?) of these types of WP sites will just explode in a big, hairy mess once Gutenberg takes over.

    Many of these sites probably no longer have a developer on board. Clients just carry on, year after year, and the original developer has long moved on.

    I assume the assumption (assuming an assumption is probably going to make the world tilt on its axis) is that it will all get dumped into a generic block. Or maybe Gutenberg will attempt to parse it all, but I doubt that.

    But even if it all sits nicely in a generic block, can you imagine the confusion as users stare at thousands+ pages that work one way (bunch of stuff in a generic block), and all new pages work in a whole different way.

    User Experience Explosion (UEE).

    Ever thought about the developers who are creating huge sites right now for clients, or who just finished some? Now these developers are wondering how to explain that everything the client just paid big money for, and all the training that went into learning how to use their site, is possibly going to melt into a big pile of goo, whenever Gutenberg comes along. Or maybe not. But maybe it will. And maybe it will cost a lot of money to fix. Or maybe not. More confusion.

    Really wishing this whole Gutenberg thing had been a fork.

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    1. ….I mentioned earlier that it’s really going to be the end-users of the millions of sites out there using WP that will decide the fate of Gutenberg and WordPress (especially WordPress). It’s inevitable that people will wake up one day and see their website(s) have exploded and won’t know what to do except swear and give the finger to WP when they find out what happened. I’m sure there will also be millions saying “Gutenberg? What is this Gutenberg?”

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    2. Good comment Donna, I’m thinking in the same lines as you. Every time I op en my mouth though I receive comments back that Gutenberg is going to be great and that I see ghosts (no pun intended).

      My bottomline though is that I have decided that as long as there is no clarity and real information, I will not (re-)develop any sites with WP and instead use either Grav or Kirby CMSs for small to medium projects and probably Craft CMS for larger projects.

      I very much like that you coined “User Experience Explosion (UEE)”.

      Developers beware and prepare, because UEE will happen!

      And isn’t it a complete farce that Matt and cohorts expect from us (developers) to be the messengers to soften the blow of the impact that Gutenberg will bring?!

      If Matt and Automattic want to play with the big boys, I would like to suggest that they start spending big boy PR and marketing money and do their own work!

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      1. Piet,

        Did you also not get the memo? Supposedly, if you decide to use “open source” software, you’re also agreeing to donate your time and energy to fixing and promoting it. :)

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      2. Piet,

        Both Grav and Kirby might be quite nice alternatives for people who want something else…

        Guido

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      3. @Piet – I suggest we both bookmark this comment and look back at this every year around this time & see which CMS you are using.

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    3. Donna, share your concern and thought

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    4. Ever thought about the developers who are creating huge sites right now for clients, or who just finished some? Now these developers are wondering how to explain that everything the client just paid big money for, and all the training that went into learning how to use their site, is possibly going to melt into a big pile of goo, whenever Gutenberg comes along. Or maybe not. But maybe it will. And maybe it will cost a lot of money to fix. Or maybe not. More confusion.

      ^ This. Backwards compatibility is a huge concern of mine with Gutenberg at this point, especially for sites that make extensive use of page builders or plugins like Advanced Custom Fields.

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  18. Both Grav and Kirby might be quite nice alternatives for people who want something else…

    Statamic is a good CMS aswell.
    I used it for small sites – but WordPress will always be #1 for me.

    I don’t understand the hate on Gutenberg – I think it’s Okay – nothing more, nothing less. If I wanted something else, I will gladly pay some $$ for a content builder. When it comes to WordPress, you will never be “forced” to use something – unless you don’t wanna try to find alternatives.

    – Kucko

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  19. FWIW ~ Matt Shaw over at Delicious Brains started quite a nice series of CMS reviews called Self-Hosted WordPress Alternatives back in October. He’s only reviewed three so far – Craft CMS, Grav CMS and October CMS, and while they are not what you might call “exhaustive”, they are quite detailed. Maybe because he is a WordPress developer, and his views seem a little biased ~ at times ~ what was interesting to me was the comparison he made with WordPress. I guess, of necessity, developers look at things differently.

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  20. And if anyone is interested in reviewing other CMS, you will find a pretty complete list here ~ https://www.wappalyzer.com/categories/cms ~ I was looking at Gantry 5 Framework for WordPress and, doing some background research I found it was also the first theming framework for Grav CMS, which was what peaked my interest, initially.

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  21. I see Gutenberg as a boon to the competition. It’s proof that WP has lost it’s way and will open the door for folks to look at alternatives with stronger product road maps.

    As a manager, I’m faced with an as yet unknown block of unscheduled work this year to implement a feature that I’d have a hard time explaining to my end users and my boss as an improvement.

    It’s going to leave a very bad taste and may drive future projects to other solutions. That could Wix or Squarespace but more likely, in my industry, Sitecore, Drupal or TYPO3.

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