How Will Gutenberg Phase 4 Impact Multilingual Solutions for WordPress?

During the 2018 State of the Word address, Matt Mullenweg announced that Phase 4 of the Gutenberg project would be aimed at developing an official way for WordPress to support multilingual sites. There are no technical details available yet for what approach core will take, because it’s still in the experimental stage. The site building objectives in Phase 2 are currently the primary focus of the Gutenberg team.

Although Phase 4 is still a long way off (targeted for 2020 and beyond), WordPress multilingual product owners are starting to speculate about the impact of core offering its own standardized solution for multilingual sites. At WordCamp Nordic I had a quick chat with Robert Windisch, CIO of Inpsyde, a large WordPress agency in Germany and the creators of the MultilingualPress plugin.

Windisch predicts a culling of the multilingual solutions for WordPress after Phase 4, in the same way that Gutenberg has challenged page builders. Maintaining a plugin with thousands of users takes a toll on a company, because users require support and product owners need to have a way to continue offering something that isn’t already available by default in core.

“It’s the same with Gutenberg and all the page builders,” Windisch said. “You need to adapt. If core tackles 80-90% of the features the plugin does, then I’m sure some will decide to pursue other roads or extend core features with a new plugin.”

Windisch doesn’t see any issues for his company’s multilingual solution because of how it is architected to closely align with WordPress core in its use of multisite. The MultilingualPress website advertises the product as having “future-proof, WordPress core-based architecture.” Windisch said that big agencies and companies with local sites tend to opt for MultilingualPress’ solution because of the separation of access that multisite provides.

After some consideration, he said he found that Mullenweg’s timeline for getting multilingual support in core made sense, because existing solutions mean there is no pressing need to provide this functionality.

“Currently nobody waits for the multilingual in core, because there are already solutions out there,” Windisch said. “There’s not really the pressure to have it right now.”

Check out the quick interview below to hear more thoughts on how Gutenberg Phase 4 may impact other multilingual solutions:


13 responses to “How Will Gutenberg Phase 4 Impact Multilingual Solutions for WordPress?”

  1. Interesting. What Windisch says makes a lot of sense. Though, as much as I have come around to the merits of the new block editor, I see kinks in the armour that contradicts what he says regarding page builders and where the new editor is a threat.

    The idea that page builders will jump into the space to extend blocks rather than become irrelevant is thwarted by the fact that there is no standard blocks for layout that allows third parties to hook in their own interfaces and additional functionality, solutions that can be, at a later date disabled to be replaced by others without losing the general layout.

    I realise that there is an ongoing pull request on GitHub regarding a new section block, and have suggested the above and, while it has been acknowledged as a good idea there, there is no momentum behind the idea as something that is essential for core.

    I can under why, say for example the makers of Divi are doing the minimal amount of updates to make the theme compatible with Gutenberg because of this (they even have a kill switch to disable GB and revert to classic, without the need to install Classic Editor plugin).

    Of course if core implements something like my standardised layout component suggestion, which can be extended by third parties, then all bets are off and Divi and other builders will need to scramble themselves to port seamlessly with the block editor.

    Until that happens the Gutenberg block builder loses some of it sheen.

  2. Gutemberg is a step backwards for WP. You need more clicks to do the same work that you do with the same classic editor (familiar, MS Word like and easy to use for customers). You should revert the Gutemberg editor to an enhanced version of classic. Accept a mistake (blocks are non-efficient) instead of trying to justify it.


  3. I am very satisfied with Gutenberg and cannot share the opinions here. Gutenberg is a huge step forward and also a step towards the multilingualism in core.

    What was it like with Henry Ford when he asked what people needed? The answer: faster horses….

  4. > in the same way that Gutenberg has challenged page builders.

    I’m not sure I’d say it’s “challenged” them, unless you mean in the sense that the morning traffic is a bit of a challenge.

    I think it might be more accurate to say that Gutenberg has shown the page builders to be valuable and far in advance of what Gutenberg can currently do. Of course I hope and expect that to change, but at the moment based on what we work with I would predict Gutenberg to match Elementor in around 3 or 4 years time.

    I’ve implemented Gutenberg solutions for smallish low traffic sites and in every case I’m now being asked to find an alternative. Inmany cases that’s because updates have left Gutenberg pages in a broken and uneditable state ( that means an update to WP, to 3rd party blocks, or otherwise).
    The clients who are simply pasting text from Word, they want Classic Editor. The clients who want to get involved with semi-locked down page layouts and WYSIWYG are much better served with Elementor, Divi or some other integrated and well supported solution. It’s robust, it’s WYSIWYG, it’s actually got documentation! (note: there is zero end user docs for Gutenberg).
    The clients who have used Gutenberg are now soured on it, and will require a lot of convincing to try it again in future. Too many broken pages, too much ringing me for support.

    So, I would not say that Gutenberg is a challenge to page builders.

    • I hate to be negative and so have held off on criticising Gutenberg in order to give it a fair chance, but why on earth is Gutenberg still going?

      It has been clear from very early on that the vast majority of WordPress users do not want this awful contraption that is taking us backwards and not forwards. Just take a look at the reviews on for the Gutenberg plugin.

      And no it’s not just because it has a few bugs. The UI is awful and end users do not find it intuitive or easy to use. And that is both existing WordPress end users and end users new to WordPress. I know, because I deal with both regularly.

      I agree with other comments that Gutenberg doesn’t remove the need for page builder plugins like Elementor, but makes you realise how advanced and well designed they are. Kudos to those companies and teams if you’re reading. Really!

      In the same way, I also agree with Anh Tran’s comment. I believe Multilingualism is a very important feature of a CMS just as SEO and creating a Network is. However, I believe this to be a WordPress problem NOT a Gutenberg problem.

      Right now I have just been given the go ahead on a large project. This company wanted to have their site redeveloped for a little while now, but wanted to hold off until after Gutenberg was released.

      Having spent a few months initially trying to get to grips with Gutenberg and then more recently waiting to see whether WordPress will accept it as a failure and alter course they can now wait no longer.

      They hate Gutenberg so much and were worried they would be forced to use it at some point in the future that they rejected my proposal to use WordPress for the new site, even though it is what they are currently using and requested that I offer an alternative CMS or custom built solution.

      Based on this I pitched Classic Press (classicpress. net) explaining it is WordPress minus Gutenberg and they were immediately onboard with this.

      So the conclusion from my experience is end users hate Gutenberg with a passion, and there are already many strong, we developed and better Page Builders and Multilingual plugin alternatives in the community than stepping back in time and using Gutenberg.

      I really hope WordPress will start to listen to its userbase and rethink Gutenberg. Rather than continuing the approach of the Gutenber eating WordPress line of thinking where everything from menus, widgets, headers, footers, the content editor and now mutlilingual functionality is all just a part of Gutenberg. It’s becoming like a completely different product like WordPress and Drupal. Why not just call it Gutenberg and keep the old WordPress as it was and then see who opts for what?

  5. Viewing the comments here… I am very satisfied with Gutenberg. I think it’s a great alternative to page builders, with everything being native to WP. I’ve implemented Gutenberg for medium and large sites, and WooCommerce shopping, and my clients don’t need the extra bloat or training for Elementor or other platforms; those page builders are good, and they can occasionally offer a tweak you can’t get elsewhere, but I find 95% of everything wanted in a site is built into the (Automattic) theme, available with a block, customizable with CSS, or ready via plugin or coding.

    The roadmap looks good, I can even accept 3 to 4 years for Gutenberg to fully challenge page builders. If clients need a bit of training to get used to Gutenberg, it’s worth it to go forward with that mindset so they can get used to the idea of more advanced builders if necessary. Have you tried cutting and pasting a word doc or a web page into a Gutenberg-enabled page? It’s brilliant! Everything gets pasted in automatically to the appropriate block, making an instant well-designed WP page. My clients and I love it.

  6. Multilingual is a must-have feature for a CMS. And I think it’s more a WordPress’s problem than Gutenberg’s.

    As there are more than a year before the Phase 4 starts, I think it’s a good time for other multilingual plugins to collaborate with WordPress core team to contribute or suggest the best way to do this. Plugins such as WPML, MultilingualPress, Polylang have been on the market for years, maybe a decade, so they understand the problem in and out. And their help is really valuable (of course only when they’re willing to).


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