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:
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.