Matt Mullenweg Unveils Gutenberg Roadmap at WCEU, WordPress Agencies and Product Developers Sprint to Prepare

photo credit: WordCamp Europe Photography Team

At his WCEU keynote address in Belgrade, Matt Mullenweg laid out a detailed roadmap for Gutenberg to land in WordPress 5.0 within the next few months, garnering mixed reactions from attendees. Gutenberg’s timeline is one of the most pressing questions for those who work in the WordPress ecosystem.

The Gutenberg team has sustained a rapid pace of development over the past year with 30 releases since development began. There are currently 14,000 sites actively using the plugin and Mullenweg plans to roll it out to WordPress.com users in the near future. He announced that the WordPress 5.0 release could be ready as soon as August. In the meantime, the Gutenberg team will continue to refine its current features according to the roadmap Mullenweg outlined in his keynote:

June 2018

  • Freeze new features into Gutenberg
  • Hosts, agencies and teachers invited to opt-in sites they have influence over
  • Opt-in for wp-admin users on WP.com
  • Mobile App support in the Aztec editor across iOs and Android

July 2018

  • 4.9.x release with a strong invitation to install either Gutenberg or Classic Editor plugin
  • Opt-out for wp-admin users on WP.com
  • Heavy triage and bug gardening, getting blockers to zero
  • Explore expanding Gutenberg beyond the post into site customization

August 2018 and beyond

  • All critical issues resolved
  • Integration with Calypso, offering opt-in users
  • 100k+ sites having makde 250k+ post using Gutenberg
  • Core merge, beginning the 5.0 release cycle
  • 5.0 beta releases and translations completed
  • Mobile version of Gutenberg by the end of the year

Mullenweg said he hopes to increase Gutenberg usage to 100,000 sites with 250,000 posts made over the next few months. WordPress.com will be instrumental in that goal with a call to action for opt-in that will appear on several hundred thousand sites. In July, WordPress.com will switch the Gutenberg editor to opt-out. Mullenweg said he hopes to gather data from how users respond, especially those who have third-party plugins active on their sites.

Switching between editing posts in the mobile apps currently breaks but Mullenweg anticipates this will be resolved by August, with full mobile versions of Gutenberg available by the end of the year.

Mullenweg opened his keynote by drawing attendees’ attention to a new “Public Code” link in the footer of WordPress.org. This campaign, organized by Free Software Foundation Europe, aims to require any publicly financed software developed for the public sector be made available under a Free and Open Source Software license.

Mullenweg also announced St. Louis, MO, as the next location for WordCamp US in 2019-2020. The local WordPress community in the city spans two states with members from both Missouri and Illinois who have hosted seven WordCamps since 2011.

Developers and Agencies Double Down on Gutenberg Preparation, “Playing for Keeps”

The process of getting products and client websites ready for Gutenberg is a leap for nearly every company and freelancer invested in the WordPress ecosystem. Mullenweg said he cannot guarantee a specific date for release but thinks that “5.0 is going be ready within a relatively short time frame.”

Although many WCEU attendees expressed skepticism about the accelerated timeline for Gutenberg’s inclusion in core, most recognize the importance of working towards making their clients and products compatible with the new editor.

Gutenberg technical lead Matias Ventura said it’s too early to tell whether the WordPress community will be ready by the time Gutenberg is included in core. “I think people have already been trying to get ready and we’re already seeing many major sites being launched using Gutenberg,” Ventura said. “From what we’ve seen with plugin authors building compatibility for Gutenberg, it seems there’s already enough momentum going on that it could be achievable.”

Brad Williams, CEO of WebDevStudios, said his company’s team of engineers has been actively preparing for Gutenberg since late last year and is “very excited about what it means for the future of WordPress publishing.” Williams assigned two Gutenberg Leads internally to head up everything related to the new editor and conducted internal training with staff. WebDevStudios also built and released its own Gutenberg add-on framework called WDS Blocks, a framework that includes new custom blocks that many WDS clients use.

“Having a potential release date, even if it’s only a target month, is incredibly helpful,” Williams said. “This gives us a goal to work towards with each of our clients to verify we are ready for the release. I expect the majority of our clients will not enable Gutenberg on release, but we still need to make sure we have an upgrade plan ready for WordPress 5.0. We are working closely with each of our clients so they understand what is coming, the benefits Gutenberg can provide them, and what a potential roll-out plan will look like. We are also making sure any new leads coming in the door are aware of Gutenberg and the impact it will have on their new WordPress project.”

Gary Jones, plugin developer and WordPress engineer at Gamajo, expressed apprehension about the timeline. He also plans to make use of the Classic Editor plugin to opt sites out of using Gutenberg.

“With 737 open issues, I think the August timeline may still be a little short,” Jones said. “That’s only for the ‘critical issues’ to be resolved but introducing such a massive change to the basics of managing content like this needs more than just the critical issues resolved; it needs all of the workflow to be very smooth as well.”

Jones said he doesn’t think the typical rhetoric of getting a ‘1.0’ release out the door applies in the case of Gutenberg. “There’s too much riding on it for it not to make a great first impression for the user base who haven’t been following its progress,” Jones said. “A plugin can have a much quicker release turnaround time for non-critical improvements and fixes than what WP core would have.”

Jones said he plans to wait until the merge proposal before tackling plugin compatibility and will wait until 5.0 is out to start improving the experience for his clients. He said this may require creating custom blocks or installing plugins that add custom blocks clients might need. “By then we’d also know how ACF, Pods. and other plugins we use, and the Genesis theme, are supporting Gutenberg editor (or not),” Jones said.

Jake Goldman, President and founder of 10up, said his company already has an internal mandate that all new public plugins and major plugin updates must have at least “beta” support for Gutenberg. 10up’s Distributor product is already Gutenberg-ready and the company has several Gutenberg-ready plugins and updates expected to ship in the next 1-2 months.

“Clients are trickier,” Goldman said. “We have two big client projects started in the last couple of months that are using Gutenberg, and some pretty complicated custom blocks and extensions. We have a couple of other customers who are curious or in the exploratory phase. Two big client projects have us a bit gun shy about adopting [Gutenberg] as the ‘standard’ on newer projects until it matures a bit more and begins to focus a bit more on the ‘enterprise use case / user stories’ – there are some real challenges with those user stories.”

Goldman also said he was encouraged to hear that Calypso will adopt Gutenberg in the next couple of months, because he hopes it will address some of the confusion and fragmentation issues.

He doesn’t anticipate Gutenberg actually landing in August, however. “I don’t see August, frankly, because I don’t think the core team has a clear vision for ‘how’ an upgrade with Gutenberg will work,” Goldman said. “That said, I suspect Matt is knowingly putting timeline pressure on the team – a bit of ‘if I say August, we can probably hit November’ type mentality.”

Mason James, founder of Valet, said he is confident his clients and products will be ready after testing Gutenberg on hundreds of sites. His team is watching a few products that have compatibility issues but he is hopeful these will be resolved soon.

“The timeline of August seems a bit optimistic,” James said. “I’d be surprised if that is met, but our clients will be in good shape if that happens. We’ve also been sending information to our clients via email, a whitepaper, to try to mitigate any surprises ahead of time.

“We decided last year that Gutenberg was a tremendous opportunity for us to reinforce our value proposition to our clients,” James said. “It’s an ongoing important initiative for us this year; We’re playing for keeps.”

Carrie Dils, a WordPress developer, consultant, and educator, has also jumped head first into getting her products compatible with Gutenberg ahead of the new timeline.

“I’m feverishly working to get an updated version of the Utility Pro theme (my primary product) out the door,” Dils said. “The Gutenberg updates are just one part of a larger overhaul (including a minimum requirement of PHP7 and WP 5.0+). I’ve also made the decision not to incorporate Classic Editor theme styles. All looking forward, no looking back.”

48 Comments


  1. I love Gutenberg. Full steam ahead converting live sites now.

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      1. Who’s paying for that work?

        I suspect that most Gutenberg apologists are hobbyists with no clients to answer to.

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      2. How do you have a business without some kind of management plan with your clients whereby you’d be able to get paid when they are fixes necessitated by core/them/plugin changes? I suspect that most Gutenberg haters are people who spend more time talking trash on the internet than they do making sure their work doesn’t get left behind when to world changes.

        The web is fluid, your work product shouldn’t be stuck in a time capsule.
        It’s your job to explain this to them. If you can’t paid maintain you’re work then you are getting the short end of the stick. If you can’t keep your clients website’s working they will find someone else who can.

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      3. Your condescension is misplaced – I have clients on maintenance plans. Those plans do NOT cover 10, 20 or 40 hours of work redoing a site because the editor has changed. They’re for things that actually help my clients’ business, not busywork to accommodate a core update that doesn’t actually bring them benefits and for which they did not ask.

        My point is that someone needs to pay for the time it takes to do this work. If it can be done in a few hours then, yes, a maintenance plan will cover that. If it’s 10+ hours of work, my plans will not and I need to either explain why they should pay me or I need to eat the cost.

        If you reply, be professional and lose your attitude.

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  2. With the large amount of accessibility issues still remaining, I’m personally not sprinting to prepare. Any merge proposal is likely to be shut down without things like accessibility resolved, and I’d be surprised if it was ready for an approvable merge proposal in 2018.

    I do hope more people come on board to contribute so we don’t see a repeat of the WP REST API merge where the small team behind it ends up burned out by the time things are actually merged in.

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    1. I agree that I don’t think it’s ready and still has a long ways to go. But one thing to note regarding burnout and the comparison with the WP REST API project… the bulk of the development and the overall direction of where Gutenberg is going is being done by people who work for Automattic and working on Gutenberg is literally something they are being paid a salary to do. That wasn’t the case with the WP REST API.

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    2. I think it’s worth noting the awesome work done by the accessibility team to ensure those issues aren’t blockers. It’s been great to see across team work both at WCEU, before and after. Now is a great time for someone to join the accessibility team and really make a difference to Gutenberg. Those focusing on accessibility are also educating those working on Gutenberg, so amazing to see.

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      1. “Those focusing on accessibility are also educating those working on Gutenberg.”

        Where is this being shared? Where is it being documented?

        TIA

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      2. mfs to answer your comment, the accessibility team has been advising in issues within the GitHub repo, in Slack both in #core-editor and the accessibility channel. Along with this at various WordCamps there have been cross table teams. This combination has ensured a lot of education has happened.

        Documentation wise the accessibility team have been incredible writing handbooks and continue to write amazing documentation we can all learn from: https://make.wordpress.org/accessibility/handbook/

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  3. Sorry, but that roadmap is a bit unrealistic. Many major plugins still don’t work with Gutenberg. WordPress still lacks many REST API endpoints (there’s no way to make a search across all post types, yet, for example). The columns block (a main selling point) is still unusable. As of writing, most current widgets don’t have a block equivalent. There’s no feature parity with the current tinymce editor implementations in some areas (e.g.: gallery block). And so on…

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    1. I fully agree!

      The roadmap of Matt is his wishful thinking. It seems he doesn’t care if some of the core dev might suffer burnout under this unnecessary stress?

      Gutenberg should live far longer as a plugin. It doesn’t belong in Core yet.

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      1. re: “It seems he doesn’t care if some of the core dev might suffer burnout under this unnecessary stress?”

        Something never change :(

        MM should get a job in Washington DC. I hear such disconnect is pretty much the norm there.

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  4. “very excited about what it means for the future of WordPress publishing.”

    This is my issue in a nutshell. For whatever reason the fact that, to so many people and agencies WordPress is not just a Publishing platform, seems to just fly over their heads completely.

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    1. Don’t you think that might be splitting hairs a bit too much? Name one thing being done on WordPress that isn’t encompassed under the umbrella of publishing?

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      1. Commerce runs in parallel to publishing. You still need a product catalog, etc. If you are strictly doing commerce there are arguably better solutions available w/o the overhead a CMS like WordPress carries.

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    2. Gee. Um. You seems to be saying that such agencies are blind? That they don’t see what you see?

      FYI – Communication is the responsibility of the sender (not the receiver). If something is getting lost in the translation then blame the sended, not the receiver.

      Or perhaps many of these non-believers are simply jaded? Certainly, they are reason to be. And if it’s truly a community then they have a right and responsibility to voice their doubt. Yet you seem to have a problem with that? Why?

      Put another way, MUST everyone be force-fed Gutenberg? Is the ABSOLUTELY necessary? Or is ideal for Automattic’s biz model and future, and the rest of us have to fight over the scraps?

      And now we’re back to jaded. Again.

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    1. From what I hear and read here and there Theme developers and Theme shops are far from ready – if any at all. I guess most of them are still waiting where all this is heading. There were a lot of changes in Gutenberg in the last weeks and months. I’ve been following a lot of changelogs of products where the devs tried an integration with Gutenberg and had to change a lot in the last weeks.

      So I guess a lot of them will wait until a feature freeze of the plugin or a WP 5.0 Beta.

      And there are also Theme devs – and a lot of plugin devs – who won’t re-do their plugins for Gutenberg at all.

      We will HAVE a lot of abandoned and non-compat plugins when Gutenberg is released in Core. In my opinion this is a shame as a lot of contributions of the community will get lost.

      Not every developer has the time, the energy or the finances to re-code a plugin or to even learn Javascript.

      It is not good that Gutenberg thing will mean the end to a lot of “Hobbyist” plugins. Those authors and their work was a big factor which made WordPress where it is today. We should never forget that.

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      1. As a theme developer (but not a plugin developer), adding support for Gutenberg is not all that difficult… mostly. The changing classes and markup structure that Gutenberg output was frustrating to keep up with, but with the feature freeze, support for existing classes is doable.

        As I mentioned, I’m not a plugin developer. I can only imagine the headaches involved there.

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      2. “It is not good that Gutenberg thing will mean the end to a lot of “Hobbyist” plugins. Those authors and their work was a big factor which made WordPress where it is today. We should never forget that.”

        Many of The We don’t want to forget. The issue seems to be in the hands of the few, and what’s best for them.

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      3. It is not good that Gutenberg thing will mean the end to a lot of “Hobbyist” plugins. Those authors and their work was a big factor which made WordPress where it is today. We should never forget that.

        Agreed with this assessment. I expect a drop in plugin devs in the coming years. Maybe the plugins released from now on will be of better quality considering the high barrier to entry that comes with all the shiny JS stuff, but I suspect that the dev community won’t continue to be as vibrant as it is now.

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      4. I already know several developers who are starting to look elsewhere on which to concentrate their dev skills. leaving WP altogether. These are people with mad dev skills, who have spoken at WCs. And they’re saying, maybe not anymore. Some are on board, and some are…not.

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  5. WordPress is one of the few, maybe only, genuine outlets for creatives and small businesses to publish content with flexibility.

    As someone with a design background, the reason I chose WordPress was the flexibility and creative possibilities- we choose our accounting system, we choose our shipping system, we choose our user experience.

    Customers, blog visitors, and members all benefit from that flexibility.

    Is it a little bloated? Anything that is flexible is bloated to some degree.

    However, using a React framework to create blocks of content is intuitive for most creatives- and great for mobile experiences.

    If WordPress were more like InDesign, it would work better for most creatives. The structure of React makes that possible.

    Ultimately, content creation should be happening instantaneously inside of WordPress with blocks- that’s why Adobe created Creative Cloud (an integration I wouldn’t mind seeing).

    Custom blocks are critical for plugin developers and I get that, but there is a framework.

    (https://github.com/WordPress/gutenberg/tree/master/blocks)

    React just works better and has the resources of Facebook at its disposal to continue to develop.

    Most businesses as they grow are not going to stay with Shopify or other platforms that limit their abilities to scale.

    I feel like sometimes we miss that role WordPress has as a hub for content distribution. I know for a fact our blog, our SEO, and our brand have all benefited from the ease of creating content on WordPress.

    I know for a fact that our accounting system, business intelligence, and logistics have all benefited from API integrations with WordPress that were not possible on other platforms.

    Updates to customizer are changing how we code the UX, updates to the REST API are changing how quickly we make business decisions, and I believe changes to the UI for a post creation will change how quickly we create content.

    Unless we want to live in a world dominated by “clients”, we all have to up our game in the WordPress ecosystem.

    Technology is going to change. It’s a headache. But that is ultimately why we get paid the big bucks. Unless you’re making so much profit that having a bloated HR and web development team doesn’t bother you, bootstrapping it is not an alternative.

    “There is no habit you will value so much as that of walking far without fatigue.” – Thomas Jefferson

    If we want WordPress to be a valuable part of the internet in a globally connected world, we have to be willing to adopt new technology and frameworks.

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    1. Completely agree. I love Gutenberg so far and I can’t help but feel most of the objections that people are putting up are due to their comfort with their current stable businesses. The web is changing really fast though and we can’t let WP coast into irrelevance!

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      1. I’m going out on a limb and thinking that the existence of a page builder in core, or lack thereof, was never the measure anyone used to determine WordPress’ relevance.

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      2. The “people are resistant to change, this is why they are complaining” is such a sweeping generalization.

        As a developer interested in using Gutenberg, I believe that Gutenberg is good thing long term, however, it is still a long, long way away from being realistic to be entered into core.

        I have personally engaged with the Gutenberg team with the odd question on how to do basic things for themes to play nicely and integrate with Gutenberg. And the answer has consistently been “Not possible at the moment/No one knows at this stage”.

        Essentially, it feels like Gutenberg is a closed plugin right now doing its own thing. To be ready for core, it needs to feel the exact opposite and be properly extendable in every way for themes and other plugins to hook in and extend it in every way just like WordPress is. And this goes well beyond the ability to adding custom blocks.

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    2. re: “Customers, blog visitors, and members all benefit from that flexibility.”

      Yes. Flexibility is a positive. But there’s also a line. A line between flexible and trying to be all things to all people all the time. Cross that line and things get ugly.

      Keep in mind, one of the things that got WP to where it is today is it was (relatively speaking) and every-man / every-woman type of tool. Now it’s master PHP __and__ JavaScript, or else? Again, that’s not to say it has to stay what it was. It doesn’t. But if you’re going to change that – with little choice for the masses – then pushback is to be expected.

      It’s one thing to progress. It’s one thing to move forward. It’s another thing to lose your way. There’s a line for that as well. Perhaps WP is on or over that line? Perhaps the barriers to entry (read: necessary skills) are pushing the power into fewer and fewer hands?

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      1. Kele could I dig a little into what you are trying to do as would love to find a next step for you regarding answers. I think you mention you’ve already been there but the #core-editor channel on chat.wordpress.org is always there for questions too.

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  6. Personally I’m not rushing to build any Gutenberg integrations — primarily because of how I was burned by the Customizer campaign of it being the future, resulting in me “sprinting to prepare” and investing a lot of resources in a great feature that did not live up to the expectation (maybe hype).

    You may think it’s unfair to compare the two, it has been years, but I’m an old(ish) WordPress dude that’s totally jaded.

    That said I’m looking forward to Gutenberg and I hope to help it become a cornerstone of WordPress (just not until it’s proven).

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  7. Since working in Customizer’s (WP’s other darling) skinny column makes me feel like I’m building a website on my iPhone, I’m not excited about Gutenberg, and plan to disable it when it launches. We will see. Still reading up on GDPR.

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    1. Yes!!!

      The assumption seems to be Gutenberg will lead to a better user experience. It might, but that’s not always going to be true. The potential will be there but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s going to happen. Good UXs don’t just happen, do they?

      Customizer is a GREAT example (of what can go wrong). How many plugins have what feels like a wonky UI and UX?

      Gutenberg not only raises the technical skills required bar but now a greater understanding of UI + UX will be required. We often don’t have that now. Where are these people going to come from? And once they get here – given all they need to know – when are they going to sleep?

      Complexity breeds unintended consequences. Haven’t we learned that yet?

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      1. Neither have “they” learned what the actual meaning of NTARS and “Realign instead of Redesign” means.

        But its good to see so many NON-excited people directly comparing the Customizer nastyness with Gutenberg, and thus speaking out my fears and alas, observations of “the Gutenberg situation” so far.

        cu, w0lf.

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  8. Am I the only one that feels like WordPress has jumped the shark? Many better options out there these days.

    I think Gutenberg is going to break so many sites and plugins that end users with little development experience won’t have a clue how to fix or see it coming.

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    1. Ironic that a dated version of PHP was “recommended” for too long, but suddenly there’s a 180 for JavaScript and the “deep” learning curve that comes with it.

      Seems that the guy writing the road map has lost track of who a typical user is, and why they signed on to use the product in the first place.

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    2. And think of all those hundreds of clients we have helped over the years.

      Can’t wait to receive their emails crying in desperation for a solution!

      Bye bye WP.

      The silver lining?

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  9. The future of WP seems very promising and WordPress needs to continue its development as a framework.

    However, the whole community and ecosystem is not ready for these changes yet. So many plugins and themes are not ready and won’t be able to adapt in such a short period of time. More optimistic would be to aim for Q4 of 2019 or Q1 2020.

    Cheers

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  10. Gutenberg release will be a total game-changer of WordPress and we will need time to adapt but we like the way it’s going to be more simple and user-friendly for editors.

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  11. Our plans are quite simple. Study, follow, and plan for Gutenberg, as well as bake sort-of-ready code for whenever it ships.

    Until then it’s business, as usual, servicing real people with real needs who couldn’t care less about how their content arrives on their website.

    Clients, customers, friends, and family members are still sending us their content in .docx form. I do not expect this to change soon and would caution anyone against going one way or the other too heavily.

    We’re absolutely ready for Gutenberg and I’m thrilled that Matt and co. are working so hard on it. We’ve also got work to do now. Both are important.

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  12. We have a plugin architecture for a reason. If it’s broken, then fix it. But force-feeding more and more into the core product in 2018 feels foolish, if not a road to no turning back.

    Instead of the preaching from the pulpit (read: State of WordPress) perhaps it’s time for MM & Co to do some more town meeting styled interactions? Sure his ideas play well with the WP Elites that surround him, but what about the rest of us? When was the last time MM spend a week or two in some of the WP groups on FB and got to know some of the _real__ struggles the rest of us have to live with (because of poor upstream decision making)?

    MM should be challenged to spend a couple weeks as a WP prole.

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  13. Gutenberg is coming soon, whether we’re ready for it or not. In the long run, it’s a good thing since it brings WordPress into line with its core competitors, Wix and Weebly. In the short term, we need to better prepare our existing WordPress users.

    Here is what I am telling people at Meetups and also my clients (mostly school districts):

    1. If you are currently using WordPress and have a well-entrenched theme and content that requires a non-Gutenberg approach, don’t panic! Your site will continue to work, even after Gutenberg is disabled.

    2. However, if you are building a new site from scratch, definitely take a look at Gutneberg-ready themes and consider building out your new site using Gutenberg. It is the future and it is coming.

    3. If you must port your site and content to Gutenberg, that process isn’t that clear yet but I’m confident there will be processes for it and likely plugins and tools that will help.

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    1. it brings WordPress into line with its core competitors, Wix and Weebly

      You forgot the “.com” after WordPress.

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    2. 3. If you must port your site and content to Gutenberg, that process isn’t that clear yet but I’m confident there will be processes for it and likely plugins and tools that will help.

      There should already be those tools and that process outlined at a high level. Of course, there should have been a roadmap too, but…

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  14. This may be a silly question but can WordPress not be forked and continue to be maintained by its community?

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