8 Truths about Gutenberg

Updataed August 9th, 2018: Added additional links to the ACF section, with the announcement of creating blocks from within ACF admin – birgit

Updated August 4th, 2018: I added a paragraph about the WordPress 4.9.8 release and added more resources. — Birgit

A few month ago, Riad Benguella, core developer on the Gutenberg team, talk about the Gutenberg project at WordCamp Paris: “

Gutenberg, the future of content creation to WordPress

Riad’s  slide 28 inspired a short video with the bullet points into English and called them the “Status Check: 8 Truth about Gutenberg” in my video.  Here is the longer version with comments and resources for you, who want to dive deeper into the issues and get past the noise on the Internet.

This week, with its release 4.8.9, a whole lot of more WordPress users became aware of the new editor codenamed Gutenberg and might have followed the call to “Try Gutenberg” on their sites. The number of active installs of the feature plugin jumped from 20,000 to 50,000 within the first 24 hours of the update. That also raised the noise level in support forums, and reviews. WordPress volunteers worked hart tackling the various issues and answering some of the concerns raised in those posts.

Gutenberg is still in active development, and the next step is the merge proposal for which all compatibility issues encountered need to be researched and fixed, and if not solvable provide fallback solutions.

This is a post for those who need some reassurances on what will work, what should work and what still needs to be worked on, when Gutenberg, the future for content creation, finally lands in WordPress 5.0 as the default editor. Let’s get started.

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Table of Contents

Status Check #1: All Themes are compatible by default

As Gutenberg stors the content like the current editor in “post_content” and all Themes basically just place that content on to the site, all themes are compatible by default. They might need adjustments to for single blocks, each block has default layout already. In theory that is.

Here is a screen recording of a  Theme Test for Twenty-Sixteen at WP4Good

How to Test Your Theme for Gutenberg?

That being said, not all themes, support the new styles of align-wide or align-full styles for images or cover images. We found a plugin in the repository, which might helps you to augment your current theme.

A few more resources for theme developers:


Status Check #2: You can deactivate Gutenberg with a Plugin

Actually, there are quite a few plugins now available that allow you to various degrees, control how your site interacts with Gutenberg:

Gutenberg Ramp

“Restores legacy editor or enables Gutenberg selectively by post types or post ID.” Released by the team of WordPress VIP, it allows you to enable / disable Gutenberg on a more granular basis: per post types or even per post id. It works with the Gutenberg Feature Plugin as well as after Gutenberg will be merged with Gutenberg Core in WordPress 5.0

Gutenberg Manager

This plugins also allows you to disable Gutenberg for particular custom post types or individual pages and posts. It’ll also work with WordPress 5.0 and your settings work through the transition.

The Classic Editor

Installed before the release of WordPress 5.0 it diables Gutenberg entirely and you can use your site as before.

Classic Editor Addon

“This free “Classic Editor Addon” plugin changes the default behaviour of the “Classic Editor” plugin; and then some.”

“The “Classic Editor” plugin doesn’t remove Gutenberg by default. With this free addon we set the option that controls this from no-replace to replace, so no additional action is needed anymore. This is what the Classic Editor should have done out of the box.

In addition to this most basic requirement, the “Classic Editor Addon” removes the Settings link from the main Plugins page and removes the plugin’s Settings from the Settings > Writing screen. Also the drop down buttons Gutenberg adds to the post type screens is replaced with the regular “Add New” button.

Last but not least the Classic Editor Addon suppresses the Nag screen that is slated to arrive in the Dashboard with WP version 4.9.8.

The plugin’s authors: Pieter Bos and Greg Schoppe.

In short: It’s a plugin that promises a few additional rail guards so the new editor and removes it’s traces from your site.

A week ago we collected the 12 Methods to avoid Gutenberg in post. No surprise it was the most read post last week.


Status Check #3 Meta-Boxes work

That’s the video of an edit screen after installing Gutenberg with all plugins still activated. Scrolling through the meta-boxes for the following plugins and themes:

  • Edit Flow
  • Seriously simple podcasts
  • Yoast SEO
  • Web Mentions
  • Script section for Genesis
  • Layout selection of  Genesis

They all work and data is retained in the database for editing and display. 

The handbook lists the Common Compatibility issues with meta boxes:

  • Plugins relying on selectors that target the post title, post content fields, and other meta boxes (of the old editor).
  • Plugins relying on TinyMCE’s API because there’s no longer a single TinyMCE instance to talk to in Gutenberg.
  • Plugins making updates to their DOM on “submit” or on “save”.
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Status Check #4: ACF is compatible with Gutenberg

ACF refers to a very popular plugin called Advanced Custom Fields.

On August 8, ACF published an update which let a lot of site owners and consultant relax a bit on the Gutenberg topic.

The State of ACF in a Gutenberg World

WP Tavern also wrote about it:

Advanced Custom Fields to Add Gutenberg Compatibility in Version 5.0, Slated for September

Its lead developer, Elliot London, published a Q & A regarding the plugin’s Gutenberg compatibility on their blog at the end for February.

Visually, the new editor is very different, but the relationship between ACF and “Post Content” has remained the same.
Field groups will continue to sit below (and around) the “Post Content” area in a similar fashion. They’ll require only a few minor CSS tweaks to integrate with Gutenberg’s minimal style.

Elliot London, lead developer of Advanced Custom Fields


Status Check #5: Gutenberg will be the default editor for Custom Post Types

Issue 2457 # — explains the whole thing (August 2017)- The discussion was quite long and a few people provides some great in sites. It seems to be clear that there will be a  ‘block-editor’ post type supports attribute for custom post types with custom controllers.

Earlier this week, I tested a handful of plugins that register Custom Post Types like Team, or Events, and I was pleasantly surprised how well they work  with the Gutenberg editor out of the box.   Adding new posts or editing old ones in the Gutenberg editor was actually an improved experience. It might make me an early adopter to go all in on Gutenberg with some of our clients sites.


Status Check #6: Gutenberg supports shortcodes

And they work really well, using the “Shortcode” Block.

Here is an example from the Sponsors plugin

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Status Check #7: Accessibility is really important for Gutenberg

And the accessibility team is hard at work with the Gutenberg team to get this right. There have a vast array of open GitHub issues list.

Here is a run down of the problems and what a critical issues to be fixed before the merge proposal by team lead Rian Rietveld:

Accessibility of Gutenberg, the state of play

There is still a lot of work to be done though.


Status Check #8: Gutenberg won’t replace TinyMCE but us it

In his own  Myth-busting blog post, published back in October 2017, Andrew Roberts writes:

Firstly, the TinyMCE user experience (toolbar, dialogs, writing flow) can also be found hiding in the Classic Text block. Customizations that previously worked with TinyMCE will continue to work with the Classic Text block. (…)

Secondly, Gutenberg uses the TinyMCE core rich text editing engine in the Editable component. The Editable component is similar to a super-powered textarea element, enabling rich content editing including bold, italics, hyperlinks, etc.

Gutenberg myth-busting: 10 answers on the future of content creation in WordPress

Photo by Alex Block on Unsplash



Hi Birgit,

I might not always agree with you and the Gutenberg Brigade but I do like your choice for the featured image on this post. The Great Library at Trinity College in Dublin.

Will go through all the ins and outs of the bullet points. And thanks for highlighting the plugins for the editor that I haven’t spotted before.

Looking forward with my fingers crossed to a time when Gutenberg matures to cover all workflows and scenarios. In the meantime will keep everything else crossed for everything running smoothly while we transition through this new phase of WordPress.

Thank you, Stephen! Appreciate your comment very much. How better way to dispel rumors, than with knowledge? I long for the time when Gutenberg is the default editor and the transition period for plugins and themes has passed. It can’t happen soon enough for me, I admit, but if you look clear-eyed into the future, it might take 24 to 36 months. Until then there is a lot of work to do. Please don’t hesitate to air your different opinions, you always give me something to think about more deeply and to consider, what I might have overlooked or prematurely dismissed. Happy Saturday!

Am I right in thinking that Gutenberg Ramp will be integrated into Gutenberg Core and therefore into WordPress Core? This would mean not having to install another plugin.

Also, on shortcodes. Having an alternative that works better in the long term seems acceptable. The one small area where I would use them is in interpolating the contents in to a block of text. So, for example, if I am using Toolset Type and Views and I have a CPT for a product type that has specifications, I might set up a template as follows.

Weight :[shortcode-weight]
Height :[shortcode-Height]
Price €:[shortcode-price]

Or, lets say, a fictional services industry that deals with asbestos but has targeted pages for SEO purposes to towns around the southern counties of Britain:

Our team of experts at our regional office in [shortcode-location] will safely dispose of all asbestos at specially built facilities outside of [shortcode-location]. After Brexit on the 29 March 2019 Britain will no longer be subject to EU rules and regulations so you can safely bring the asbestos to your local dump yourself! We are sure there is one near you in [sortcode-location].

I am not sure that Gutenberg will cater for such granular uses of shortcodes.

Thanks for your comment, Stephen.
There doesn’t seem any initiative to add Gutenberg Ramp functionality to Gutenberg. It’s a helper plugin for site owners and consultants to help with the transition to Gutenberg and control the custom post types as well as single post introduction of Gutenberg.

As for the use of shortcode, it’s considered an outdated concept and part of the ‘mystery meat’ Gutenberg wants to eliminate. The end vision for Gutenberg is to replace shortcodes with custom blocks, custom fields and block templates. Riad Benguella created plugin as a proof of concept and added it to the WordPress Repository. This might cover your use case quite nicely. Documentation and demonstration is available on his site.

WordPress VIP team also put together free education videos, among them “Converting Custom Content to Blocks”. One of them is converting “Shortcodes to Blocks”. You would need to create an free account to watch them.

Hope this helps you in your discovery of your inner Gutenberg:-)
Happy Sunday!

Update #80 Gutenberg Is Getting Ready for Hundreds of Thousands of Users – Gutenberg Times says:

[…] Gutenberg Times (@gutenbergtimes) July 14, 2018 Transcript is available on GoDaddy UK Blog 8 Truths about Gutenberg Will Gutenberg Editor Make or Break […]

I wouldn’t go as far as saying that I am finding my inner Gutenberg. That’s like having the Jehovah Witnesses call to the door of an atheist every day expecting some miraculous conversion on the road to Damascus, a place I would avoid these days.

I was getting excited there that there might be a switch built directly into Gutenberg to deactivate and reactivate it. But that is not to be.

As I said, there is no harm in having a better alternative to shorcodes. I see the progress. But the current shortcode to block does not cover the use case I mentioned above, interpolating a variable for a piece of text (in the the form of a shotcode) into a block of text. This is something that will need a solution.

Haha. What a far-fetched analogy! Masterly done. I don’t want to belabored shortcode vs block discussion… Are actually saying that the use of shortcode you outline is possible within the current WordPress editor?
The display of variables on an indivisual post level is solved with custom post types and customer fields and theme templating. That process will be indeed solved with custom blocks. You will be able to solve it for any use case you need.

Yes I am sure it is something that is flagged to be tackled, if not done so already. interpolating a variable value in text is one of the principals of programming. The way I see it, when many great minds get together, great things can be done.

[…] 8 Truths about Gutenberg […]