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Gutenberg: Version 3.3 or Is it ready for the core?

Over the past 4 months, since my previous article on Gutenberg, soon to be WordPress core editor has reached the version 3.3, and there is more talk about including the Gutenberg in WordPress core with version 5.0. Is it ready for that?

Before I go any further, I must admit that Gutenberg, version 3.3 has gotten much better since the previously tested 2.4 version. Most of the blocks are working as they should be, and even the Columns block is now usable, without most of the layout issues from the previous versions. The biggest issue with Columns is that some blocks don’t look right when inside the column cell. On the other hand, columns inside the column cell, look much better than before, even if the editor area is really narrow by default for something like that.

Gutenberg Example
Gutenberg Example

One of the most important long-term compatibility issues is metaboxes. Even in 2.4, old metaboxes worked fine, and this has been improved in the few latest releases, even with some strange white space appearing under the metaboxes blocks. All metaboxes added by any of the Dev4Press plugins, work as expected with Gutenberg, but the problem with some other plugins remain metaboxes that have some sort of interaction with the editor, and I don’t see that these plugins will be able to work with Gutenberg without significant changes.

Editing workflow

Gutenberg has to be easy to work with and it needs the editing to feel natural. And, the workflow has been improved a lot in the past few months.

My biggest issue right now is how the blocks are added. The process is not intuitive, and some time is completely illogical. Plus button sometimes shows under the last block on the left, sometimes it doesn’t unless you click in the empty area. The same button is sometimes on the top of the page, and sometimes it is not. Dropdown control for adding blocks is too big, and it tends to jump up and down while scrolling the page. Finding blocks is easier, but this essential part of the editor has to behave better.

But, the worst thing, is that sometimes what you edit is not saved at all. It has already happened a few times, and I have seen some users report the same problem: the editor sometimes fails to save, and it can lead to losing the work. This is unacceptable, the old editor had neat methods for storing content in the browser, and getting content from the storage, and I am not sure why this is not working correctly with Gutenberg.

The editor is usable on small screens, and for the most part, I had no issues with it (other the same problems Gutenberg has on big screens). I am not sure about the block settings, because that control takes the whole screen when activated, but for now it is fine as it is.

Included Blocks

There are still too many blocks! Why every Embed has own block, why simply not have one, and that one will detect the embed based on the URL. Right now, it is very confusing to add embed, because you need to find the right one first, it would be much easier to paste URL in the block, and let the block figure things out.

Embeds: Get rid of all this
Embeds: Get rid of all this

If that doesn’t happen, I expect there will be a plugin to do that and just register single embed block. I will be the first one to use such a plugin.

Is it ready for the WordPress core?

As before, my answer is no.

During WCEU, Matt Mullenweg announced the roadmap to merge Gutenberg into the core. And, as with any WordPress roadmap goes, we are already way behind. For one, Gutenberg is not yet frozen for new features (3.3 got several new blocks), and that already have us a month behind. Gutenberg developers must stop with adding new things, there are so many open bugs and issues, don’t add new features to that. Problem is that WordPress core has so many bugs waiting for years that no one wants to fix, and everyone wants to add new stuff. Gutenberg already suffers from the same problem.

Documentation is still severely lacking, and hardly usable, for a lot of things, you are better finding help outside of And, because of that, the current adoption of Gutenberg by plugin and (especially) theme developers is very low. All themes ‘work’ with Gutenberg generated content, but, in most themes, it looks, well, not bad, but not good either.

I simply don’t see how the Gutenberg can be merged into the core without getting a lot of developers interested in it, and that will not happen until the documentation is usable, without getting 20.000 websites using it, and that is still ways off. Gutenberg team needs to stop with new things, fix the bugs and write a great documentation with everything from setting up a development environment to the inclusion of 10 or more complete blocks projects explained. When all that is done, start thinking about the WP core merge.

Embracing the Gutenberg

We all know that Gutenberg will end up in the core, and it is time to accept that and make sure the editor gets better before that happens. And we all need to contribute. And, at this point, the most important part of that task, is to use it for real projects and report issues found. To that end, I plan to build a new blog powered by the Gutenberg and the Atomic Blocks theme, with GD Rating System Pro and few other Dev4Press plugins. The goal is to write blog posts at least a few times each week, to see how ready Gutenberg is for the real world.

I hope to launch the new blog by the end of next month. I will also publish a new article then to talk more about long-term use of Gutenberg.

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About the author

Milan Petrovic
Milan Petrovic

CEO and Lead developer of Dev4Press Web Development company, working with WordPress since 2008, first as a freelancer, later founding own development company. Author of more than 250 plugins and more than 20 themes.

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