Most of our websites are built on WordPress, so we were excited to understand this new phase of WordPress development. In our typical workflow, we use Advanced Custom Fields (ACF) to create reusable content “sections” that can be placed on any page or post. (Check out our portfolio of WordPress websites.) On the surface, the Gutenberg concept sounds like a nicely timed (and needed) editing experience update that fits right into the way we already build pages with ACF.
What is Advanced Custom Fields (Pro)
If you want anyone other than a developer updating your website, the standard WP page editor is basically unusable. We’ve been solving this problem using ACF for a few years now. It has enabled our editors and clients to easily update and populate pages with new content by using pre-designed and developed “sections.” Instead of a single window that looks like a comically lightweight, web-based version of Microsoft Word, the user has a collection of content containers to pick and choose from to create a nice looking page. Sounds a lot like…
What is Gutenberg?
Gutenberg is a new WordPress editing experience creating pages and posts. It will become part of WordPress core with the launch of version 5, and currently can be tested with your WordPress site in the form of a plugin. The idea behind Gutenberg is to improve user experience with an intuitive user interface. Developers can create custom “blocks” whose presentation in the dashboard closely mimics what you will see on the front-end when you publish a page (think WYSIWYG.) Within these blocks, users are able to edit page content within the structure a developer has created. This cleverly gives an editor or marketer enough power to build out their own web pages, without sacrificing the best parts of a website’s design.
Gutenberg is more than just a replacement for a text editor, it’s an overhaul of the way we’ve been developing and editing WordPress websites altogether.
Gutenberg definitely has the potential to replace ACF. And while ACF saved the day for developers and the clients they work with, the fact that Gutenberg is now in WordPress’s core is extremely important. While ACF is a robust plugin, when an update happens to WordPress’s core it has the potential to break the website. We didn’t see that often with ACF but now that the functionality of pre-built page blocks is native, it’s less likely to break after an update. Another positive aspect of this native functionality is that it can decrease load times for websites. In essence, by updating the user interface and making this content builder native, you get an improved user experience for the developer, editor, and client.
“All content all experiences should be managed natively and have custom elements that work with the core code of WordPress. “ Josh Baker, Senior Web Developer
A Modern Direction: ACF and Gutenberg Compatibility in 2018
While many developers and agencies will hold onto the ACF (or other visual builder) workflow for some time, this is going to end up biting them in the long run. It’s going to be difficult to compete with a native page builder like Gutenberg. A toolkit expertly maintained by core developers is less likely to break on updates and results in faster render times with a more fluid, visual UI and UX. WordPress is positioning itself not only to leave ACF behind but also better compete with other visual-based editing platforms like Wix and Squarespace.
When In WordPress, Do As the Natives Do
The most important aspect of Gutenberg is that it is native to WordPress. Developers won’t have nearly as much to worry about when updating their sites’ core software. The fewer plugins a site has installed, the fewer opportunities it has to break. Not to mention, this often reduces your website’s server requests, which should result in faster load times.
What do you mean, “native?”
Native means it is an included feature of WordPress
Gutenberg is a massive shift for WordPress. It’s going to make developing and editing websites fresher, easier and sleeker for both developers and the people who manage them. This update will encourage a new kind of experienced developer who can create fast, seamless and stable user experiences. We think this new technology is going to set a standard for User Experience and User Interface that will be hard to match with other methods of development like the ACF plugin and Visual Builders. This Gutenberg will have a similar impact on the digital age as the original did during the Renaissance. It’s going to make editing websites easier for the masses and push developers to adopt a modern language that will create a consistency never before used on a platform as pervasive as WordPress. It’s gonna be big.