It is difficult to believe that WordPress’ Gutenberg editor is almost two years old (released in WordPress 5.0 in December 2018). Since then, Gutenberg has seen a plethora of development and resources thrown at it, promising a revolutionary writing experience driven by blocks.
So, two years on, has Gutenberg become the beloved new writing experience in WordPress, have the wrinkles been ironed out? Nope.
Despite the amount of work developers have put into polishing Gutenberg and trying to make it a decent writing experience, many continue to avoid it at all costs.
The outrage was overwhelming, that an official plugin restoring the traditional writing experience was released called: Classic Editor plugin. It will allegedly be supported until 2022, but who honestly knows if it will be extended beyond that.
To truly assess community sentiment, you only have to look at the star ratings for the Classic Editor plugin versus the Gutenberg plugin, it’s a stark contrast. The classic plugin has an average rating of 4.9 out of 5 with overwhelmingly positive reviews.
Comparatively, the Gutenberg plugin has overwhelmingly negative reviews and an average star rating of 2 out of 5 stars.
It still breaks Grammarly
I know not everyone uses Grammarly, but I do. For me, Grammarly is an essential part of my writing process. The Gutenberg writing experience completely breaks Grammarly because Gutenberg thought it would be a good idea to turn the editor into a block-based writing experience (every new line is a block).
I have to click into each separate paragraph (which is its own HTML div) and wait for Grammarly to check it. This is frustrating, in comparison to the classic writing experience which does not break the flow of text into blocks.
I wanted to like Gutenberg
Admittedly, when I first started using Gutenberg after a decade of using WordPress as a blogging platform, a CMS and building things with it (including web applications), it was a shock to the system. As a developer myself, I know the frustration of trying to make things better and your users being stuck in the past.
I persisted with Gutenberg because I thought it would get better, almost two years on and I still prefer the classic editor and find Gutenberg to be incredibly complex from its codebase through to its horrendous user interface and performance issues.
The thing is, the team focused so hard on trying to produce a flexible, customisable and configurable editing experience they forget that a majority of WordPress users only care about what their posts look like on the front-end, not when they are editing them in the admin panel.
The biggest issues of all are the Gutenberg editor is confusing for WordPress newcomers. I have had clients with no WordPress experience who have gone in and experienced Gutenberg for the first-time. I wonder if they even tested this editor with groups of people first to get feedback? Because a lot of my clients have struggled with it (to the point where I have reverted it for a couple of them).
If the Gutenberg team could only cast aside their egos and listen to the community, they would see that forcing this block writing experience on people who don’t want it (especially developers) is the wrong way to go about things.
While I dislike Gutenberg for writing blog posts, there is one area where Gutenberg makes sense: pages. Although behind the scenes pages and posts are the same in the DB, they serve different purposes. To me, Gutenberg makes sense if you view it as an officially supported page/site builder.
But, forcing blog posts into a DIV soup block writing experience, it feels unnatural and it causes endless headaches. I still encounter problems from time-to-time selecting all content inside of a Gutenberg block editor, sometimes it won’t select everything and copying/pasting results in sporadic formatting issues.
The right thing would have been for Gutenberg to be optional, keep working on it, but let us choose if we want to use Gutenberg or if we want the more simplistic and easier to write and develop with the classic editor. It has almost been two years and people are still unhappy with Gutenberg, it’s time it became optional and not the default.