Benjamin Intal A Blog About WordPress Plugin Development & Business Experiences

A Page Builder Creator’s Opinion: Embrace Gutenberg

It’s just a matter of time when Gutenberg will hit WordPress Core. As days go by, we’re getting closer and closer to an eventual merge. So to get ahead of the game, my team and I took almost month studying Gutenberg, and ended up releasing a plugin called Stackable – Ultimate Gutenberg Blocks.

Throughout our experience, what we found is that Gutenberg is quite awesome!

Preamble

On November last year, I wrote an article about a Page Builder Creator’s Opinion of Gutenberg, and posited that as a page builder creator, I should innovate hard in order to survive.

When I wrote that article, we kept hearing that Gutenberg was the “future” of WordPress… but it was a bit uncertain on what Gutenberg really was and what it was going to be when it’s finished. Upon realizing that it was a page builder, I was doubtful that it would be a good fit in the WordPress Core.

Now, four months after my post, Gutenberg has grown up a lot, and it has evolved into a page builder that is being developed at a very rapid pace.

Since then, I’ve changed my stance on Gutenberg – I’m no longer hesitant about the thought of it, I’m now embracing it!

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What’s Changed in Gutenberg?

Gutenberg is waaay different now than what if was before.

Back on early November (v1.7.0), it was barely usable. It only had a few blocks, and you couldn’t create anything aside from a very basic blog article. It was more like a proof-of-concept than an actual soon-to-be WordPress feature.

After 4 months, and 7 version releases later, Gutenberg (v2.2.0) now has over 2 dozen blocks, plus blocks for embedding third-party content like Tweets or YouTube videos, a more fleshed-out user interface and a developer API that people can use to create their own blocks.

It’s now pretty much useable and you can create an actual front page with it. Granted, it might not be a flashy one and doesn’t probably contain all the bells and whistles that other page builders have, but as a newly installed Apache server would say, “It works!”

People Are Starting to Favor Gutenberg (Based on The Ratings)

Last year, the community had mixed reviews about Gutenberg and there was a clear split between people who liked it and people who didn’t.

This split is still quite visible if you visit Gutenberg in the WordPress Plugin Directory. It’s currently rated as 2.7 stars out of 5 stars:

Gutenberg Ratings in the Plugin Directory

However, I don’t think this is a good representation of how people feel about Gutenberg as months go by. A large chunk of those 1-star ratings are old ratings, but are still influencing the current average rating.

A better representation would be to plot all the reviews as they come in, and draw a trendline across all the ratings. This would give us an idea on how the average rating is changing over time.

Here, I got the latest 200 reviews – around 4 months’ worth of reviews – and charted them on a spreadsheet based on the number of stars each review had. Here’s the chart I came up with:

Upward Trendline for the past 200 reviews / 4 months

The chart shows ratings from November 2017 (on the left side) until February 2018 (on the right side). The thick line in the middle is called the trendline – it’s a moving average of the ratings. And…

You can clearly see that it’s moving upward! 📈

Back in November, Gutenberg got reviews that averaged around 2.5 stars. It’s slowly climbing, and nowadays, it’s receiving an average of 3.3 stars. This means that people are now more favorable of Gutenberg than before.

The Previous Issues I Had

I’ve noted 2 usability issues in Gutenberg from my previous article:

  1. The page keeps jumping around when doing some highlighting + shift key combinations, and
  2. Undo and redo only works for the current block you’re in.

I’m happy to say that both of these have already been addressed (however, I sometimes have to hit the undo key twice when undoing across multiple blocks.. but I’m sure that will also be addressed soon.)

Very Active Development

Github Contribution Commits

The Gutenberg Github repo has been very active, with over 5,200 commits so far. The contributors are really working hard, and given the rising average rating of Gutenberg, it’s good to see that people are starting to appreciate their efforts.

I think that it has come to the point that the core Gutenberg code and APIs are more or less stable and developers should seize this opportunity to start developing for Gutenberg.

Developers Are Starting to Create Gutenberg Plugins

I noticed a few weeks ago that there is now a Gutenberg Handbook. It’s a very good developer resource, and I think this is a call-to-arms for developers to start creating plugins, and some developers (including us) have heard the call.

If you check out the list of new plugins in the WordPress plugin directory, there are quite a few new plugins that are made specifically for Gutenberg.

Try searching for “Gutenberg Blocks” in the plugin directory for yourself. At the time of this writing, there are 4 pages of results, I’d bet this won’t be the case in a few weeks.

Searching for “Gutenberg Blocks” in the WordPress Plugin Directory. Stackable is our plugin

A New Upcoming Competitive Plugin Category

I believe that Gutenberg will be a 🔥 hot plugin category to be in the future.

There’s one thing to note though, it’s very early.

If you check out the plugins for Gutenberg in the plugin directory, you’ll notice that most, if not all of them, have only a handful of active installs.

Does that mean that creating a plugin for Gutenberg is the wrong move? No.

Why? This is because Gutenberg is very very new. It hasn’t merged into core, and the regular WordPress users don’t know about it yet. The vast majority of WordPress users don’t lurk around on the Advanced WordPress Facebook Group, watch interviews, go to WordCamps or read WP Tavern; so they don’t know what “Gutenberg” is.

Right now we are still in the Innovators area in the Innovation Adoption bell curve:

Innovation Adoption Bell Curve from Wikipedia

The plugins that appear in this very early stage will have a high chance to set the stage for the future.

So if you are developer and want to create something awesome and possibly huge, try developing for Gutenberg!

Are You Considering Developing a Gutenberg Plugin?

Given the inevitability of Gutenberg merging into code, I think it might be a good idea for developers to start creating plugins and themes now. If you’re interested, here are a few developer resources for you to get started:

Have you starting embracing Gutenberg? Let me know in the comments below.

About the author

Benjamin Intal

Benjamin is an avid WordPress plugin developer, a full-stack developer, owner and lead developer of Gambit, creator of Page Builder Sandwich, and creator of more than 30 WordPress plugins in CodeCanyon. Follow me on Twitter @bfintal

3 comments

  • I have gone from meh to wao! Each release of Gutenberg makes me love it even more. It’s still uncertain what the effect of Gutenberg will be to WordPress. I am hopeful it will be good.

    Great read by the way.

  • So, I’m curious to know: what do you think the impact of Gutenberg will be on existing page builders, such as your own, as well as others (e.g., Elementor, Beaver Builder, Divi) — both in the short-term and the long-term? Will the page builders all fade away over time, and will Gutenberg and Gutenberg-compatible plugins supplant them, or will the page builders (at least the ones that survive) find ways to effectively leverage Gutenberg, or will there be a split in the plugin/theme marketplace, where some of them leverage/integrate with Gutenberg in some way and others stand apart from it, or….something else?

    • I think page builders will still remain here, but it might mean that these products would need to bring something more to the table to give users a reason to look for another builder aside from the one they have by default.

      The builders you mention are all great and I don’t think that they’ll be threatened by the introduction of Gutenberg since they already have a solid following. I don’t think they will fade away because of this, even in the long term. If anything, I think that the old ones and the ones that still focus on being a backend builder are the ones who will really be challenged.

      In my opinion, things will probably just look the same in the plugin directory. Plugins that deal with adding something to a page’s content would just have to eventually have their own block (aside from the shortcodes that they have right now). Oh, and plugins whose main purpose is to provide lots of shortcodes would be replaced by plugins that provide blocks.

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Benjamin Intal A Blog About WordPress Plugin Development & Business Experiences

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