My Beloved WP – WTF !!! #gutenbad

By now, if you work with WordPress, you’d have to be living under a rock not to have heard that “Gutenberg” is coming to your WordPress powered website. Certainly, fancy businesses and corporate technical teams have already prepared everyone in their offices for the shock. But, if you’re like me, a shade-tree journalist with other things in life that demand attention, you might have looked at it a few months ago and said “mmmph” I’ll wait and see how it goes.

So, last week I decided to tinker with it and as from the beginning, I don’t like it. Worse, the release date has now been moved from the 19th of this month to the 27th because of all the bugs and glitches. One office type on-line said they are working on so many glitches that we can’t trust the new release with so little time before deployment. Many have called for a delay until at least after Christmas, and frankly I doubt that is long enough.

I keep an off-line install to build and mirror what goes on-line. If you don’t, you should. I try new things off-line and then decide whether or not I want to go “live” with new plugins and styling. With Gutenberg, this caused problems that couldn’t be corrected by simply deactivating and reactivating plugins. Admittedly, I didn’t try the restore classic editor plugin, but I still come to the conclusion that a second, and even a third development install off-line – just for Gutenberg – is necessary.

With the third install, I created a new database and used a clean WP 4.9.8 along with the latest Gutenberg plugin – with no imports from the site. Tiptoeing and checking for problems, activating one plugin at a time, there are just too many glitches. I use between 50-60 plugins at a time, many are simple and only effect the back end. Even still, I found about half of those loose some degree of functionality.

Even without the bugs, I don’t like Gutenberg. It’s slow, the UI is tedious, the drag and drops are constrained, and while it looks slick, I find it to be less flexible and less user friendly. Not only that, but apparently there are additional major changes coming down the road to the rest of the back end. My opinion is that they’re making a big mistake and they should stop and rethink the entire project from scratch. I don’t use the visual editor ever, but I understand that new people need to be able to go to work and use WP more like a word-processor without much expectation of coding style sheets or cut and pasting php. My bottom line is that Gutenberg should be integrated into the visual editor, and the classic text editor should forever be about the same.

Gutenberg probably won’t break the display of your site. Everything is still where you left it and should continue to work. But, Gutenberg will almost certainly mess up your back-end and could even make older posts uneditable. Adding new posts will not be the same. How much devastation will depend on how extensive your customizations are. Be advised, some of the most popular and necessary plugins mess up too.

I’ve decided not to allow WP 5.0 to automatically install Gutenberg. Instead, I use and recommend the plugin “Easy Updates Manager” which can disable automatic updates for core, themes and plugins. Then you can choose when to update. I hope the WordPress Team will be able to fix the glitches, but many plugins are being deprecated in this changeover that are no longer maintained. So, I strongly suggest updating an off-line install first to see what the devastation will be. If you don’t, you probably going to get your feelings hurt.

© 2018 – Jim Casey