Should Gutenberg be allowed into WordPress core?
At the WordPress Portsmouth Meetup, 22nd February 2018, I gave a short talk and demonstration of the Gutenberg plugin which is being proposed as the new block editor for WordPress. In the deck are three slides entitled Road map, Current landscape and Projection. In this post I want to air my concerns about the part of the project that nobody appears to be thinking about… implementation.
I've been working with the Gutenberg and classic-editor plugins for approximately a month, trying to determine what I need to do in order to be ready for the time when the new editor gets merged into WordPress core.
I think that there are some parts of the new editor which are great. I have many ideas for easy to use blocks to replace my rather complex shortcodes and am looking forward to developing them.
But I'm also very concerned about the apparent lack of concern for people who have existing content which the new editor doesn't understand and can't deal with, or existing code which won't work properly with the new editor.
Will users sites become broken simply because they used the new editor and didn't realise the consequences of choosing a particular action?
Will my mystery meat be minced?
And if so, who will have to pick up the pieces and put it right? Will the stock answer be reactive; "it's working as designed" or "your requirement was out of scope" or "you can't do that anymore"?
Wouldn't you rather it be pro-active; "I recommend this course of action because…".
My current position is that I'm rather pleased that there isn't yet a target date for WordPress 5.0, since that means WordPress 5.0 isn't going to be along as soon as some people have suggested.
But I'm very uncomfortable that there doesn't even appear to be a plan to create an implementation plan. And without a plan, with defined objectives, deliverables and completion criteria, I don't know how long I've got to prepare and I don't know what WordPress will provide to ease the migration process. I've already reported issues that have been labelled as Bugs, but I have no idea when they'll be addressed and whether or not the fixes will actually solve my problems. And I've also raised requirements, but have no idea if they'll ever be looked at. I can't find anything that tells me "this is how it was and this is how it's going to be and we've all agreed it and everyone's happy". But that's what I feel I need.
So this is my current interpretation of the situation.
Road map for WordPress 5.n
The simple view of the plan is something like this.
- A few more versions of the "product" until it's Feature Complete.
- A Merge Proposal is created.
- It gets merged into WordPress 5.0.
- Anyone who has a problem should use the Classic-Editor plugin.
- Activate the Classic-editor now if you're really worried.
- More changes to other parts of WordPress can then be developed.
My view is that the current landscape is far more complex than anyone's attempted to evaluate.
- There are many WordPress sites
- Code is used to help create and display content
- Content comes in many forms
- People and processes exist
- Page builders make life easy for some
- Some new code is being developed
- New content can't happen yet
- This is the road that's being built.
- If you're somewhere off the beaten track you may find it hard to get to new content or new code.
So, what's this got to do with me?
If you feel you're in the same situation then I suggest you have a look at the current landscape. See if you can find out where you're currently located. Now decide where you want to go. Then try to work out what you need to do in order to get to that place? Estimate time and effort and how much it's going to cost you. Then estimate the benefits of being there. If the benefit is greater than the cost that's a bonus. Go for it. If it's the other way round then you might want to reconsider your options. And one of those options is to let others know that there's something wrong, and that it needs fixing. I've already tried doing that, but it's fallen on deaf ears.
If, on the other hand, you aren't at all worried, please point me to the evidence.