Morten Rand-Hendriksen and Gutenberg

Posted: September 01, 2018

If you haven’t had a chance to watch this recent interview between Torque Magazine and Morten Rand-Hendriksen I highly encourage you to do so:

Morten is one of the people I really look up to for his eloquence in being able to verbalize things in such a way that resonates really well with his listeners but also touches on the topic in such a way that’s both respectable and to the point.

In this particular case I really admire how he outlines certain frustrations surrounding both Gutenberg the product and the way it’s being introduced to the world.

I myself fit in really well with the group he speaks about quite a bit; a developer who has built custom websites for clients (both large and small) and in doing so presented WordPress as a product that you don’t have to worry about changing unexpectedly.

My clients are more often than not intimidated about “messing” with their website, and I spend a lot of time, effort, and energy convincing them otherwise. Administration screens are custom built to match exactly what they expect to see. Cruft is removed so as to avoid unwanted mistakes. The entire experience is customized (to a degree) to match expectations of a client but to more-so match the expectations of the design that has been approved and is now being built.

Gutenberg changes all of that for them

Sure, there’s meta box “support” but it’s nothing like what’s been utilized to build their current site.

The site design is custom catered to meet the business goals of the project, an open-ended block system isn’t something I would have implemented for them because the design dictates the structure.

In my experience clients aren’t trying to do anything overly complicated with their posts, they were comforted to know that it works just like writing an email, or editing a document in Word. That was familiar to them, Gutenberg is completely different.

There aren’t any long term support contracts for these clients. That’s by design, because WordPress identifies itself (and has proven itself) to be very reliable from release to release. I know that’s not everyone’s experience, but I’ve spent a ton of time making sure that the plugins I use and the theme code I write isn’t going to break when WordPress updates. I’m explicit in telling clients that if they choose to install plugins on their own, it’s outside the scope of support and will require additional billable time.

As it stands, the bulk of the sites that I’ve built will vastly change when Gutenberg rolls out. That’s got nothing to do with Gutenberg itself, it’s got to do with the way it’s being rolled out. Morten brings up a great point in that while the Classic Editor does its job, it’s not a great long term solution. Eventually the whole of WordPress is going to move beyond the capabilities of the Classic Editor and we’re just delaying the inevitable. A solution needs to exist.

Morten’s suggested solution is 4.9 LTS — I think that’s a super interesting idea, and like the context he provides around it. The video speaks to how much bigger the conversation is, however.

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