Celebrating the 100th Gutenberg release

Our reflections on this major WordPress milestone

The 100th release of the Gutenberg plugin on February 17, 2021 was a major milestone, and Gutenberg 10.0 has got us reminiscing.

We like Gutenberg (we like it so much that we built part of our product around it), and we aren’t alone. That said, Gutenberg has gone through quite a journey and a lot of pushback to get to this point.

The Gutenberg experience

Gutenberg was created with the user in mind. It responded to many small but significant aspects of WordPress that contributed to users’ dissatisfaction as part of a wider effort to improve the user experience, and combined into plans for major changes.

Many developers, designers, agency owners and others who worked with WordPress on a daily basis pushed back. What would be the impact of such a momentous change? Would websites break? Would they need to be rebuilt? What if clients suffer? Might agencies lose those clients?

There was a community saying if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. But in many ways, for users, it was broken.

In his State of the Word address at WordCamp US back in 2018, Matt Mullenweg played user test videos that showed just how broken it was, including a clip where one user said: “This feels like a writing a blog back in 2005.”

Users wanted more, and they expected better. The problems with WordPress had to be fixed. Gutenberg sought to do this, and to deliver the quality of experience that its users expected.

Four years since the project was first announced WordCamp US 2016, as Gutenberg hits its 100th release, we can see just how well it’s transforming the WordPress experience for website owners, visitors and businesses alike.

The building blocks

When they were introduced through Gutenberg, blocks were a new feature to WordPress, and it was so novel to the CMS that Gutenberg was often referred to as the WordPress block editor.

However, blocks won’t have been altogether alien for many website owners. The blocks feature is reminiscent of what’s available on other platforms, including commercial website builders and marketing automation tools like Mailchimp. This is an example of adapting WordPress to improve user experience by giving users the UI, or user interface, that they expect.

There are the basic blocks, like a paragraph of text or a heading, an image or a call-to-action button, but that’s not all. You can hook up a social feed, embed a form, add an alert, and so much more. Website owners benefit, but blocks make the experience better for website visitors too, because blocks expand the potential of what webpages can do.

So much more is within reach because of Gutenberg. WordPress plugin companies can create their own blocks so that their plugin features can be embedded easily on websites, and this widens the scope of many WordPress business offerings.

Take our blocks, for example. FortressDB is your tool to store data securely, but you don’t have to keep it to yourself. We’ve built FortressDB blocks that you can use to share that data securely with the public, or specific groups, through your website:

  • Try the Million Rows Demo at the bottom of our homepage to see how lightning fast data tables can be embedded on your website with our Data Table Block.
  • Engage with web visitors in a whole new way by adding pins, data and your own stories to locations using a Google Maps Block.
  • Show potential customers exactly what your business can do for them by integrating charts to case studies using the Chart Block.

What’s next for Gutenberg?

Gutenberg 10.0 is a major milestone in our books. The 100th release signals the end of the first part of this journey from 1.0 to 10.0, but the wheels are still in motion. One area that promises to make a big impact is full site editing.

Make WordPress introduces the full site editing project by stating its intentions: “The goal of the full site editing project is to utilize the power of Gutenberg’s block model in an editing experience beyond post or page content. In other words, the idea is to make the entire site customizable.”

The extent to which full site editing will empower website owners is really impressive. With higher levels of customization, a website owner has more freedom and control of their site so they can create their vision without compromising. It also enables them to tailor their site more specifically to what their target audience wants, and catering to customers’ needs is bound to be good for business.

On top of this, full site editing potentially widens the scope for WordPress plugin businesses to build and deliver tools for website owners. How businesses in this eco-system will respond is yet to be seen, but we can anticipate innovation.

We’ve got more to come, too. We’ll be releasing a brand new FortressDB Block soon, which you can expect in the early part of Q2 in 2021. Our new Block has been highly-requested and we can’t wait to make it available for you. Watch this space.