How Gutenberg Full-Site Editing Will Reshape the WordPress Landscape
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How Gutenberg Full-Site Editing Will Reshape the WordPress Landscape

WordPress has been growing at a rapid rate. From a blogging platform, it became a framework of choice for all websites. With WooCommerce even permeated the e-commerce industry and took it by storm.

And there’s still no stopping!

With the newest features like Gutenberg and REST API, WordPress has stunned its community and dumbfounded the people who thought WordPress would soon meet a fateful death.

But one thing is certain at this point: things won’t remain the same. The WordPress landscape is changing, and the next few releases could have a huge impact on the WordPress community.

While the roadmap includes several items, one particular focus right now is Gutenberg’s full-site editing feature.

What Is Full-Site Editing and What Does It Look Like?

Ever since Gutenberg was released, it has been certain that it won’t be limited to being a block editor for the post content area.

Hence, Gutenberg has the WordPress reins for now, and it’s leading the site toward a future where your site is made up of little blocks that can be customized and pieced together to create the desired experience.

It’s like playing with Lego blocks – you move the blocks around, attach them wherever you want, and ultimately create a structure from your wild imagination.

Except for the full-site editing experience of Gutenberg, each of those individual Lego blocks would also be customizable. It’s like interactive Lego blocks where you can choose the color of each block along with other things like their shape and size.

I know it’s incredible, and it will be a game-changer.

But how will it work?

Check this demo to get a taste of what full-site editing will look like.

It will be a block-based structure, with everything on your site converted into blocks: the navigation menu, the sidebar, and the headers and footers.

For example, you are building a landing page on your website and want to change the position of your Main menu or add an additional link to it.

With full site editing, doing that would be as simple as pointing and clicking to customize the menu structure of the Navigator block and dragging it around wherever you want.

Editing WordPress

You can create columns and rows and nest more Gutenberg blocks within them for a full-blown website development experience.

Some notable features that will be rolled out with full-site editing are:

Global Styles

With Global Styles, a user can overwrite the theme’s default CSS with a simple settings panel and create a web experience they have imagined – without writing any CSS code.

Currently, changing your website style means writing some custom CSS. That’s where learning some basic CSS becomes essential when developing a website on WordPress.

However, Global Styles will become part of the core WordPress platform and provide a Customizer-like experience. In this experience, you can choose options for CSS attributes like line height, font, text colors, etc., and see the change in real-time.

Block Directory Search

Now, this is the part where it gets the most interesting.

Block Directory search lets you install ‘blocks’ or WordPress plugins directly from the page you are working on and inline the block you’re editing.

So, if you want to add a particular functionality to the block you’re editing and it is not currently installed, you can use the Block Directory search to find the block you need and install it right then and there.

Add title WordPress

Dynamic Blocks

This whole idea would have flopped big time if these blocks served static HTML instead of dynamic php from the server. I mean, who would want to trade the powerful dynamic content of WordPress with static HTML? Nobody, right?

Well, blocks in Gutenberg will be of two kinds – static and dynamic. So you can render content dynamically from the server.

An example is the WordPress Latest Posts block. When a new post is published, this block updates everywhere it’s used.

Reusable Blocks

Another great feature is the ability to reuse and repeat blocks across your site.

I remember building a website with a page builder plugin a few years back. Every page had to be structured the same way.

For me, it meant doing the same repetitive task of structuring and styling the pages in an identical way. At that point, I wondered if there was a way to clone the design or make a template so it could be reused and repeated across the site without redesigning from scratch.

And that’s what reusable blocks in Gutenberg are for.

‘Simplify’ is a small word for what Full-Site editing will do to website development in WordPress. If it rolls out well, it would mean a renaissance for the end users and the theme developers.

How Will Gutenberg Transform The User Experience?

For one, the users who bloated their site with page builder plugins like Elementor or Beaver Builder will not have to do so, as the functionality of full-site and block-based editing will be built into the core platform itself.

The full-site editing feature will simplify the end user’s experience, allowing them to create any layout and design they can imagine.

They can convey ideas and information the way they want without any compromises or having to understand the technical side of things.

The user can add and edit functionality more easily via a unified, coherent, and consistent mechanism of blocks. They won’t have to traverse complex navigation menus or visit separate sections to change the site’s behavior. The user can manipulate everything directly in place from one single interface—the block.

Ultimately, it means developing websites and building pages will be much easier for non-dev users.

But what’s most interesting about the whole feature is this proposed idea outlined in the GitHub documentation:

Ultimately, any WordPress user with the correct capabilities (for example: `administrator` WordPress role) can access these templates in the WordPress admin, edit them in dedicated views, and potentially export them as a theme.

This part of the project will have far-reaching effects on the WordPress community. It means anyone, even people with no coding experience, can create themes and contribute them to the community.

A free customized theme directory doesn’t seem like a far-fetched idea now.

But that brings us to the next question. What impact will it have on theme development? Will themes even exist?

How Will Gutenberg Transform Theme Development?

Frankly, this is not an easy question to answer. Although there has been initial documentation for theme developers, nothing is set in stone.

Since its release, Gutenberg has created some ripples in the WordPress development community, especially among theme developers. People wondered what the future of themes looked like. Will themes be reduced to a style sheet, or will they cease to exist?

The whole proposal essentially states that theme developers will have to adapt to the changes and make adjustments to make the system work for them.

While ‘no-coding-experience-required’ was previously a selling point for theme developers, it won’t be so unique now. So, theme developers will have to scratch their brains and develop unique selling points for their themes.

But one thing is clear: with a coherent system in place, there’ll be many opportunities for what can be done and how far the WordPress platform can be stretched.

All In All…

Gutenberg is all set to reshape the WordPress landscape—nothing will be the same as it is now. While end-users will find it much easier to build sites and pages without tinkering with technicalities, the developer community will be able to unlock more opportunities to create impractical experiences and functionality.

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