The Gutenberg Editor on the way to becoming a Page Builder

In another post about the Gutenberg project , I'll go into the latest layout features that have been added since my last test in November. These new functions show the new Gutenberg Editor on the way to the Page Builder.

In November I reported for the last time about the development of the Gutenberg Editor . In the post at that time I extensively tested and presented the Gutenberg plugin in version 1.7. In the meantime five more major releases followed up to the current version 2.2.0.

So a lot has happened.

Of course, there were again numerous improvements for design, usability, accessibility, mobile experience and extensibility. The editor is already being polished in many places and the list of bug fixes is long. A merge proposal for Gutenberg seems to be getting closer.

But I find the new features that have been added in the last few releases much more interesting. These show more and more clearly that Gutenberg should be more than just a new editor and reveal Gutenberg's potential as a page builder.

Block templates

With version 1.8 of Gutenberg block templates were introduced.

A block template can be imagined as a defined list of blocks that are displayed as a template directly in the editor when creating a post and already contain attributes and placeholders. The blocks then only have to be completed in full.

Gutenberg block template

Example: An event plugin registers a custom post type for events with a block template. When creating a new event, the user is shown blocks for the image, description, date, time and location of the event, which he only needs to add.

At the moment, block templates can only be defined for complete post types, i.e. posts, static pages or custom post types. It is planned, however, that block templates can also be provided as page templates for individual pages from the theme and that the user can also save templates for reuse.

Reusable blocks

In December, version 1.9 came with the implementation of Reusable Blocks, which open up a lot of possibilities. In the German translation, the feature will probably be referred to as reusable or global blocks.

This means that each block can now be converted into a reusable block and saved. The saved blocks can then be reused in other articles and pages. The blocks are global, ie when the block is edited, it is changed wherever it is used.

Gutenberg Reusable Block

Author bio, intro texts, newsletter info - the use cases for this are numerous.

Many plugins such as sliders and contact forms currently rely on custom post types, which are then inserted into the actual page with a shortcode. With Reusable Blocks at the latest, you can save yourself such CPTs in the future and simply install a plug-in for a slider or form block.

In the long term, reusable blocks will probably also play an important role if Gutenberg is expanded to other areas after WordPress 5.0 and widgets, menus and even headers and footers are to be based on blocks.

Nested blocks

The next interesting feature is nested blocks. This allows blocks to be nested, ie there are parent and child blocks. This feature is the requirement for a key component in any page builder - multi-column layouts .

Nested blocks are currently still in the making, but a first concept was published a few days ago with version 2.2 by Gutenberg. A new experimental block Columns and an InnerBlocks component have been added. This means that blocks can now be created in several columns.

Gutenberg Columns Block

The experimental status of the new Columns block for creating columns is quite clear. The whole thing still feels very clumsy. Therefore one should not judge this feature prematurely. Certainly the usability will be significantly improved by the next Gutenberg release.

Coming Soon: Drag & Drop

A list with all features and the scope of the new editor was recently published, which should be included with the release of WordPress 5.0:

Scope & Features: MVP

While most of the features have already been implemented, you can still find the item Drag & Drop functionality for moving and adding blocks under Remaining.

Gutenberg drag and drop
Drag & Drop from Gutenberg Blocks, source: Github

With drag & drop, the blocks can be dragged to a new position with the mouse button pressed and thus arranged and sorted more quickly. Especially in combination with multi-column blocks, this feature is a must-have for a page builder.


The Gutenberg Editor on the way to becoming a Page Builder?

This thesis may sound a little daring and premature. After all, Gutenberg will not even come close to all of the features and options of the Page Builder plugins currently available on the market.

But don't forget the WordPress ecosystem. Numerous developers will publish new plugins for the release of WordPress 5.0 that will add additional blocks and expand the Gutenberg Editor with further options.

With nested & reusable blocks, templates and drag & drop, Gutenberg definitely creates many technical requirements on which developers can build. The potential for Gutenberg as a full-fledged page builder is there.

What do you think?