So what’s the problem with Gutenberg?
The issue with Gutenberg is that it doesn’t actually yet create a better editing experience. It’s very clear that part of the reason Gutenberg has been developed is to compete with Medium, and also platforms such as Squarespace. As a result of this, Gutenberg is fantastic for building long form rich content. Unfortunately, this isn’t what the majority of WordPress users need. Gutenberg is too complex for very basic blog writing, and not advanced enough to substitute for an established page builder or custom development.
There’s also the political aspect due to Automattic’s involvement with WordPress. Developing an editor to compete with Medium and Squarespace is an obvious marketing strategy to bring in users from the other platforms that compete with WordPress. But not just WordPress, but specifically WordPress.com. Unoriginal branding aside, WordPress.com is a proprietary platform for users to build hosted WordPress sites, run by Automattic. However both the WordPress software project and Automattic are run by the same person, Matt Mullenweg. When you put the pieces together, it starts to look like Gutenberg has been built less with the WordPress community in mind and more with the intent to simply make Automattic more money.
The WordPress Accessiblity team recently released a damning analysis of the accessiblity of the Gutenberg editor. To put it succinctly, the Gutenberg editor is very difficult and overly complex for users with assistive technology. While it would be unfair to call it an accessibility regression as the editor is quite different, there are a number of operations in the editor which have now been made much more difficult to do the same thing in Gutenberg. This really is not okay.
Unrealistic deadlines and double standards
This change of standards has not gone unnoticed and clearly demonstrates that the leaders of the core development team have become out of touch with their user base, which is extremely dangerous when you consider WordPress powers around a third of the web.
And if the disconnect wasn’t obvious enough, checkout the Gutenberg Stats site. They’ve somehow managed to track an approximate number of posts that have been created with Gutenberg on sites using Jetpack. I’m using Gutenberg to write this post and I have Jetpack active on this site. Not once have I been prompted to opt-in to tracking my posts made with Gutenberg, so presumably this is happening behind the scenes. Not only does this mean that Jetpack and potentially also Gutenberg are blatantly violating the WordPress Repository Plugin Guidelines, it’s also violating the much publicised GDPR. In other words, it’s illegal in at least 28 different countries. Will Jetpack and/or Gutenberg be suspended from the plugin repository like any other plugin committing these violations would? Of course not, they’re Automattic projects.