Project Gutenberg

While the primary purpose of this site is to have a place to post things that don’t belong on Stratechery, I was also excited to use a fresh WordPress install with Project Gutenberg as the default editor.

To back up a bit, Stratechery uses the classic WordPress editor with a whole bunch of custom code, plugins, etc. It looks like this:

If you squint you can see that posts are written mostly in Markdown, with HTML added as needed. Yes, there is a rich text editor if you click the “Visual” tab, but it is firmly stuck in the last decade, and extremely inflexible. Stratechery is not a complicated site, but I couldn’t imagine not writing as close to the metal as I do.

Project Gutenberg, particularly at first glance, looks — and works — a lot like Medium’s editor:

The editing of in-line component happens via in-line menus that appear as needed:

Meanwhile, you can add different blocks on a per-paragraph basis:

There is a lot of controversy around Project Gutenberg, and I understand why. This is a complete transformation of the WordPress experience, and the changes extend down to the core of, well, WordPress Core. That means that a lot of work that came before to make the WordPress ecosystem such a valuable place to be is, if not obsolete, at least deprecated. I feel this pain! There is no chance that Stratechery will switch to Project Gutenberg anytime soon (there is a plugin if you want to use the classic editor).

At the same time, what is cool about blocks is that they provide a very powerful means to provide new functionality; right now plugins require all sorts of custom work that is difficult for developers and inscrutable for users. Blocks should make that a lot easier, and I suspect there is a lot of market share to be gained by developers who embrace the concept.

Still, this site is about the basics, and I haven’t installed any plugins, so I’m mostly speculating. What I can say is that, for the core out-of-the-box editing experience, Project Gutenberg is really, really good. Honestly, I’m pretty blown away. And that means that Project Gutenberg, despite all of the challenges presented by such a drastic change, is good for everyone, because I can’t see how it won’t lead to WordPress getting and keeping more end users.