Gutenberg Times + Pantheon: Spreading the Guten Word

One of the things I love about my role is the opportunity I have to get to know so many great people in the WordPress and Drupal spaces. Occasionally, I’m also in a position to collaborate with them on a project they’re working on. Birgit Pauli-Haack and the Gutenberg Times are a wonderful example of both. Pantheon is delighted to announce that we are sponsoring the Gutenberg Times in its mission to share news and updates related to the new Gutenberg editor coming in WordPress 5.0.

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We first discovered the Gutenberg Times as an audience. Andrew Taylor was working to get up to speed on all things related to Gutenberg and he kept seeing good summary posts from the Gutenberg Times’ Twitter handle. Fast forward a bit and we realized that we were in a position to help support the Gutenberg Times.

If you’re also interested in these big, exciting changes coming to WordPress 5.0, subscribe to the Gutenberg Times Weekly Newsletter and check out our own Gutenberg Webinar Series. Read on for more insights into the project and person behind it!

Interview with Birgit Pauli-Haack of Gutenberg Times

Drew: Starting off, let’s make sure we have your name right. How do you pronounce Birgit?

Birgit: Sure. It’s two things developers love together: “Beer” + “Git”.

Drew: Oh, ha! Wow, that is easy to remember... which may say too much about me. Well, BeerGit, why did you build this site?

Birgit: In the time-honored open source pattern, I scratched a personal itch. While watching the demo video at last year’s WordCamp Europe, I saw the future of WordPress very clearly. I wanted to learn as much as possible about Gutenberg, the genesis of it, the bigger ideas behind it, and the road ahead. So I collected the blog posts, tweets, videos, etc. Given my excitement, I was surprised how many negative voices were out there, especially early on. I wanted to do something to offset that and highlight the positive voices and nuanced opinions as well.

In December 2017 at WordCamp US, after presentations by Morten Rand-Hendrickson and Matias Ventura (starts at 35 minutes), the mood shifted considerably. By then, I had done over 30 weekly or bi-weekly round-up posts. I was about to get really busy with a lot of voices chiming in about Gutenberg.

Drew: What excites you most about the new Gutenberg editor?

Birgit: The answer is two-fold: I started building websites because I wanted to put content on the web that was missing on the German Internet at the time. This was the late 1990’s and web content management systems didn’t exist yet, so I had to hand-code my navigation, pages, links, everything. So I know the pain of a content creator through all these generations of the web and we still haven’t solved the WYSIWYG idea that people know from Desktop Publishing, MS Word, or Adobe Insights. The proliferation of page builders for WordPress illustrated the need. Their implementation, however, is clunky and hazardous. Despite WordPress being an open system, most page builders and Themes lock you in. You might as well use Squarespace and Wix, get better support, and surrender to the fact that you have to rebuild your site from scratch if and when you want to leave those systems.  

Gutenberg is the first editor that makes WYSIWYG possible in native WordPress. And it’s so elegant and beautiful. It takes technology out of the process of creating visually attractive content. It seems to hide all the difficulty a content creator encounters when writing for the web—the image positioning, the copy/pasting from Google Drive, the way you can highlight paragraphs, sharing blocks. Instead of knowing HTML or configuring yet another plugin, I just grab the button block, add the URL, and give it a nice color. It is a joy to work in Gutenberg every day. Your content not only shines on the desktop, but also on mobile,tablets, and phones. Yes, it’s still rough around the edges, but that’s to be expected. This is a ground-up re-imagining of the web WYSIWYG and that’s a huge task. It’s also not released yet and it keeps getting better.

The other piece of the answer is that it’s built in a modern Javascript framework, ReactJS. It’s fascinating how that space has evolved over the last 8 years. I am excited to learn Javascript for the 3rd time. Learning ReactJS and ES6 is a great joy. I understand the theory and mechanics how blocks, shared blocks, and block templates will make a lot of things easier to build... once you are past the—admittedly huge—learning curve. I can’t wait to finish my first React/WordPress website.

Drew: Fantastic. I agree; I think Gutenberg and WordPress 5.0 will unlock new growth for WordPress and the Open Web. I’m looking forward to that future! In the shorter term, I’m also looking forward to our upcoming Gutenberg webinar with you and David, right before WordCamp Europe!

Birgit: Yes, that will be fun! WordCamp Europe will be great. I’m really looking forward to the rest of the Gutenberg webinar series as well. Thank you for making all the recordings available!

On a personal note: Pantheon’s support of Gutenberg has made the project sustainable and enjoyable for me. A huge ‘Thank You’ to the whole Pantheon team for supporting my work at Gutenberg Times.

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WordPress 5.0 and the Gutenberg Editor
Get ready for the biggest change to WordPress in years with a complete guide to Gutenberg from the experts at Pantheon.

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