April 21st, 2021
In WordPress circles (whether it’s your local meetup, a trusted publication, or your networking group), you may have heard terms like Core Editor, Gutenberg, and the Block Editor used interchangeably over the last four years. And if you’re following contributor work on the project itself, you may also have heard some additional nuances—Gutenberg plugin, Gutenberg, or Block Editor.
It can get a little confusing, so let’s take a look at four terms that will help you find your way:
- WordPress – WordPress refers to the open-source software but also to the community that surrounds it.
- Gutenberg – Gutenberg is the code name for a multi-year project to update editing areas for the WordPress software.
- Editor – The editor refers to a section of the software that allows you to update content on your site’s posts and pages.
- Gutenberg Plugin – The Gutenberg plugin is where early work to update the editor is shared.
The Gutenberg Plugin
Now that we’ve cleared up the definitions, let’s talk about the plugin. When might you use it? What would you use it for? You can think of it as an early access program or a “WordPress lab.” The plugin is updated every two weeks, which means that bugs that have been reported are often fixed and that what you see changes rapidly.
The Gutenberg plugin also contains features that aren’t yet ready for their WordPress debut but are ready for curious users to test and provide feedback. This is a common practice that allows stable features to make it to your site in WordPress releases while allowing experimental features to be tested and refined. To get a sense of whether using the Gutenberg Plugin might be something you want to explore to get access to earlier features, check out the “What’s New” release posts and the Core Editor Improvement post series.
Do I Need the Plugin to Use Gutenberg?
It depends on your comfort level! Generally speaking, it is not recommended to use the plugin on a site that has launched and is actively in use unless you’re very comfortable with the code side of WordPress. Fortunately, each WordPress release comes ready to go with multiple versions of the Gutenberg plugin.
But if you are a keen beta tester who loves reporting feedback, or you feel comfortable navigating how to opt-in/out of the experimental aspects of the plugin, here are a few reasons you might want to dig into what the Gutenberg Plugin has to offer:
- Test new features and give helpful feedback. For example, you can use the plugin to help test Full Site Editing.
- Get early access to the latest & greatest while navigating when to opt-in or out of experimental features.
- Prepare for the future whether you’re a theme author, plugin developer, agency owner, etc.
Do you use the Gutenberg plugin and share feedback on GitHub? Thank you! This kind of feedback is what helps ensure stability in what’s shipped in WordPress releases.