Gutenberg Editor vs. PageBuilders

WP Meetup Nairobi 29. Feb. recap

First of all: this is the very first of the some more blog post a wanted to write as announced earlier this year. Sorry it didn’t happen so far. The more I’m happy to provide you with a short summary of the talk about the Gutenberg Editor. I was honored to give this talk last Saturday at the WordPress Meetup Nairobi. Though this group shows about 2000 members. The annual WordCamp regularily gets the attention of far more than 100 people. Still: the meetups have some room for improvement. … hmm, room … that’s already one of the things we are working on.

Let’s find a new venue for the meetup

As the burden of organizing was up to now mainly on Emmanuel Ammanulah we meanwhile have some more members who contribute in organizing the monthly meetups. One of our first tasks is to find a new venue to host us regularily. For Febuary we could make use of AFRALTI on Wayaki Way. As they charge at least 7500 KES for the event, this will only be our second best choice. Though we are aware that the WordPress community support could take over the costs. The March event will be held at Bazaar Plaza, which is part of the Moi University and therein at the American Space which is offered for free, but can’t be booked as a recurring event. Therefore: if there are ideas, where we can locate our meetups every last Saturday of the month please feel free to put it to the comments.

Let’s try to offer meetups every month and with a given topic

The second goal is clearly to make sure to have topics for talks and discussions to get our community involved. The initiative is mainly on Jeremy Kabaya who contributed to the Feb. talk and as well will take over the March event. From my past experiences as meetup organizer in Nuremberg and Wurzburg I know too well, how cumbersome it can be to find speakers and interesting topics. There more I’m grateful, that it didn’t take long to convince Michael Owour to take over the April meetup with some insights about WordPress as a business. And as I’m already connected with the Lawyers Hub the May will tackle the new Data Protection Act of Kenya and the implications for building WordPress websites. I consider this a huge effort and I’m very positive, that we will be able to cover the upcoming meetups in 2020 along the way.

So what about Gutenberg Editor?

To be very honest: it was the first time I was so immersed into this topic. So far I either avoided to use the – well, not soooo – new block-editor or just scratched the surface of it’s possibilities. Turned out: I’m not alone! Some still rely on the old TinyMCE Editor, even pimp it with TinyMCE Advanced. But mostly the audience was all about Pagebuilders and among those it was clearly a majority going for Elementor.

First step therefore was to show how existing „classic editor“ content can be transformed into Gutenberg Editor blocks:

Pretty straight forward. As long as the classic block as such isn’t touched at all nothing happens with given content. And if transformed, the worst thing that can happen is to endup with a HTML-block.

Gutenberg Editor (build in) vs. Gutenberg plugin

The Gutenberg Editor which is part of any WordPress 5.x installation as such already is very powerful. It comes with 64 blocks for various content types, layouts, widgets and embeds. I put up site with all of them just to showcase the possibilities. Esp. the columns block and the full width alignment gives some pagebuilder like features for styling a webpage. With re-usable blocks it’s possible to shape certain aspects of the appearance of your website. It’s almost like having a pagebuilder template for posts and pages. Another aspect which cannibalizes pagebuilders.

Some more blocks which a currently under development together with some other experimental features like the block library, the legacy widget block and block based themes can be enabled by installing the Gutenberg plugin. The plugin shows the cutting edge technology of the Gutenberg development, but is not necessarily needed to make use of Gutenberg as such.

Enhance Gutenberg Editor functionality

Most of the plugins listed here work with or without Gutenberg take the block editor even further into the direction of pagebuilders.

  • Central Color Palette
    instead of being dependent on the color scheme the theme itself offers, Central Color Palette allows to define a color set that is used troughout the complete website and even hooks up to the Gutenberg settings of the blocks, that offer color settings
  • Extended re-usable block
    does nothing much more than showing the re-usable blocks as Custom Post Type in the Menu, where as the default only makes them accessible thru the Gutenberg editor menu.
  • Block control allows to definitions if a block is shown on either desktop, tablet or mobile device or to logged in or logged out users only. Another feature many pagebuilders offer that now comes to Gutenberg
  • Drop it gives easy access to and GIPHY to include pictures and memes to your content
  • Similar comfort to access Special Characters is offered by the so named plugin

More Gutenberg Editor blocks

At this point any list will be incomplete. The very best I got so far is Jessica Lyschicks list of Gutenberg Extensions. Entertaining the „“ she has a widespread knowledge of Gutenberg as such and her persistence when it comes to collecting info pays of in this list as well. The list of the ones I showcased are still available on – of course with the help of another plugin, that helps to improve the Gutenberg experience.

… and even more blocks

At latest with some – let’s call them – „block suites“ the possibilities of Gutenberg are very close to pagebuilders. Problem of course is: if I need just a few blocks from that suite and some of another I anyway have to install them all, bloating at least the backend. The solution is on it’s way and already refered under the Gutenberg plugin: the block library will be a repository of single blocks, just as we are used to it with plugins and themes. So far the biggest leap when it comes to make Gutenberg a somewhat pagebuilder for sure is „Gutentor„, which clearly refers to Elementor namewise.

Which brings us to the Pagebuilders

At that point I was happy to hand over to Jeremy who could give a brief introduction into Divi, which was just a wildcard for any other pagebuilder. No matter if we talk of Elementor, Beaver Builder, Divi, Visual Composer or any other … they all have basically the same approach and functions.

The biggest differences to Gutenberg with all Pagebuilders are:

  • Gutenberg does (so far) not offer front-end editing.
  • Gutenberg (so far) not offer full page editing, just the content part

Clearly: this is End Feb. 2020 we are talking about this and esp. the latter is already part of the recent development which offers „block based themes“. Sooner or later Gutenberg will be the pagebuilder for WordPress.

It seems that the suppliers of esp. Elementor and Visual Composer (or also refered as WP-Backery) are very much aware of this. Elementor could secure a $15 million dollar funding and rumors have it, that at the end an online tool comparable to Wix based on a WordPress fork enhanced with Elementor might be the outcome of this deal. As I say: rumors! And the often chided Visual Composer was completely revised, substited the shortcodes with JSON output and … rimshot … went 100 % GPL compliant!

The vital Nairobi community

The best that could happen to any meetup organizer came true for us: a very vital discussion about pros and cons of either or which evolved and not only Jeremy and me could contribute to questions raised. This for me is a clear sign, that the impulse of our talks where well received.

What I liked most

Among the many learnings I head with Gutenberg I’m quite confident, that my next page will be a complete Gutenberg-driven development. Esp. with the enhancement by some of the a.m. single blocks and the inclusion of some learnings about ACF and CPT I had lately.

The very best: the slides I showed were also made with Gutenberg and with links to the next step in the back- or front-end I wanted to demo (note to myself: tweak the nonces duration next time) it became quite a powerful tool. The complete demo site is still online at