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Update on Gutenberg Meta Box Drama


That’s right: meta box drama.

This outstanding update from Sarah Gooding at WP Tavern gives the current state of a quickly evolving discussion about how much of the WordPress editing experience Gutenberg will replace: just the main post editing window, or that plus the meta boxes (custom fields and taxonomy data) registered by WordPress itself and by popular plugins like Advanced Custom Fields?

Overhauling meta boxes is extremely hard because it reworks not only how the entire post authoring flow works in WordPress, but also how that flow could work as extended by any theme or plugin that wishes to touch the system. So the concern is basically that:

  1. Not overhauling post meta boxes will mean that the WordPress post authoring experience stays half-clunky, half-intuitive, and more and more out of date.
  2. Overhauling post meta boxes without breaking major existing things (which WordPress doesn’t do) will be extremely difficult and may be impossible.

For myself, I feel that something Gutenberg-like is absolutely crucial if WordPress wants to stay relevant as drag-and-drop editing experiences become actually good.

Now the project is slamming full-speed into WordPress’s open code environment and commitment to backwards compatibility. As dispiriting as some of the conversations are (the comments section is particularly dark), I’m optimistic: this is exactly the set of conversations and enormous challenges that WordPress needs to surmount if it wants to stay current.



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