As practically everyone connected with WordPress knows, Gutenberg has been big news in 2018. While it hasn’t been met with universal adulation, the project is still moving forward. This means it needs the community to pull together, in order to ensure its success.

There are plenty of ways to contribute to Gutenberg, including fixing bugs and implementing specific features. Gutenberg also interacts with various WordPress elements (specifically other plugins), and those all need to be assessed for compatibility. Fortunately, the Gutenberg Plugin Compatibility Database presents an easy way to do this.

In this post, we’ll outline the history of the Gutenberg project and its goals. Then, we’ll look at some ways you can help make this project another WordPress success. Let’s get started!

A History of the Gutenberg Project

The Gutenberg plugin header image.
The Gutenberg plugin has been one of 2018’s biggest talking points.

Before we look at how you can help with the project, it’s worth discussing its history. In its current incarnation, WordPress uses the TinyMCE editor for writing posts and pages. This editor is a mainstay of the platform, although its implementation made a poor first impression – especially when compared to the rich post and page layout tools offered in rival platforms (such as Squarespace and Medium).

The Gutenberg project (and the associated plugin) was created with this in mind. The tag line is that Gutenberg is “more than an editor”, mainly due to the way it helps users create layouts. The focus is now on content ‘blocks’. This system combines a number of existing WordPress elements – such as shortcodes, widgets, custom post types, theme options, and more – to create simplified content structures that practically anyone can understand.

For example, imagine a block that populates an ‘Author Bio’ page with content such as a profile image, short description, website link, and various other author-specific information. By using a dedicated block, all of this data can be added with one drag of the mouse. It’s a simple concept in theory, but very powerful under the hood.

Of course, the Gutenberg plugin has had a number of teething troubles while in beta. These have been pointed out by many members of the WordPress community, as you can see from the plugin’s reviews. However, the goal is still to merge Gutenberg into core by WordPress 5.0, so the priority for the community as a whole is to make sure the implementation is as smooth as possible.

How to Help Gutenberg Become a Success

The primary way to assist with the Gutenberg project is to get directly involved in developing the plugin. If you have JavaScript knowledge, and especially if you have experience with Node.js, you may want to get your hands dirty and fork Gutenberg on GitHub. However, you can also get involved with bug fixing, which offers less scope for feature implementation but is no less vital to the success of the project.

There’s one other big way to help get Gutenberg ready. Gutenberg is a significant feature, which is likely to interact with many other plugins. Testing every existing WordPress plugin, therefore, will be just as key for a smooth implementation as developing the core code. That’s where the Gutenberg Plugin Compatibility Database comes into play.

An Introduction to the Gutenberg Plugin Compatibility Database

The Gutenberg Plugin Compatibility Database main screen.

An undertaking as big as trying to make sure all WordPress plugins are compatible with Gutenberg is enough to drive anyone insane. The Gutenberg Plugin Compatibility Database project – created by Daniel Bachhuber – is an attempt to organize (and administer to) the task. At present, there are around 4,000 to 5,000 plugins that need verifying for compatibility, and as the screenshot above shows, we’re only 25% of the way through the entire database.

However, carrying out a test takes only a minute or so per plugin. Therefore, if enough users contribute just a small amount of time to testing, the project will near completion at a far quicker rate.

For a plugin to be Gutenberg “compatible”, it needs to meet two main criteria:

  1. It must contain a feature that can be used within Gutenberg. For example, a plugin-specific Add Media button is considered Gutenberg-compatible when it has a block registered within Gutenberg.
  2. It must not contain clear errors when the WordPress plugin and Gutenberg are both active.

For those subscribing to the Five For The Future initiative, testing plugins is a great way to help a crucial WordPress project. If you’d like to contribute, the GitHub page has a lot more detailed information on the compatibility efforts as a whole.

How to Use the Gutenberg Plugin Compatibility Database

The Gutenberg Compatibility Database is relatively simple to use. This is good news, considering the amount of work the Gutenberg project still requires. Since the project is hosted at GitHub, you’ll (of course) need to have an active account. You’ll also have to be accepted into the project. Once you’ve received confirmation and your credentials, you can log in.

Your first step should be to go through the Gutenberg Plugin Compatibility README. This document outlines the history and goals of the project, along with how to actually begin testing. Once you’re ready, you’ll need to carry out the following steps:

  1. Create a testing environment via the given link (hosted at WP Sandbox).
  2. Click the Open Editor button on the next page to head to your sandbox environment, which contains a plugin and Gutenberg installation.
  3. Manually evaluate compatibility by first checking WordPress’ classic editor for any plugin-specific functionality, then checking to see if you can perform the same task within Gutenberg.
  4. Record your findings via the Edit Plugin page within the database.

There’s also an official walkthrough video covering the process. This is also a handy resource to send to others, and quickly demonstrate how easy the project is to join:

If you can spare the time to test a number of plugins (and not just your own), the project would love to hear from you. The more users who contribute their talents productively, the more of a success Gutenberg is likely to be.

Conclusion

Despite the misgivings from certain areas of the WordPress community, Gutenberg is here to stay and will likely be merged into core before the end of the year. It’s necessary, therefore, that the entire community helps to make the project a success, given that it’s going to become central to how all WordPress users create posts and pages.

Of course, working on the project’s core code is the most direct way to enhance the project, but there’s also another facet of Gutenberg to consider – compatibility with other plugins. The Gutenberg Plugin Compatibility Database is easy to use, and once you’ve signed up, running through a plugin test only takes about a minute.

Do you have any questions about how to test plugins in Gutenberg? Let us know in the comment section below!

Featured image: mohamed_hassan.

John Hughes

John is a blogging addict, WordPress fanatic, and a staff writer for WordCandy.

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