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Rich Tabor Responds to the AWP Gutenberg Interview with Ahmad Awais

AWP Interview Response from Rich Tabor

EDITOR’S NOTE: We’re asking AWP Members to write formal responses to each interview of this series. See here for the full series list. The interview is embedded here first, then see the response below.

The Interview

The Response

Last week, Matt Cromwell welcomed Ahmad Awais as the latest speaker for the new Advanced WordPress Gutenberg Interview Series. Ahmad is a prolific FOSS (Free & Open Source Software) developer and regular WordPress core contributor.

If you’ve had your eye on Gutenberg, you’re likely already familiar with Ahmad. Last year, he released the Gutenberg Boilerplate, a heavily documented️ set of examples for diving into block development. And more recently, Ahmad launched create-guten-block, a zero-configuration developer toolkit for building Gutenberg block plugins.

Ahmad is on a roll, and there’s no stopping him.

Here’s my take (Rich Tabor) on the second session of the Gutenberg Interview Series.

Ahmad’s take on Gutenberg

Ahmad is obviously ecstatic about Gutenberg, and it shows all throughout his interview. He is particularly excited about bringing the JavaScript and WordPress communities together, which will likely result in improved code quality across the board and higher WordPress developer salaries.

Matt and Ahmad touch on the growing complexities of WordPress development and how Gutenberg raises that bar quite significantly. I agree with Ahmad, in that once your development environment is up and running, and you’ve learned the basics of Gutenberg — it’s not so bad.

As developers, if we’re not willing to challenge ourselves and evolve to overcome those challenges, we are going to be left behind. It’s a good thing the WordPress community values education. We’re going to need it.

Getting developers excited about Gutenberg

During the interview, Ahmad mentioned that the sole purpose of building his Gutenberg Boilerplate was to get the WordPress community excited about the project.

The result? The community dove right in.

Many WordPress developers took their first look at Gutenberg and block development, including myself. I built a number of block concepts and started learning the ropes of custom block development with Ahmad’s Gutenberg Boilerplate.

Jumping into Gutenberg block development

While the boilerplate is a highly resourceful kit to dive into Gutenberg development, Ahmad took it a step further and launched create-guten-block, his suggested launchpad for folks looking to create custom Gutenberg blocks.

Using create-guten-block, there is a single dependency, updating behind-the-scenes, to keep up with the development pace of Gutenberg for you.

I took create-guten-block for a run and found out just how awesome the toolkit is. It’s literally the easiest way to get up and running, which is arguably one of the most difficult bits of block development.

Just install create-guten-block as a global module, then run it to create a plugin ripe for Gutenberg block development. And just like that, you’re building a WordPress plugin with Gutenberg, React.js, ES 6/7/8/Next, with Babel and ESLint already good to go. 🤯

It’s now, or never

Ahmad’s interview is full of sound advice for developers of any skill level. His overarching advice resonates with what we’ve been hearing for a few months now:

“If you don’t start now, the tooling for Gutenberg will get so complex that  you’ll end up falling behind. It’s now, or never.” – Ahmad Awais

Ahmad is completely on point here. Gutenberg will absolutely set the standard for content creation in WordPress for years to come. So why wait to jump on board? Now is a better time than ever to capitalize on the opportunity Gutenberg brings to WordPress.

The end of shortcodes — hopefully

Once you’re familiar with the Gutenberg editor, every time you need to add a shortcode, your content creation experience is instantly disrupted.

You have to retreat elsewhere within the WordPress admin, generate the shortcode, copy it, return to your post, and then add it. If your shortcode is compatible with Gutenberg, it may return the generated shortcode — if not, you’ll need to review it’s output on the front-end to see what’s generated.

In the coming age of Gutenberg, this workflow will become nearly unacceptable.

Ahmad suggests that developers stop thinking of blocks in the context of the visual and text editors. Once Gutenberg lands in WordPress core, plugins should not just “support” the new editor, but capitalize on the nature of content creation within Gutenberg.

Let’s “start thinking like a block,” instead of like shortcodes.

WordPress themes are going to be so much better

Having built WordPress themes for close to seven years now at ThemeBeans, I couldn’t be more excited for Gutenberg. Ahmad and I both agree that Gutenberg will spring a new class of WordPress themes that truly empower users to create beautiful content.

Ahmad and I are actually working on such a theme. It’s called Writy.

Writy is an upcoming WordPress theme that establishes an entirely new standard for writing and publishing with WordPress. Together, Writy and Gutenberg will positively level-up the WordPress writing experience in a very big way.

We’re both super excited about Writy and the future of WordPress themes in a post-Gutenberg era of WordPress.


There are a couple more sessions planned for the Advanced WordPress Gutenberg Interview Series, including Tammy Lister’s on Monday, February 19 at 9:00am PST, and Matt Mullenweg’s the following Monday (February 26).

The series is live-streamed from the Advanced WordPress Facebook group, so if you’re not a member, sign up here! These next two interviews are particularly exciting — you won’t want to miss them!

3 thoughts on “Rich Tabor Responds to the AWP Gutenberg Interview with Ahmad Awais

  1. Personally I don’t think it will be the end of shortcodes. Just like it won’t be the end of widgets. At least not for the near future. They will be less or no longer used while editing a post or a page content because of Gutenberg blocks, but I don’t think people will want to see widget areas and widgets go away that fast and both shortcodes and widgets are still pretty useful in sidebars. My biz partner Stiofan built a Class that allows to write a widget and automagically get a Shortcode and a Gutenberg block for it. We needed it for our plugins, but we’ll release it FOSS when 100% ready, so that all can streamline their code and build Gutenberg blocks without writing a line of JavaScript. 🙂

    1. I personally foresee widget areas themselves becoming block containers of sorts — that’s if widget areas stick around. For example, sidebars will likely become a block area/layout, or maybe just a nested block. There will still need to be global blocks areas (such as footers – and possibly sidebars). Just my thoughts! 🙂

      That’s an interesting project you two are working on. 👍

  2. While it’s a good step to introduce a more visually appealing content editor powered by JavaScript, I think forcing it as the default editor in WordPress 5.0 will be similar to how Matt Mullenweg forced the wp_Capital_dangit function earlier. Not such a good step.

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