WordPress Theme Developers Begin Marketing Themes as Gutenberg Compatible

WordPress theme developers are starting to advertise their themes as being compatible with Gutenberg, ahead of the new editor’s imminent merge into core. Work on the 5.0 release may be ramping up sooner than expected after yesterday’s announcement that 4.9.9 may be a quick release for PHP 7.3 compatibility or possibly cancelled altogether.

Themeforest, the largest marketplace for commercial WordPress themes with more than 11,000 products, has a specific tag for Gutenberg-compatible theme listings. Searching for themes that mention Gutenberg in the description turns up 139 products. But what does “Gutenberg compatible” mean?

Gutenberg compatibility seems to be more of a buzzword among most of the Themeforest listings, indicating that the theme includes styles for all core blocks. However, in some instances theme authors have also tested shortcodes for compatibility with the new editor. A smaller number include access to premium blocks as part of their advertised Gutenberg compatibility.

Searching the WordPress.org Theme Directory for “Gutenberg” produces 26 results where compatibility is mentioned in the theme descriptions. Themes are noted to be “fully compatible” with Gutenberg or specifically “designed to work with the new editor.” There is a wide spectrum of interpretation on those selling points – from basic styles for core blocks to themes that explore all the possibilities that Gutenberg opens up with features created specifically for manipulation inside the new editor.

Independent theme shops have been leading the charge in creating themes built to showcase what Gutenberg can do through pairing with plugins that offer block collections. Themes like Editor Blocks, Atomic Blocks, and CoBlocks all have accompanying plugins that add custom blocks. This particular approach of packaging blocks into collections may not last very long, as it tends to make individual blocks more difficult to find.

At the moment, advertising a theme as “Gutenberg compatible” is a temporary marketing strategy, as Gutenberg will soon lose its code name and become simply “the editor.” That special distinction will evaporate as soon as WordPress 5.0 lands. Gutenberg support will quickly become a matter of basic WordPress compatibility. The days of using it as a marketable feature are limited, and the pressure is on for theme developers to ensure their products are ready.

In the video below, an excerpt from the “Theming with Gutenberg Course,” Zac Gordon examines considerations for theme developers who are working towards making their products compatible with the new editor. Gordon emphasizes that Gutenberg should work out of the box with any theme. However, there are a few features, such as the full width cover image, that may require special styles in order to work on the front end. The bulk of the compatibility work is ensuring that the editing experience matches the frontend and that Gutenberg blocks are styled harmoniously with the rest of the theme’s features.

There are many tutorials available to help theme developers (and agencies preparing client sites) get started with making their themes ready for the Gutenberg era. Check out the resources below:

Things to consider when updating a WordPress theme for Gutenberg

Preparing WordPress themes for Gutenberg with the Block Unit Test

Getting your theme ready for Gutenberg