Interview with Rich Tabor, a Gutenberg expert from GoDaddy

At WordCamp Europe, we had the chance to talk to Rich Tabor who is an expert in Gutenberg blocks so we decided to find out more.

We talked about the future of Gutenberg and WordPress, and how Rich got into the world of Blocks.

Hi everyone. Where here with Rich today. Who is an expert in Gutenberg Blocks. So, of course, we wanted to find out more. Could you tell us a little bit more about yourself?

I am Rich Tabor and I’ve been doing Gutenberg for two years now, since WordCamp US 2017. Saw the inspiring mockups and demos that were happening and I needed to jump on board. So I did things before that and I knew that in the future things would be different. So I wanted to catch that wave and ride it. So that’s what led me do CoBlocks and then GoDaddy to acquire CoBlocks and here I am.

So what’s your story before Gutenberg? How did you start working with WordPress?

I started a blog. It was hard. It is pretty much how everyone starts. I wanted to design things. I’m a designer by trade. And I ran into some difficulty. So I started making my own themes and then I started selling my own themes. And then fast forward a bunch of years and I’m making blocks and themes and designs.

There’s a buzz around Gutenberg. Especially now. So what was your first impression? You’ve been working with it from the very beginning, right?

Yeah, just about. First, it was kind of difficult. It was very abstracted from the classic editor. Which was it’s the intention. But over time it got better and now it’s the best it’s ever been. It’s getting even better from what we saw Matt talking about. But at first it was confusing and I could see how so it’s confusing for new users. There’s room for improvement, there always is.

You’ve published more than one Gutenberg Block, so how was it with the first one? How did that go?

Well funny story, I do portfolio themes. That’s what I focused on. So I wanted to build gallery blocks to figure out how my themes are going to work in Gutenberg. That was the first thing I tried to do. I tried just build a beautiful gallery. It was terrible. It was awful. I spent two weeks on it. And didn’t get anywhere. So I backtracked a whole lot and I started building very simple blocks. Then they would slowly get more and more advanced. And now the team and I can pretty much do what we want to do. But at first you to learn React, you have to learn javascript sometimes and how that all interfaces in WordPress. It’s all new. But it’s also exciting.

GalleryBlocks, that’s the block that you’ve received the Automattic Design Award for. Congratulations on that of course. How was that whole process? With the award, how did that all happen?

Merlin WP and BlockGallery they’re two of my projects that I submitted and then I picked BlockGallery to kind of pursue it through the end of it. And it was great. I think the focus on UX is where the Blocks win. And that’s why it was picked. It’s easy to use and it’s hard to make something complex easy, so we hit the nail right on the head.

After the award, some things changed and you joined GoDaddy. How has that all experience been for you?

It’s been truly awesome. Like seriously. I’m driving a lot of efforts towards WordPress at GoDaddy. We’re changing how WordPress and GoDaddy works.

I think that’s going to extend into WordPress as a whole because we’re setting the example for what simple and well-executed and easy and WordPress is like. Which is usually not synonymous with WordPress.

So what are your next big plans in the future?

We want to build more blocks of course. We’re experimenting with blocks that are dedicated towards certain verticals like restaurants. Trying to figure out how do we make CoBlocks into this system of blocks that can build out all sorts of templates and all sorts of home pages for all sorts of verticals and how one system could really supercharge and power a lot of designs, a lot of web sites. Once we can empower the person who just logs in for the first time and actually help them build something amazing. That’s when we’ve kind of checked our box. And that’s what our goal is.

It seems like CoBlocks is something you’re concentrating on now. So could you tell a little bit more about that and why should we all try it out?

Because it’s innovative. It’s powered by what’s the newest greatest stuff behind WordPress right now. And we’re focusing on giving abilities that were not possible. And making, like I just said, the lowest skilled user in WordPress, have the same amount of power, as someone who’s an advanced user. And just kind of setting the bar super high in the UX and the experience level so that it’s simple and easy and just magnifies that experience and lets you actually create stuff not just type in a page.

What do you think is the future of Gutenberg? And maybe there’s a feature that you are really looking forward to. We saw some new exciting things in the Matts speech today, so what’s the most exciting for you?

I think the focus on templating. Figuring out how to combine these atomic blocks into something bigger than what they are individually. And to make it easy to add those entire page templates and layouts to the website. That’s the hard part in Gutenberg. Hitting the pluses everywhere and trying to find the blocks. If we can find those and discover them and reveal them to the users so they can have something that’s right on the page with a click or two. That to me is exciting and very empowering. That’s where I’m trying to focus right now. But the future can even extend to where we talked about in keynote, where it’s the header and the footer and the sidebars and everything in Gutenberg. And then maybe one day Gutenberg’s is on the frontend or maybe there’s no difference like you can’t tell the difference.

I don’t know, it’s very interesting, the trajectory that we’re on.

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