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One of the biggest problems today in terms of maintaining a website is the obsolescence of technology. That plugin or theme that you chose for your page, which at that time was the most popular, today is completely out of date. But your site depends on it to keep everything working fine. If you delete it, your contents are broken.

If your content is captive in an outdated format, you have a big problem.
If your content is captive in an outdated format, you have a big problem.

The dreaded lock-in effect is a big headache for anyone who has been working with WordPress in recent years. Many years ago, in our company we bet on Visual Composer to create our pages, because visually it was the best you could find out there. However, nowadays there exist more modern and cleaner alternatives, and among them the WordPress block editor itself.

One day we chose Gutenberg to modernize your website, but you find that Visual Composer planted a seed in the form of shortcodes that today has grown into a deep forest that prevents you from updating your content to the new block format.

Nelio Unlocker for WordPress

Nelio Unlocker is a tool to transform content into a different page builder format in WordPress. Do you have your content created in Visual Composer and want to switch to Gutenberg? Do you have an old website that you want to switch to WordPress? Nelio Unlocker transforms the contents to blocks keeping the original design.

How Nelio Unlocker works

Nelio Unlocker is a plugin for WordPress that you can install on your website to transform your content into Gutenberg blocks. You can download it from the official WordPress.org plugin directory here.

Once installed and activated, the Nelio Unlocker option will appear in the WordPress Tools menu, which upon access will show you the following user interface:

Screenshot of the Nelio Unlocker user interface.
Screenshot of the Nelio Unlocker user interface.

In this simple interface you just have to choose the source and target destination of your content. As a source you can choose pages or any other type of custom post type from your own installation, or just type an external URL.

Then you have to indicate if you want to create a new page or overwrite the existing one (in case you have selected one of your own WordPress), and the output format of the transformation (in the previous screenshot, Gutenberg was selected).

Nelio Unlocker will analyze the source content from the point of view of both its HTML and its design, and will create an intermediate data tree that is sent to our transformation algorithm. This will be in charge of converting it into the new target format and returning the result.

All this complex process happens in a few seconds and saves you hours of hard work converting your content to your new desired format.

Usage Examples

In the following comparison you can see a page created with HTML, outside of WordPress, and the result of the transformation applied by Nelio Unlocker. In the destination WordPress installation we have used the Astra theme, which we have found to be one of the best suited to Gutenberg blocks.

The result is not identical, but quite close to it. Also, keep in mind that the result has not been retouched afterwards, something you could do by modifying the blocks or adding a bit of CSS to make it even more similar to the original.

View of the WordPress block editor editing the result of applying Nelio Unlocker to the previous example.
View of the WordPress block editor editing the result of the previous example.

Let’s see now how the landing page of the Beaver Builder page builder would look after going through Nelio Unlocker to convert it to Gutenberg blocks:

Again, there have been no tweaks to the transformation. Here we see that the plugin is able to keep both the content and the original design almost at a 100% level. We have lost some secondary images, but most of the work is there and it only took a simple click on the Nelio Unlocker interface that we showed before.

The only existing differences are those related to the font type and spacing styles the Astra theme uses (as opposed to the original styles). But we are talking about something very minimal and extremely easy to correct by adding some simple extra CSS rules.

Benefits of using Nelio Unlocker

Definitely, the greatest benefit you will get from using Nelio Unlocker is that you will reduce the amount of work required to migrate old content or content in formats that you no longer use. With this time saving, you can cover higher workloads and obtain a greater profit with very little effort.

Further, another benefit of using Nelio Unlocker is that Gutenberg is faster and adds a simpler HTML structure than most page builders that you will find today. There are several studies that corroborate this.

In this study by Munir Kamal, the author converted the Elementor homepage to Gutenberg to compare the HTML that both builders generate. The page built with Elementor includes 356 <div> tags while Gutenberg uses 77. Kamal also found that Elementor generated 796 lines of code while Gutenberg only needed 206, resulting in a difference of 99kb versus 28kb, respectively.

And in this other study by Kyle Van Deusen, he analyzed the results of Google PageSpeed by comparing Gutenberg with Elementor. Van Deusen states that “the numbers don’t lie— in terms of performance, straight out of the box; Gutenberg absolutely smokes Elementor.”

So, Nelio Unlocker is worth considering to migrate the contents of your web pages to Gutenberg. The benefit you get may be greater than you imagine.

The future of Nelio Unlocker

Our intention with Nelio Unlocker is for it to become the reference tool for converting existing content to different formats without losing their original essence.

To achieve this, we plan to add compatibility with other page builders in addition to the WordPress block editor. There may be users interested in converting existing content to Elementor, Beaver Builder, or Divi, among others. For this reason, we believe that expanding the target formats of the transformation should be (and indeed is) one of our main goals.

In addition to this, as far as Gutenberg is concerned, we are already compatible with the form blocks of the four most important form plugins for WordPress, in addition to the core blocks of the block editor. An additional idea we have in mind is to add support for third party additional block sets. In this way, the results of the transformation can be much richer thanks to the extra blocks.

Finally, sometimes you may want to decide in advance that there are parts of the content that you do not want to transform, or you even want to indicate how to transform certain sections of your pages. For this, we would like to include a visual editor of the original content to select what we want to migrate and what not (and how to migrate it). In the field of research on web page segmentation there is already literature on the matter that could serve as a basis for this work.

How important will each goal be? Well, that depends on the needs and requirements of our users. So, all the feedback we can receive from you will be more than welcome in order to evolve and improve Nelio Unlocker.

If you have any questions or curiosities about Nelio Unlocker, don’t hesitate and let us know leaving a comment down below. We will be happy to read them and answer you.

Featured image by iMattSmart on Unsplash.

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