The new WordPress editor, code named Gutenberg, is introducing the concept of blocks as a way to structure a post. It’s not a revolutionary way of structuring things, really, since everything you see on the internet is made out of blocks, or HTML-elements as they are called.
Gutenberg makes it amazingly easy to get an impressive amount of control of each HTML-element, though. The block you read now, for instance, is an ordinary HTML paragraph element. But the new editor makes it very easy for me to control the content of the element. I can quickly change the font size, text alignment, add a drop cap, change the color of the text, add custom CSS classes, and a myriad of other things.
This is a massive step forward compared to current visual editor in WordPress. I’ve avoided that editor like the plague, and written pure HTML instead.
Themes & Plugins
One of the headaches with the current WordPress editor, is that you have no idea what your post will actually look like on your site until you preview the post. Previewing is done in a separate window, away from the editor. This means context switching, which might pull you out of your creative flow.
With Gutenberg the need to preview your post is eliminated. WordPress themes can provide block styles to the editor so the blocks can be displayed in the editor in exactly the same way as they will be displayed to the end user. That way, writing in WordPress will finally be real WYSIWYG.
For this to happen, however, theme editors will have to make changes to their themes to make them Gutenberg compatible. There are a lot of WordPress sites using old, outdated themes that will never be updated. Because of this, many content editors will not be able to get the most out of Gutenberg.
Content plugins will also have to be rewritten to integrate better with the new. The excellent Easy Footnotes is one example. I can still write footnotes with Gutenberg, but they don’t show up like footnotes in the editor. I have to look at the preview to see how they turn out.
The sooner the need to preview a post disappears, the better.
What I Like
The blocks concept works very well. Controlling, configuring, and moving blocks around is a breeze.
Gutenberg has a lot of keyboard shortcuts, which I love. While writing, it’s much more efficient to use the keyboard to activate features in the editor, than to move your hand over to the mouse.
It’s a lot easier now to edit image metadata.
I’m using the preview functionality a lot less now than I used to.
What I Don’t Like
The blocks concept introduces a lot of Gutenberg-related metadata to the posts. This is necessarily bad, since the metadata is hidden by the editor and never displayed to anyone. But it can make migrating to another blogging platform harder.
“Publish immediately” is no longer available as a publishing time option. Instead, the publishing date is set to the date the draft was created. This is a major pain, especially when you’re working on drafts fora long time.
Gutenberg needs more keyboard shortcuts. I’m still reaching for the mouse from time to time.
Some minor bugs I’m sure will be ironed out soon.
With Gutenberg, the writing experience in WordPress is moved to the level that we should expect. Other comparable blogging platforms, like Ghost, already features great editors that are light years ahead of the current WordPress editor.
Gutenberg is necessary for WordPress to keep up with the competition.
So why are people so mad? Changes are scary, man! Also, I suspect that many of the people that don’t like Gutenberg are using it on sites with poorly coded themes. Even though it’s not Gutenberg-compatible yet, my current theme, Hoffman by Anders Norén, works well with the editor.
Another reason why many people struggle with Gutenberg might be the number of plugins people use. There are a lot of really crappy WordPress plugins available, and they tend to screw things up for each other. If you’re having problems with Gutenberg, the first thing you should do is to disable all your plugins and see if that helps.
I for one, will start using Gutenberg permanently from now on. This post, for instance, was written in Gutenberg, and it was a surprisingly pleasant experience1.
I just have to remember to change the publish-date before actually hitting the publish-button… ↩︎
Do you have any thoughts you want to share? A question, maybe? Or is something in this post just plainly wrong? Then please send an e-mail to vegard at vegard dot net with your input. You can also use any of the other points of contact listed on the About page.
2018-09-23 20:10:01 GMT
If it’s moving to the next level I hope it brings everything from the Classic editor with it. Try doing these basic things in GB:
Highlight two text blocks (or part of two text blocks) and try and do anything with them apart from turning them to a quote or list. Insert an image - align it left or right. Try and move it up or down. Cutting and pasting an image does not work either. In the Classic editor, once I insert an image, I can drag and drop it where I want. The Classic block plugin does not solve this problem.
Both of the above issues have been repeatedly brought up in github for over a year.
I see that those who love GB are those who have "simple" blogging needs i.e. header text image (non-aligned) text image (non-aligned) maybe quote text image (non-aligned) etc. For anything more complex it fails (so far). It fails because it takes longer to do tasks that are easy in the Classic editor and also it cannot do the things I mentioned above after over 18 months in development.
If you have a solution to any of the above problems please let me know as I would be delighted to find a way to resolve them.
My site design is pretty basic, so I’m not encountering the problems you’re having. It’s unfortunate, of course, that the new editor doesn’t support the same post layouts as the classic editors. Are you sure that the issues won’t be resolved by using a Gutenberg-compatible theme?
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