It’s been quite some time since I first wrote about Gutenberg, the not-so-new-anymore block editor that has been introduced into WordPress.
I’ve now been using Gutenberg for the better part of a year.
So I figure I may as well share my thoughts!
Back when I first posted about Gutenberg, I had some criticisms regarding how certain elements displayed either on my blog or on the WordPress Reader. To my knowledge, every single one has been fixed. And so, within a few months of that post, I actually ended up starting to use Gutenberg once again, and have used it since.
I don’t know how many people still use the classic editor, but I’ll just go through my favourite features of Gutenberg, as well as a few areas where I’d like to see improvement.
I used the classic editor for quite some time, and I’ll admit, it’s really comfortable to use an editor that is fairly similar to Microsoft Word in how it functions. It was difficult for me to switch over to a block-based editor right away.
But once you get used to it, you’ll really start to see the benefits. Accidentally insert an image in the wrong spot? Decide to re-arrange the post format? Well, thanks to everything being it’s own block, you can easily arrange things as you’d like, even after it’s all written and put in place.
You can drag blocks or use the little arrow buttons to shift them around to exactly where you want them. Also, you can select multiple blocks and move them all at once, allowing you to move entire sections around in one go.
It’s much easier and faster than having to copy + paste entire sections of text, and it also lets you just see how things could look without having to make large changes like that. Everything is interchangeable.
This was the original selling point for me. Reusable blocks let you place a block in as many posts as you want, and by updating the block, it will simultaneously update the block in ALL of your posts that contain the block. Extremely useful.
For us anime bloggers, it’s a great way to keep a list of anime episodes we’ve covered as we go through a series. But it’s also great for keeping a list of ANYTHING you’re going through. I have one block I use for my Akatsuki Records song reviews, for example.
You can also use these blocks for monetization purposes, as you can update affiliate links / advertisements / whatever all simultaneously. Just throw a block in each post and you’re set. Encouraging people to sign up for a newsletter or email list? This is another great use.
And finally, one other excellent feature of the reusable block is simply that there are no pingbacks. I used to manually link all of my posts in a series together, and I’d have to deal with hordes of self-pingbacks. I wish there was an option to turn off all self-pingbacks, while keeping regular pingbacks from other blogs, but there isn’t one. I understand there are plugins for this, but as a free WordPress user, I don’t have access to such a thing.
The New “/<block>” Feature
I’m pretty sure this is a recent change, could be wrong though. I only noticed it recently, that’s for sure. And it’s become one of my favourite features of Gutenberg!
Basically, when you create a new block, you can type “/<block name>” and create that block without ever having to move your hands off the keyboard. For me, this means I can quickly throw in a “/image” followed by “/heading” followed by a regular paragraph block.
Oftentimes you don’t even have to type in the full name of the block, because it pulls up a list of possible blocks for you to choose from. So you can be even faster!
It even works for reusable blocks, which is great because when you have a LOT of reusable blocks, it can be hard to find the one you’re looking for. Unfortunately, reusable blocks aren’t sorted alphabetically. But thankfully, even if you have a whole lot of blocks, you can just type “/<block name>” and find it quickly that way.
There are other reasons for why I’ve really enjoyed Gutenberg, such as features that weren’t available with the classic editor (for example, different separator styles), but those three are the big ones for me personally. Each individual block type usually has some additional settings you can tweak, making it more robust than the classic editor.
Gutenberg / WordPress Reader Interactions
One of my initial complaints regarding Gutenberg last year was that galleries don’t properly display in the reader. This was corrected, for a while at least.
But recently, I’ve found that galleries do not keep their alignment when displayed on the Reader. They remain left-aligned, regardless of what you set. It’s not the biggest issue, but I like my formatting to be consistent and I align all of my images in the center.
In addition, while I know slideshows did display properly at one point, recently I published a post using several slideshows only to discover that they didn’t display properly on the Reader. Instead of slideshows, the Reader would just display each image on top of the next, creating a long string of images.
The Block Alignment Button
This is a somewhat recent change. I’ll even provide some images to show what I mean here.
Basically, blocks used to have all three alignment buttons (left, center, right) on the little toolbar for the block. But now, they were all consolidated into one button, that you have to click, which brings up a list, and then you have to click a second time for your alignment.
Honestly, it’s just annoying because the previous system invoved less clicks, and there is plenty of room on the bar for all three alignment buttons.
I’ll show you what I mean here:
What used to take one easy click, now involves me having to click the alignment button, to bring up the list, and then choose the alignment. Every once in a while it’s not a big deal, but it’s annoying when I have to go through these motions for every single image I post across all my posts, because I always align them center.
It doesn’t even look like it saves that much space, and even then, what space is trying to be saved here? The little toolbar takes up less than half of the total space available across the entire length of the block. Maybe this is for people who write posts on a smart phone or something, I’m really not sure. If it was an aesthetic change, I’m simply against it.
Text Blocks Freeze Up
Another small issue is that sometimes when I go back to edit the text in an existing paragraph block, I’m unable to select any text or edit it. Instead, clicking in the block just selects the entire block, and I can’t get into it.
Not sure what causes this one, but to fix it and be able to edit the block the solution I’ve found is to change the block into a heading block, and then change it back into a paragraph block. Perhaps saving the draft and reloading the page also works, but I haven’t tried that.
It’s a minor inconvenience, but an inconvenience all the same.
Anyways, those were the only real issues I currently have with the Gutenberg editor. Considering the issues I mentioned last year were fixed, even if temporarily, I may as well hope that someone reads this and looks into these as well.
Overall, I love it. With the new “/<block>” feature, I’m coasting through creating new blocks so much faster than before. This editor takes some time to get used to, but in the end it’s completely worth it. And of course, reusable blocks alone make the Gutenberg editor worth all of the small inconveniences. I couldn’t imagine not using them anymore!
I don’t even know how many people are still on the classic editor, or if it’s even an option anymore, but in my experience it’s just worth it to embrace Gutenberg.
That’s all for now.
What are your thoughts on Gutenberg?
And out of curiosity, are any of you still using the classic editor?
No need to explain why, because I can understand for the most part. I flipped between Gutenberg and classic a few times myself last year. Just curious about this, because I know that a lot of people were not happy with Gutenberg last time I posted about it.
Until next time,
Thanks for reading.