Gutenburg Block Editor: Should You Say Yes?

Day 25 of the A-Z challenge.

Y is for YES

Someone once said (it may have been Walt Disney, he was that kind of person): “Don’t say: ‘No, because…’ Say: ‘Yes, if…’.”

So Y is for Yes. 

Yes to the new perspectives of those books by foreign authors that you’ve dodged.

Yes to those ‘difficult’ classics you’ve “always wanted” to read but somehow never did. 

Yes to an open mind on the new WordPress block editor. 

Ah, got you there didn’t I?

You were with me until I mentioned that dreaded phrase ‘block editor’. But those two words had you shaking your head vigorously. You’re definitely in the “No, because..” camp. 

You may have tried it, couldn’t get to grips with the new way of writing posts so reverted to the comfort of the classic editor. 

Or you may be a newish blogger who’s only just got to grips with WordPress and find it daunting to have to start all over again with a new way of working.

Or you’re a blogger who has heard only negative reactions to block editor. None of them are encouraging you to want to switch from classic mode right now.

I get it. I was pretty much in the “no thank you, not for me crowd” six months ago. I tried it, couldn’t get the hang of it and decided to stick with what I knew.

But then I read that Gutenburg block editor will be the default and WordPress will not support classic editor after December 2021. I know that’s a way into the future but this news was the catalyst I needed to give block editor a second go.

You know what? It hasn’t been that difficult to adjust from the old to the new. I’ve adjusted so well I’ve become a fan.

What IS Gutenburg Block Editor?

If you’ve been living under a rock for the last year you might not know what I’m talking about. Here’s the quick explanation…

Block editor was unveiled by WordPress as the first part of an extensive project nicknamed Gutenburg. Other elements of the project will be rolled out in coming years – page templates and widgets are on the horizon.

For now, the focus is on providing a new way to create content.

In the classic editor, when you create a new page or a post, you add the title and then just start typing in free form style. You embed any media into that text. 

In the block editor system you add content in the form of blocks such as paragraphs, headings, media and lists. Each block is treated as an individual element that you can format separately and move around easily. 

To create a page or a blog post you follow three steps:

1. Add a block to the page. There are several ways in which you can do this and multiple options for types of content blocks.

2. Format the block Each block is treated as a separate entity so you can have sections of the page in different colours, size of text, colour background. You can add captions to photos and show quotes in two different sizes. While some of that is possible in the classic editor, it’s much easier in block editor.  

3. Re-arrange content. When you’ve placed all your content on the page, and looked at it in preview mode, you might decide you want a photograph in a different position. It’s simple to do this using drag and drop to move the blocks up and down the page.

Why Is Block Editor Better?

Quite simply the biggest benefit of block editor is the level of control it gives you over the way your page looks. 

1 Easier to add certain features.
Tables for example are a pain to add in classic format – you have to understand a little bit of coding. I used to have tables to display the list of books I’d reviewed but it became a pain to update, so I abandoned it. With block editor, the work of creating rows and columns is done for you. 

You can also create content in columns so if you want to have a magazine look or to have a special feature within the main post, you can. If you like to embed elements like Twitter or You Tube on your page, you can without having to figure out how to insert codes.

2. Maintain integrity of formatting
If you normally write your content in a word processing package and then copy/paste into WordPress, you’ll know that often the formatting goes awry. It might look fine on the blog editing page but in preview mode you can see that some sentences are in a different font or size.

With block editor, any text that is pasted in will have the same format that you have pre-determined for the whole of your blog. What you see will be what you get. 

3. Efficiency
If you tend to have standard elements for certain pieces of content – such as a description of a meme – you can save these as a “re-usable block”. Next time you want that text you simply add the re-usable block to your page. It will retain the exact same formatting whenever you use it.

You can quickly undo and redo any actions – not something that is possible in classic editor.

The Perfect Solution?

Don’t get me wrong. As much as I’ve come to like the new editing system, there are some elements of block editor I don’t like.

My chief frustration is the inability to align photos and text.

This has been an irritant with the classic editor – even though there are options to align images left, right, or center, the results don’t always look good. Sometimes images didn’t align, were not the exact size, or just looked odd.

WordPress says its new block editor rectifies those deficiencies. To get text and image to align you use a block called Media and Text. This block basically adds a two-column area. One column for images (media) and the second column for text content.

I’ve actually used this at the top of this post. It’s fine if you want to make a feature but the problem is that the image’s alignment will automatically adjust to the height of the text in the next column. So you could end up with this:

That looks a mess to my eyes.

With a bit of fiddling around you can get it to work more like this. I’m pleased with the result, just wish there was an easier way.

I’m still in learning mode with this system so there may be other frustrations along the way. From comments in the WordPress forum it’s clear that this new offering has divided bloggers’ opinions – some very vocal participants have said they “hate” the block editor.

Is This For You?

Should you say “yes” to the new way of blogging? I’d say give it a go at least. It does require some effort because there are many new features and ways to get tasks done so try it for about six months before deciding if its for you.

There are numerous videos that walk you through the features of block editor. Here are just two that could be of help.

About BookerTalk

What do you need to know about me? 1. I'm from Wales which is one of the countries in the UK and must never be confused with England. 2. My life has always revolved around the written and spoken word. I worked as a journalist for nine years then in international corporate communications 3. My tastes in books are eclectic. I love realism and hate science fiction and science fantasy. 4. I am trying to broaden my reading horizons geographically by reading more books in translation

Posted on May 2, 2020, in Blogging and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 26 Comments.

  1. Sorry I’m late finishing off these posts. May has been and is a horror month.

    As I think I’ve said on another post, I use block editor in a family travel blog because my husband set it up and wanted me to go that way. I’ve got used to it – the media and text took a while, but we mostly use a slide show in that blog for travel pics, so I don’t think I’ve really mastered it. I find it perfectly OK and wouldn’t panic if WP dropped classic. But I’m used to classic and it serves my simple needs fine so I haven’t made the change there.

    I know we’ve discussed images in Classic Editor. You are right, they can be a bit clunky, but usually I manage to get them “good enough”! I’m not a journalist so I’m usually happy to leave it at that.

  2. Am using block and have been for a while since moving to the App. Once you take the plunge it’s fine – still lot’s to learn about it but not in any hurry. It was strange when I used Mac 🖥 as it seemed to revert back to classic – so am just working on iPad at the moment until I can spend time sorting it out on the Mac 🖥!

    Enjoy reading your tips and information thanks.

    • That’s odd about your problem with the block editor when using the Mac. Maybe there is something in your system settings that needs to be fixed. I find the WordPress forum good when I have problems – people there are very willing to help

  3. Tbh I’m not currently using the block editor partly just cos I’m resistant to change, but mostly cos I’ve used similar editors for work and know it won’t suit the style of my blogging (just a bit more fiddly than I want and also I don’t really want to associate my hobby with work). That said, I have had practice, so when I’m forced to use it, I won’t be too lost 😉 (I’m just not especially looking forward to it 😉 )

    • Im curious about your content that the block editor doesn’t suit your style of blogging. What do you want to be able to do that you don’t feel you can?

  4. Sheree @ Keeping Up With The Penguins

    I’m SO relieved to see I’m not the only block editor convert! I was really worried for a minute there that I was literally the only one! I hear a lot of bloggers talk about using the Classic editor until it/they die, but I was an “early adopter” of the block editor and, yes, it was tricky at first, but now I don’t know how I ever used the clunky Classic option

  5. Thanks for the tip about Media + Text. I must try that! Apart from that I am like you whn it comes to block editing.

  6. I tried Gutenburg for 5 minutes when it first rolled out, got freaked out, and went back to Classic. But then the WordPress Group I attend IRL did a session on it and I became intrigued by the options. I’ve been using it for a long time now. I want to experiment more with it — will take up your sandpit idea. Does using Gutenburg vs Classic have any impact on SEO?

    • Ive not seen any commentary that using the block editor necessarily impacts SEO though I think that could be a fringe benefit. Because I can move paragraphs and content around more easily I can see where paragraphs are getting too long or where there is too much text not broken up with a sub heading or an image. Both of which can impact SEO as you know…..

  7. Thank you for this, Karen. I’ve simply ignored the block editor on the basis that if it ain’t broke don’t fix it. But I hadn’t appreciated that eventually I shall have to move. At least now I can choose when to start practising and hopefully be up and running in good time.

    • Classic editor will still be available, but WordPress won’t provide any support for it. Developers of plugins are now upgrading all their programmes to be compatible with the new block editor which means over time, those plug ins won’t work with classic editor mode.
      Hence why I thought it would be better to move across now rather than wait….

  8. You must have laughed after my comment this week about Classic/ Gutenberg, knowing you were posting this!

    Afraid I’m still not convinced. In terms of efficiency, I use the ‘copy post’ feature in Classic to maintain format for posts I regularly do. One click and I have it – it’s efficient.

    My main gripe with Gutenberg was that the task bar wasn’t always at the top of the text I was working on – presumably you have the block you are working on at the ‘top’ below the task bar, for easy access, and then rearrange the blocks when you’re done editing? I was constantly using keyboard shortcuts instead (for italics etc) and it was not efficient.

    Second thing that I couldn’t work out – in Classic (like Word), you can highlight a chunk of text and move it. Couldn’t do that in Gutenberg – had to highlight, copy, cut and paste (all without the task bar….grrr).

    Yes, they might drop Classic… or they might listen to their customers and keep both options. I’ll chance my arm!

    • Actually the laugh came now when I read your latest comment Kate because I didn’t even know what I was going to write until I sat at my screen yesterday 🙂
      I can solve one of your frustrations with Gutenburg – the task bar. You can change your settings to have this show up only for the block you are working on or always at the top of the screen. I suspect somehow that is what went wrong for you. There is a simple switch in your settings – if you want me to I can do a screen capture and email it to you.

      You can move text around – you just move the entire block. If you want to move just part of a block, you highlight/copy/paste just like you do now.

      • My first few attempts were slow too. But then I speeded up the more accustomed I became Sandra. I have a page that I keep in draft that I call my sandpit. It’s where I practice new things….

        As for the change of colour in sub headings, not sure what the issue is there. You highlight the text, then look in the menu bar on the right of your screen. Make sure the word Block is underlined (rather than Document). Scroll down and you see colour settings – you can change the text or the the background to one of the standard colours or create a bespoke shade.

        If you are still struggling, let me know and I’d do a screen capture to show you

        Yes of course I’ll be your technical help. Not promising I can solve every issue but I’ll certainly give it a go…

  9. Ok……wasn’t expecting this……you got me good on this one! I gave it an earnest try early on……spent hours (an entire loooong afternoon ) trying to write a blog post that would have normally taken 1-2 hours. I became impatient when I could not figure out how to change color on my subheadings text. So I gave up and reverted back to classic. I suppose I will need to eventually make the switch but for now it’s a No! 😱 When I do make the switch, will you be my tech support?!?!?!

  10. I bit the Gutenberg editor bullet pretty early on and have been happy that I did. Yes, it did take some getting used to after the classical editor, but it allows so much more control over how content is presented. I particularly like the new group block that allows you to combine several elements, then save the whole thing as a reusable block that can be easily inserted into other posts.

    • I haven’t found a reason yet to the use the group function but I can see it would be very useful. Glad to find another Gutenburg fan Mary!

  11. Thanks for the info – I had wondered what it was, to be honest! I’m sure I will eventually get round to it – I upload to the school’s website at times and that works in blocks too!

  12. I’ve embraced the block editor – but didn’t know about the ‘media and text’ block. Does it let you position the picture – I’ve been really irritated that you had to align an image with the top of a para – when you may want it halfway down like you could have it before.

    • Yes it does Annabel. Once you’ve added the image, click on it and a mini formatting bar will appear – thats where you can range the picture left.right, centre or change vertical alignment

  1. Pingback: using the classic wordpress editor | alifesgayventure

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