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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.

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