Support » Plugin: Gutenberg » I was really ready to give this a good shot

  • Well,

    I’ve been trying to put a post together for the past couple of hours. My WordPress experience is 15 years, three websites and around 600+ posts. Not to mention three migrations to different hosts and all.

    Add to that around 20 sites I have set up for friends either WP hosted or self hosted. “hey this is really easy, I promise you – just write and fix it up later”

    Initially I was very happy to see that existing posts were in a block and used the traditional editor. How cool is that! Great unintimidating start.

    OK, So I started to put a new page together. I had a rough draft saved of a page I was partway through. It appears in the traditional editor. So I started splitting it up into blocks.

    That went fine.

    I have to say the blocks are pretty unintuitive.

    with the traditional editor I can whiz through doing all my writing – nice flow – just write, throw in the images where I want. Then go through change some of the text to headers or add headers or add an image partway through some text. Then go through again checking SEO.

    Suddenly … misery

    Having to split blocks up and define blocks to be a whole new type is the most painful process.

    Realising text as one type of block, or text already inside a block needs to be a different type of block is just crazy.

    Oh …. need an image in the middle of a text block … grunt. Create new text block, copy paste the first part of the text into the new text block, insert the image block.

    Oh … I needed the image one sentence further down. Old way – cut image paste where I want. Takes about a second. Now … copy paste text from one text box to the adjacent one – select text carefully to get the right bit – this is much more time consuming if you have to do it four or five times in a row. If there is a better way … I don’t see it (unintuitive).

    Even moving blocks is painful – Keeping track of what is in each block and their interrelationship is difficult with them disappearing off the top of the screen. (oh have to move both the header and the separate paragraph box separately. Move Header … now go to get paragraph off the screeen … scroll … cant find it easily because I recognise it by the header and the header has been moved.

    In the old system it is just all text … but now each section has a defined function, so you have to know what the next block is (just off the screen) or the previous. So much scrolling around and remembering.

    Over the past decade and more I have told friends again and again that “Yes … you do want to use WordPress – it is like using a simple word processor except even simpler as there are fewer options – write, add a few photos and a few links – and you can create an income stream from your own ideas at very minimal cost”.

    This is no longer true.

    If this is core I won’t be recommending wordpress but will be recommending something that is easier out of the box. This actually hurts my heart to say. Because I thought i was a welded on WordPress groupie.

Viewing 12 replies - 1 through 12 (of 12 total)
  • Thinking about this again … wordpress has always been about the writing.

    Get it down … just write write write. Format and images and everything else later.

    Now it is not a writer’s tool.

    It is a layout tool.

    maybe that is the split we are seeing. Some people are writers, some people are into layout.

    I can see how someone who is into layout might really like Gutenberg. But it just so doesn’t fit my workflow.

    I couldn’t have said it better if I tried @boatmik.

    This is one of the best reviews I’ve seen because it’s representative of how a great many people write.

    Step 1: Write.
    Step 2: Design (tweak, cut/paste, adjust).

    Totally agree with this. Really hope it is not made core.

    This is exactly what I have been trying to say too but didn’t express it nearly so well as @boatmik. The written content should always come first, styling follows. Gutenberg blocks put the layout ahead of the content which is just a distraction from the writing.

    It’s not even great as a layout tool. Even the makers of Gutenberg proclaim it not to be, that it is for content creation, whatever they mean by that. There are several very good page builders out there already, if that is way you want to work. If not

    It seems Gutenberg has narrowed down the field of opportunity for WordPress users to work in the way that bests suits their workflows and use cases. Boatmik, in the above, demonstrates some of the pain points very clearly.

    The current editor, while not perfect, is flexible and functional. Areas where it falls down are in the text tab of TinyMCE which has been in need of some sort of update to make it more developer friendly and useful.

    We all have been there. Put all your content together with HTML markup in Sublime text, then copy and paste into TinyMCE and the copy/paste dance goes on until we have the result we want. The work is never exclusively done in TinyMCE unless it is for a trivial amount of content.

    For example, the option to give the TinyMCE text tab a bigger canvas on the screen, colour coded syntax, proper indentation respected by copy and paste, code completion and a dark mode, all the little things that would afford a better UX for people who like to code and mark up things is much needed. Sites like Codeacademy have achieved this so its not beyond the bounds of possibility that the same thing could have been done in WordPress. In fact the recent addition of code mirror to WordPress for working on the core files was introduced recently but never made it into the editor. Elegant themes partially implemented it in the code module in Divi so all this is possible.

    And that just covers specifically the text area for content entry. There is a lot more on the edit page dashboard other then TinyMCE. There can be many optional tools in the form of metaboxes that are now choked by the Gutenberg experience. The flexibility to arrange, hide or collapse boxes for Yoast, custom field groups, template pickers is now very limited.

    Yes I do like the fact that the post updates in Gutenberg are done through AJAX and that working with blocks has the potential to suit a certain type of workflow.

    The big issue is how the team are implementing the update by forcing it as the de-facto editor as of WordPress 5. The fact is Gutenberg is a REACT override of the current editor. There are many ways to disable it including the option to use the Classic Editor Plugin. More interestingly Gutenberg can be triggered to fall back to the current editor if were to configure a Custom Post Type or, even regular post or page, so that they don’t conform to certain requirements for the Gutenberg interface to load. There is even a filter you can use in the functions.php file of a child theme that will globally disable Gutenberg without the need to uses the Classic Editor Plugin, though this filter is flagged for a name change on the release of WP5.

    This raises the question why Gutenberg is not added as an option in core along with the current editor. Even triggering it on for themes that are built to work well with it (TwentyEighteen etc.). This approach would have prevented much of the criticism and allowed the developers to work on a much narrower set of requirements that didn’t have to make attempts at covering all use cases at once and being compatible with all plugins and themes. As it is it seems that the rush has thrown up all sorts of issues and incompatibilities. It probably has put a lot of pressure on the developers of third party tools when they should have been focusing on future feature releases and efficiencies in their work.

    And, some opportunities missed. Namely where page builders are being used for layout. Blocks could have been used to solve the big issue with these and related themes whereby switching between them, if needed, has been problematic. Blocks could be designed for all the major layout structures -> section/row/column, grid and flex. A new editor could have provided the basic foundation for all this with an API for the vendors of page builders to add their own bells and whistles and interfaces.

    But no, nothing as intelligent as this. Just a big PR mess.

    • This reply was modified 4 months, 1 week ago by  irishetcher.

    i agree with everything people have written here. If you’re largely a content lead blogger than WordPress has always been the perfect tool. Gutenberg, which is more layout orientated means less focus on content. I love the concept that you can choose a theme, create your content in the editor and then just publish. I spent ages getting my theme exactly how I wanted it so I didn’t have to worry about layout too much.

    It’s fine ad a plugin, but just not for me. I’ll be downloading the classic editor plug in the minute WordPress 5 kicks in. I bet millions of other people will too.

    WordPress is the most popular blogging platform because it works. I’m not averse to change, but don’t fix what’s broken. Continuous improvement isn’t universally a good thing.

    Plugin Author Tammie Lister

    (@karmatosed)

    Thanks everyone for the discussion here. First, @boatmik thanks for the review and testing Gutenberg. Your insight based on wide and vast experience is great, thank you for taking time to give feedback.

    You can do some copy and pasting still with blocks. I wonder did you explore that? I would love to get some feedback on how that worked for you.

    Keeping track of what is in each block and their interrelationship is difficult with them disappearing off the top of the screen.

    Could I explore this a bit more? What would in this case work better for you here? Is there some experience you think gets this right, even outside WordPress, we could learn from?

    Can you suggest anything apart from it all being one block of text which you think would act as a bridge and ease this experience for you? I know that’s a big ask but wanted to dig a little more as you’ve been so honest with feedback.

    It’s insightful where you say about a writing or layout tool. This is a balance and one as a product the new editor is iterating. There are some interesting ideas raised about ‘modes’ for different types. Perhaps this is a plugin that could even become a feature. There is going to be a far larger Customization focus after the editor, maybe that’s part of this.

    • This reply was modified 4 months, 1 week ago by  Tammie Lister.

    @boatmik It’s not necessarily intuitive, but by opening the blocks editor, and adding a Classic block (either from the + on the left, or from one of the icons on the bottom right of the editor when you first start), then you can write as you did previously. Single block, no interference, copy and paste as needed, split paragraphs etc. Any media items you want to add straight away can be added as separate blocks at the bottom, or save adding them for later. This is the writing stage.

    Once the writing is complete, you can then Convert to Blocks (from the vertical … menu, top right of the Classic block).

    Now you can add or move media into position, adjust block properties for alignment, width, text size, colours etc. This is the layout stage.

    The trick, I think, to being able to follow your desired workflow, is to start your post with the Classic block.

    Ross Wintle

    (@magicroundabout)

    I’ve been hesitant to review, or comment on reviews of Gutenberg. But this thread very much sums up how I feel as a user.

    I find Gutenberg very difficult to “just write” with. I’ve explained my issues many times before:

    * UI popping in and out, sometimes hidden, sometimes not
    * multiple blocks for paragraphs
    * a proliferation of things I can do that I really don’t want to do when I’m writing…
    * …and UI for those things
    * Not being able to easily discover what I CAN do or how to tweak the user interface to make it simpler
    * Feeling like I have to use the mouse to do tasks that I used to do with the kayboard

    The phrase “it’s not intuitive” is coming up again and again in reviews. I think the core team HAVE to take this on board.

    Gutenberg, to me, is not functional enough to be a full page builder. And it’s way too complicated to be a content editor. Thus it is good at neither of these things.

    @gary Jones: interesting way to work with Gutenberg. I will make some tests.

    Moderator Marius L. J.

    (@clorith)

    This review is, unfortunately, being diluted by tons of input that are other peoples experiences. Please create your own reviews or support topics instead of jumping on another users review, it takes away from the original posters experiences and the interaction with them.

    I’ll leave it open for now, as I want to give the original poster a chance to respond, but any more replies and it will be closed.

Viewing 12 replies - 1 through 12 (of 12 total)
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