The WordPress Gutenberg editor – is it working?

Posted on March 1, 2019

 

In December, WordPress, the content management system that forms the backbone of many websites, rolled out its 5.0 update. Probably the most radical change it has ever made, the big difference was the introduction of the Gutenberg editor.

Upon its release, most experts advised webmasters to wait until at least the New Year to move over to the 5.0 update, but as we move into March, many will have noticed that the new editor is now the default option when they go to publish a post, and the interface is markedly different to what they will be used to.

Gutenberg introduces the concept of ‘blocks’. Every paragraph, provided it has been double spaced, is converted into an individual block. Blocks can also be used for images and other media, as well as for the likes of quotes and embedded links. This certainly makes for a clean and aesthetically pleasing interface, and you can understand why WordPress is saying that part of the reason for the change is to make adding media to posts simple for those who are not web design experts.

Having said that, I can’t help but feel there is an element of ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ in what WordPress has done, and there seem to be some fundamental flaws in what Gutenberg has introduced. This perhaps confirms the fears of some of the WordPress community that the update was rushed and not fully tested.

The first slight problem we had here at Engage Web was locating the ‘more’ tag. This is a tool used so that when somebody visits a blog, they see only the start of each blog rather than the whole article, thus encouraging them to click through to the piece rather than just read it on the blog index page. The ‘more’ tag is still there, but it has to be inserted as a block itself, and needs to be searched for as an option rather than being immediately presented to you as it was previously. It also means you can’t really insert a ‘more’ tag mid-paragraph anymore, so overall, not a change for the better in my opinion.

When it comes to scheduling a post, the calendar is more visual and that’s a good touch, but it defaults to 12-hour clock, which makes it easy to accidentally schedule a post for the evening instead of the morning, or vice versa. This can be changed if you have administrator access to the page via Settings, but if you manage a lot of WordPress blogs, you’ll have to do this individually for each one, meaning yet more faffing about.

Perhaps one of the biggest oversights is that unless you log in as an administrator, you can’t change the author of a post as you’re scheduling it. You have to go back into the ‘Posts’ menu and change it from there. At present, the only solution to this issue is to install the Classic Editor plug-in, which basically means going back to the way it was before. This is hardly a progressive solution, yet as of earlier this week, that plug-in had been installed more than three million times, which perhaps says a lot about what people think of the change.

Overall, we’re not really fans of Gutenberg so far at Engage Web, but we embrace change and hope that WordPress can iron out some of the creases in this latest update.

John Murray

Content Team Leader at Engage Web
John works for Engage Web as a Content Team Leader and regularly contributes to the website and programmes of his beloved Chester F.C.

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