Gutenberg on WordPress

(This was posted in 2018)

For WordPress users, an alert: they are soon switching to a new editing scheme: Gutenberg, which will go from text-based to the more visual block-based editor. Supposedly this will give more power to editors who don’t know how to code, and make it easier to post on your mobile phone. This could possibly go up as early as Nov. 19, although it could also be as late as early January if it’s not entirely ready by Nov. 19.

I use WordPress a lot and I’m a “text person”; I do very little coding. So, how well their editor works always has a big effect on my posting process. Right now I’m taking Part I (presented by Machielle Thomas and Micah Wood) of the BlueHost Gutenberg seminar on this, so I will jot down a few of my notes here:

“‘Blocks can contain anything from images and videos to quotes and text…and you’re able to insert the block from the menu into any different format you’d like.”

You can create custom blocks with preset features for specific uses and effects, for example, to create all the formatting you need that you can just drop into your page.

“Blocks give you power.” Really? Sounds like a talking point to me… 😉 (they actually show an image with arms raised into fists here). Uh, OK.

“The blocks make perfect use of space…ability to create content without unnecessary white space” —  alright; they’ve got me there. One of my pet peeves (especially when working with poetry and line breaks) is too much white space.

Looks like you can do a lot in Gutenberg without hand-holding from a developer.

So I wonder how well this will integrate across all the different themes (templates) on WordPress. Will I have to switch themes? Answer: no, not all themes will be compatible.

Process of installing plugin will be exactly the same as previous plugins. But if you’re a Bluehost customer (promoted by WordPress), you might want to try it out in a staging environment first. Fortunately, they do show you how to do this in Part I of the seminar.

More later…

So, if you are a WordPress customer, your site will automatically be updated to Gutenberg. Regardless of whether you use Bluehost or not, you might want to back up your site before Nov. 19.

If you check out the seminar and just want to see what features Gutenberg has, skip up to the 20:40 point.

Micah takes us through the process of creating a page in Gutenberg. Initially, the editing page looks empty in comparison to what I’m used to seeing. Like – where’s the toolbar?

You click on a + button to insert a block, and clicking on the block brings up a menu. You can make images wider than the content area, and it should be a lot easier to place images side by side in Gutenberg (really looking forward to that), and you can also create a gallery.

There will be tools in a right-hand “document panel” that will allow you create up to six columns across your page, for example:

  • you’ll still have the ability to use the classic editor
  • ability to duplicate a block
  • code editor mode, if you want to do html
  • make a block reusable
  • for all you poets out there — there is a verse block! This is really a plus for me, because I manage an online poetry journal.
  • ability to add tables and columns of text
  • you can add different types of blocks within columns

All, or most, of this can be done without having to do any coding.

At this point, I’m really looking forward to this changeover to the Gutenberg editor. WordPress will integrate Gutenberg in several phases. It is now available as a plugin if you’re in the WordPress business plan (go to plugins in WordPress, and do a search for it). Eventually, in 5.0, it will be in WordPress’ core, hopefully available for everyone at all levels.

Update 11/16/2018: I logged onto one of my websites today, and received this message;

Check out the new building blocks of the web

A new publishing experience is coming to WordPress. The new editor lets you pick from a growing collection of blocks to build your ideal layout.

Be one of the first to try the new editor and help us make it the best publishing experience on the web.

So, here goes…

11/29/2018 update: Well, my first tryout of Gutenberg worked fairly well on the front page of my site, but I had problems posting with images in the blog;  I did not find the plugin to be very intuitive. Perhaps some parts of the theme were not well adapted to the plugin. But after all, it’s early, and the new editor is still in beta. Time will tell…

11/30/2018:  I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that all kinds of tutorials are now sprouting up on how to use Gutenberg for WordPress. Go to the Gutenberg Hub to get a rundown on some of the current best. And here’s WordPress Learning Lab’s Gutenberg Tutorial.

5/30/2019 update:

Six months later, I’ve got the image posting down, and I can’t imagine blogging without Gutenberg.

—– Jean Vengua