The WordPress 5.0 update is coming, and so far, WordPress has ultimately decided that the new Gutenberg editor will be a core component of the update.
Although some have expressed their disappointment for the new editor, there are also many who appreciate what Gutenberg has to offer. The editor features a ton of options that can help your posts look the way you want them to.
For others, this entails a more customizable experience that requires minimal coding knowledge. In other words, it’ll be easier to do what you want to do.
If you’re one of the many who isn’t quite ready for this game changing update, then perhaps it’s high time to start getting there. Fortunately, Gutenberg looks pretty straightforward in its presentation too.
The Block System
The Gutenberg editor is most notable for its introduction of blocks into the editing system…
Fun fact: the Gutenberg editor was named after Johannes Gutenberg — the man who invented the movable type printing press more than 500 years ago. And this movable type printing press (big surprise) used moving blocks.
Basically, the idea behind this shiny new editor is to combine a bunch of little blocks — of different shapes and sizes — to create a solid and comprehensible structure.
It comes as no surprise that WordPress looks at Gutenberg as the first step to a new method of page building that is inevitably coming.
At first look, it may seem like a complicated new tool, but at close inspection, the stunning realization is: not really…
These new blocks can literally be anything you want in your article. And you don’t have to add them manually either.
You can leave it so it remains as a regular paragraph of text, or it can morph into a mini-gallery where you can showcase your image portfolio. It can even be a compelling CTA button, or an easily embedded video.
Below is a list of all the Gutenberg blogs a typical blogger can use:
- Paragraph blocks: This is where you type the regular text.
- Headline blocks: The typical place for the h1, h2, h3, h4, h5, and h6 tags.
- Image blocks: This is the place to add your mini gallery, or a single photo you can customize to your heart’s content (which we’ll get into later).
- Embed blocks: The area where all embedded multimedia content will go (YouTube videos, tweets, pictures, etc)
- Quote and pullover blocks: The place to put quotes from famous people — and the like.
- Code blocks: The block where you can add preformatted codes, shortcodes, and custom HTML.
- Layout blocks: Separators, Spacers, the Read More, Columns, and Page Breaks.
The good thing about it is that it does the majority of the work when it comes turning things into blocks. So, you won’t have to deviate too much from the usual rhythm. Just write and blog as you normally would.
Editing Text Block by Block
The block system WordPress introduced with it’s new editor gave future new users the choice to focus on editing one paragraph at a time. So, of course, new functions were added and improved to give users a feel of how Gutenberg would work.
These neat functions include:
Easy Paragraph Searching and Moving
The introduction of Gutenberg has removed the endless scrolling through a long article in a bid to find that specific heading; highlight the points underneath it, use Ctrl + X, scroll again to find the proper place before pasting.
The information icon above your article ensures that you’ll never have to do that again. The fact this kind of document outline exists, is very useful for bloggers and authors who have written a very long article.
It’s as easy as clicking on a specific heading, and jumping to that part of the copy directly.
Also, when writers edit a text, there will be instances where a paragraph search to make changes or move it to another part of the article is unavoidable.
In cases like that, the Gutenberg editor lets users drag and drop a block — or a couple — to move it to another location.
There’s also the option to use the downward or upward arrows on the left side of the block to move it up or down.
These are examples of small changes, but they make a difference in the process.
Adding Anchors on Headings
Anybody who’s familiar with blogging for a while will know how important headings are for both users, and SEO. They guide readers, and improve the structure of a text. It’s also vital to note the importance of the subtopics that follow each second heading.
There are instances when writers get so enthusiastic and overwhelmed with loads of inspiration that they start writing a huge number of paragraphs after one subheading. And in cases like that, the plugin Yoast, will throw off a red notice you don’t want to see.
Or sometimes, maybe you need to separate a paragraph into two separate points because Yoast detects that your subheading contains more than 300 words — which is the minimum.
So, of course, you need to add subheadings. Normally, you’d have to do some scrolling and reading again. There’s nothing wrong with that at all.
But this time around, Gutenberg gives you the choice to click on the plus to add a block below or above the text, or simply hit enter where you want the additional heading to be.
It’s an H2 by default, but you can just as easily change it to an H3 or H4.
And in the cases where you need it, the new editor lets you add an HTML anchor to your heading without having to switch to HTML format.
That option is available when you click on the subheading in the visual editor, and then head to ‘Advanced’ on the ‘block’ tab in the sidebar. The option will show.
Simply add the text you want, let’s say ‘cons,’ and you can link directly to this heading from anywhere. Just add #cons to the URL of a specific page. You don’t need to add id=’cons’ in the HTML of your copy.
Easier HTML Editing
A perfect instance for this is one of those instances when you have an important external link in the article, and you have to add a ‘nofollow’ code to avoid bots from crawling that specific part of the content.
Before you had to switch to HTML view and locate every single a href code to accomplish the former point. And more often than not, it involves nearly endless scrolling and squinting — especially if the article is a long one.
Now you can simply hover over that specific paragraph with the link on visual editor, open the menu, and click the ‘edit as HTML’ option so you can see that paragraph in code form.
Paragraph Block Formatting
Gutenberg deviated from the Microsoft word style of formatting that most of us are used to. But on the other hand, it made it easier and customizable too. As seen in the ‘Block’ tab on the right, you can now freely decide on the text size, the color, and the background color of a paragraph.
Customizable and Reusable Blocks
As a writer, there will be times when you’ve simply hit the mini-jackpot and you managed to create a pretty-looking layout that you just can’t help but want to reuse. That’s music to a web editor’s ears.
Gutenberg offers that option when you access the menu, and click the ‘add to reusable blocks’ for future use. This way, there’s no need for you to type it over and over again, or copy-paste it at all.
Of course, there is a need to be responsible and sensible when you decide to reuse these blocks, because we all know how much the search engines detest duplicate content. But at the very least, with this new option, you can have the foundation of a great quote or argument or statement and tweak it later.
Adding Images to the Article
As digital marketers, most of us are incredibly aware of the impact visual content can create. And for this reason, we try to incorporate as much visual elements as we can in a blog. No one will question the importance of illustration and screenshots on a blog post nowadays.
Fortunately for the most of us, and for new users, adding images to blog posts using Gutenberg is easy. Once again, it’s evident that developers are constantly deviating further and further away from the Microsoft Word-esque method of formatting.
Hitting ‘enter’ or clicking on the ‘plus’ on screen adds a block between paragraphs — or after, so you can upload one or a number of images to your post.
You can also scale the pictures by dragging their sides to either accommodate the entire portion of that page, or make them smaller than they should be. The only drawback is that you can’t do it freely on all four corners (but maybe I just didn’t find the option that would let me do that).
In addition, what most people commend is the ability to immediately add captions underneath an image. And in the sidebar, you have the option to add an alt text too, which is good.
Judging from Gutenberg’s interface, it’s evident that WordPress’ newest editor was designed with multimedia blogging in mind. In essence, the developers were looking to accommodate everyone.
And in that, it looks like they’re headed in the right direction…
Embedding has never been easier…
The developers retained the traditional way of embedding — by copying and pasting URLs. We all know both the Classical, and now, the Gutenberg editor will automatically convert them into embeds.
But Gutenberg has a special block dedicated entirely for embedding up its sleeve. From Facebook and YouTube embeds to Spotify and even Slideshare, Gutenberg offers up a variety.
That way, you can add up to as many multimedia references as you want to make your content richer and fuller.
4 Ways to Add Blocks
It’s a small function, but it’s well-worth noting.
First off, by hitting ‘enter’ on your keyboard, you automatically create a new paragraph block — which can be changed to whatever kind of block you want it to be.
Second option is to click the upper-left ‘plus’ sign button. It adds a block below your currently selected block.
And lastly, you have to hover your mouse over top-middle of the currently selected the block. It brings up an “insert block” button.
The Final Note
On a final note, it’s good to see that WordPress is taking steps to offer its users a much more different experience than before, including everybody — experienced or not in the field of blogging — in the grand scheme of things.
The introduction of the Gutenberg project is an interesting development within the online community. This is proven by people’s general opinions on WordPress’ newest editor; from ridiculously negative to positively welcoming and reasonable.
And to be completely honest, only time will tell if this Gutenberg project is going to be a success.
What WordPress’ team of developers have accomplished so far is great. Anyone can see that the Gutenberg editor was designed with newbies and experienced bloggers in mind. Although, it does have plenty of room for improvement.
There are a lot of questions needed to be asked, but one of the main ones include:
- Should people start getting used to Gutenberg?
- Should it be a core part of WordPress 5.0 or simply remain as a plugin?
The answer to the first question, is obviously, yes. Because whether we want it or not, it’s coming out. No amount of complaining will probably dissolve the project.
However, the answer to the second question is a bit more complex…
And that is because of people’s repulsion for the new editor. The aversion stems mostly from the fact that people just don’t plainly like it, and that Gutenberg will be a core component of the WordPress 5.0 update.
If we go off of people’s current opinions about it, perhaps they should carefully consider keeping Gutenberg as a WordPress plugin, so those who don’t want it can still use the classical editor. And it’s also to give them enough time to get used to it’s new process. But then again, WordPress has been encouraging its many users to try out the new editor for the sake of getting used to it.
So should you try it out?
Absolutely! And this time around, view it objectively and look at what it offers to its new users, and what else it could improve on.