For those who don’t know, Guttenberg is the name of the new[ish] WordPress editor, and unlike standard word processors, it isn’t based on a linear flow of text. Instead, posts are built from blocks of ‘things’, a bit like legos.
But what are blocks, and why should we care?
In Guttenberg, each block contains one type of ‘thing’ – i.e. you can have one block for the heading, a second block for the paragraph, a third block for the image and a fourth one for a list of things. You can also embed videos and audio etc in blocks.
Because each of these components is inside its own block, they’re kind of ‘self-contained’ and can be moved up or down using arrow keys.
This is what the arrow keys look like:
Each click of the up or down arrow moves the whole block up or down by one block.
Well, yes and no. If your posts are relatively short, and you only need to move a block a short distance, the arrow keys work just fine. But what if you realise that a block at the end of the post should really be at the beginning? And there are 20 or more paragraphs/blocks in between? That’s twenty clicks. 😦
Or what if you realise that a whole section of your post needs to be deleted?
I can tell you from bitter experience that deleting a whole series of blocks is a major pain in the proverbial. To delete a block you must:
- click inside the block to be deleted,
- click the three dots at the far right of the floating menu,
- scroll down until you reach the ‘Remove block’ option, and
- click it.
There is a slightly faster option which involves clicking inside the block to be deleted and then pressing SHIFT + ALT + Z on the keyboard. But…it gets real old real fast when you have 20 or more blocks to delete. If you open the post in the Classic Editor, you can select and delete paragraphs easily, but that kind of defeats the purpose, doesn’t it?
How do I know all this? I know because I’ve just spent a lot of woman hours looking for an easier way to update one of my How-to books. ‘How to Print your Novel with Kindle Direct Publishing’ was out-of-date in both the ebook and print book versions, so I thought I’d turn the whole thing into a series of posts and update it online.
It seemed so easy at first…-cough-
Copy/pasting the text into a series of posts was easy enough – Guttenberg automatically turned each paragraph into a block – but as KDP, Thorpe-Bowker and the National Library of Australia had all updated their websites quite dramatically, there were a lot of old, outdated blocks to remove.
Updating the relevant chapters also required that some parts be re-structured. And yes, you guessed it, there is no way of selecting a whole series of blocks and moving them as a group. There is a group function, but I couldn’t get it to work properly. Perhaps it was never designed for ‘group moves’.
In hindsight, I should have updated the Word file first, and then poured it into Guttenberg. But I didn’t know then what I know now, did I?
Sadly, the ‘Group’ function didn’t work as a ‘Reusable’ either. A reusable block is a sentence or image or whatever that can be plonked into a post without the need to copy something and then paste it.
As I wanted to create consistent navigation across something like 19 blog posts, I created some reusable blocks that I used for each post:
When I’m finished, all of the ‘Click here…’ blocks will be live navigation links to other posts in the series, so not having to copy/paste each one is nice. But is it nice enough to keep using Guttenberg?
I admit that most bloggers probably won’t try to publish a whole book on WordPress the way I have done, but I’m sure I can’t be the only person smashing my head against Guttenberg’s limitations…
If WordPress wants Guttenberg to make blogging easy for all bloggers, then it has to solve these core problems with blocks. If they can’t be solved, then the old ‘Classic’ editor has to be retained because it’s still head and shoulders more powerful than Guttenberg.
I’ve given Guttenberg as fair a trial as I know how, and it’s just not good enough. Not yet. For now I’m going back to the old Classic.