Blogging about blogging: Block editor in wordpress

WordPress, written in PHP, is the lingua franca of the blogging world.

This is a mini-review about the new block editor in WordPress. The block editor is a new feature with this full-version upgrade in the WordPress blogging environment. Block editing is thought of in such grand terms by the WordPress programmers, that they have called it Gutenberg, after the first printing press. It replaces a more conventional editor, which has not posed me a problem in the past, and thus I see this editor as an attempt to fix things that were never broken.

When I write a blog article, my subject matter takes clear precedence over the tools I use. I do not wish to spend hours learning new ways of creating articles (which were already being created with the “old” tools and posing no problem) when really I ought to be concentrating on my writing. I am sure my audience, and most audiences, don’t care about what tools I used to edit an article; they just want to do a bit of reading and browsing.

My use of the editor caused many things to break from its first use. I had lengthy articles turn into a pea soup of words and images where the structure was broken. This, apparently, is due to a broken plugin I have somewhere, or something like that, I was told by a forum moderator. I disabled some plugins, and tried to get in with the “new mindset” that this new block editor is supposed to encourage. I look on with suspicion things which cause features to break which were not previously a problem.

In this new environment, all articles are thought of in terms of entities called “blocks”. As I understand it, a paragraph, a section of text, an image and a video, can all be separate blocks. Each block can be moved about, and edited separately. This is not well-implemented, as I had encountered toolbars pushing text out of the way, changing the visual quality from the way that it would end up when you read it. Toolbars would also have buttons turn up in strange places, and sometimes, I was not given the option to edit the code to add such formatting as text color, since the button allowing it was missing. In other cases, I would get multiple toolbars (toolbars would not disappear when I left a block), some HTML code would not be properly parsed, and instead bare HTML code would be shown in visual mode. Sometimes it would correct itself after some jiggery-pokery with the mouse and some buttons on the toolbar, but overall I found it tiresome, and symptomatic of a system that has not been well thought-out.

As a result, I have done what many bloggers have done, and disabled Gutenberg and gone back to the conventional editor that was there before. This feature, however, is a plugin, rather than part of the codebase. The plugin has a simple enough name: “Disable Gutenberg”.

I have never considered other blogging platforms, since Worpdress does the job so well, but I have heard more than once that other platforms have arisen that have newfangled ways to put a blog article together, such as Medium and Ghost. This apparently caused the world’s largest blogging platform (WordPress) to fear for its dominanace, and, consequently they needed to cobble together some new tools that would make it relevant to new bloggers deciding on what platform to use. The bug in the old code is not rooted in the code itself, but in the insecurity of the coders who program the platform. To anyone who is already blogging using WordPress, this is irrelevant. We don’t care about Medium or Ghost, we only care about writing our articles. It also on principle, should be irrelevant to most of the coders, who are largely volunteers on a huge open source project, and are mostly unpaid. I believe WordPress makes their money from owners of web servers who act as host to WordPress blogging environments such as GoDaddy, and I would imagine they don’t want to lose those accounts. So the rest of us who chose WordPress are made to suffer for a conflict that does not really involve us.