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Changes are Coming to WordPress

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If you’re as passionate about blogging as I am, you’ll be curious and concerned about the fact that WordPress are working on a “revolutionary” new editor. In the coming months, the way in which you compose your blog posts on WordPress.com is going to change quite considerably.

With a lot going on behind the scenes, the tech community and developers behind WordPress.com and WordPress.org are working hard to prepare the new editor, which will be named ‘Gutenberg’ (after Johannes Gutenberg, who invented the printing press back in 1439). The printing press was of course revolutionary, so the fact that WordPress are using that moniker for their new editor should tell us something about their ambitions and the scope of the changes we are likely to see.

But don’t panic โ€“ from the research I’ve done it appears that the coming changes will make the editing process simpler and more intuitive, rather than being a brain-ache for bloggers with very little coding knowledge such as myself.

At the heart of the Gutenberg editor will be the introduction of ‘blocks’. A block is a kind of organisational unit for different categories of content, like images, headings, text, or widgets. There will be drop-down menus from which you can choose the type of block content you want and incorporate it into a particular part of a post. Those of you who use MailChimp to run your mailing lists will probably have come across blocks before.

At present, a Google search doesn’t show up many results for ‘Gutenberg and WordPress.com’, but with a new version of WordPress core likely to be released as early as next month (April 2018), it’s likely that we’ll begin to see changes to the editor on WordPress.com later this year. What this will mean for your particular blog may be something that you want to investigate if you’re at all concerned about compatibility issues with your theme, for instance.

Here’s a helpful article with some more info on Gutenberg:
https://wordpress.org/gutenberg/

And if you’ve got a couple of hours to spare (don’t we all?), I recommend watching this video which features WordPress co-founder Matt Mullenweg talking about the new editor and answering some questions on the subject.

95 comments

    1. I’m sure a lot of people will share your concerns, Lynn! I’m pretty sure WordPress will work hard to make the transition as painless as possible. But I completely empathise with your anxiety.

    2. Yes, thanks for the heads-up. I have little interest in improvements” for their own sake, and I don’t have major concerns about themes, but I can see how that could be a major issue for some. I much prefer the classic editor to the newer one now. It’s easier to navigate and less bandwidth-intensive. My work computer won’t even load the current “new” editor, which I think has been out for a couple of years.

      I found recently than an update of the mobile app editor apparently removes every instance of two spaces (i.e., after periods and colons, which I prefer for readability), replacing those with single spaces. The classic editor remains the best in my estimation.

      1. I read a little more and watched some of the video, and it looks like these changes really will be improvements for little people like me who just want to write and add a few images. I’m typically fairly distrustful of youthful techno-geeks who think everything they do is better than what came before. In case, I’m no longer too concerned and am actually looking forward to it. Way to go, WordPress.

        1. Hi Brian,

          Here is another video for you to be ready for WordPress Gutenberg:

          Indeed, the new block features will be quite a boon for those who cannot code, and will set new standards and impart unprecedented power at their blogging finger tips.

          However, for those who can code very well, Gutenberg offers insufficient flexibility, customization and sophistication. As far as I can ascertain, Gutenberg cannot realize a lot of what I have been doing on my websites with manual coding to achieve the much more finely tuned and sophisticated results that I often need and desire for my websites.

          Thank you, Steven, for your updating us on Gutenberg, which will usher in extra modularity and functionality to blogging.

    3. Hi Lynn,

      I concur with Steven! The new system may not be as hard to learn as you might expect. Here’s a video to allay some of your concerns:

      Gutenberg will be able to do a great deal for you. However, it is possible to do a lot and even more without Gutenberg, if you were to desire to manually code for something very specific, complex and/or sophisticated, as I have frequently needed for some of my websites.

      I suspect that many who initially resist Gutenberg will gradually warm to it. Whether the old editor will be preserved remains to be seen.

    1. Hi Crissy! I understand. It is a little worrying and it’s important that we all give feedback if we are concerned about anything related to the changes. In my experience, the support that WordPress offers (certainly to Premium members) is very good, and they do take note of feedback.

  1. The Gutenberg name is already used by a popular, global, digital library (www.gutenberg.org). Considering that WordPress is already a well-recognised brand, it’s a shame they felt the need to confuse the market by using the Gutenberg name.

    1. Hi Derrick! Yes, that’s a good point. I expect that WordPress felt they are such a huge brand (almost 30% of the web is WordPress-related) that the existence of Gutenberg.org is a relatively minor issue. Also, I don’t think they’ll be loudly announcing Gutenberg as a brand name โ€“ it’s more a ‘behind-the-scenes’ kind of name that developers can use. Thank you for your thoughts!

  2. I am so bad on this stuff, so bear with me. Do these changes refer to those who own (bought) their blog or includes those who have the free version? I know some things apply to those who have a free blog, but then other things only apply to those who have bought their blog, a package, stuff I’m really not familiar with.

    Thanks for the heads up! I’ve seen gradual changes which I’ve been fine with, so big stuff always seems daunting to me. But from what you’ve shared, it should all work out.

      1. Okay, that makes total sense because of it being the editor. ๐Ÿ™‚

        WordPress confuses me sometimes. I had to ask for help once from customer service when my comments weren’t coming through, and the guy I originally talked to could only help those who had a paid subscription (those are the words I was looking for, thank you!)

        1. Yes, I believe chat support is one of the benefits of a paid subscription. When you were having problems with comments and I suggested you chat with support, I assumed you had a paid subscription ๐Ÿ™‚

          1. ๐Ÿ™‚ yeah, once day I would love to have a paid subscription, and I take it as a compliment you thought I did haha, thanks! But even so, your suggestion was great! The guy was nice enough to give me the information I needed to go to the right sources and I talked to at least two email people too who got it sorted.

            1. Oh, that’s good to hear! I use the chat support quite often and they are always really friendly and helpful. I think it’s amazing you have achieved so much with a free subscription, bravo! ๐Ÿ™‚

            2. Thank you so much ๐Ÿ™‚ I’ve learned a lot. A lot of it is just using the resources allotted to you, and testing around what you like. A lot of trial and error indeed, but it’s worth it.

              Anyone who deals with coding…*shudder. etc. Bravo to you all!!!

            3. Just in case you weren’t aware, you don’t need coding knowledge for WordPress premium or business. You just have more benefits, like the removal of adverts, unlimited chat support, a custom domain name, more themes, etc. Everything else, is largely the same ๐Ÿ™‚

      1. Welcome, Steven – like many others, I hope they also keep the old style editor – the โ€˜simplerโ€™ new type already available is probably great for smartphone users, but for detailed blog posts, itโ€™s of limited usefulness ๐Ÿ˜Ž

        1. I understand your concerns and I expect that in the short term at least we’ll have the option to switch between old and new editors ๐Ÿ™‚ I’m not sure, but it would make sense to allay our anxieties ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. Thanks for this information/warning!
    I am registered blind and use a screen reader called Job Access with Speech (JAWS) which converts text into speech and braille enabling me to use a Windows computer and, of course WordPress. I hope that the new Editor works well with JAWS.

    Best, Kevin

    1. Hi Kevin! Yes, that’s an important consideration. Are you able to use the online chat feature (available to Premium members) to voice your concerns to the WordPress support team?

      1. Hi Steven. I am not a Premium WordPress user so suspect that I wouldn’t be able to avail myself of the online chat facility. I know that there is a way of emailing support via a contact form so will do that. At present I tend to create the text of my posts in Microsoft Word and cut and paste them into the edit field within “create new post” which is, I suspect the way in which I shall continue to do things, provided of course the new Editor allows me to do so. Kind regards, Kevin

  4. Thank you for the information. I read more about Gutenberg including reviews from those that are trying. From what I gathered, there are some bugs to work out.

      1. Thanks for the information regarding the bugs, Eugenia, that is interesting to know. Steven – many thanks for your kind offer to help if I experience problems in contacting WordPress, which is much appreciated. Kevin

  5. I’ve moved most of my blogging across to Medium and have to say that their editor is very intuitive…for basic stuff. Once you get into the hundreds of blogs over multiple years category, it becomes a pain…just like the current ‘new’ WP editor. When I do post on WP, I still use the old-old editor, the ‘classic’, but I’m blogging on a desktop not a mobile phone.
    My guess is that ‘Gutenberg’ is WP’s attempt to make the phone app. more functional.

    1. Very interesting thoughts! I have experimented with Medium a little, but I love WordPress for so many reasons it makes sense for WP to be my blogging home. Perhaps you’re right that mobile is a key consideration with Gutenberg. Thanks for reading!

    1. Yes, stay positive! There might be a learning curve for all of us but I’m optimistic that the WP team will be sensitive and the change won’t be too burdensome. Thank you for reading!

  6. Thanks for the info, Steve, but I do wish WP would leave well enough alone. When it works – they still want to fix it and that usually leads to glitches!

    1. Thanks for reading, and I understand your anxieties! I think there is a huge amount of testing going on behind the scenes, so hopefully not too many glitches when Gutenberg comes to WordPress.com ๐Ÿ™‚ We’ll see!

  7. Thanks for the warning! I read the WordPress article on Gutenberg and sadly it might as well have been in Chinese – all jargon and acronyms. I just hope it IS intuitive, like they say, and that my intuition is working when the time comes!

  8. Hi Steven,

    Many thanks for the heads up about this and for the resource materials – so glad to know about it so I can get ready.

    dw

  9. Hopefully theyโ€™ll update the in-app editor as well, if only for optimization. As it currently stands, it shouldnโ€™t start chugging after 200 words on an iPad Pro 2. ๐Ÿ˜ฆ Thanks for the heads up!

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