The WordPress Block Editor

Well, I am back in the “classic” editor again, after a long conversation with the very nice support people (“happiness engineers” I think they call them) at WordPress.com. The new editor, which under development was called “Gutenberg,” but is now called “The WordPress Block Editor,” simply didn’t work well for me.

The block editor has a different block for everything. The default is a paragraph block. Hitting “enter” in a paragraph block creates a new paragraph block. You can change the block type with a pop-up menu that has a block search function. Yes, there are so many different types of blocks that you need a search function.  Right now there are 39, but more are coming. If you know CSS, you can custom design your own. There are already people selling custom block designs.

When I asked “What if you want to write a poem? It would put each line in a separate block.” They said, “Have you tried the verse block?” and posted a link to the documentation for it. The answer to most questions was “There’s a block for that.” There are image blocks, gallery blocks, table blocks, video blocks, etc.

This design is potentially very powerful, especially if you want your post to function like a web page. However, it is not very comfortable as a writing environment, at least not for me. I think there are many others who would agree. If you paste text into the block editor, it gets blockified and you have a lot of reformatting to do. If you write in the block editor, you have to keep thinking about what kind of block the next block should be. And if you choose a “classic block” that functions like the classic editor, when you reopen the page to edit it, the block editor asks if you want to turn the “old format” into blocks. The block editor is programed to want to blockify everything. It is quite aggressive, by design. Automattic, the company behind WordPress, is trying to herd us all into the new vision.

They say that the classic editor will fade into the sunset in 2022, but I think it might stick around in some form long after that due to user insistence, in part because that expire by date has already been extended a couple of years. If it doesn’t, there is already a “fork” of WordPress called “ClassicPress,” that I could use if I decided to move this blog to a hosting site.

I began researching other platforms such as Joomla, Drupal, Medium, Wix, and Weebly. They all have pros and cons, but most were either more complex and powerful than I needed or too limited. I was almost ready to create an account on Ghost, which was created by former WordPress people. Ghost is said to have a wonderful writing environment and to be very fast and secure. However, I figured out that Ghost does not function as a host for files. I could write blog posts, but I could not upload teaching materials for teachers to download, which is one of the purposes of “Teaching Text Rhetorically.” Also, it would be more expensive.

For now, I am going to stay with WordPress.com and hope that the classic editor remains available.  I will also continue to research other platforms.

 

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