If you’re not already using WordPress’s block editor, you’ve probably already seem WordPress shouting in your face that they’re forcing you to switch to the block editor.
However, according to this WordPress.com blog post, there are actually a couple of alternatives. The naming is a bit confusing, and it took me a while to get my head wrapped around it. So, what’s going away is the WordPress.com editor, which was the one that came right before the block editor was introduced. You’ll still have the option to use the “classic editor,” which was the one that came before the WordPress.com editor. Confused yet? To add yet another layer, there is the “classic block editor”, which seems to be a hybrid of the classic editor and the block editor. The blog post linked to above includes screenshots so you can see what on earth they’re talking about.
My question would be why not keep the WordPress.com editor and get rid of the classic editor if they’re going to keep an alternate editor available anyway?
I briefly tried the block editor a couple of times before, but it annoyed me, so I switched back. I’ve used the classic block editor a bit, and it annoys me but doesn’t give any additional functionality to compensate for that. So, a few days ago, I decided to dive right in to the block editor. If I’m going to be annoyed anyway, I might as well take advantage of the things it lets me do that weren’t available in my beloved WordPress.com editor.
What are the good things? There are formatting and layout options that give you more flexibility and control. One “block” that I like combines an image and text; it makes aligning the two and adjusting the sizing very easy. You can also do columns and grids and assorted other formatting stuff.
You can also create reusable blocks. Let’s say you participate in a blogging prompt every week, and there’s always the same image and introductory blurb. You can save all of that as reusable block(s), and then easily insert it into a new post without having to go back and copy and paste.
My biggest issue is that very simple things now require more effort. I like using blank lines to break things up. The block editor doesn’t believe in that. So now I have to insert a block with a separator or spacer, whereas before I could just hit return. That’s the most obvious example that pops into my mind, but there are others. The block editor seems to make fancy things easier and simple things harder. Not difficult, necessarily, but more steps.
I’m a bit puzzled by image resizing in the block editor, and if someone can enlighten me, please do. Sometimes, there are little blue handles on the left and right sides of the image that you can easily slide to resize the image. Yet when I go back to a post I’ve already saved, they’re not there, and resizing becomes a pain in the arse. I chatted with a happiness engineer yesterday, and while usually they’re helpful, this particular chat was a waste of time.
Another problem is that the Grammarly Google Chrome extension doesn’t work in the block editor. When I Googled this, I found that Renard had raised this issue with WordPress support last year, but it turns out that it’s an issue on Grammarly’s end, not WordPress’s. According to Grammarly’s site, this is a known problem, and it suggests using the classic editor or going through the /wp-admin/ dashboard. I tried the latter, and it doesn’t seem to work very well. An alternative is the ProWritingAid Chrome extension, which I’ve now got installed. It works (although apparently only on newly created posts), but it’s sub-par compared to Grammarly. If you’re going back to edit a post that’s already written, though, it appears that you’re shit outta luck.
There are also assorted features in the block editor that aren’t immediately obvious. I was having difficulties creating a block between two blocks, and it took me a while to figure out that if you hover your cursor between two blocks and then wait a second or two, a box with a plus sign will show up to let you create a new block.
Do you like to have coloured text sometimes? The block editor makes that more complicated. And I haven’t figured out if it will remember custom colours so I can use them again later. I had some coloured text already on my home page and a couple of other pages, and even though the text is visibly purple, the block editor assures me that it’s black. The happiness engineer told me there was no way to make it remember colours, so I’ll have to figure out how to use CSS (custom style sheets) for formatting.
There are just short of a gazillion different block types, which makes it hard to look for what you want, but at least with this you can choose to hide some of them to keep things decluttered.
Since social sharing is hidden under the Jetpack section rather than the post settings section, I will most likely forget about it a substantial portion of the time.
I am a huge post scheduler. This craptastic scheduling calendar in the block editor doesn’t show what days you already have things scheduled for, so I have to head over to my blogging spreadsheet to check what date something should be published. Why would they take that away from us?
And why on earth does it take just short of forever to open a post in the block editor?
Overall, though, I’m going to stick with the block editor and hope that the annoyance factor will ease off as I continue to use it. The positives are things that will be useful for me, and hopefully at least some of the things I see as negatives right now I’ll figure out strategies to deal with.
I’m not overly thrilled that WordPress decided to announce it two weeks before they’re removing an entire editor. One would hope this wasn’t a fly by the seat of their pants decision, so why not let people know sooner? I’m also curious how many people were still using and still wanting to use the WordPress.com editor.
How are you feeling about this change?