Being Fearless And Taking on a Colossal Challenge

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Ignoring the hyperbole in the title, blogging is a hard gig with a million things to do and any change becomes a massive challenge. With WordPress trialling their new editor, a new mountain has appeared. And while at the moment you have the option to just ignore it, looming ominously in the distance, ultimately the only way to know whether it is actually going to be that much of a problem is to actually get in there and give it a go. So that’s what I’ve done for nearly two weeks and while I know they are still working on features and things, these are my current thoughts on it. With the thoughts of others scattered throughout via Twitter – thanks to those who shared their experiences.

Now, this post isn’t actually about tearing apart WordPress or the idea behind the new editor. Basically because, the idea is kind of cool in giving bloggers more control over layout and how the post looks and being able to integrate different kinds of media within the post. That is, as I said, kind of cool. The execution however is a leaving a little bit to be desired, however with one or two exceptions, at this point I’ve managed to work around most of my major issues and the more I use the new editor the faster it gets to put posts together. 

Dakaichi Episode 7 Takato and Junta
Me hoping to get on the good side of whoever is in control of the fate of post editing.

That said, I must admit, I’m in the minority of bloggers I know in that the majority of my posts are drafted and edited pretty much entirely in the editor. I do copy content out and save it as a word file after the fact, but essentially all my drafts begin their life inside WordPress (unless it is a collaboration in which case the start over on Google docs for the most part. And that leads me to the number one issue I have with this new editor.

Hitting enter when writing text automatically starts a new block.

And you might think, so what? Start a new block. See the problem with that comes when you want to format or edit your text before going back and adding images and the like. Because you can currently only format one block at a time. So the more blocks it adds, the more you need to individually format.

Then again, you also can save blocks as reusable, and once you’ve formatted it once you can instantly insert that block into a new post saving a huge amount of time.  So, for something like my signature, that I apply at the end of almost every post, spending the time playing around with it, and editing it in html to actually insert line breaks rather than having multiple different blocks and being able to insert images into it, is actually worth the time because I only needed to do it once and then give the block a sensible name in my reusable block list and now it is a simple matter of ‘add block’, search for name, insert and it is done. 

2 block editing
2 Block editing is a no go right now.

Just so you know, being fairly average at computers (I can use them but I’m not into coding or the like) my previous method of having a consistent signature across posts was to edit in html view after I created a signature, copy the code from that into a word document and then paste in the html view every time I started a new post. That kind of required me to have the word doc where I’d saved the signature open and accessible while in the wordpress editor and to be honest while that worked well enough, it wasn’t exactly a neat solution. 

I personally see the saving reusable block thing as a huge advantage, though that comes with a couple of minor points:

  • Editing the block and saving will apparently update the block everywhere it is used. Now, on paper that sounds great. If I want to add a link into my signature, it would now automatically update across multiple posts rather than having to go and change them manually, or shrug and just assume that any post before such a date will have the old signature. Or my episode links will now  automatically add to all the posts that I’ve added that block to so, again theoretically, if I added the block at the start of the season and to every post after, editing the block by adding the latest link, all episode reviews would have a link to all other episode reviews. Which is kind of cool… provided it works and I don’t accidentally do something to destroy the block across every post.

  • However, if I’ve saved a block purely for the formatting, I need to remember to convert back to a regular block before I start editing and not to save it as a reusable block after I’ve edited. So for the headings I’m currently trialling at the top of episode reviews, because adding colour to a heading was pain in the neck, I saved one as a reusable block, insert it at the top of a new post, convert it, and then change the series name to whatever I’m reviewing. It saves me formatting time but I keep freaking out that I’m potentially altering other posts in the process and then have to check to make sure they are still as they were.

  • Also, it isn’t clear yet how many reusable blocks can be saved or whether I’ll actually remember what name I’ve given half of them so some might never get used again and just be sitting in some kind of data storage limbo.

Moving away from reusable blocks, the single content type allowed in most blocks is really quite frustrating. So before I added a list in but there was a bit of a lead in to the list. The sentence introducing the list is in one block and the list is in another. Incidentally, because the introduction is a paragraph, I can change the text colour and add background colour to that block if I like, but I can’t in the list post (unless I manage to edit the code just right and don’t get an error message which is a fairly common occurrence because not all html code is acceptable in wordpress so sometimes even knowing the code isn’t enough to edit the block without encountering an error).

Skull Face Bookseller Honda San Episode 7
You do your research, find out how to code something, enter the code beautifully and then get told that your editor doesn’t accept half of it. At least I’m learning something.

There is a media and text block that allows you to have media on either the left or right side and then text beside it which I have found useful for my weekly summary posts but even then there isn’t much flexibility in layout. You can’t wrap the text around the image or video, merely place it in two columns side by side.

While I’m at it, I’ll throw in the part where I can’t centre justify my text anymore. Left, right or centre but no more centre justify and that seems like a fairly elementary thing to fix.

Run With The Wind Episode 7 Kakeru
Yes,  there’s no getting around it, the new scheduler makes me want to punch something.

Let’s get a few more negatives out of the way. The scheduler. I hate the new scheduler so much right now. I’m learning to get on with it, but the basic loss of being able to see when my other posts are scheduled while scheduling a new post is really horrendous. That and we are back to scheduling posts in whatever time zone WordPress has set rather than local. This was what it used to be like even using the old editor, but then they changed it to local time.

However, it meant that during my first week at least, posts that had been scheduled using the old editor were still scheduled in local time and in the new editor I had to do time conversion to schedule them appropriately (4 am my time Saturday morning is  6pm Friday in WordPress schedule time incidentally) and for awhile it was really making me want to scream in frustration because I’d be scrolling through the scheduled posts and checking my written schedule (yes, I’m old school and still record in an actual notebook) and my posts wouldn’t be in the right order. Such an unnecessary frustration.

What will annoy me more is when they just randomly change it back to local time as they have done once before but they don’t bother to send out a notification of such a significant change that will have a huge impact on those who schedule posts.

Voice of Fox Episode 5
Clear communication would sort so many of these kinds of issues.

And then one more minor gripe, the gallery. I can no longer make a slide show with images or preview what the gallery will look like or decide to have my images appear in random order and just a lot of functionality of posting multiple images is gone. I’m kind of hoping these features are coming but again, it seems like something simple to include so not sure why these features have gone AWOL.

That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime Episode 6
Taking the good with the bad.

That said, I’m kind of feeling there’s a lot of positives. Inserting tweets, video embeds, the survey short code, has never been easier. Once I decide how I want my standard posts to look and set the reusable blocks I need, creating a post should actually be a fairly quick process. The media library is much better than it was and adding alt text and descriptions to images has never been easier. I haven’t reverted to the classic editor because I really haven’t felt a need to do so and  I do believe that once I get my head around this new one, there are many things that will be faster and even in just a week (scheduling multiple posts a day), I know that some things have gotten faster.

Still, it is one thing to know that something has potential to be good and another to see that a post of yours has just gone out with all your words mangled because it was one you copied and pasted from an outside source into the editor and then foolishly assumed that the way it previewed would be the way it would post (silly writer).

Tsurune Episode 5 Minato and Onogi
Yep, guess where you’re about to end up.

And when struggling to find the block type you need because you aren’t sure what it is called, wanting to move an image and being unable to, just wanting to be able to apply a change to the font or format of multiple text boxes simultaneously and realising you absolutely cannot… new things are hard. They are frustrating. And particularly when they have a massive impact on the time it is taking to prepare a post (already a fairly onerous task), and sometimes you don’t end up with the result you want, the challenge can seem insurmountable.

The good thing is, that when the challenge is too hard at the moment you can switch back to the classic editor if you have to. And if you are copying and pasting text from other sources the majority of the time, I’d actually recommend it – that text blending thing where it removes spaces randomly is really irritating. The other thing is that there is a huge community out there and so far asking questions on twitter about the editor has brought many to the surface willing to offer advice, or at least relate to the same issue and how they worked around it. I also managed to have a fairly decent help chat through WordPress when trying to help someone else who was having an issue.

Rascal Does Not Dream of Bunny Girl Senpai Episode 7
Let others help you.

On that note, I did turn the question of what is good and bad about the new editor over to twitter and I’ve tried to share some of the responses throughout the post if you want to check out the issues others have encountered. But, if you’ve tried the new editor, leave a comment of your experiences below and help others learn from what has worked for you and what hasn’t. 

Thanks for reading
Karandi James
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26 thoughts on “Being Fearless And Taking on a Colossal Challenge

  1. I just finally started messing around with the new editor because I became curious. There are a few things I don’t like, such as inserting images and trying to insert multiple ones at at time. Also, not being able to change the colour of specific words versus whole chunks. With my OCD, I love making hyperlinks a specific colour so they stand out as links. Maybe because I’m so used to the old editor (like second nature) and that I write everything in Word and copy/paste into the Editor, this one feels less intuitive to me. I do like the customisation options though. Being able to create a colourful header to distinguish episode reviews, for example, does give the posts a much cleaner look that I’ve been wanting for a long time. I probably have to tinker around with it more before it becomes easier to use. Now that you’ve been using it for a while (if you’re still using it), how has it been for you?

    1. While there are still a few features I wish it had (and you are right being able to edit specific words and colour them would be lovely), I actually really like the new editor. I find formatting posts in my usual forms incredibly quick and I love the reusable blocks for taking formatting short cuts. I haven’t had any reason to go back to the classic editor even if there are some draw backs to the new one as I can mostly work around the few issues I come across and the old editor had its own issues as well.

      1. After tinkering with it a bit, I think I’m going to use it for episodic posts and posts like the 30 Days challenge where I do multiple challenges in one day. It makes doing those super convenient and gives them a cleaner look. But for more discussiony type posts, I’ll stick with the old editor as it feels more comfortable for me. But I am happy I finally tried it out. Playing with it for the past day for various posts has given me some insight on its benefits and cons for me personally.

  2. I’ve fiddled with the Gutenberg editor (by the way, that is the name of the new editor…right??? That’s what I call the new editor, anyway…) a bit, but if it’s going to affect my 12 Days of Anime posts (since my first post of 12 was an experiment with Gutenberg, right down to colouring headings and having a warning)…oh dear. Thank goodness I normally schedule posts to be at the same time every day if I haven’t got a better time to put them out, so eventually – if the posts don’t come out at the time I expect them to – I should be able to figure out whether my posts come out at local or “WordPress time”, whenever that may be, and rectify it if necessary.

    On the other hand, I don’t think I’ve ever encountered problems with seeing what’s scheduled on the calendar view Gutenberg gives you…

    1. I think it is the Gutenberg editor – though not sure why.
      At the moment, I can’t see anything scheduled in the calendar. In the old editor any date that had a scheduled post was circled and hovering over it I could see which posts were already scheduled on that day. It made it much easier to confirm that existing posts were in the right spot and that I was scheduling the new post in the right place. Now I just see the dates and nothing else other than when I’ve selected for the post I’m editing. It means that until I’ve actually scheduled it and go back out of the post and look at all of my scheduled posts I have no way of knowing if what I’ve written in my notebook is what I’ve actually scheduled for posts (and sometimes accidents happen and you click on the wrong date by mistake – before this was easily caught the very next draft).

  3. I’m still using the original or “classic” editor thanks to a script that automatically loads it for me. I didn’t know they were mucking about with the editor again after the last two attempts didn’t go down so well with WP users (hence the script being created).

    So, as long as the script still works WP can stick their “new and improved” editor and I’ll stay with one that actually works and is user friendly and logical. 😉

    Personally, I do everything in Word then paste it into WP, tidy up the header sizes, alignment and text colour, add any links and images, do the tags and bits and it’s done! Working directly inside the editor is just too much hassle and time consuming for me, especially if it or my browser should crash for some reason.

    1. I think because I have to bounce around the place for work fairly often I find it easier to have my drafts on WordPress because I can log in from any device into the account and have them all in one place. I got caught once early in blogging when I was halfway through a feature draft, had to travel and didn’t have my laptop with me and had to start over. I do back up my posts after they are drafted just in case something happens to my WP account but for the most part I find it easier just to have everything in there.

      That said, I felt the same way about new and improved chocolate chip cookies when my favourite brand tried to foist them on me. I was pretty happy with the old and inferior ones because they at least tasted good.

      On the editor though, I’m definitely getting used to the new one, so while I could go back to the classic, I’m going to keep playing with this one for a bit.

      1. I completely get the food analogy. Everytime something I like gets a “new and improved” flavour I end up switching brands or finding an alternative… 🙁

        Unlike you I am pretty much a hermit so all my work is done on my PC home.

  4. sounds like a pretty normal response to new software updates. from just my general knowledge from the software development field, i think the important thing is to give feedback. wordpress is rolling this out on a trial basis, so i would expect that they’re expecting that. and sometimes, you just need time. it’s a new system to get used to, and it’s gonna take some time to adapt to it.

    and at the end of the day, ppl using a self-hosted wordpress server can easily use plugins to make their editor whatever they want it to be. not so much luck for free users, so i can certainly understand the frustration. but it’s not being forced now, so meh.

    1. Yes, at the moment it is user choice whether to try to figure it out or just keep with what they know. Still, as you said, feedback is probably an important part of this and the more people who do give it a try and identify problems and weaknesses, the potentially better outcome we could get (potentially because even if an issue is identified there’s no guarantee of a solution).

  5. Have you looked at Thrive Architect? I switched to it about a year ago, and I like its flexibility and consistency. It’s a paid product, but for me it’s been worth it. That being said, they’ve made some recent changes that I’m less fond of… Sometimes developers don’t know when to leave well enough alone!

    1. I know. When you have something that works, why tinker with it?
      Honestly I haven’t looked at it. I’m kind of fine with WordPress, or at least it hasn’t annoyed me enough yet to make me want to look at other options for my blog. I feel like I’ve learned a lot in two years using the old editor and the new one has made me really think through what I’m doing with each post.
      I do want the centre justify back though.

  6. Great post. Thanks for putting it all together. I’m holding off until I have more time to get to grips with it. Hopefully, by then they’ll have worked out most of their bugs, too. I used to jump on new versions in beta, but have been left regretting too many times to count.

    1. Yes, and my general request to everyone is that if any of my posts suddenly look crazy or broken, let me know so I can fix it. I’m keeping a fairly close eye on my posts at the moment and I’ve had to go back and fix more than one of them because of an unseen issue that didn’t show up during the preview.

    1. And I think giving the option of trying it for people is good because people can start to get used to it but aren’t forced into using it, they can find what doesn’t work and what is missing and report and request, and the whole thing can be improved (assuming of course they do take on feedback and do actually continue to tweak this – which you would think would make sense but isn’t necessarily true).

  7. “Hitting enter when writing text automatically starts a new block.”

    Hadn’t encountered that… Yet *another* stupid design decision on their part.

    “However, if I’ve saved a block purely for the formatting, I need to remember to convert back to a regular block before I start editing and not to save it as a reusable block after I’ve edited.”

    Hadn’t tried saved blocks before, and thought “cool, this kinda sorta in a more difficult way replaces being able to copy draft posts.” (Which ability they’ve taken away, which hurts me because it takes away my weekly template.) Then reading this… I just want to throw things because it makes things even harder on top of that.

    Still not seeing any good in the new editor. Every time I try it, I find something new that they’ve effed up or that ‘works’ in a completely counter-intuitive way.

    From what someone else said elsewhere, they seem to have based this system on one used to allow complete idiots to generate web pages. Being forced to use that level of hand holding is galling to say the least.

    1. And we’ve hit another small snag with reusable blocks suddenly disappearing. Not sure what’s going on with that one. I still don’t mind the new editor, but they really need to fix the bugs and sort out the formatting issues and features they’ve taken away. It has a ways to go.

    2. I just realised though I can copy all content from a previous post (even one made in classic editor) and paste into a new post. Admittedly, I do need to have the previous post open in editor but still, if there’s a particular layout I want, that’s probably going to be the fastest way to get it.

  8. This is a great post, Karandi and I see that you played around with the new editor and it’s features more then I have. I’ll have to think about some of these things for future reference.

    1. At first it was really slow going and quite frustrating, but I think as I’ve learned what I can and can’t do, what works and what doesn’t, I’ve gotten to a point where I’m not even tempted to switch back to classic. There are a couple of features I miss that I would like back, but for the most part I think the new editor can potentially be a huge time saver, once you get used to it.
      Of course, as the Mistress of Yaoi points out, they do need to explain it better. The quick ‘tips’ they give you once you change over to it don’t even begin to really explain the functionality of things and you need to read descriptions in the sidebar after inserting stuff to get some of the finer details, or just do it, preview the post, and see what it looks like. That actually is how I figured out a few things. Just insert it anyway and see what happens.

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