Gutenberg – What Is It?

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If you’ve updated your WordPress installation recently, you’ve probably spotted the new editor, Gutenberg. It’s a more visual way to write and edit your blog posts, but it expands far beyond blog posts. It encourages you to write your posts by building it with blogs – similar to how you create in Squarespace.

As most people reading this will be bloggers, rather than layout designers, we’re going to focus on the editing page more than anything else (as that’s what we’ve been using most)

Here’s what you’ll see when you first create a new blog post:

In the top left corner, you’ll see a plus icon in a circle – that’s going to be the most important icon you’ll see on this screen. It’s where you will find all the different types of blocks you’ll need to create your fabulous blog post. Blocks are split up into categories, but it’s much quicker to type in the search section what you’re looking for

A benefit of the block system is that it allows you to move around sections easily – thought that image would it in somewhere else better in the post, or want to move that paragraph around? Just hover over the block and move your pointer towards the left side of the block, and you’ll see up and down arrows which when clicked move the block up or down one section. 

It also makes inserting sections much easier – just hover over a block, and move your pointer to the top centre of the block, and the circle plus icon will appear. Tap it, and it will insert a block above the section you were looking at.

You can still use the “classic” editor for writing blog posts, either by going to the All Posts section of your dashboard, and choosing “Classic Editor” for the relevant blog post, or in a new blog post, choosing the “Classic” block to work with. From WordPress 5.0, you’ll need to enable the Classic Editor as a plugin which is probably worth doing now if you’re still on the fence

You’re still able to edit the HTML in your post as well – either by using the classic HTML block (which is probably most useful if you’re inserting something like a Rafflecopter competition) or by clicking on the three vertical dots on the right side of a specific block, and choosing “Edit as HTML”. You can always switch back to “Edit Visually” to get back to the block view for that element. 

Something that will be useful for bloggers is the idea of “Reusable Blocks” – if there’s something that you always use in a blog post, like a paragraph introducing a link up, or a disclosure statement at the start of your blog post, you can save this for later use by hovering over those three vertical dots, and choosing “Add To Reusable Blocks”. It could save so much time!

Another issue that you may find with your setup is that some of your plugins don’t work as well as they used to. Previous posts should not be affected (at least in theory!) but if you found that plugins that you rely on don’t work as they used to, the first person to speak to is the plugin creator

We’ve been playing about with Gutenberg for a week or so, and while it takes some getting used to, it’s actually pretty useful once you figure out how to do things. After writing the post about creating your own Linktree page, we made our own for our personal site, and the block system has made it super easy to update the links we love section. 

The best way to learn about Gutenberg is to get experimenting with it!

What do you think? Have you enjoyed using the new editing screen or will you be sticking with the classic editor?

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