Welp, let's give this a shot.

Here's my bike!

There lots of things I really like about Gutenberg, and some things I really don't like very much yet.

There are quite a few little UI & UX quirks, enough where it's not easy to identify, verbalize, communicate, test, iterate, repeat for each individual one of them. Plus there's the self-doubt that maybe it only affects me, maybe it's that way by design, or only temporary, or whatever. It's like my internal FUD meter is saying "you can't be the first person to notice this and this and that and this and…"

To start, I don't like that control + a doesn't select everything; it only selects text in the current block. There is no way to select-all, and using shift or control alone to try another way actually highlights DOM elements in weird ways, so that's even worse.

I also don't like that it feels like stuff is happening all over the place. The "Save Draft" button keeps changing text to "Saved" and the "Publish" button goes disabled when that happens. There's all this activity in the upper-righthand corner of the screen.

That by itself isn't a problem, but Gutenberg has me typing long-form at the very bottom-left now, so my eyes are naturally in the very lower-left watching stuff animate in the upper-right. It's really distracting.

Here is Paul the Nugget Puppy

My friend Jeff has covered his experience with Gutenberg already, and I share some of his thoughts with images. Placing media isn't easier than it was before, and it's harder to undo because certain blocks can be converted into other types of blocks, but not to media, and there isn't anything in the UI that subtly hints me towards why that is.

It is possible to turn text blocks into other text blocks, but it's also possible to turn media blocks into headings. Doing this removes the image, though. Where did it go?

To better understand what blocks are available (and what makes them different for each use-case) users need to be willing to go looking. That's normal. I'm trying not to be deliberately obtuse, or play dumb, or pretend like I can't learn or adapt or whatever. There's just a lot going on in many places.

I do really like the separation between the "Document" and an individual "Block", and the way that meta-boxes have been reimagined as an inspector of sorts. I think that makes a lot of sense, and translates really well to WordPress and editing content like this.

Weird triangle between two rectangles

I also like that updating posts finally happens without refreshing the page. It's such a small but amazing thing. WordPress plugins have tried to implement this in different ways over the years, but it's always been a problem for other plugins because of how they need to hook into save_post and related actions.

Writing this post has generated 211 revisions so far. I'm not sure if that's a good thing or a bad thing, but I suppose it's better to have more than less.

I've spied a few CSS issues here and there, and noticed that the way Gutenberg handles focus is a little bit different in different browsers.

And some things that are good ideas just end up looking off, like the way the current top-level admin menu aligns with the status update bar.

Lastly, I'm afraid of how mucked-up my post_content is now:

You thought "Paste from Word" was bad?

See that weird <!--stuff-->? Gutenberg uses that to understand what blocks are what, and it's before & after every block in your post now. This is not good, but a few folks think I'm a little crazy for saying so.

This is WordPress intercepting our authored content and leaving it's signature hidden around every paragraph.

WordPress is crossing a line that it can't uncross, and folks who care about the longevity and authenticity of their authored & published works will choose the platform that continues to uphold the standards that WordPress has upheld it's entire life so far.

I'm not trying to say that formats can't change, or that anyone will notice, or that they'll even care if they do. Symbolically, this marks the end of the what-you-wrote-is-what-gets-savedWYWIWGS era, and we embark down a new path where what-you-wrote-comes-surrounded-by-hidden-junkWYWCSBHJ. WYSIWYG is way easier to say; let's just stick with that? 😅

Gutenberg isn't about writing, not yet anyways. Today, it's about competing with next-generation publishing platforms, and creating a new economy of pre-programmed block-types to write the HTML that writers didn't want to learn or repeat. It's about a first-class interface for developers to build elaborate experiences around the latest and greatest <p> tags and other stuff too.

In a lot of ways, Gutenberg is not for me, yet built exactly for me. I don't write a lot of short blog posts, but I do enjoy crafting great WordPress experiences and improving WordPress itself whenever the community agrees.

If I had to sum up my very first impression of using the latest version of Gutenberg, there is too much to discover without a high enough reward for discovering it. It's kinda more of the same – instead of toggling between Visual & HTML modes, I'm toggling block-types. Instead of wondering what shortcodes do, I still wonder what most things do because I only ever use a small subset of what's available.

I can't easily undo what I did wrong, because I haven't learned what's right.
I can't easily convert my mistakes into successes.
I can wipe the slateblock clean and try something different.
I can keep trying and learn how it all works.
I canwill continue contributing to it's success however & whenever I'm able. 💙

About the Author

I help build WordPress, BuddyPress, bbPress, EDD, Sugar Calendar, and a bunch of other pretty neat stuff.

One comment on “First post with Gutenberg

  • Terence April 21, 2018 at 8:42 am

    Because blocks are not portable, that causes theme lock-in too, which I think will be a real problem for Gutenberg. To me the whole way Matt has gone about replacing the theme editor is wrong, and what they’ve eventually come up with is not {so far} a solution to most of the questions users needed answering. Its not even a solution to the threat WordPress competitors are posing. I am finding it very hard to understand what genuine developers. whose views and position in the community I respect, see in it.

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