The Year that Was 2018

With the end of the year almost upon us, I’d like to take a moment and look back on 2018 with you and share what’s coming in 2019.

Beyond the major change to privacy post GDPR last May, the biggest news of 2018 was the introduction of the new block editor, aka Gutenberg. The WordPress developer community has been (loudly) discussing this major change to WordPress for the last 2 years and the new editor was introduced here on WordPress.com in November ahead of its release in WordPress v5.0 in early December. The user reactions that have been posted in the WordPress.com community forums are lukewarm at best.

four people holding signage

Oddly, there is no User Guide for the new block editor available at WordPress.org itself, but this page allows you to click around and get a feel for the possibilities. If you enabled the new editor in your WP Admin dashboard, you can experiment with the test draft post that was created there.

LinkedIn Learning is offering several WP courses for free until January 2nd. Morten Rand-Hendriksen’s Essential Training course for WordPress 5.0 includes many sections specifically on the new block editor, which is worthwhile viewing while you can.


Meanwhile the WordPress.com documentation team is busy creating a detailed support guide to working with the new WordPress editor, which is very much-needed since it focuses on our My Sites Editor. It’s a work-in-progress.


According to Matt Mullenweg, the classic editor will be supported until 2022 in the standalone WordPress software. As we WordPress.com long-timers know, everything here on WordPress.com stays the same until it changes, usually with no announcement if it’s a feature that’s dropped.


I grok why this change is important and maybe necessary (and this video on separating content from presentation made me think maybe Gutenberg is not enough), but I don’t agree that it should be compulsory even at a later stage. Content creators do not need or want obstacles to publishing quickly and so use tools they are familiar with.


Besides its amazing flexibility, I think one reason WordPress is so popular with content creators is because the classic editor is a familiar working interface. Writers and editors embraced that familiarity which helped make WordPress the world’s most popular content management system. WordPress now needs to work very hard to convince those same writers and editors that they’ll benefit from spending the time learning a new editing interface, not force that change on them. Going forward it will be interesting to see if the adoption rate increases for both the new block editor by WordPress users and for the WordPress software itself.

For me the big news of 2018 involved a month-long absence from nearly all web activity which made me sit down and rethink what I’d like to do in the future. My days post-retirement have been both a delight and a challenge, but I need to push myself out of my comfort zone if I want to progress. Helping WordPress.com users is still important to me, but no less important to me is finding concrete activities where I can make a difference in my neighborhood. Those are my challenges coming in 2019 and there will be changes to this site as a result.

And two minutes before this post was scheduled to be published, WordPress.com announced that the 2019 default WordPress theme is available on WordPress.com. What a great way to end the year and ring in the new!

How was 2018 for you? Did it make you consider doing something differently or something else altogether in 2019?

4 thoughts on “The Year that Was 2018

  1. I decided to try Gutenberg again (in a test blog) and am doing a bit better with it having realised that there’s a classic editor accessible directly from its options (via plus symbol), and that even without that, text pasted in from, say, Notepad, retain formatting – for instance, numbered lists appear actually numbered. I’ve also realised that the classic editor in Gutenberg fixes the taskbar in place (I hate the way the default one ‘floats’ in and out of view.) Whether I’ll be able to completely get to grips with it or not, I’ve no idea. I did find this YouTube video that I found helpful (though of course, it’s aimed at self-installs, so some of the info isn’t relevant to wordpress dot com sites).

    But at least trying to get to grips with it gives me hope that I won’t have to leave the site in 2022… the idea of which depresses me considerably.

    How are you finding it, yourself, or are you still using classic?

    1. Hey Val, I’m glad to hear that you are finding the new block editor easier to use. If you look at the Tips for Distraction Free Writing link, they show how to anchor the toolbar in Gutenberg too. Haven’t much written with it since I’m currently redesigning a couple of websites so have horribly neglected my own. The sandal maker goes barefoot. 🙂 Morten’s Essential Training was solid and explained the different Gutenberg features very clearly. It was available for free until January 2nd, but maybe they’ve extended that. I’ll check in a little while and also view the youtube video you linked to. Thanks for adding that!

      Would hate to “lose” you now that I’ve found you again! 😦

      1. Thanks, I’ll continue to experiment with it. One thing that’s been helping is using shift and enter instead of enter on its own because, even with the classic format (inside Gutenberg) one can still see the separate paragraph blocks. So now, instead of pressing enter for a new paragraph, I press shift and enter twice instead. Also – because I like a lot of space beneath what I’m typing, I type ’empty space’ beneath it.

        The last was a lovely thing to say, Jen, thanks. 🙂

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