The Future of the Block Editor

WordCamp Europe 2021 took place this past week and this year’s event was head and shoulders above last year’s online event thanks to the Hublio app, which brought a real sense of “being there” without actually being there. A huge thank you to the organizers and sponsors for all their work bringing this event to life. But that’s not the focus of this post.

Like last year, the highlight of WCEU (at least for me) was the conversation between Matt Mullenweg and Matias Ventura, the Gutenberg project lead discussing the future direction of the Block Editor. As a part of his presentation, Matias shared this video that covered upcoming changes to the block editor as it moves towards full-site editing, including:

  • Patterns: more options for creating, saving and sharing them.
  • Transitions: a smoother, more integrated way to change from one type of block to another type directly in the Editor.
  • New and enhanced design tools.

Take a moment and watch the video below:

I don’t know about you, but I felt a little dizzy after watching this. ๐Ÿ˜‰ Some of the highlights shown are already integrated here on WordPress.com.

For the adventurous, you can get a taste of the full block editing experience right now by heading to your site’s WP Admin Themes dashboard (yoursite.wordpress.com/wp-admin/themes.php) and activating the Blockbase theme. It’s only available via WP Admin and, because it is experimental, I strongly recommend trying this out on a test site and not your public WordPress.com website.

On the other hand, if you are still trying to get to grips with the Block Editor itself, I’m here to help! Here are some previously published posts on this site:

If the block editor is still not making sense to you and you’d like some one-on-one help, leave a comment and I’ll be in touch.

As always, the information in this post is correct as of todayโ€™s date. Changes are inevitable.

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Published by JenT

After 4 years hand coding HTML and CSS websites, 2 years setting up and running WordPress sites, I launched my first website on WordPress.com back in 2006 and never looked back. Since then, Iโ€™ve helped other WordPress.com site owners navigate through the ever-changing WordPress.com ecosystem. Find me at wpcommaven.com

12 thoughts on “The Future of the Block Editor

  1. Gutenberg was so clunky when it first came out, and I have had a couple of occasions recently where it has thrown a fit, but usually it is OK. These new changes should be fun to learn. Looking forward to the multi-block chooser and the even easier way to find where you are in the hierarchy.

    Have you use site builders? I have tried a few but only to mess with. Now I wonder where site builders will go? They are going to have to up their game to produce something that the block editor can’t do.

    1. Yeah, it’s won a few converts since then. ๐Ÿ™‚ The multi-block chooser is already here and has been for a while, but I’m still having issues with it in Firefox. The new List view is active here now as well, but I’m having some thoughts about my editor screen resizing each time I use it. :/

      As far as site builders, I’m working at expanding my “vocabulary” and hopefully will be able to add more to this discussion in the future, but I don’t think the Elementor, Divi or Beaver Builder devotees are looking to use something else. They invested time and effort in learning their tools.

  2. The thing is, I don’t see it as offering anything toward what I do, primarily because all that seems more geared toward playing with the formatting and I’m more interested in generating content.

    Of all the bloggers I follow, I can’t think of many that would make use of anything like that.

    And, of course, even the current block editor is a step backward as far as being able to create my posts, so I imagine any improvement to it is likely to do little besides make generating posts more complicated.

    And, yes, I realize I sound like a grouchy old man not embracing change . . . but all this reminds me a bit about what happened to magazines I used to read (Popular Science, Popular Mechanics, and others).

    Namely, they “modernized” the presentation of their content, making it harder to read and splitting up content with unnecessary stuff (also difficult to read). Eventually, I stopped reading them.

    1. Everyone, and I do mean everyone, is interested in posting content on their site and absolutely no one is forcing anyone to use all the bells and whistles available with the Block Editor. It’s just there for those that do want it. If you only want to post text and photos, then you can do so easily. That represents about 95% of my site content. Take a look at P2 Anew; text and images. Even my more “ambitious” posts, like “Behind the Wheel” is nothing more than texts and images.

      Again, I get the feeling that folks think the Editor is hard to work with, when the difficulty is really not the Editor. It has more to do with people’s mindset. I’m more than happy to try and help with that. ๐Ÿ™‚

    2. Sorry, I should have qualified the comment. I meant making the look of the content be visually engaging over substantive. The charitable interpretation would be that it offers the option to present something in the best light.Themes are a perfect example; lots of sites with snazzy themes, often making them difficult to navigate and read.

      Look, I’m not saying this won’t be useful to some content creators, but the average user (almost everyone I follow and read) are not going to use this, and they will have to learn how to navigate it. Perhaps we’re like the dinosaurs and need to go extinct. Maybe the Block Editor is our asteroid.

      And it’s not true that we don’t have to use it. For example, if that were true, we’d still have the Classic Editor.

      As for the block editor, I’ve been exclusively using it since the FireFox scrolling problem surfaced (which they have no intention of fixing). I can confidently say I put my time in to be proficient at what I do by exclusively using the block editor as it was meant to be used. And, here’s the thing . . . it’s still more difficult and temperamental to work with, and it’s still slower than the actual classic editor regardless of how I use it, even if I choose to use the Classic block in exclusion of all them other purty block (I gave that up a while back to force myself to be a “true” block user).

      The issue isn’t that there are extra options I don’t need/have to use; the issue is that it requires more keystrokes because of those extra options I don’t use/need. That isn’t a huge hurdle because I have some shortcuts and I use templates and seed posts, and have a method for composing that minimizes the other huge issue.

      Namely, it’s not stable. Uploading a photo has about a 20% chance of messing up to where it locks up and just sits there spinning. For the last two posts, for some reason, the caption decided to default to a white font (took me a bit to figure that out), and now the caption option is not showing up at all. I’m pretty sure that’s related to the number of photos I use in my posts because typically these types of problems start showing up after I’ve loaded a number of photos without issues. I’m still convinced a large number of blocks is the issue, although support assures me that’s not the case (but I never have problems when I do quick posts with six or seven photos).

      Granted, most people don’t post forty photos, but I do. Creating a gallery and then going back to edit it has an even higher percentage of failure, so much so that it’s always faster to delete the gallery and recreate it with the desired changes.

      And there are other things, like it would be a huge help if the blocks โ€” while composing a given post โ€” would remember the settings for the previous time the block was used; you know, like the one right above it. Perhaps there’s a way to make it do that, but if so, I’ve not found it. I can copy the block, but that’s also time-consuming and prone to causing issues. As I said, it’s not a robust/stable product. Maybe someday it will be, but probably not until they stop messing with it.

      Anyway, I’m complaining again, and that’s not useful to anyone, so I’ll stop.

      1. If your content is crap (not you personally!), it really won’t make any difference what Editor/Block you use. What’s that saying? “You can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear.”

        “And itโ€™s not true that we donโ€™t have to use it. For example, if that were true, weโ€™d still have the Classic Editor. ” Er, you do know it’s currently available via WP Admin, yes? If you didn’t read “Unified We Navigate”…

        Issues like you describe with uploading images and using Galleries, need reporting to Support. (I do recall seeing a mention of the white image caption issue, but danged if I can find it now in the forums.)

        Just a reminder, too, that all sites on WordPress.com (unless AFAIK you have a Business or eCommerce site with plugins and/or custom themes) are on shared hosting and are the unsung Beta testers for features being introduced in the next version of the standalone WordPress software. WordPress 5.8 is in the works. So while things are in flux, sh*t happens.

        “like it would be a huge help if the blocks โ€” while composing a given post โ€” would remember the settings for the previous time the block was used” Have you heard of Reusable blocks or tried copying an existing post or creating a draft post to copy?

        Complain/Kvetch away! That’s how you identify your pain points. ๐Ÿ™‚

      2. In order:

        Hence why I don’t follow many blogs, regardless of how glitzy or flashy. Probably why โ€” among other reasons โ€” not many people follow me.

        As for the classic editor, you might remember I did two extensive posts on how to find it and use it. I know exactly where it is and how to get to it.

        The problem is, it doesn’t work correctly, especially on FireFox, my browser of choice, and reporting issues gets me “we’re concentrating on improving the block editor and deprecating the classic editor, so tough noogies; you’re on your own!”

        None of the Classic Editor issues I reported (including providing screen capture videos to prove the existence of the issues because they couldn’t duplicate them) have been addressed and at least one support person was honest enough to tell me they likely won’t be. Hence why I moved to exclusively using the Block Editor.

        And yes, as explained in my tutorials about using blocks and mentioned above, I make extensive use of what I call “templates drafts”, basically formatted posts that I can just drop new content in. And, yes, I know about reusable blocks, but that means I need to start managing my own collection of blocks. It’s simpler (as I’m working) to duplicate blocks I create for that post.

        The problem is that they are not exact duplicates (not all the settings are carried through) and still need modifying, and it’s the modifying that seems to cause issues, so, again, it’s easier (safer) to create a block from scratch; easier (safer), but more time-consuming.

        Side note: only one support person took me up on the challenge to create something along the lines of my posts; meaning, the marriage of many paragraphs and many photos into a narrative post (not galleries, but single photos between text blocks) containing upward of 2,000 words and 60-100 photographs. I got her to admit it was a pain and the editor was not suited to it. This limitation is one reason I’m doing shorter posts, and because of it, I’m also not as motivated to do as much as I used to.

        Finally, two things: reporting issues is proving to be a waste of my time since support rarely is able to recreate the issues, and I then have to do screen captures and videos (yes, even for the block editor) only to be told something like “Huh! Will you look at that! We’ll certainly look into it … sometimes … maybe.”

        Beta testing is a time-honored tradition, but like drug trials, they should ask for volunteers, and not push unstable products onto users. And as far as my experience, I kind of resent paying the $99 yearly fee for the privilege of being a beta tester.

        But, I was serious; I’ll not mention it again other than maintain the disclaimer in each of my posts.

      3. Sorry to hear you’re having a bad experience with this. FWIW Firefox has been my browser of choice here for years, but recently it doesn’t seem to play well with the block editor. Don’t know what’s changed. But I do understand why TPTB would not be interested in wrangling any issues in the Classic Editor since it is not the primary means of posting any longer (at least as far as they’re concerned).

        Ducking that asteroid! ๐Ÿ˜‰

  3. Hi there, just a quick word to say thank you for everything, and wishing you all the best, but this (unfortunately for me) is goodbye.
    Be well, safe and happy ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. Oh L, you don’t need to pack up. As I’ve mentioned countless times you don’t have to use all the bells and whistles being offered. The Classic Editor is still around for now, if that is your preference, so you can continue writing and sharing your adventures. But if you do decide to go, please stay in touch. And you, too, stay well safe and happy.

      1. Sorry for still being a bit off. I’ve been shut out of my blog. Something technical, the support couldn’t sort out. It’s been a couple of weeks until it sunk in (after all almost 6.5 years IS a while) and now I’m just saying goodbye to those I appreciated ๐Ÿ™‚

      2. Thank you. ๐Ÿ™‚ I hope you’ll still get things sorted out and be reunited with your site.

Kvetch or kvell, it's all good, but be a mensch.

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