Is already June 2019, WordCamp Europe has come to an end, and I realized, I have been curating the Gutenberg News and Updates around the WordPress ecosystem now already for two years. WOW. “All good things take time” is a quote from my father who just turned 92 this week.
Mark Uriane, designer at Automattic and core contributor, and I will be co-hosting a weekly show, talking through the Gutenberg news of the week. We plan to record on Friday afternoons and publish over the weekend. The intro-episode came out this week, just in time (JIT) for WordCamp Europe. Due to travel and vacation we won’t be able to start with our weekly schedule until July 12th, 2019. If you have stories, ideas and suggestions, or questions send them via email to email@example.com.
I also started planning more Gutenberg Times Live Q & As via Zoom and YouTube. The next show will be about the AMP plugin bringing AMP Stories to Gutenberg and WordPress. Save the date: July 26th, at 2 pm EDT / 18:00 UTC for our show talking to AMP plugin team members Alberto Medina, Pascal Birchler and Cathi Bosco. Registration is already open.
This show will be sponsored by Pantheon. Their team has also been looking into making AMP part of their hosting and development stack and help WordPress agencies succeed in the fight of speed, security and providing and excellent user experience.
If you subscribe to the eNews on Saturdays you will among the first people to learn about more scheduled shows. You can watch previous shows on YouTube via this Live Q & A archive page.
On May 25, 2019, we shut down our Patreon page and sent a note to our faithful patrons in gratitude for the their ongoing support. On top of the publishing schedule for our eNews, blog posts and Live Q & A shows, I was not able to dedicate additional time to keeping the Patreon page up to date . Earlier this month the Gutenberg Times was accepted in Jetpack’s beta test for the recurring payments button. You can support us now right here.
It’s been two years since I took a first glimps at Gutenberg, the new block editor at WordCamp Europe 2017 during Matt Mullenweg’s talk. At this year’s WordCamp Europe, developers, designers and consultants will talk about the various aspects the block editor from block building and semantic content to the future of Gutenberg. I won’t make it to WordCamp Europe, so I will be watching as much as possible via the Live stream. Here is my schedule.
Scheduled Gutenberg talks and discussions at WordCamp Europe
Times are in local time in Berlin, find US EDT in parenthesis
Over the last 18 months, we have used and tested quite a few plugins providing Blocks beyond the default blocks of Gutenberg or add-ons to the workings of the block editor. Then I started making a list and it became a major undertaking! I was not able to test all plugins mentioned here. So use at your own risk.
This list of Block editor plugins is not complete, but we are aiming for it. This is a very fast moving target, and I appreciate your help:
If you built or found a plugin that should be on this list, fill out the form on this page and we will add it during our next round of updates. We are exploring building a richer interface for our #280Blocks database. For now this list is it.
Here are the Quick Links to the various plugins sections of this list.
There are multiple reasons why a plugin developer would opt for a block collection rather then single purpose block plugins. Two stand-out: One is to make a companion plugin to a Theme, the other is development speed and maintainability. Once a developer starts creating blocks, doing it within the same plugin saves time creating and maintaining the underlying architecture, and she only has to upload one new update. Having it all in one block also simplifies promotion and support.
For the site-owner it’s not that clear cut, though. You might want to use four blocks from one set, and just one from the other set, and the rest will populate the block inserter view.
The block editor has this nice feature to narrow down the creators choice with the last used or often used blocks to be displayed first, and the powerful slash command that helps with the selection of blocks. Some people might get distracted by the vast amount of choices, once you installed two or more block collections. Some of the plugins provide you with a enable/disable feature so you can switch off the blocks you don’t need, and there is are also two plugins available that do this on a site wide basis rather then just for a the blocks of a particular plugin.
Single Purpose Blocks do one thing and only one thing, and do it well. My favorite is the Guidepost by Nick Hamze and the 360 Image by Kevin Bazira. Another reason is to provide a integration path for 3rd party services, like embedding Gumroad digital products, or connect with Mailchimp.
The most intriguing idea for distributing Gutenberg blocks is Gutenberg Cloud, with a centralized place for blocks and the content creator can select just the blocks they need for a particular site. Gutenberg Cloud was created by Drupal Community members, and aims to o keep blocks CMS agnostic.
Block Suites provide you with a set of various blocks for your posts and pages. They are all bundled into a single plugin. You can have more than one collection installed. As always, make sure you test them for plugin conflict with existing plugins. For your post you can mix and mash blocks for different plugins. It’s actually quite cool.
30 Block Suites – Collections for your WordPress Site
Advanced Gutenberg Blocks
Editor Blocks for Gutenberg
This plugin was closed on May 9, 2019 and is no longer available for download.
As a member of the Global Community Team and part of the organizer Team of WordCamp US, I subscribe to the four freedoms of WordPress and only list plugins that are 100% compatible with the WordPress GPL license.
This first edition also only lists plugins available in the repository, as they are easily downloaded and added to your site. Developers also went through the effort to have their plugin reviewed by the guardians of the ecosystem, the Plugin Review Team.
Some plugins we mention in our Update posts are only available on GitHub are mostly shared with fellow developers to show use cases, explore various ways for a problem solutions, or as examples to shorted the start-up ramp for new developers. Some are so specific and geared towards one custom solution, that it won’t make sense to make them available for a larger groups of site owners, but can provide some additional models for other developers. As soon they make it into the plugins respository, we will list them here, too.
What to do when you run into trouble?
If you at anytime in exploring any plugin you run into trouble, please use the Health Check and Troubleshooting plugin to narrow down the cause and then use the Support Forums associated with the particular plugin to get support and report a bug to the developers. They will be more than happy to help you out and appreciate any feedback.
Creating a Team member block was the simple use case for my test. I made notes, screenshots and videos along the way. Last week, with the generous help from Sarah Gooding, the write-up was published on the WPTavern.
More Tools for Block Building in PHP
With the wider reach of the article, others chimed in and shared their discoveries and opinions as well. Here are two:
PHP vs. Twig, I’ve used Twig within ACF blocks, often in conjunction with the Timber plugin. The PHP file that is used to display the block just needs to gather the data for the Twig template and then render it. It adds a bit more complexity (and two files, a PHP and a Twig, per block) but as Twig is pretty easy for folx to mess with, it’s been a good solution for me.
In other words, there are a few features the block editor offers, that might not be available yet for your theme and your site, so it’s not pure binary, works or doesn’t work.
There are multiple levels of Gutenberg-readiness.
It goes from enabling Align-wide and Align-full styling for the various blocks (columns, images, cover, gallery), to include styling for each core block to providing custom color and font-size pickers for your customers content creators, so they stay within the brands boundaries.
In this article, I’ll talk about all these different ways your theme can interact with the block editor. We’ll talk about stylesheets, CSS specificity and layout. There are voices, and mine is among them, that building blocks are the domains of plugins. Themes provide the glue between features and front-end, and a site owner should be able to switch out their theme without losing content or composition. Of course, like everything else in life, the edges are blurry and the block editor is still in its infancy.
Wow! A lot has happened since the last round-up post. Where to begin? I just returned from WordCamp Atlanta and among other things, I listened to every Gutenberg related talk: Micah Wood, Rich Tabor and Victor Ramirez. They did a terrific job helping content creators, developers, publishers and consultants dive deeper into the most significant change in WordPress since Custom Post Types. The possibilities are endless.
There has been a lot more going in the last four weeks, and I hope you come back to this post multiple times to take it all in.
The Accessibility Report via WPCampus was published.
Building AMP Stories will be possible soon, check out the Alpha version of the AMP plugin
After Drupal, another CMS OctoberCMS is testing the waters in using Gutenberg as editor, and there is a Laravel plugin called Laraberg.
Two more version of Gutenberg plugin 5.5 and 5.6 came out.
These are only five of the 30+ other notable blog posts, plugins, themes and tutorials around the block editor listed. Enjoy! I am so glad you are here! — Yours, Birgit 💕
PS: Tell me what you enjoy or are missing, or what cool things you are working on. Or anything really. Leave a comment or write an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
“An inaccessible editing experience has real and significant consequences for many people in our community. The findings provided by Tenon are serious, and deserve to be considered with thought and care.” wrote Rachel Cherry on WPCampus.
The Gutenberg developers combined the 90 created issues into the Project: Accessiblity Audit. After a couple of days, 14 Issues were closed, not because they were resolved, but because they were either duplicates or reopened as Trac tickets for WordPress Core, mostly Media Library.
Thank you all for the Get Well wishes! Be well and enjoy the Spring! 💕 — Birgit
PS: This week WordPress 5.2 Beta 1 was released there is plenty to like about this next version. It comes with Gutenberg 5.3 and brings part of the Health Check plugins into Core. Make sure you help testing this first beta. The final release is scheduled for April 30, 2019.
The block plugins mentioned here the new additions to our Big Plugin List for the WordPress Block editor, categorized for Block collection, single purpose blocks, blocks for eCommerce, for 3rd party integration and tools for the block editor.
Howdy, howdy! And again, another three weeks came and went. I am back from Portland, OR and mostly recovered from the flu, that kept me in bed for three days. We have a lot of catching up to do! Let’s get to it!
The team released two more versions of Gutenberg 5.2 and 5.3. The latest version brings you the first version of a Block Manager and nested blocks for your Cover block, you can now use as your built-in Call-to-Action block with buttons and all. That and many more fixes and features you can read about out on the MakeBlogs for the design and core teams.
I also found some great more block plugins for different verticals and purposes. Don’t miss the recording of this week’s Freelancer panel on Live Q & A and sign up for our upcoming events in the first week of April! — Enjoy, Birgit 💕
For content creators, change in daily routine is fatal to productivity. This is especially true during the transition to Gutenberg since it still contains a few “gotchas” that may stymie people and interrupt workflow. I list a few here, along with some workarounds to assist users during active development. Gutenberg will be updated as soon as issues are resolved or refactored.
Now it’s one to the reason for this post: to alert content creators to the hidden features of Gutenberg that streamline writing workflow. As we all know, each time we learn a new software or tool we tend to judge it at our “beginners level”. We may even throw in the towel before we reach mastery. And that applies to the current editor.
This post assumes that you have already gotten your feet wet with Gutenberg and WordPress 5.0 If you haven’t I suggest that you read one of these excellent resources under the Beginner’s Guides to Gutenberg
There is also a whole team working on an official user manual for the Block editor. Until that’s published, it’s all a bit fragmented. If you are a technical writer and would like to lend a hand, join the #docs channel on the WordPress Slack
With Gutenberg 4.4 you can now edit the permaling in the document panel of the sidebar.
Once you save your draft, you can modify the permalink by clicking into the title section. There you will see the permalink editing space above the title. Developers and designers discuss on Github on how to improve this feature’s discoverability.
For users using an older version of Gutenberg on their sites (pre-4.4)
Please note that there is no permalink created for a new post until you have clicked Save draft at least once (Marius Jensen, Support Forum)
Slash Command to Trigger the Block Inserter
Probably the most useful tool hiding in Gutenberg is the Slash Command. It’s also my favorite. Using slash command invokes the Block Inserter including its search, so you don’t need to interrupt your writing flow to hunt for your mouse to add a quote or a list via the keyboard. Begin by starting a new line with Enter. Then hit the “/” key and start typing the name of the block. “/l” gives you the list as a choice. Selecting it and typing your first list item is really cool. Or you could just use one of the keyboard shortcuts below
But “/” + i gives you an image block, “/”
The introduced keyboard shortcuts also allow for the following combination
⌥⌘TInsert a new block before the selected block(s).
⌥⌘Y Insert a new block after the selected block(s).
Customize Your Workspace
Since version 3.8 there are three features to customize your writing workspace. The Unified Toolbar, the Spotlight mode and the Fullscreen mode. You can use all three together or each one alone. Some people are a bit taken aback by everything’s being block, especially each paragraph. “Spotlight mode” helps with that.
Top Toolbar (former Unified Toolbar)
And it can seem awkward for each paragraph block to have its own formatting toolbar that pops up on hover and covers text above. The Gutenberg team implemented a solution for this called Top Toolbar – which was just renamed from ‘Unified Toolbar.’
Switch it on in the Editor Settings menu, and reach it via the ellipsis menu (3 dots) in the top right corner. The Block Options menu is also available from the toolbar on top of the screen.
This process is refined by a “Spotlight Mode”. The editor grays out the canvas except for the block you are editing. It also delays the visual clues about separate blocks while in writing mode in the editor, making it less distracting.But that has the down-side of making the features for individual blocks even harder to discover. But you can easily switch it off again by returning to feature mode.
Full Screen Mode
With 3.8, Gutenberg now also has a full screen mode You can switch it on and pretty much remove the top admin toolbar as well as the left admin menu. Once you remove the editor sidebar, all that stays on your screen is the Top Unified Tool bar and your content.
Full Screen Mode, Spotlight Mode and Unified Toolbar.
Disable Publishing two-step
I personally like the Publishing two-step process. As soon as I hit the publishing button, the post will automatically shared on various social networks (via JetPack or other RSS to Social integration.
The Publish Two-Step has saved me more times that I care to admit.
On the 2nd publishing step you will also find JetPack’s Publicize area to modify the post to the social networks connected. It’s actually on the second step so you might not want to remove it if you are using it.
You are able to switch that off using one of the two methods.
One way is under the “Editor Settings menu”, you open via the 3 dots in the top right corners.
Or you can also disable it the first time you see it happening in “Are you ready to publish?” Screen. On the bottom of the screen uncheck “Always show pre-publish checks”. And it won’t bother you again.
New line as command line
Gutenberg developers also introduced a new concept: new line as your command line.
By hitting enter in a paragraph, you can write another line or execute a few shortcut commands:
`/` slash command to insert a block
`>` to start a quote directly,
`##` to start a heading, (in a post’s body you start heading hierarchy i with <h2>)
`1.` to start an ordered list (also ‘1)’ )
`-` to start a list.
Using backticks ` at the beginning or the end` of a string adds code formatting to your string. (the same key as the ~ key)
I also learned a few more very helpful shortcuts,
⇧⌥⌘M Switch between Visual Editor and Code Editor.
⌘K Convert the selected text into a link.
^⌥S Remove a link.
Since the focus is now on block based editing, I was surprised to notice that there is no keyboard shortcut to switch to HTML editing on the block level. And that is where I do most of my HTML tweaks. Turns one I am not alone. I filed a GitHub issue and it seems to be on the docket to be added.
More Keyboard Shortcuts can be accessed, via at the Editor Settings Menu
I apologize that the shortcuts are all in MAC notation. If you open the Gutenberg editor on your machine, you’ll be able to look up the shortcut combinations your specific operating system.
Copy/Paste from Anywhere
Matt Mullenweg’s favorite hidden feature is the parser built into Gutenberg that allows for copy/paste of content from various tools, like Evernote, Google Docs, Microsoft Word, etc. Here is a little matrix on what works across the various platforms:
Reusable Blocks offer a whole new level of content development. With Gutenberg version 3.9, you can now save a combination of blocks as one reusable block, which you can also export and import on other sites. Why is this a big deal?
For instance you can build landing pages with certain disclaimers, calls to action and campaigns. You can make the wording, the combination between heading, image or cover image and CTA button available to your users, for their use on their own posts and pages.
The new Gutenberg release also provides ways to manage your reusable blocks: You can delete them, export reusable blocks, and even import Gutenberg blocks from other sources.
There is a power feature for the Donate Now button: If its link changes, you need to change it on just one page, and that updates all other instances on your site.
In other words, reusable blocks are not templates. They are “content + design” blocks. And, if you need to change things in one spot, but don’t want to change other instances, you simply convert it to a standalone block before making the changes. Just use the “Convert to Standalone Block” link in the Block Options menu.
How to align an Image?
We often add an image to break up dense text in a long paragraph, and it must be aligned so the text wraps either left or right of the image.
This may be the biggest transition hurdle for new Gutenberg users. I never found it easy in the old editor, and it’s still a bit quirky in the new editor.
But I am content to switch out one bad UI with the another bad UI. Coming from the early days of HTML coding, I know about the hazard of image floating n web design. So I don’t have high expectations and am happy that it works at all. Resizing the image is easier but the default experience is still not great.
The biggest change is that just putting the cursor on the top of the paragraph where you want the image to align doesn’t work. You need to add the image block above the paragraph that will be aligned with the image.
Follow these steps to align an image:
Use the “Inserter” above the pharagraph.
From the “Inserter” select “image block”.
Upload or select an item from the media library.
Use the left or right align button from the block toolbar.
Use the blue dot handles to resize the image.
Or you can drag and drop an image – again – above the paragraph, and align and resize it to fit.
How Gutenberg makes it much easier is that it’s truly WYSIWYG! You don’t have to switch from editing to preview to see if your image aligns well. You see it right in your editor.
There is a whole series of two blog post about this on WPTavern to solve one thing. A clearly Jeff Chandler didn’t have this secret manual:-)
WooCommerce is still working with the current editor. The post type “product’ is not yet ready for Gutenberg. Earlier this year, there was a test period, and since 3.4 it was reverted back to the classic editor. “Since WooCommerce is not optimised for the Gutenberg editor we’ve decided to keep the old editor for now so sites do not break when WordPress 5.0 is released. Products are not content focussed, so using Gutenberg with our meta box placed awkwardly at the bottom is not ideal.” Source: GitHub Issue #20201
WooCommerce’s plugin has four different product views, is a rudimentary Product view. Later in the year WooCommerce devs will refactor products using the Gutenberg framework and tools, they announced…
PootlePress released their premium plugin Storefront Blocks. The various views in grids, sliders, masonry or carousels are very slick and impressive. Take a look for yourself.
Formatting Multiple Text Blocks
Highlighting a few paragraphs and making them bold or in italics doesn’t work yet, unless you use the Classic Editor block. It’s one block at a time. Note: There is a GitHub issue where the foundation of multiple block behavior is discussed. It is a prerequisite to something as simple as formatting a paragraph and a list in italics. Here is the feature discussion, if you want to chime in
Posts are now locked for other users
If you are working in a team of editors, you are familiar with the post lock feature in the current editor. If one of your peers is right now editing a post, you are not able to access it for editing; you have options for read only or to take over the post.
“Title” is not a block
It looks like a block, behaves like a block, but it’s not a block. The post title holds a lot of weight, especially in backwards compatibility, plus in other places of WordPress for category pages, for the RSS feed, and many little things. Gutenberg is not modifying how the post title works.
White space around the editor
The editor is “opinionated” regarding the space it occupies. Depending on the size of the screen, you might find “too much” white space on the side of your content.
The opinion from the design is that there is an optimal width for reading on screen, and if the display space is larger it is much harder to keep track of the lines. It adheres to a max-width.
A few people mentioned this in the forums, and the team is giving it another review. (1483)
If you feel the same way when you look at your editing screen, you could use the plugin (???) To fix it for yourself.
Keep in mind though, that usability studies have shown that a content window is between 480 and 600 pixels. For easier reading it’s actually half the size. That’s BTW is helpful to have a graphic to the right for the first section of your blog post. That’s one aspect. The other is that with Gutenberg you are aiming at a 100% WYSIWYG. So what you see in the editor should be the same thing that is visible to your visitors on the front end. If you make the editor screen too wide, a few things will wrap differently for your visitors. Quite a few writers found this tip helpful.
Grammarly doesn’t work well
“Grammarly considers block a separate text box, meaning if you create a 25-paragraph post, you have 25 separate text boxes Grammarly is trying to check. This forced me to disable Grammarly on my site.” Jonathan Bailey in “WordPress’ Gutenberg: A Practical Review”
Marius Jensen has published a few issues that he and his team of volunteer forum helpers identified. Quite a few of them have to do with another fairly new module that made it into Core recently, the REST-API. Gutenberg development is based heavily on the REST-API so during developing Gutenberg, the collaboration with the REST-API made it better as well. At the foundation of this, it’s a programming issue, but it will bubble up to become quirks a content creator will need to be aware of:
Categories and tags are not showing up
Some security related plugins may have disabled all, or parts of, the REST API. This is used by Gutenberg to fetch all the data used to display content in the editor, so if you are missing fields, check if you have a security plugin enabled. If so, see if it has an option for the REST API.
Updating Failed Message
If you are receiving a Updating Failed message when trying to save a post or page, check if you are using the services provided by CloudFlare. We are currently working with them to address a problem which blocks the Gutenberg save function. A workaround is available while we find a solution to this.
It’s been reported that some antivirus software may also block REST API requests. So if your antivirus software offers an application firewall, this may prevent you from saving posts. We are looking into this.
Blank Editing Screen
Some users may experience a blank editing screen. If this happens, a first step to testing should be to just hit refresh in your browser. It may be a “race-condition” that we’ve identified and are working on fixing.
Howdy! It’s been about three weeks since the last Update post. I have been handicapped a bit. First, by a self-inflicted deep cut into my left thumb with a construction tool, #StitchesRUs. Then a needed vacation with dear friends, which ended in an clumsy sidewalk tumble. I am still working mostly from my couch with an elevated left leg, laptop on a pillow. It’s healing slowly and I hope, I’ll be in good shape when I head out to Portland, OR next week. Our eNews subscribers received their recommended reading fix with our weekend edition.You, too, can subscribe here. In the meantime, WordPress 5.1 was released. (Field Guide) as well as Gutenberg 5.1.
Speaking of Navigation Menu block, Susan Semark from the Research team has been busy and posted a first proposal, an Accessibility Video walk-through and is planning a usability study.
I collected quite a few more links for you, content creators, designers, developers and consultants.
Learn about the mechanics on how to contribute to the Gutenberg development.
Few more blocks for publishing and eCommers, discussions on a future Core Block Manager, reviews of existing Block Collections. Also, find tips and tricks for building blocks as well as for creating themes for the block editor or making them Gutenberg ready.
Thanks for visiting and enjoy the collection. — Birgit 💕
🎥 💬 Don’t miss the Live Q & A this week Friday with Josepha Haden, Daniel Bachhuber and Jon Desrosiers. We’ll be talking about leadership in the times of change. 📢 📅