Just a few months ago, we reviewed WordPress’ upcoming editor - Gutenberg. Back then, the editor was plagued with a barrage of criticism from detractors who could not picture it being an improvement over WordPress’ native tools. However, Gutenberg is here to stay, and as an open-source WordPress plugin, it is currently being improved by a myriad of contributors.
The latest development on Gutenberg - from versions 2.0 up to 2.3 - is aimed at ensuring that it will be up to scratch when it lands on your WordPress blog. It should come as no surprise that in recent times, the plugin has seen a lot of improvement, even though it is still in beta. Gutenberg’s changelog is a never-ending list of technical changes, and in light of this, we delved into it to give you a peek at the most impressive new features. What are Gutenberg’s main novelties and how they will affect your workflow?
Block by Block
Gutenberg and blocks are WordPress’ new bread and butter. Inescapable and invaluable, blocks will soon be driving your WordPress blog. To this end, Gutenberg’s contributors have been hard at work refining their usability and capabilities.
One of the most exciting introductions to Gutenberg’s blocks is the ability to nest them within each other. Still experimental, the new feature only works with the column layout, but it heralds even more possibilities.
Another powerful feature that ships with Gutenberg is the ability to convert blocks to reusable components. In essence, these modules allow your pages and posts to share the same content, whatever its type. For instance, you can create a reusable image block that contains your logo, and re-insert it into your content wherever necessary.
As the number of such saved blocks increases, it can be difficult to discern between them. The latest versions of Gutenberg have focused extensively on user experience, and thus when inserting reusable components, the editor will now show you a preview of what they contain, saving you from unnecessary hassle.
The last addition of note in Gutenberg’s editor with respect to blocks concerns the increasingly convoluted block menu that can be accessed through the three-dot icon. A new option in this menu is the ability to duplicate a block without having to recreate it manually. If you still need to recreate content on WordPress, then good news awaits nonetheless.
Back when we discussed Gutenberg, we noted how copying content into blocks was insufferable and riddled with bugs. It was a problem noted by many of the WordPress plugin’s critics, but luckily, the developers behind Gutenberg have taken the criticism to heart.
The latest updates to Gutenberg have most notably delivered improvements when it comes to information retention in copy-pasting. This does not only apply to the content, but also its formatting and hyperlinks, for instance. Other blocks, including images have also been greatly enriched.
Cover images are increasingly common and popular due to their elegance and beauty. On Gutenberg, cover images can include titles, combining text and pictures in a single block. The recent versions have made it possible to align text within these kind of blocks, permitting you to fit them to your blog’s style.
The user experience surrounding images has also been boosted, with a more responsive feel to drag-and-dropping. The most important of these include visual cues about the locations of images. Another unmissable possibility is image captions, which can now be applied individually to images even within galleries.
If you prefer to get your hands dirty and go beyond Gutenberg’s capabilities, then the good news is two-fold. For starters, Gutenberg now supports iframes as embedded content or through HTML code. If you prefer the latter option or you occasionally dabble with HTML, you will be glad to learn that Gutenberg now supports syntax highlighting as well.
Bridging Gutenberg and Users
Many of the problems surrounding Gutenberg centered on one theme - user experience. A quick glance at Gutenberg’s latest versions shows the extent of the improvements to the WordPress plugin, with changes across the board.
Optimization for mobile performance is now well underway for Gutenberg, improving the user experience for those of you who have no objections to writing on the go. Another major introduction - this time from Gutenberg 2.0 - is a slew of accessibility updates, including improved compatibility with screen readers.
Naturally, blocks have not escaped the contributors’ attention, with Gutenberg offering an improved experience when it comes to block ordering. Most noticeable is the behavior of moving blocks around - a breath of fresh air from its previously-clunky nature.
Visually, Gutenberg has also seen somewhat of a small revolution. The information area and the table of contents have been overhauled, resulting in a cleaner, no-nonsense interface. Elsewhere, some buttons have also been redesigned, and the publishing step has been migrated into a sidebar.
One question remains - will these changes be enough to appease the critics when Gutenberg finally makes it to WordPress? Only time will tell. Until then, the improvements to Gutenberg do not seem to be slowing down and we are not complaining.