A Time to Change

A Time to Change

As the old saw goes, for everything there is a season. After helping out a friend with learning the current Squarespace editor, all I can say is that if the current state of Gutenberg is the best we can do after a year and a half, I have no desire to fuck with it. Squarespace has it’s own quirks, but if one of the templates is remotely close to how you want to set up your site (remember, graphics and colors are editable) you can whip something up and start on getting content in play, with a high degree of control over font and paragraph spacing and styles compared to what you still have (more to the point, don’t) in WordPress. Sure, you can’t get a custom download of the MLS displayed either, but if that’s what you need I’d recommend Drupal or a hand-built system anyway.

So it’s time to migrate. Again, I know I’ve got time. That’s why I’m doing it now instead of when something breaks. But I have no confidence that the issues I have with it are going to get fixed, because they took what was supposed to be a “fix the editor” project, and decided to turn it into a “fix wordpress” project. Take a look at this “about Gutenberg” from a year ago:

8. Some of the Bad with Gutenberg

No more composing in the browser.

  • Gutenberg’s UI is focused on content layout not content creation.
  • The days of sitting down and composing in the post window are gone (of course there is a question about how many people do this anyway).

The UI is a bit clunky.

  • It can take more clicks to do simple tasks. Updating a page now takes two clicks instead of one.
  • Nondescript icons are used without much clue to their function.
  • The three columns formed by the admin menu, Gutenberg editor and Gutenberg sidebar get crowded and can be confusing to scroll around on smaller displays (like the 12” Macbook I’m writing this on).
  • Metaboxes are hidden under extended settings underneath and beside the editor.

Per WordPress’s own updates page they consider all major issues resolved. Oh, and the plugin is averaging a rating of 2.5 or so.

So yes, some of the issues, like pasting in from the outside, shortcodes still being usable especially inline, and the blocks formatting themselves appropriately as a result (excepting blockquotes), are mostly fixed, some even a year ago, but the “UI is a bit clunky” doesn’t even begin to describe the pain of dealing with every single paragraph as a discrete block.

Incidentally, the above quoted list is exactly the kind of nested formatting in a quote that still cannot be currently done in Gutenberg after a year and a half. God forbid you pasted that into a paragraph which-became-a-set-of-blocks and then tried to make them one contiguous quote even without nested blocks like lists.

Over at this plugin/theme designer, they round up a number of comments, and give us this observation.

Concerning the first part, many feel that Gutenberg is making things more complicated. They say it introduces more steps for tasks that are already simple to do in TinyMCE* (emphasis mine)*. Critics also talk of an overloaded user interface, the lack of intuitiveness and making everything a block, including bulleted lists. Many prefer the current editor’s resemblance of other word processors, especially because it’s easy to teach to clients.

You don’t say? Note the previous article mentioning that they really want you editing outside of WordPress anyway. Granted, opinions seem to differ on that, and the UI now seems a bit more forgiving in practice. I’m fine with that, but why is managing all the blocks such a chore, and if you’re going back to your blogging roots, why is something as constantly used a blockquote still fundamentally broken?

In the case where I write outside of wordpress using Sublime or another excellent text editor, and  paste it in, why should I use WordPress to do it? Markdown is easy. And I’ve literally had “Joe User” request to go back to a text-only entry for content where they can put “h1” and “b” tags around what they want bold, italicized, or a header (we parsed for paragraphs), and just type their content out like they do email otherwise.

Finally, as someone who’s done layout and web design, I fundamentally get how difficult it is to have people stop using headers as “I want this line bold”, but I don’t need people pissed at me because keeping their sites up to date – needed to keep WordPress secure – breaks their website either.

So the site will be in and out for a few days, and posting will be light.

About Last Redoubt

Ex nuke mechanic, jack of all trades.