Monthly Archives: August 2018

Yoast SEO 8.0 Introduces Gutenberg Sidebar Integration, Revamps Classic Editor Meta Box

Yoast SEO 8.0, featuring the plugin’s first pass at integrating with the Gutenberg interface. This major update also revamps the classic editor’s meta box for those who do not have the Gutenberg plugin installed.

In the past, the Yoast SEO meta box was displayed below the post editor. In the Gutenberg UI, the meta box has been redesigned to fit in the sidebar. Those testing Gutenberg will also temporarily find an additional meta box below the post, as the Yoast team has not yet added all optimizations to both yet. In the future, users will have the option to choose between the two.

The updated design displays individual optimizations in collapsible panels with colored smiley face indicators for feedback at a glance. The snippet preview and social previews feature can still be found in the meta box below the post editor. They will be integrated more tightly into the Gutenberg UI in a future round of updates.

image credit: Yoast SEO

Yoast SEO 8.0 also brings some of the meta box UI improvements to the one displayed in the classic editor. It organizes all of the Yoast SEO tools into collapsible panels for a look that is cleaner than the tabs found in the previous UI.

Version 8.0 is the first step towards Gutenberg integration. The Yoast SEO team is working on using modals to display previews for snippets and social posts from the sidebar so the interface isn’t split across two meta boxes. Users will eventually have the option to toggle either meta box display option into view, including those who are using the classic editor. The team is also working on allowing users to create blocks with the correct structured data automatically attached for things like books, recipes, products, and other specific content types.

WordPress.org has a handful of popular SEO plugins and Yoast SEO is currently leading the pack when it comes to integration with the Gutenberg UI. In a recent support thread, All in One SEO Pack creator Michael Torbert said his plugin is “compatible with Gutenberg and will be getting new features to work with it in time.” Torbert doesn’t have full Gutenberg integration assigned to a milestone on GitHub yet.

The SEO Framework, another SEO plugin growing in popularity, appears to be in the same boat if GitHub activity is any indication. The plugin’s author, Sybre Waaijer, has discussed the possibility of inserting the meta box into the Gutenberg sidebar, similar to the Yoast implementation.

Source: WP Tavern

Syed Balkhi Launches A WordPress-focused Growth Accelerator Fund

Syed Balkhi, founder of WPBeginner, has announced a growth accelerator fund aimed at helping companies focused on WordPress prosper.

The fund will provide between $100K-500K to a small group of selected companies. In addition to the funding, selected companies will be able to take advantage of Awesome Motive’s media presence, network of business associates, and receive guidance.

“The problem is that the WordPress market is not very well understood by investors,” Balkhi said. “And frankly, the majority of WordPress businesses are not large enough to meet their criteria.

“But this doesn’t mean that WordPress businesses don’t have the potential. It’s quite the opposite – they have a lot of potential. There are tons of opportunities to grow in the WordPress ecosystem with the right playbook, and I want to help prove that.”

Founders will be given a lot of advice although they won’t be required to act upon it. Backers of the growth fund will also maintain a hands-off approach, interfering as little as possible with day-to-day operations.

Five companies will be hand-selected to receive funding. To be eligible for investments, WordPress-focused companies must be at least six months old. To apply, founders need to fill out the following form.

The WPBeginner growth accelerator fund could be the jump start that gives a handful of companies the opportunity to take things to the next level.

Source: WP Tavern

Sami Keijonen’s Foxland Themes and Plugins are Now Available for Free

WordPress theme designer and developer Sami Keijonen has made all of his theme and plugin products at Foxland available for free. Keijonen’s WordPress.org-hosted themes are active on more than 10,000 websites.

During the past three years he began taking on more client work, which gave him less time for theme building and maintenance. Last month he accepted a front-end engineer position at 10up that is keeping him busy.

Fans might remember Keijonen’s Mina Olen Free WordPress Theme Experiment when he made the theme available for free on GitHub to see if potential customers would be inspired to purchase after being able to test drive the theme on their own sites. At that time he said he struggled to support his theme shop, because the business aspect of it wasn’t one of his strengths.

It’s easy to get lost in all the competition in the WordPress theme industry, especially when major players have more money to drop on advertising and support staff. The days of building a beautiful theme and selling it without any kind of marketing are long gone. Prospective theme developers have to be ready to embrace the challenges of competing in a much wider market in 2018.

“Foxland isn’t a gold mine,” Keijonen said in his announcement. “Foxland brings about 3,000 to 4,000 Euros per year, which is OK but my goal was 10,000 euros.”

Customers appreciated Keijonen’s attention to detail, accessibility, and performance. Respected WordPress theme author Tung Do said Keijonen’s themes are “great examples of best practices.” Many of them also include support for popular plugins.

For example, Checathlon, one of his best works, is active on foxland.fi. It offers built-in styles for Easy Digital Downloads (including product and account pages), Custom Content Portfolio, and Jetpack (testimonials, portfolio, and email subscription widget).

The Foxland collection includes several beautiful minimalist free themes with previously-pro versions that enable additional Customizer settings, page templates, and widgets. All of Keijonen’s custom plugins (created to accompany the themes) are also available for free.

The Foxland shop has cancelled all the recurring subscriptions but will continue to support existing purchases up to a year from the purchase date. Keijonen said he will maintain most of the old themes and plugins with small updates coming in the future but plans to deprecate some as well.

The landscape of WordPress theming is about to change quite a bit when Gutenberg is merged into core. Keijonen said he plans to embrace these changes by creating new free themes with Gutenberg support, built on more modern code.

Source: WP Tavern

New BackYourStack Tool Drives Financial Support for Open Source Projects

Open Collective launched in 2017 as a new organization that helps groups raise funds and manage them transparently. The service is now widely used by many open source projects. Webpack, one of the first major Open Collective success stories, was able to fund its first full-time developer through the service and is now operating on an estimated annual budget of $331,471. The San Francisco WordPress meetup (WPSFO) is one example of a WordPress group that successfully uses the service to receive sponsorships that help cover expenses for events.

Open Collective has launched a new tool called BackYourStack that helps people and organizations become aware of projects they use that need funding. The tool scans GitHub accounts (for individuals and organizations) and identifies projects that have already set up accounts on Open Collective. The tool shows all detected dependencies and the repositories where they are used.

Here are a few sample results you get from scanning the WordPress GitHub account:

The results display where project is used, the number of full-time maintainers, progress to reach the next goal, and a few organizations that are already backing the project. Open Collective also allows backers to support multiple dependences in bulk via a lump sum as an alternative to backing each project individually.

Not every open source project listed on Open Collective will have the need to fund salaries and events, but even a small yearly budget can reduce out-of-pocket costs for open source maintainers for things like hosting and promotional costs. Many widely used open source projects go without funding because users are not aware of their needs. BackYourStack helps people and organizations make a direct connection to the projects they depend on.

Source: WP Tavern

Gutenberg 3.5.0 Released

Gutenberg 3.5.0 is available for download and polishes existing features. This release adds an edit button to embed blocks that allows users to edit the source URL.

Edit URL Button on Embed Blocks

The contrast has been increased for input fields and check boxes have visually more distinct states as the following video shows.

More Distinct States for Check boxes

One notable change is the addition of a warning that displays if Cloudflare blocks REST API requests. This issue was reported last September and it turns out that the PUT request is sometimes blocked by Cloudflare.

Gary Pendergast reached out to Cloudflare and the company deployed a fix earlier this week.

To see a full list of changes in this release, check out the changelog.

Source: WP Tavern

Ephox, Creators of TinyMCE, Rebrand to Tiny Technologies Inc.

Ephox, the creators of the TinyMCE editor library that’s been used by WordPress for more than 10 years, has changed its company name to Tiny Technologies Incorporated.

The new name provides an at-a-glance view of what the company does and establishes a tighter relationship with its flagship product.

To make it easier for you to understand who we are and what we are working on, we have decided to put all of our efforts behind the Tiny brand. Renaming our company to Tiny Technologies Inc. demonstrates the efforts we are making to have TinyMCE the best choice for online rich text editing.

Andrew Roberts, CEO and Co-founder of Tiny

In addition to the name change, the company has migrated its web presence to a new domain, tiny.cloud. The Cloud top-level domain is managed by Aruba PEC SpA, a wholly owned subsidiary of Aruba S.p.A., one of the largest webhosting providers in Europe.

According to Andrew Roberts, CEO and Co-founder of Tiny, existing customers and vendors of Ephox Corporation don’t need to do anything different since the company is registered to do business under both names.

Roberts also shared insight into the work being done on Textbox.io, the company’s mobile-first text editor. “We continue to support and release updates to our mobile-first online rich text editor, Textbox.io,” he said. “By the end of 2019, we do see both TinyMCE and Textbox.io coming together but for now, they are independent projects.”

TinyMCE is an open source project that is licensed under LGPL 2.1.

Source: WP Tavern

Yoast SEO Team is Testing Gutenberg Integration Coming in Version 8.0 Next Week

Joost de Valk tweeted a sneak peek of the Gutenberg integration the Yoast SEO team is currently testing. The plugin has more than 5 million active installations and is one that packs a lot into its wide meta box. Users have been curious about what compatibility with the new editor will look like for Yoast SEO. de Valk tweeted a preview of the plugin working inside the Gutenberg UI:

For the past several months the team has been making progress on the plugin’s Gutenberg integration roadmap. Yoast SEO 8.0 is coming next week with the first round of compatibility in place.

“8.0 is coming on Tuesday with most of it, some bits are relying on the integration of an annotations API in Gutenberg, which is not entirely under our control,” de Valk said. “We need that to do markings like we do in the classic editor to highlight where your errors are. Feature complete is quite a while off – we want to do a LOT. Gutenberg is opening a whole new playing field for us in terms of more in context, actionable feedback.”

Future versions of Yoast SEO will offer more features inline, instead of housing them in a single meta box.

“We started by breaking down all our features, and seeing where we could integrate them into Gutenberg,” de Valk said in a post outlining Yoast SEO’s planned approach back in October 2017. “We don’t think holding on to a single, massive box below the editor will best serve our customers. We’d much rather integrate right where the action happens, and Gutenberg offers us that chance.”

For example, readability analysis can be shown on a per-block basis to provide more fine-grained feedback:

image credit: Yoast SEO

“You’ll get actionable feedback in context,” de Valk said. “You don’t have to scroll down to a meta box to see the advice and scroll up again to the place where you should implement it. If we give feedback per block, you will get a better understanding of all the factors that influence SEO.”

The Yoast SEO team has been enthusiastic about what the Gutenberg era will bring to WordPress. In a recent Twitter thread, de Valk summarized his thoughts on the project and described the direction the Yoast SEO plugin is headed:

[I’ve] been thinking about Gutenberg more lately, as discussion about it is growing now that it’s near to WordPress core inclusion. What is most important in what we’re doing is something I think most people don’t see yet: The new ‘blocks’ that Gutenberg introduces allow us to, much more easily, make content items instead of web pages the smallest particle of the web.

Questions and answers, how to’s, recipes, suddenly all of them can much more easily have metadata, and be reused. This is particularly important to SEOs: the search engines, driven by voice search requirements, are searching for answers, more than for ‘just’ URLs to send traffic to, and blocks allow us to give them those answers, in a format both they and users can understand. While doing this, it allows us to keep the separation of content and design, something we definitely need to think more about.

With Gutenberg compatibility on its way from widely-used plugins like ACF and Yoast SEO, users can have confidence more plugins they depend on will follow suit. These major players are the first cracks in the ice across the ecosystem that will soon make Gutenberg-support the standard for any product that wants to compete.

de Valk encouraged users to look at the advent of Gutenberg as a door to new opportunities during this transition time.

“Gutenberg is not ‘done,’” de Valk said. “I think it’s ready to ship, but I also think it opens up a world of new opportunities and discussions. It’s not all ‘right’ yet either, so there will have to be changes as more people use it and get used to it. I do realize this is a drastic change in some ways. But it’s also not half as bad as people think it is. I have seen people use it for the first time, most people get used to it very quickly. Last but not least: you don’t have to switch now. The classic editor plugin exists for a reason. You can put off your switch for a year, or even two. But eventually I think everyone will see the power of the new editor and will switch.”

Source: WP Tavern

Advanced Custom Fields to Add Gutenberg Compatibility in Version 5.0, Slated for September

The Advanced Custom Fields (ACF) team published an announcement today, assuring users that Gutenberg compatibility is in the works and will be available in version 5.0 of the free version in September 2018. The plugin, created by Elliot Condon, makes it easy for developers to add custom fields to WordPress edit screens, including posts, users, taxonomy terms, and media.

ACF is widely used with more than a million active installations. Developers have been concerned about whether or not their custom fields would continue to work on their clients’ websites after the new editor makes its debut in WordPress 5.0.

Gutenberg treats legacy metaboxes as second class citizens in the interface, stuffed at the bottom of the new edit screen. Metaboxes should, however, continue to work as expected. The ACF announcement lets developers know what to expect for how their metaboxes will appear inside Gutenberg:

By default, our beloved metaboxes are pushed all the way to the bottom of the screen in an awkward attempt to retain compatibility. This placement feels very much like an afterthought from the Gutenberg developers and creates a disjointed editing experience for those of us (1+ million awesome ACF users) who extend the edit screens with extra fields.

While this setup isn’t ideal, we will continue to work within the system to ensure that ACF is integrated into the Gutenberg UI to the fullest extent possible.

The free version of ACF will introduce Gutenberg compatibility in its version 5 release, which is slated for early September 2018. The compatibility update will only apply to version 5 and later, so the ACF team urges developers to running 4.x to upgrade to 5 as soon as it becomes available. Developers can also elect to upgrade early by turning on ACF’s Early Access feature.

The most surprising news is that ACF is introducing its own “ACF Blocks,” an acf_register_block() function that allows developers to register their own custom blocks without having to learn JavaScript.

One of the big selling points of Gutenberg is the ability for developers to create custom blocks. The challenge is that the process is very JavaScript-intensive and not so friendly to PHP developers. But never fear, because ACF Blocks is here to turn that narrative upside down!

We have been hard at work building a PHP friendly game-changer for you to quickly create new block types using ACF fields to power PHP templates!

ACF Blocks may be an unexpected development for those using the plugin, as the ACF team’s recent tweets have frequently communicated their disappointment with Gutenberg.

The availability of the ACF Blocks function is a strategic move that continues to make ACF indispensable for users who may not have made the time to improve their technical skills with regards to extending Gutenberg.

“Using ACF to make custom blocks was something I thought could happen, but not necessarily would happen,” WordPress developer Roy Sivan said. “They proved me wrong, and its a big deal.”

The news should come as a relief for developers who have used ACF liberally on client sites and feel under the gun with Gutenberg’s proposed time frame for inclusion in core. The ACF team is working to make sure developers’ customizations continue to work as seamlessly as possible when WordPress 5.0 is released.

Source: WP Tavern

WPWeekly Episode 326 – Long Live the Fields API Project

In this episode, John James Jacoby and I are joined by Scott Kingsley Clark, lead developer of the Pods framework. Clark describes what it was like to lead the Fields API project, the difficulties of working hard on a project and not getting core buy-in, and why building the Fields API into core first would have made the transition to Gutenberg easier for users and developers.

He looks back and describes what he possibly could have done differently and provides an update on Pods Framework’s compatibility with Gutenberg. To wrap up the show, Clark played us a song on his electric ukulele. To hear more tunes from Clark, check out his channel on Spotify.

Stories Discussed:

WordPress Core Fields API Project is Seeking New Leadership

WPWeekly Meta:

Next Episode: Wednesday, August 15th 3:00 P.M. Eastern

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Listen To Episode #326:

Source: WP Tavern

Watch the Top 10 Sessions from WordCamp Europe 2018

photo credit: Val Vesa

The results of the WCEU 2018 Attendee Survey are in: 98% of the 566 respondents from 49 countries said they would recommend WCEU to a friend and 90% are very likely to attend the next event in Berlin. Of those who participated in the survey, 49% were attending WCEU for the first time and 37% of them were attending their first WordCamp. Overall, attendees reported overwhelmingly positive experiences, which is a big affirmation of the organizing team that continues to lift the bar higher for WordCamps around the world.

If you missed out on the WordCamp, the good news is that you can catch all of the sessions on WordPress.tv. The top 10 sessions have been curated by attendees who responded to the survey. These sessions cover some of the most important topics for WordPress professionals in 2018 and beyond:

  1. Keynote and Q&A – Matt Mullenweg
  2. Technical SEO to grow your WordPress business – Joost de Valk
  3. The Ethics of Web Design – Morten Rand-Hendriksen
  4. Beyond Gutenberg – Matías Ventura
  5. Progressive WordPress Themes – Alberto Medina, Thierry Muller
  6. WordPress in 2019 – Noel Tock
  7. Accessible Design – Maja Benke
  8. JavaScript APIs in WordPress – Adam Silverstein
  9. WordPress and Inclusive Design – John Maeda
  10. Anatomy of a block: Gutenberg design patterns – Tammie Lister

Attendees were also big fans of the workshops introduced at this event. 78% of respondents said they would like to see them again next year. A couple of the workshop recordings have yet to make it to WordPress.tv but may be available at a later time. The three most popular workshops attendees identified were all related to Gutenberg:

  • (Gutenberg) Block Development with React – Zac Gordon, Julien Melissas
  • Let’s Build a Gutenberg Block – Lara Schenck
  • Roundtable with the Gutenberg team – The Gutenberg Team

WordCamp Europe 2019 organizers are working on providing a more efficient registration process for workshops, as well as a greater capacity for attendees.

Source: WP Tavern

First Look at Live Demo of the Gutenberg Content Editor for Drupal 8

Drupal Europe has just announced its program for the upcoming event in Darmstadt, Germany, September 10-14. The conference will host more than 1,600 Drupal professionals and enthusiasts for 162 hours of sessions and 9 in-depth workshops.

Automattic is sponsoring the Open Web Lounge networking space and Matt Mullenweg will be joining Dries Buytaert and Barb Palser on a panel discussing the future of the open web and open source.

One interesting WordPress-related session on the program is titled Introducing the Gutenberg content editor for Drupal 8. This new module ports WordPress’ Gutenberg editor over to Drupal. It was created by Per André Rønsen and his team Frontkom, a digital services agency based in Norway.

The Drupal Gutenberg project aims to provide a new publishing experience based on WordPress’ Gutenberg editor. The live demo on the site currently provides a frontend interactive implementation of Gutenberg inside Drupal, similar to WordPress’ “Frontenberg” demo on wordpress.org/gutenberg. The latest implementation of the module will appear there but Rønsen said it is currently being revamped, as lots of things have happened with Gutenberg in the past few weeks.

How the Drupal Gutenberg Project was Born

Rønsen told us he first saw Gutenberg in 2017 and was inspired to use it for one of Frontkom’s media clients.

“The thought of forking it came mid-2017, as we explored using Gutenberg as a lib for making a front page builder sponsored by the Google Digital News Initiative,” Rønsen said. “We ended up using it, and the Drupal module is a natural spin off.”

Frontkom tailored the Gutenberg-based page builder for the media industry. It adds extra functionality to Gutenberg that allows users to position and tweak articles for the front page of an online newspaper. Rønsen said the project went well and his team plans to open source it but it’s too early to share anything right now.

Following this successful experience using Gutenberg for a client, Frontkom began work on the Drupal Gutenberg project in early January 2018.

“The main part of the work was to make Gutenberg more CMS agnostic,” Rønsen said. “First we forked it and maintained a fork. Later we started using Gutenberg as a dependency, testing a more maintainable approach.”

Rønsen opened a ticket on GitHub, requesting that the Gutenberg team consider structuring the project to be more CMS-agnostic. The ticket was closed fairly soon with the explanation that it “doesn’t relate directly to the work going on with the project and its goals.”

“We have very little, if any, upstream commits so far, as the WP core interest has been to just cater to WP needs so far,” Rønsen said. “But that just changed.”

Gutenberg is moving towards making it easier to use outside of WordPress. The team is working on publishing all the React modules as npm packages. Rønsen said he anticipates that decreasing the number of globals needed to make Gutenberg work will be a huge help for other CMSs.

So far the Drupal Gutenberg project has not been shared widely but Rønsen said his team has seen a lot of interest from the Drupal tech community.

“We have a blog post coming in English with more detail; we kind of saved it for after holidays,” Rønsen said. “But then it blew up, and devs keep contacting us wanting to help out.”

Frontkom has been involved in the Drupal community for more than 10 years and WordPress for the past three years. Rønsen and his team believe that Gutenberg fills a gap in the Drupal space.

“Drupal doesn’t have all those fancy WordPress page builders,” he said. “So that is really more interesting than just a new post edit UI – we want a unified way to build complex layouts.”

Drupal already has an initiative for revamping its admin UI using React, and Rønsen said he thinks Gutenberg might contribute to how this can happen in Drupal core. In an ideal world, many open source projects could greatly benefit from a CMS-agnostic Gutenberg, with all of them contributing together towards its improvement.

“To us as a company, it is extremely interesting to build out front-ends that can easily be moved between CMSs,” Rønsen said. “For open source CMSs in general, I think there will be a lot to learn from the implementation process. For example, D8 has the concept of ‘everything is a block.’ This has made it easy for us to make Drupal core blocks available in Gutenberg – we just need to do some magic to expose block settings.”

The Frontkom team are not only enthusiastic fans of Gutenberg’s interface, but also appreciate the way the project is run. Rønsen hasn’t been following the community reaction to the latest round of Gutenberg testing but said he thinks WordPress users will love it long term, since “most of the page builders out there have issues.”

“Drupal can learn a lot from WordPress, the way they actually built the Gutenberg project – a transparent design process, lots of collaboration, and still highly efficient,” Rønsen said. “So, WordPress is definitely ahead of Drupal with regards to their admin UI/JS work. Since there is already a lot of interest in the Drupal community to do something similar, it is very refreshing to see someone go through it and succeed (hopefully).”

Steve Persch, lead developer advocate at Pantheon, spoke at DrupalCon in Nashville 2018 about what’s possible with WordPress 5.0 and also gave a session at Twin Cities Drupal Camp titled “Everything is a Block: How WordPress Rewrote the WYSIWYG.” In response to buzz on Twitter about the Drupal Gutenberg session, Persch said Drupal needs an editorial UX improvement to stay competitive, but not necessarily by adopting Gutenberg.

“We have in-progress initiatives toward that end,” Persch said. “Gutenberg itself could turn into a distraction from that work. In both [presentations] I also mentioned that Paragraphs or Layout Builder could be better data model starting points for Gutenberg-like functionality. Delivering exactly the same thing as WordPress would be self-defeating. Structured content is the heart of Drupal. I see Gutenberg (or something like it) as a better UI for the corner of the data model (the Paragraphs part) that Drupal sites have had for years.”

It will be interesting to see how different open source communities approach Gutenberg and how more diverse feedback from outside of WordPress could impact the project.

The Drupal Gutenberg module can be downloaded from the project page. It’s currently marked as an experimental module and is recommended for developer use only. The live demo for the project will soon be revamped to reflect the latest updates with Gutenberg. You can also follow the project’s development on GitHub.

Source: WP Tavern

Gutenberg Plugin Garners Mixed Reactions from New Wave of Testers

photo credit: KaylaKandzorra i miss you grampa.(license)

WordPress 4.9.8 was released as an automatic update last week, featuring the “Try Gutenberg” callout. The goal of the prompt is to get more users testing the new editor and to raise awareness. Within the first 72 hours of the prompt going into user dashboards, sites with Gutenberg installed have shot up to more than 80,000, a 300% increase. The plugin has been downloaded more than 147,000 times in the past week.

Gutenberg feedback is pouring in from a wave of new testers, most of whom are finding out about the new editor for the first time. Reactions have varied widely across multiple social networks. The announcement on WordPress’ official Facebook account attracted many drive-by style comments that included negative reactions, confusion, and questions, with a few positive comments peppered in between.

Blocks aren’t doing it for me. Will classic continue to be available permanently? If I want a block visual editor I promise I will install one voluntarily.

I’m hoping gutenberg will be totally optional.

I see only few users who are exited from Gutenberg. The rest is for leaving as it is. Why the guys from WP still want to implement it in the core? Make it a plugin. Why not a plugin whyyyyyy?

Twitter users trying Gutenberg for the first time were more enthusiastic about the potential of the new editor.

While some testers are quietly reporting issues on GitHub, others have written long missives in the plugin’s reviews, begging WordPress not to force the new editor on users. Gutenberg reviews are currently at a 2.4-star average, slipping from the 2.7-star average it held prior to the 4.9.8 release. Those who have written reviews tend to have reactions at both ends of the spectrum.

At this point in the testing phase, the reviews in the official directory paint a grim picture of WordPress dragging its users kicking and screaming into the Gutenberg era. However, there are many reasons why a tester might be motivated to write a negative review. Some may have ignored the advice not to use it in production, some may be testing it with incompatible plugins, some may not want any changes to their established workflow, and some may simply not like the interface.

While it may seem that the plugin has been widely panned by new testers, those who are the most critical tend to be more motivated to write a review. Those who are pleasantly surprised at something that works for them don’t tend to comment publicly. Reviews cannot possibly tell the whole tale, but they are important to monitor for feedback that could help Gutenberg succeed.

“Try Gutenberg” Callout Succeeds at Bringing More Testers and Feedback

WordPress 4.9.8’s “Gutenprompt” is doing exactly what it was intended to do – bring out more testers. The invitation has already succeeded at pulling out some quality feedback if you can sort through all the casual, angry one-liners.

Steven Peters opened a lengthy review with the following observations about the more cumbersome and unintuitive aspects of Gutenberg’s interface:

The interface is not cohesive in its design. For example, To place a block of a paragraph, a heading, a subheading, a bullet list and every other block, the user must click the + sign every single time, making it that much harder to ‘go with the flow’ of writing, and is cumbersome and time-consuming. Time-consuming: a click for each block instead of just writing. More clicks equal wasted time.

In a review titled “Lots of potential but too soon for core,” Mark Wilkinson details several specific usability issues:

The interface I find confusing – I think it is because it is too minimal. I found that it was all too easy to add a block by mistake and then not knowing what the block was or why it was there.

There is too much reliance on hover effects, with things appearing and disappearing all the time. I also find it hard to know where the focus is on the screen as it just uses a faint grey border.

Several reviewers were candid about their distaste for the concept of putting content into blocks. The Gutenberg team has readily communicated its vision for the block-based editor, but this tends to speak more to developers.

“Why does every little thing have to be in a separate block?” one reviewer asked before describing multiple usability issues with current block behavior. “That is a feature I think I actually detest. I do not want 50 zillion little fussy blocks on a page. I had entire blocks just disappear on me and a lot of the time, I was initially unsure of exactly what I did to make them disappear. This is bad. Some of the time it was placing a block, like an image block, and then deleting the image … the entire block went, which meant I had to go through the motions to add the block, then add an image block again, and then add my image again. Lame.”

Multiple reviewers commented that previously simple tasks are much more complicated in Gutenberg. Others said after reading official replies to reviews, they felt that leaving specific feedback was a waste of time. Canned responses from the Gutenberg team gave some the impression that their feedback wasn’t heard or valued.

My feeling while reading the WordPress developer responses is that that they have no intention of either stopping or postponing Gutenberg no matter what bug or problem is given to their attention. – @lauritasita

I have read all the reviews (and also the Gutenberg-lovers’ replies) and it seems that it is not really a discussion. The question on what is missing in this editor is useless if people simply do not want such a feature in their install. All you do is trying to convince people that it would only take time to get used to a modern technology. In my eyes this is bullshit. I myself love new features – if they are useful. – @peg20

Based on the responses to reviews, it isn’t clear to testers whether the Gutenberg team is willing to make major changes to re-design features that are not easy to use or whether they are simply combing the reviews for feedback on bugs with the existing interface.

Classic Editor Plugin Installations are on the Rise as Users Prepare for WordPress 5.0

In the days following WordPress 4.9.8’s release, active installations of the Classic Editor plugin have jumped from 7,000 to 60,000, a 757% increase. However, none of these figures in isolation can tell the whole story of users’ experience with the new editor.

In response to criticism on the Advanced WordPress Facebook group, Gutenberg contributor Gary Pendergast said he doesn’t see users installing the Classic Editor plugin as a negative reaction. “People ensuring that their site is ready for WordPress 5.0 is absolutely a good thing,” Pendergast said. “For a lot of sites, that means sticking with their current workflows for now.”

Pendergast also said the growing number of Classic Editor installs is a good indication that WordPress users are “proactively maintaining their sites, and a reasonable indication that they intend to upgrade to WordPress 5.0.”

“People certainly have strong feelings about it, and ‘fear of change’ is absolutely a legitimate feeling: we need to provide the right tools to empower everyone who uses WordPress,” Pendergast said. “Some people will jump right into the brave new block-based world, some people will prefer to use the Classic Editor plugin as a way to keep their existing workflows. When WordPress 5.0 lands, neither way should be seen as the ‘correct’ way – they’re both entirely legitimate.”

One major theme in both positive and negative reviews of the plugin is the desire for Gutenberg to be opt-in for WordPress 5.0, instead of having it auto-enabled for all users.

Developers and agencies are expected to control that experience for their clients by installing the Classic Editor or Gutenberg Ramp for installations that may have compatibility issues. For millions of other WordPress users without their own developers or engineering teams, discovering Gutenberg auto-enabled after updating to WordPress 5.0 will be a moment of reckoning. On the other hand, phasing the new editor in over time may severely limit adoption and extinguish the ecosystem’s impetus to offer Gutenberg-compatible products.

The development community, along with thousands of WordPress users who now have Gutenberg on their radar, will be watching to see how the team evaluates feedback from this new wave of testing. Up until this point, only the most curious and motivated WordPress users have taken Gutenberg for a spin. Widespread testing has just begun and we’re not yet seeing a complete picture of how well the new editor will be received.

My initial impression, after first trying it a year ago, was that Gutenberg is the most exciting thing to happen to WordPress in a long time. After reading hundreds of negative reviews, I still believe in the block concept but am convinced that Gutenberg needs to deliver a beautiful writing experience in order to win people over.

If WordPress is my home for writing on the web, I want to feel at home in the interface. I don’t want to have to hunt for actions buried two-clicks deep. When I use the editor I want have the feeling of “I love writing here.” Gutenberg doesn’t deliver that yet.

WordPress has an opportunity to provide the best writing experience on the web, instead of relegating it to the myriad of dedicated writing apps that don’t have publishing capabilities. A supremely well-designed editor for writing posts, in recognition of the platform’s blogging roots, would be the promise that hooks users to willingly sign on for years of dealing with Gutenberg’s shortcomings as it matures into a full-fledged site builder.

Source: WP Tavern