I took my first steps in using the WordPress new Gutenberg system last week. For non-wordpress users, this is an upgrade which changed the way we write our posts. You no longer have have one frame to write your blog post in, where you type, format, add pictures, all from the menu bar. You create blocks of text, or images, or whatever you want.
First steps start with the upgrade
I am running most of my websites on WP4.10, using the Classic Editor plug-in.
I was assured that using the Classic Editor meant I could upgrade to WP 5 and its successors and still blog in the same way I have for years. But I trust no-one, especially a software developer, so I stuck with the last of the old system, i.e. WP4.10. The Classic Editor plug-in has had a couple of upgrades, which I’ve applied without problems. But I was starting to be nagged by my security program that my system was out of date. More of that later.
Back-up your system!
Like all good website owners I knew that before making any change, my first steps were back up my websites. I tested this on White Water Landings (WWL), because that doesn’t get a lot of updates these days.
Making back-ups is not always as easy as it sounds, and I’ve only ever had to reinstall a system from a back-up. But I went to my hosting interface and did a back-up of all my websites as it seemed easier.
For WWL, I also used the WP ‘Export’ tool, which I used when I moved from the free service to self-hosting. The Export (found under ‘tools’) packages all your posts, comments, images, etc to a file on your computer. The corresponding Import tool lets you install them if necessary. It’s not much different from a back-up, except from view of how the underlying website works. [semi-technical explanation available if needed].
Install the upgrade
Next, I went onto my Classic Editor dashboard screen, and clicked the ‘upgrade to WP5.2’ button.
It took longer than normal upgrades, and the page stayed blank for a while which got me a bit worried. I was doing this late at night, and my system had already dropped the internet connection a couple of times. I bet my provider was working on it – it’s been very patchy recently!
But all went well, and it came back to say it had been successful.
Classic editor, or Block editor, or both
The first steps once everything was installed was to ask ‘what’s changed?’, because everything looked the same on my dashboard. Then I saw something asking me whether I wanted to use the Classic editor for posting, or the Block editor, or both. Naturally I chose both!
What I noticed later is that if you have different users, or usernames, each user can make their own choice. And on the list of posts, it gives you the option of editing in Classic, or in Block editor. I haven’t tried to edit a classicly written post with the block editor. That doesn’t belong in first steps!First steps in using Gutenberg WP5.2: did I wanted to use the Classic editor for posting, or the Block editor, or both? I chose both! #gutenberg #blogging #wordpress Click To Tweet
First steps in editing – make a new post. I clicked ‘new post’ as normal. The screen came up looking very different, but with title and heading blocks already displaying. There was also a useful floating dialogue box showing me where to start, which was at the + sign in the little circle in the top left. That adds another block. A drop-down gives you the choice of format of block. I added a normal paragraph block and typed ‘this is a test’. Then I clicked the dialogue box for next step, and it showed me the cog sign on the top right. Clicking that showed or hid the formatting sidebar.
And then I started trying things out….
You see above I have a block highlighted that I’m editing. That was to see how the ‘Drop Cap’ format block worked. Each block has a set of format options above it, but so far I haven’t seen whether my question in the next (normal) block is answered.
Then I added another block of normal text. Then I saw that you can shade the boxes. I saw a lovely blog last week which used a full colour co-ordinated scheme with highlighted blocks for key points. You may see those creeping in here when I take this blog over to the Block editor.
Then I added a picture – this is on the WWL blog, remember – and then I tried a couple more.
So my test post ended up like this – still in the editor, but with no blocks active:
After that you have to save it. I couldn’t see a choice of ‘draft’ at that time, so I saved it as a private post. When I came back to it, it has the ‘published’ status, but there is now a ‘revert to draft’ option. I’m sure I can work out how to save as draft in one step later on.
The picture above is of the post in the editor. You can Preview it on the blog by using the button top right. It opens in a new screen and seems to take longer to load than previews in the WP4. But it’s acceptable. And apart from website sidebars etc, it looked like it does above.
And all the rest of the website looked just the same under WP5 as it did under WP4.
Thoughts and learning points
- If you use Mailchimp for your newsletters, it’s the same principle of blocks. I’m still working out how they work in Mailchimp, but this seems easier and more flexible to me.
- I understand the benefit of blocks is that you can save blocks you use a lot, complete with content. [They’re called Reusable Blocks]
- If that’s true, then I’ll be putting together blocks for each of the books with cover, one line blurb and buying links. Can you imagine how great that will be instead of having to check back to copy and paste the links each time? [I’m not sure I can combine all that in one block, but I can probably do the text in one and the pic in another!]
- Does it matter if your system nags you to upgrade? It reminds me of the great Windows debate – whether to stay on XP because it worked, or to move to one of the new Windows versions, which (a) didn’t work, and (b) when it did would not be suitable for people who like to type a lot of text, rather than swipe a screen. In principle, hackers are more likely to be hacking the new system software, not the old one.
- I didn’t want to upgrade until WP5 was secure. It’s had several upgrades or patches in its short life, but I think it’s settling down.
- The Classic Editor works fine in WP5, so staying on WP4.10 to avoid problems is unnecessary.
- I want to check how I can do my thumbnail side pictures etc before I go all in on here.
- The modern posting method of all in one column, and not in magazine style with inset pictures etc, seems to be favoured, but that may simply be that users haven’t worked out how to do it yet.
Am I upgrading the rest of my websites to WP5?
I hope these first steps with Gutenberg aka the Block Editor help you!
More info from the web: You may find this useful: How to Use the New WordPress Block Editor (Gutenberg Tutorial)https://www.wpbeginner.com › Blog › Beginners Guide
and there are plenty more including from ‘Do you Even Blog’ as well as the WordPress own site.