The new WordPress Gutenberg Editor might just surprise you…
Yes, this will change how you create blog posts.
Yes, you’ll have to LEARN something–again.
The good news?
This post will show you everything you need to know to dig in and NOT get frustrated. You’ll be able to hit the ground blogging 😉
Table of Contents
Click the titles to navigate!
We’ve been getting reports for MONTHS now that editing blog posts (especially long blog posts) in Gutenberg can cause WordPress to break down and go slower than a turtle.
There isn’t one…HOWEVER…
It could be beneficial to make sure you’re running the latest version of PHP!
Check your PHP version in your WordPress dashboard by navigating to Tools > Site Health > The “Info” tab > The “server” tab.
If you’re running anything lower than 7.1, you’ll probably want to update your PHP! It’ll help Gutenberg perform better.
“Gutenberg” is the name of the new editor in WordPress update 5.0 (released December 6, 2018).
The new editor has gotten a major overhaul!
This will HEAVILY affect how you write and edit blog posts (and pages).
That doesn’t look so different, does it?
The truth is, while there are a lot of little changes, the overall blogging experience will be very similar to what you’re used to!
You have nothing to fear. The editor changes will be a good thing in time.
With the WordPress 5.0 update–the Gutenberg editor will be the DEFAULT editor!
But good news, you CAN continue to use the old editor!
It will be available via a WordPress plugin aptly named “Classic Editor.”
Do I think you should do this?
Yes and no–see the last chapter of this post 😉
Gutenberg is HERE.
WordPress 5.0 ‘Bebo’ was released on December 6, 2018!
It is now the default editor.
Short version = WordPress Gutenberg is designed to work across all themes and with all plugins!
June 2019 Update = While Gutenberg definitely “works” with every theme, some fair better than others!
My old theme, for example, was having issues displaying column blocks. This is due to some CSS battles.
Takeaway = Installing Gutenberg now will NOT break your current theme, but there could be a few advanced blocks that could act funky.
Luckily, more and more theme creators are updating their themes to not only be compatible, but OPTIMIZED for Gutenberg blocks.
Bottom line: It depends on your theme.
You go back to old posts and “convert” them to blocks!
When you update to WordPress 5.0, all of your old content will exist in a “Classic Editor” block, meaning it’ll be exactly the same as it was.
However, you can go back into old blog posts and “convert to blocks.”
If you have more complicated content (i.e. more than just text, images, embeds, shortcodes, etc)–you might get a few odd things happen when you convert old content!
But the big takeaway is NO.
Activating Gutenberg won’t directly screw up existing content you might have.
Think of blocks like Legos.
You’ll combine a lot of little blocks–of all different shapes and sizes–to make a big structure.
In WP Gutenberg, a single blog post will be made up of several small blocks!
More specifically, every single part of your post content is a separate block.
Enjoying the heck out of this post? Other people will too, and sharing is fun!
Note: For the average blogger, there are only 4-5 blocks you need to know about, and they’re all incredibly simple.
> Paragraph blocks
> Headline blocks
> Image blocks
> Embed blocks (YouTube videos, etc)
> Quote blocks
Below is a complete list, and we’ll describe each of these in more detail after that!
Really cool other blocks:
Before we do a walk-through of the new editor, there’s something you need to know…
Repeat after me: “I do NOT have to manually add blocks each time I want a new paragraph, image, heading, etc!”
The writing experience is very natural.
> Drag-n-drop images as normal
> Hit enter for new paragraphs
> Paste in YouTube URLs and it’ll embed them
WordPress Gutenberg does the majority of work when it comes to making things blocks! Just start writing and blogging as usual.
First, I made a complete video series covering all this stuff!
That said, here’s what we’re going to walk through:
> Editing the title and permalink
> The 3 places you can find your post and block SETTINGS
> The 4 ways to add blocks
> A look at the new paragraph and text options
> How images and videos work now
> Advanced blocks
> How to create custom REUSABLE blocks (woot!)
The title is straight-forward, simply click on it and start typing 🙂
Permalinks are easily edited in the sidebar settings, as shown below.
Note: You’ll probably have to save a draft (or publish) your post in order to VIEW this permalink section.
> Publishing options
> Choosing a category
> Setting a featured image
Most of these settings are still on the sidebar, though there’s a “tab” now, which will take you back and forth between the post and block settings.
The new “menu” there functions exactly like a menu.
Clicking the gear will hide the settings sidebar…
Clicking that little Yoast icon (requires the Yoast plugin) will bring up Yoast SEO settings in the sidebar.
That’s right. The post, block, and (some) plug-in settings will now be in the same sidebar.
To clarify, I have no clue which plugins will do this. It’ll be up to the plugin developers. However, I personally think it is REALLY cool to have Yoast SEO settings right there at the top–which can be toggled and hidden at will by clicking the “menu” button.
Additionally, the new 3-dot button brings up some additional Gutenberg settings, allowing you to view the code editor (which is NOT just an HTML of your entire post! Important point. There’s new Gutenberg PHP code there).
I have a sneaking suspicion that more and more plugins will opt to show their post settings here, which will likely show up next to Yoast in the picture above.
One more cool trick in WordPress Gutenberg…
A document outline!
Accessed by clicking the little “i” circle, you can get a glimpse at your word counts, blocks, and even cooler–a heading breakdown! I love this 🙂
By hitting enter, you automatically create a new paragraph block (which can be changed)
Hovering your mouse at the middle-top of any block brings up an “insert block” button. (THIS IS BUGGY as of August 2018)
Clicking the upper-left “plus” button adds a block below your currently selected block.
After you’ve hit enter to add a new block–you can then select a few commonly-used block options (located on the lower-right of the block)
Gutenberg makes it incredibly easy to change text size, color, and background color.
Side note: You can also save these settings and create a custom reusable block. We’ll see how to do that below.
Important note about lists:
You can either insert a list block–OR just start typing using the same-old shortcuts you used to use.
I.e. hit “1” then “.” and Gutenberg will start an ordered list.
We interrupt this normal post to bring you an incredible Gutenberg HACK:
To quickly access and insert blocks, simply hit “/” on your keyboard, and a list of blocks will pop up.
Even better, hit “/” and start typing the name of the block to quickly select what you’re looking for!
Either add a separate headline block, or type out text and change it to a headline by clicking the paragraph icon. Easy.
Quotes, Pullquotes, and Verses
You now have 3 styles of quotes to choose from!
2 are “nested” under the normal “quotes” block (you can change between the 2 styles by pressing the top-left button).
The other is the new “pullquote,” which is just fancier looking!
It’s important to note that YOUR theme will make these look slightly different!
First, you can copy and paste URLs into the new editor (just like the old editor)–and Gutenberg will automatically convert it to an embed block!
There are dozens and dozens of different embed blocks to choose from, including…
> FB posts
> YouTube, Vimeo
> Literally 30+ more
But really, you can just copy and paste URLs to videos, etc and Gutenberg converts automatically.
Good news and bad news:
The Good: You can easily edit the HTML of almost ANY block, accessed from the 2nd block settings area!
Bad news as of June 2019: You CAN’T edit the HTML of multiple blocks.
In fact, you can’t edit ANY settings for multiple blocks.
That said, you CAN dive into the Gutenberg code for the full page, but it requires an in-depth knowledge of NEW code (as in, you can’t just start adding HTML in here. It won’t work.)
If you’re looking to either…
> Drop in a shortcode (ConvertKit maybe)
> Add more custom HTML
You’re in luck! There are blocks for those:
Last but not least, you can always revert to a “classic” block:
It’s the old editor in block form!
Important Note: If you add sub-headers in here (H2, H3, etc), they will NOT show up in the new Gutenberg document outline (accessed from that little circle “i” button in the top-left).
Remember that green-background and large font-size paragraph we created earlier?
What if you could save that styled paragraph, and quickly use it in other posts? Over and over again?
Simply click the 3-dot menu icon, then select “add to reusable blocks,”
A box will pop up allowing you to name it whatever you like.
You can then access and insert your reusable block like you would any other block.
And not just paragraph blocks.
You can make any block a reusable block. Custom HTML, a particular image style, etc.
We’ve already mentioned a few of these, but I want to highlight them again.
1 – Shortcuts
On a new line, type a backslash “/” and start typing a name of a block. This is by far the quickest way to add more advanced blocks.
2 – Just pretend you’re using the old editor
Yes, I’m counting this as a huge win for WordPress Gutenberg.
You can really just dive into the new editor and start writing your blog post, dragging in images, and pasting in embed and shortcode links as normal.
Gutenberg is great at converting this stuff into blocks automatically.
3 – Moving multiple blocks at the same time.
You can move around blocks in two ways:
Note that you can also click in a block, then hold “shift” and click in ANOTHER block to select multiple blocks.
4 – Accessing HTML on a per-block basis.
It used to be a tad overwhelming to open the old HTML editor, and be staring at TONS of HTML.
Now you can access just the blocks you need. On and off again. I like this.
5 – Full-Width and Cover Images!
August 2018 Update – Full-width images are NOT supported by all themes! I hope this will change, as they’re pretty cool.
Cover images, however, are totally supported, and awesome!
It really just allows you to words over an image.
Ready for my opinion?
>> I believe you SHOULD update to WordPress 5.0, but install the “Classic Editor” plugin for now. <<
The Classic Editor plugin gives you the ability to TOGGLE between which editor you prefer to use, on a per-post basis!
This means that you can create new content using blocks, OR just continue to use the classic editor if you’d like.
So why not JUST use Gutenberg and blocks?
Personal preference 🙂
I, Pete McPherson, am going to use the blocks editor! However, I fully appreciate people’s hesitancy–and think that the Classic Editor plugin is the right way to go for most bloggers.
Trust the WordPress developer team! Over the long-run, the Gutenberg editor will surely get even better.
“What the HAY Pete, where’s my free PDF checklist? My freebie?”
Well, there isn’t one attached to this post. Sorry, but I’m tired from working on this post for weeks.
However, I do really fun and usefull things for bloggers via the email list, and you should join.
Only if you want to grow your blog, that is. #lol