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Monday Missive – WordPress

I’ve been using the block editor consistently for about two weeks now. I have not tried anything too outrageous, but I thought I would share some things about the editor and WordPress in general.

  • HTML – If you were familiar with changing HTML in the classic editor, just understand that the block editor adds headers and footers around each block. You are better off to edit blocks individually, rather than edit the entire post. It is just cleaner.
  • Frustrations – I attempted to add a contact form to a new page. There are pre-formatted contact forms you can edit. They look nice and clean, but they may not work consistently from theme to theme. I was frustrated I could not use CSS (I do not have a paid account) to change the margins or the padding. (I did not think to try inline CSS so I may try that and report back.
  • Outside the block editor, I caught a few things I wanted to talk about. The first is Gravatars. So many bloggers have emphasized the importance of having a Gravatar and I agree. Unfortunately, I clicked on a new follower‘s photo in the stats section of WordPress and it took me to a possible spam site. It immediately flashed warnings my iPad was infected with a virus which was not true, but it is maddening that this still happens. Please spend the time updating your Gravatar bio and your websites. I also received a fair number of 404 errors because websites no longer existed or they were moved and the Gravatar never updated.
  • Themes. I spent some time looking at new Themes. Let me tell you, some of the color palettes used in their designs are horrendous. Also, not every function, widget, or design element transfers from one theme to another. I will be changing my theme as soon as I can find one that works for me.
  • Available storage. In a self hosted world, all the revisions that WordPress creates take up storage. I contacted the Happiness Engineers and discovered that in the free WordPress plans those do not count against your available storage. If you are self hosted, there are plugins that will clean up the saved revisions if you need to delete some.
  • Photos. All the photos you use do count against your storage Including photos from posts you reblog. If you select free images from Pixabay, Pexels, Unsplash, etc., download the smallest image that will work for you. If you are using your own photos taken with a cell phone, those images are most likely very large. Find a good editing program (there are plenty of free ones) that will allow you to modify the image resolution. Questions? Just ask!

This ended up being much longer than I anticipated, so I am going to stop for now. Have a great week everyone!

Blog

Venturing into the Block Editor

I have been slowly dipping my toe into the block editor waters. I first used the Classic Block, but am now finding I do not like using it as much. I am taking it at a snail’s pace, while truly trying to embrace the changes.

Let’s get the frustrations out of the way first.

  • Where are the menus?

The menus float and change depending on where you are. That is confusing at best and can cover the text you have just written, but you can resolve that easily. If you wish to see your toolbars at the top then click on the three dots on the top right and click ‘Top Toolbar’ (highlighted below).

  • Why is everything a different block?

I would guess the reason for this lies in the fact that the menus and parameters for each type of block can be different. For a paragraph I may need to align or change the text color or change the font size, whereas with an image block or a video you may need to change the size of the image, or round the corners.

  • How do I add a block?

If you start writing, the editor assumes you are writing in a paragraph block. Just write over the text that says ‘start writing or type /to choose a block’. If, however, you want to insert a video, or a gallery for example, you will click on one of the two plus signs ( + ) that appear on your screen. One floats at the end of a new line, and the other is at the top left of your screen as highlighted in the images below.


  • It seems a waste of time to always search for the block you need.

Agreed. That is why there are shortcuts available once you know the name of the block. If I wish to add a column block for instance, I could search for it (using one of the two + menus) or just use the shortcut /column on the new text line.

Column Example

This is data I decided to write in column one just to demonstrate. It is more difficult to create columns in the classic editor and requires knowledge of coding to do so.

For this column I am using a paragraph block but I could have chose other things. For the second column to the right, I added an image and rounded the corners.

The text is in one column, the image in another.

rounded photo

I am still learning, but there are nice features in the block editor. I made the decision to give it an honest try and so far it is okay. I write mainly on an iPad and I do not think WP handles the pop-up keyboard on a mobile device well. It does seem to conflict with the WP menus at times.

  • I don’t know where to begin!

The best place to start is at the beginning. Dan Antion did a great post on his No Facilities blog about using the Classic Block within the block editor. It is a great place to begin.



There are great beginner’s videos on YouTube. If you search for them, be sure to add 2021 to your search criteria as the format has changed since the editor was first announced. Also, if you are using the free WordPress account, you will NOT have access to Plugins which several videos discuss. I found this video to be particularly helpful.

Blog

Classic Block – First Look

Today I am in WP-Admin writing this blog. This space is very familiar to me as it is the editor I always used for my Web Design clients. It is more like the classic editor. Yesterday, I wrote my blog using the Classic block in the block editor. Here are a few comments on the process on my iPad.

Look / Feel

While the classic block looks similar, it is different. The formatting controls are no longer static and seem to offer fewer controls. Instead, the formatting Controls float on the page often obscuring the line of text above. There were times I thought my text disappeared only to discover it was just obscured. I can see how this might be helpful if you write a long post – the controls would float down the page as you write.

The + sign for adding blocks seemed to always be below the line I was typing. I am not sure what triggered it. It was easy to delete.

Spacing between paragraphs did not look consistent although when previewing the post, the formatting looked as it should.

Frustrations

I often received the message indicating the saved post was different than the current version. It did not tell me if it was more current which left me confused. At one time I restored the saved version only to discover it had less content than what appeared on my screen.

If I left the WordPress tab and went to read an email or research something, when I returned my screen was ‘frozen’ meaning I could not Scroll the screen or type. I had to close the post and reopen to unfreeze it. All content was there when I returned.

Even though I was using the classic block editor, it became obvious the paragraphs were treated as mini-blocks. For example, I could not highlight the entire post and delete it all at once (which I often do when copying a post for recurring posts like SoCS or One Liner Wednesday). I had to delete each paragraph independently.

Time to Post

It definitely took a little longer to write a post because I did not prepare. I just dove in.

I am attaching screen shots below that show the classic block I used yesterday and the WP-Admin editor I am using today. Keep in mind I am writing on my iPad. Eventually I will do this on my laptop and report back. Also, I did not add photos or do any fancy formatting with either post.

Classic Block

Photo of classic block editor

WP-Admin Editor

Photo of WP-Admin editor