The Block Editor/Gutenberg: Why you should be using it

At Yoast, we truly believe you should be using the Block Editor (formerly known as Gutenberg) in WordPress, simply because it’s a much better experience than the ‘classic editor’. Unfortunately, when we look at our statistics, we see that a large segment of our users still uses the classic editor. This makes us sad, but also makes us want to explain why you really should start switching over.

When we talk about Gutenberg/the Block Editor within the WordPress community, there are always a lot of emotions involved. A large percentage of these emotions were down to the release process of Gutenberg. I have certainly also been critical of that process. But, while that launch could undoubtedly have been handled better, it shouldn’t cloud our judgment of the product. Unfortunately, some of that negativity has spilled into the wider world without the context, and that really is a shame.

In our eyes, it’s simple: the Block Editor is now much better than when it launched. Smashing Magazine did a good post mortem. In their post, they also differentiate between the problematic launching process and its current state. And, they assess it to be very good at the moment. It’s important to note that the Block Editor is still under heavy development within the Gutenberg project. The current version of the Block Editor is much, much better than what it was like a year ago. In fact, I can say it’s very good.

Why you should switch to the Block Editor

The Gutenberg project and with it, the Block Editor is literally where all the innovation in the WordPress space is happening. Think of it this way: the only car race you’re going to win by using old technology, is a classic car race. If you want to win in SEO in the next few years, I guarantee you’ll need to be on the Block Editor. If you’re not, and if some of your competitors are, they’re going to beat you.

While the Block Editor may be very good, you may think: why would I switch? If the classic editor is working for me, so why bother? Well: the Block Editor is only step one in a longer process. More and more parts of the WordPress admin will start using blocks, and because of that, getting familiar with the Block Editor is essential.

Future versions will iterate on what the Block Editor already does, moving to site-wide editing, instead of just the content area. The first required step for that is defining content edit areas, something Matias discussed in this post on Make Core, one of the blogs of the core WordPress development team. That post by Matias prompted this post by Justin Tadlock on how the Gutenberg project is shaping the future of WordPress themes. This is getting me, and our entire team at Yoast, very excited.

The Gutenberg project aims at making WordPress easier to use. That’s a long term goal, but it’s already doing that now too. When we have site-wide editing, we won’t need to teach people how to use widgets anymore: they’ll be the same as the blocks they see in the editor. In fact, the entire distinction will be gone.

Reasons to use the Block Editor now

Besides all of these great developments, you really should use the Block Editor now and stop using the classic editor. Let me give you an overview of simple and clear reasons. With the Block Editor:

  • You will be able to build layouts that you can’t make in TinyMCE. Most of the stuff we did for our recent digital story required no coding. Plugins like Grids make it even easier to make very smooth designs.
  • You can make FAQs and HowTo’s that’ll look awesome in search results. Our Yoast SEO Schema blocks are already providing an SEO advantage that is unmatched. For instance, check out our FAQ blocks.
  • Simple things like images next to paragraphs and other things that could be painful in TinyMCE have become so much better in Gutenberg. Want multiple columns? You can have them, like that, without extra coding.
  • Speaking of things you couldn’t do without plugins before: you can now embed tables in your content, just by adding a table block. No plugins required.
  • Creating custom blocks is relatively simple, and allows people to do 90% of the custom things they would do with plugins in the past, but easier. It becomes even easier when you use a plugin like ACF Pro or Block Lab to build those custom blocks.
  • Custom blocks, or blocks you’ve added with plugins, can be easily found by users just by clicking the + sign in the editor. Shortcodes, in the classic editor, didn’t have such a discovery method.
  • Re-usable blocks allow you to easily create content you can re-use across posts or pages, see this nice tutorial on WP Beginner.

There are many more nice features; please share yours in the comments!

Finally, it’s good to know that WordPress 5.3, slated for November 12th, will have the best version of the Block Editor yet. If you want that experience now, you can! Just install Gutenberg: the plugin.

If you haven’t used the Block Editor recently: go, try it! I’m sure you’ll be happy with it.

The post The Block Editor/Gutenberg: Why you should be using it appeared first on Yoast.

What’s inside WordPress 5.3 Beta 1

It’s been a busy week for WordPress. WordPress 5.3 finally saw its first beta released and it is jam-packed with great features and improvements. In this edition of WordPress Watch, I’ll highlight some of those features. And of course, I have a few bonus links for you as well. Let’s see what this new WordPress version is all about!

WordPress 5.3 Beta 1

The first beta of WordPress 5.3 has been released. And, it holds a lot of changes. I’ve covered quite a few of them in my WordPress Watch posts here, but I want to give you a short overview of what you can expect.

Block Editor

The Block Editor, or Gutenberg editor, has seen a steady output of releases every other week for the last couple of months. WordPress 5.3 will include the current state of Gutenberg, version 6.5, into core. And that’s a huge update. Just to give you an idea of all the changes, here’s an overview of the most interesting ones:

  • Group block and grouping interactions
  • Gallery block improvements (reordering inline, caption support)
  • Accessibility Navigation Mode, which will allow you to navigate with the keyboard between blocks without going into their content.
  • Columns block improvements (width support + patterns)

But that’s not all. With the inclusion of Gutenberg 6.5, the block editor will also see a significant bump in speed. Since WordPress 5.2, the team working on the block editor managed to shave off 1.5 seconds of loading time for a particularly sizeable post – think in the range of more than 35 thousand words.

No more unwanted time-traveling with WordPress

As mentioned here before, Andrey Savchenko took it upon himself to fix WordPress’ erratic behavior concerning how date and time are stored. Andrey’s fix made it into WordPress 5.3, so that makes for a lot more stability and no more unwanted ‘time-traveling’ with WordPress! Andrey wrote up exactly what was changed and how that may impact you.

New Admin Email Verification Screen

WordPress 5.3 will also introduce a new admin email verification screen that will be shown every six months after an administrator has logged in. WP Tavern covered this new feature recently and if you’d like to know more about it, I encourage you to read it.

Even more improvements and new features

You might think that the features mentioned above, combined with the inclusion of the new default Twenty Twenty theme, are already enough to constitute a new major WordPress release. And perhaps you’re right, but there’s more. A lot more actually. You can check out all the new features and improvements in the announcement post for WordPress 5.3 Beta 1.

Twenty Twenty

With the first beta of WordPress, we also got our hands on the new default theme Twenty Twenty. Justin Tadlock over at the WP Tavern wrote extensively about what it looks like and how it works, so do check it out if you’re curious what it will look like. I do have to say, Twenty Twenty is the first default theme in a very long time that has me excited about a default theme.

Bonus links

The post What’s inside WordPress 5.3 Beta 1 appeared first on Yoast.

Three new features in Gutenberg 6.5 and more on WordPress 5.3

The work on the next versions of WordPress and Gutenberg is moving along nicely, which is why today’s WordPress Watch focuses on those two projects. But, there’s more going on in the world of WordPress besides those two projects. So, get ready for a few bonus links again! Hope you enjoy.

New features in Gutenberg 6.5

Improvements on the Block Editor continue ever so diligently. Gutenberg 6.5 was released and the release contained a lot of small improvements, including three new features.

Social Links Block

The first new feature comes in the shape of an entirely new block called the Social Links Block. The team published a GIF that demonstrates quite nicely what you can do with it:

Social Links Block, courtesy Make WordPress Core blog

Local auto-save support

The second feature contains an improvement that adds support for local auto-saves to avoid content loss even in environments with unstable internet connections. To solve this problem, the Gutenberg team have made it so that edits are saved locally, and a warning is displayed with the possibility to restore the local edits if available.

Experimental: non-local block installation

The last new feature is the most exciting one, in my opinion. This release includes a feature that is marked experimental. It adds the possibility to install blocks that are not available locally directly from the block inserter if you have the required permissions. Inside the editor, you can find a one-click search and installation of blocks from the block directory. Selected blocks are automatically installed as a plugin in the background and inserted into the editor with one click. How cool is that?!

You can read the rest of what’s included in the release post for Gutenberg 6.5.

WordPress 5.3

The work on WordPress 5.3 is moving along nicely as well. This includes the new default Twenty Twenty theme as well. Justin Ahinon published a great dev chat summary of where we are for WordPress 5.3 on the Make WordPress Core Dev Notes post. It’s an interesting read as it gives you a very good overview of the less obvious things going into WordPress 5.3.

Bonus links

  • Came across a site with an interesting overview of ACF resources. Go check it out if ACF is in your toolbox.
  • And, if Beaver Builder is in your toolbox, Mike Oliver created 20 free Beaver Builder row templates that can all be imported as a one-page template.
  • If you were curious to know which multilingual plugin is the fastest, WP Rocket has tested quite a few of them.

The post Three new features in Gutenberg 6.5 and more on WordPress 5.3 appeared first on Yoast.

Gutenberg block editor improvements, and integrating plugins

Today’s WordPress Watch has a strong focus on the Gutenberg block editor. Two different tweets prompted me to focus on what you can do with the editor a bit more. We’ll discuss improvements to the editor, as well as useful plugins that integrate with the block editor, so I hope you enjoy this edition. Don’t forget to check out the bonus links!

Block editor keeps on getting better

This December is the one year anniversary of the merge of the Gutenberg project in WordPress core. If you’re still postponing moving to the block editor, it’s good to know that it keeps getting better. Not just better at certain things it does – like speed and settings – but also when it comes to options and possibilities.

Gutenberg plugin improvements

The improvements to the block editor can be noted in the stand-alone Gutenberg plugin. For those of you who are unaware, the Gutenberg plugin sees continuous improvement, with new releases every other week. You can read up on the kinds of improvements that have been made here.

So, if you want to try the latest and greatest version of the block editor, you can install the Gutenberg plugin in your WordPress site. If you’ve tried it before and it didn’t take, I can guarantee you, you’ll now see a much-improved version of the block editor with the latest version of Gutenberg.

Plugins integrating with the block editor

Over the last couple of months, we’ve seen a lot of powerful improvements committed to the Gutenberg plugin, but, we’ve also seen a lot of plugins integrating with the block editor in extremely interesting ways. I’ve already mentioned several of these plugins in some of my previous WordPress Watch posts. Today, I’d like to highlight two specific plugins that have become part of my favorite block editor enhancements. Namely: Editorskit and Atomic Blocks.

Atomic Blocks

Atomic Blocks is one of those plugins that gradually keeps getting better at what it does. This tweet, for example, demonstrates quite nicely what kind of improvements you can find:

Just have a look at what kind of blocks it makes available in the block editor and what you can do with it.

Editorskit

Editorskit, just like Atomic Blocks, adds an array of interesting blocks to the editor, but it has a slightly different focus. Find out what they are and what they do here. Technically, you could use both plugins side by side. Editorskit also shared an interesting tweet last week demonstrating their progress:

If you’re still putting off switching to the block editor and you haven’t played around with it lately, now’s a good time to try again.

Bonus links

The post Gutenberg block editor improvements, and integrating plugins appeared first on Yoast.

Content areas in Gutenberg, Twenty Twenty update and Elementor integration

It’s Monday, time for a fresh WordPress Watch. We’ve got more news on Twenty Twenty in WordPress 5.3 and there’s an update on what’s going to be the next big focus of the Gutenberg project. There’s also exciting news about the integration of two different solutions. Let’s get to it!

Twenty Twenty!

Last week it was announced that Andres Norén would lead the charge for introducing Twenty Twenty in WordPress 5.3. Andres explains the direction under which Twenty Twenty will be created with the following words:

The Block Editor will soon celebrate its first birthday in Core and with every update it grows more capable. The promise of the block editor is to give users the freedom to design and structure their sites as they see fit. The responsibility of a theme is to empower users to create their inspired vision by making the end result look as good, and work as well, as the user intended.

Twenty Twenty is designed with flexibility at its core. If you want to use it for an organization or a business, you can combine columns, groups, and media with wide and full alignments to create dynamic layouts to show off your services or products. If you want to use it for a traditional blog, the centered content column makes it perfect for that as well. 

Andres Norén

An example of what a blog post in Twenty Twenty will look like was also shared:

Single blog post in Twenty Ten. More examples here.

Content Areas are the next big thing in Gutenberg

The Gutenberg project and the accompanying plugin has had its biggest focus on the content editor itself. Up until now. Matias Ventura posted a thorough update on what is going to be the next big focus: content areas. In Matias’ own words:

Content areas represent parts of a site where blocks can be added and manipulated. Since content has a very specific meaning in WordPress already, we can also refer to these as block areas more generally to avoid opaqueness. Block areas would include headers, footers, sidebars, and any other meaningful template part outside of the post content that contains blocks.

Matias Ventura

The rest of the post, and it includes a video and code examples, is an interesting read into the future of where the Gutenberg project is going and how much of a page builder Gutenberg will actually turn into. Spoiler alert: a lot.

LifterLMS meets Elementor

It’s always nice to see deep integrations between two different solutions that instantly make both products better. LifterLMS, one of the most versatile online course and membership software solutions out there, can finally be integrated with Elementor properly.

The folks over at Tangible Plugins built a plugin that bridges both solutions perfectly into one deep integrated solution. Definitely worth checking out if you’re using Elementor!

Smooth integrations with Gutenberg

Came across a tweet from Rich Tabor, creator of the wonderful CoBlocks plugin that highlights a new feature available in the latest Gutenberg plugin. I could write out what it does, but I Rich has included a GIF in his tweet that explains it way better than I could ever put it into words:

Bonus links

The post Content areas in Gutenberg, Twenty Twenty update and Elementor integration appeared first on Yoast.

Gutenberg 6.4, WP Local Environment and WP Notify progress

Lots of noteworthy news from WordPress land over the last week. Gutenberg is back on our radar with a new version. I’ll also highlight a new project that’s underway that aims to find a better solution for all those notifications in your WordPress Dashboard. And, there are bonus links. Of course! Let’s dive straight in!

Gutenberg 6.4

The Cover Block saw two new significant functionalities in Gutenberg 6.4. You can now resize the Cover Block and it’s also possible to use a solid color as a background instead of a video or an image.

There are many more small improvements that made it into Gutenberg 6.4 and it’s good to know all of these delightful new features and options will be included in the upcoming WordPress 5.3 release.

WordPress Local Environment progress

At the beginning of August this year, the WordPress Local Environment was introduced. Gary Pendergast gives us an update on the progress of that project on the Make WordPress Core blog. The next step was to make this new development tool available for the Gutenberg development environment.

Go ahead and try out the new Gutenberg Local Environment, and if you come across any issues, please report them over on the Gutenberg repository.

WP Notify progress

One of the most exciting projects currently underway is the WP Notify project. Its aim is to provide much better handling of any and all notifications you can typically find in your WordPress Dashboard.

Jonathan Bossenger has taken the lead on this project and gives us frequent updates over on Make WordPress Core as well. If you haven’t checked out what the idea behind WP Notify is exactly, you should definitely check out his first recap post. You’ll get a good feel of where the project is headed.

New Prevent Search Engines setting

WordPress 5.3 will introduce a new and much better setting to prevent search engines from indexing sites. Our very own Jono Alderson was involved in making this happen. Read more in this introduction post on Make WordPress Core.

Bonus links

  • StudioPress released Genesis 3.1 and it has bumped the minimum requirements across the board. It will need WordPress 5.0, PHP 5.6 as a minimum, higher and up-to-date if obviously even better.
  • Carrie Dils wrote up a wonderful recap of the biggest changes in the Genesis Framework of late, and how to work with them.
  • The WooCommerce Admin plugin I mentioned in a previous roundup, was recently updated and is expected to be merged into the next major WooCommerce version. This would be WooCommerce 3.8.

The post Gutenberg 6.4, WP Local Environment and WP Notify progress appeared first on Yoast.

WordPress 5.3, Block Lab, and Members Block Permission add-on

A new week, a new WordPress Watch. We saw work for WordPress 5.3 getting properly underway. There was also news about some exciting integrations built to for the Block Editor. And, of course, we have a few bonus links for you as well again today. Let’s see what happened this week in the world of WordPress!

WordPress 5.3 work is underway

Francesca Marano, the release coordinator for WordPress 5.3, published the WordPress 5.3 Schedule and Scope on Make WordPress Core blog last week.

The focus of WordPress 5.3 is on polishing current interactions and making the UIs more user-friendly. And, as I’ve mentioned previously here, there will be a new default theme again; Twenty Twenty. The general idea is that Twenty Twenty will be based on an existing theme that already does cool stuff with the Block Editor and modifying it to fit with the 5.3 release.

If you’d like to see a list of tickets that are slated to be fixed for WordPress 5.3, have a look at this list on Trac.

Block Lab

When it comes to creating blocks for the Gutenberg block editor, I’ve mentioned ACF Blocks a couple of times before. It’s a wonderful solution that allows you to create blocks relatively easy. However, as of last week, I learned there to be another contender for best block creating facilitator. Namely, Block Lab.

A tweet by Steven Cronin alerted me of a talk Luke Carbis, the creator of Block Lab, was giving at WordCamp Brisbane:

To demonstrate the power of his Block Lab solution, Luke asked the audience what custom block he should build. Which he then created during the rest of his presentation. That’s a powerful solution if you ask me. Go check out Block Lab or go straight to the plugin repository and start playing around with it.

Block Permissions add-on for Members plugin

One of the earliest plugins I can remember – and I’ve been using WordPress since 2005 – that extends WordPress’ user management perfectly is Members by Justin Tadlock. Justin mentioned on Twitter that he’s working on an add-on for the plugin that will add block permissions based on the capabilities of the logged-in user.

Meaning, if you’d like to publish content but have certain paragraphs, images, or any block you like, really, only be visible for logged in users, you could do that with that add-on. You can read more about this add-on here.

Bonus links

The post WordPress 5.3, Block Lab, and Members Block Permission add-on appeared first on Yoast.

WooCommerce 3.7 and Gutenberg 6.3 updates

The past week was all about two big plugins releasing important updates. Both WooCommerce and Gutenberg got significant improvements. Gutenberg saw another accessibility improvement and WooCommerce now has even more integration with, well, Gutenberg 😄. Let’s dive in and see what’s what!

WooCommerce introduces more Block Editor integration

WooCommerce 3.7 was released last week and it brings deeper integration with our new Block Editor. While WooCommerce already provided the option to use a Featured Category, Featured Product, and Best Selling Category blocks, for instance, this version added three more blocks:

  • Product Categories List block; this block allows you to show product categories in a list or dropdown.
  • Featured Category block; this block lets you select one or multiple categories to feature on your site, and it displays the category and a link to its category archive page to customers.
  • Products by Tag(s) block; this block gives you the option to feature a selection of products linked to a specific tag or set of tags.

Of course, the rest of the plugin also saw overall refinements. You can now, for example, find all WooCommerce Blocks more easily when you click on the plus symbol to create a new block by typing “WooCommerce”.  Read up on what these integrations look like in the WooCommerce 3.7 introduction post.

Gutenberg version 6.3

One of the areas where the Block editor still needs improvement is the accessibility of the editor. The block user interface introduces navigation from within the block itself, as well as from one block to another, which can be complex. This makes it very challenging for screen reader users to navigate the content of their posts. Gutenberg 6.3 fixes this with what they call a Navigation Mode. Or in their words:

To address that issue, we’re introducing the Navigation Mode. By default the editor is loaded in this mode, it allows you to move from block to block using a single Tab press. You can also use the arrow keys to navigate between blocks. Once you reach the block you want to edit, you can enter the Edit Mode by hitting the Enter key. The Escape key allows you to move back to the Navigation Mode.

Riad Benguella

This is a great start to make the editor more accessible for many different types of users. You can read more about why accessibility matters here.

As with the WooCommerce update mentioned above, this new Gutenberg release also comes with smaller improvements. Things like support for text alignments in table block columns, and border color support for the separator block. As usual, you can find out more about what’s new in Gutenberg 6.3 in their release post.

Bonus links

The post WooCommerce 3.7 and Gutenberg 6.3 updates appeared first on Yoast.

WordPress 5.3, Atomic Blocks and EditorsKit

You might think it would be quiet in the world of WordPress because of the summer holidays, but there are some interesting things beeping on my radar. What about the next major version of WordPress: the 5.3 release? Also, the developers of Atomic Blocks and EditorKits haven’t been loitering around; they’ve added some useful features to these Block editor plugins. Read on!

WordPress 5.3: Planning and scope

The WordPress Core team had a good discussion last week about the next major version of WordPress: 5.3. The general idea is that the 5.3 release will be planned for November 13, a week after WordCamp US. As for the scope of what will be in WordPress 5.3, this is the proposed list of items:

  • Grouping: Support for dividing your page into sections;
  • Motion: Support for visual motion when moving/arranging blocks;
  • Column patterns and widths: Support for fixed column widths, and predefined layouts;
  • PHP 7.4: Support for the new version coming end of November;
  • And also: Build/Test updates, better administration of emails, and a lot of under-the-hood improvements!

As you can see, most of these updates are focused on polishing current interactions in WordPress and are aiming to make the UIs more user-friendly.

In the Dev chat for WordPress 5.3 that followed, the new default theme (by the name of, you’ll never guess it, Twenty-Twenty) was mentioned.

Block Editor plugins: New powerful features

It’s been 9 months since we were all introduced to the new Block Editor in project Gutenberg, and it’s been amazing to see what clever integrations people have come up with to extend it. The new features of two existing plugins caught my eye last week: check out these great additions to Atomic Blocks and EditorKit.

Atomic Blocks

Atomic Blocks introduced a new Section and Layout block. It provides pre-designed section and layouts for your site. A very clever way to inject predefined designs to your content. You can check out this video to get an idea of how powerful this feature is.

EditorsKit

The other features that caught my eye are part of EditorKit. It’s a plugin that provides a set of block options to extend the way you are building content for WordPress Gutenberg Block Editor. And it, too, has a video showing its options:

As you can see, these two plugins allow for wonderful extensions of the Block Editor. Take them for a spin if you haven’t tried them yet.

Bonus links

  • We’ve talked about WPGraphQL before here, and for those interested, I discovered a WordPress source theme for Gatsby that uses WPGraphQL on the WordPress end on Github. Check it out if you want to play around with new technologies.
  • In need of a crash course on WordPress with WPGraphQL, ACF, and React? Reddit has got you covered.
  • Decided to throw in an SEO link as well as I stumbled upon a pretty awesome resource if you use Google Sheets. It’s called Sheets for Marketers and it features over 100 templates for everything: from on-page SEO to reporting and from scraping to project management.

The post WordPress 5.3, Atomic Blocks and EditorsKit appeared first on Yoast.

Syntax-highlighting Code Block, theme accessibility news and Gutenberg 6.2

After a short break, we’ve returned with a new WordPress Watch. In today’s edition, let’s check out a cool new way to share your code in the block editor. We’ll also look at some nice updates to the Gutenberg project – which includes new features for the block editor in the next major release of WordPress. And, there’s some news regarding accessible themes on WordPress.org. Here we go!

Syntax highlighting code in the Block Editor

Up until now, it’s still been kind of a pain to share code with proper syntax highlighting in the Gutenberg block editor. I say up until now because Weston Rutter released a cool plugin that takes care of this wonderfully now.

Weston, who works at the WordPress team at Google, created a plugin that works in a very smart way. It doesn’t require extra JavaScript to be loaded to display the syntax highlighting. And, it works by extending the default WordPress code block. Additionally, you have a whole bunch of options to define what the syntax actually looks like. For instance, if you want it to look like how Github does its highlighting, that’s totally possible!

Interested to learn more? Check out the Syntax-highlighting Code Block plugin page.

WordPress.org themes see accessibility updates

The WordPress Theme Review Team has been pushing the standards towards better quality themes for a while now. One aspect that receives a lot of focus is the accessibility of the themes available on WordPress.org.

For example, the TRT recently announced that all themes will be required to add keyboard navigation. Another example is the requirement to include skip links.

Now, having Accessibility requirements is great, of course, but seeing them implemented by theme authors is where it’s at. I’m really happy to see tweets like this one by Alexander Agnarson from Alx Media, announcing that all of his themes are now making use of skip links. You can check out his themes here.

Gutenberg 6.2

We saw the release of Gutenberg 6.2 and with it came two new features that were added based on community feedback. The Cover & Image+Text blocks now allow for nesting any type of block inside.

Up until now, you could only add three specific elements. Namely, a button, heading, or paragraph block, to the Cover block. This resulted in people hacking their way around these restrictions.

The solution was fairly simple -removing the restrictions was basically all it took- and now users have greater flexibility in creating versatile Cover blocks.

The post Syntax-highlighting Code Block, theme accessibility news and Gutenberg 6.2 appeared first on Yoast.