My thoughts about WordPress 5.0 and the new editor

I gotta say, right off the bat, the editing  experience on this is way, way, way nicer than using the old editor.

I had my doubts WordPress team, but for the rushed timeline, frantic feedback, and confusing timelines, I am actually quite impressed with how everything is working so far.

It seems like a lot of feedback has been taken on board and a lot of functionality I was worried about has been fixed, which is awesome. In fact, the editor as of right now has exceeded all my expectations, and although there are a few UX issues, they are pretty minor, and I hope it will only get better from here.

Accessibility wise however, I believe there are still outstanding issues which I feel need to be fixed ASAP – including editing different blocks with the keyboard. I only hope the team puts this as their highest priority as I did try using Gutenberg with the keyboard and it wasn’t a fun experience. I know the reasons why 5.0 was rushed out for this release is controversial, however I do understand where Matt Mullenweg is coming from when he talked about the release being just the first iteration of many more iterations of the new editor. It’s constantly being improved upon, and there is still support for the classic editor until 2021 I believe so it’s not a huge issue to just use the classic editor plugin for now.

I’ve developed a few sites in the lead up to this release, and it’s been a minefield of tackling little documentation about how to code for this new release and trying to give constructive feedback at the same time.
The UX of the entire experience was a primary concern for me, mainly because of Gutenberg’s reliance on hover states for essential actions. It definitely takes some getting used to and I’m still not sold on many of it’s interactions or design to be quite honest. I would love for WordPress’ backened to just get a complete makeover, and put more focus on the editor and essential links. However I think with time and more feedback these designs will hopefully be improved upon.

Now that Gutenberg is integrated into core, I have actually changed my mind quite a lot about Gutenberg and the future of WordPress. I can only imagine how hard the team must have worked to relay feedback and integrate it into the whole process…now that I am using it now I can see why there was such a huge emphasis placed on the editor. I never really thought about it but it is such an integral part of the WordPress experience and having used other CMS editors I have to say Gutenberg is by far the most advanced and impressive I have used. Just take the tables block for a whirl and be amazed. I mean, I for one, was completely impressed. Where else can you edit a table like that online, for free?! And spit out legible code?!?!? 

There are a lot of good things going on in this new editor, and although there are a few clunky controls (eg. the gallery block) I am overall excited to see where this will lead to in the future.

That said, I wish the WordPress team focused more on page metadata and making it easier to control and display the post content and custom post types, because for me I feel like this is the weakest aspect of WordPress when creating a custom site.

WordPress’ blogging origins are still a huge part of the functionality today, and I feel like things like the_content are outdated, for many reasons I may detail in another blog post. To sum up a long story into a short block, it sometimes makes no sense to have the post content before metadata fields like subheadings etc., essentially creating an illogical page of custom fields that don’t correlate to it’s display output. It’s this disconnect which is by far one of the things that makes WordPress less usable for everyday people (ie. non developers). 

So now I am wondering…does this release mean more react and less php? It definitely seems that way………..I am still not convinced about using JS for everything. However, the more I use this the more I realise maybe I need to be more open minded and less cynical about where the web is heading… I am not opposed to learning react more in depth to be able to customise the editor more, but that also comes with a lot of things I have my doubts about, including more dependencies, more abstraction of html and css, and also the fact that everything will eventually be in JS. It does make me a little uneasy because it closely pairs the display with the functionality, which to me seems like a bad idea. That said, I have used the Netlify CMS, thoroughly enjoyed the experience, and gone a bit into its code and I can see it’s merit. Maybe I just need to use react more and convince myself that it’s a good solution like what happened with me, this release and gutenberg…lool.

Ps. I am going to find a way to get my custom emojis back…I may need to make a custom block for it. :/ I need my pixel emoticons back! 

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