Some people just don’t like change. No matter how much better a tool is, they always prefer the older one. We all know people like that. It’s neither a bad, nor a good thing. They come around eventually, but it takes time.
I, however, am the complete opposite. I LOVE trying out new stuff. A new tool excites me with the opportunity for an improved workflow. Precious seconds shaved off a routine task, give me a high. I’m what you may call an “early adopter”.
So I was eager to try Gutenberg. I was willing to give it the benefit of the doubt. I tried to overlook its flaws. But I couldn’t. It turned me off so bad, I’m not sure I can ever use it. It’s not because of bugs. It’s the entire philosophy. It jars me on so many levels.
Why Is It So Cluttered?
Text editors are moving towards a “minimalistic” approach. Fewer distractions. Fewer buttons. Full screens. Any improvement over the traditional WordPress editor needs to adhere to that standard.
While Gutenberg might look as if there are fewer distractions, the reality is something else entirely. For example, this is what you see when you’re just starting to write a post:
There are popups everywhere. There’s a “plus” button to add a new paragraph (as if anyone needs a separate button for it), and popups for images, headings etc. And this only gets worse as you write. Popups appear whenever you move your mouse button over previous content.
For example, in the middle of writing, this appears:
These popups make me feel like I’m visiting an ad-ridden site with spammy links everywhere. The popups hide previous content and make it impossible to get a clear view of what you’re writing.
We Don’t Need EVERYTHING to Be a “Block”
Gutenberg segregates all content into “blocks”. An image is a block. A heading is a block. Even a paragraph is a block:
What’s the purpose of this? Has anyone ever need so many manipulation options for paragraphs? How often has this thought crossed your mind?
“Hmm…I wish I could exchange two paragraphs”
And now decide if you want to dedicate an entire UI element for that functionality. Instead of just cutting and pasting the old paragraph where you want it to go, you now have to deal with annoying up and down arrow buttons next to the paragraphs every time you move the mouse cursor.
Here’s how you add a new paragraph in Gutenberg:
The old way used to be “Just press the enter key”. Now an entirely new UI has been added for the important and previously so difficult talk of adding a new paragraph /sarcasm.
Shortcuts are Broken. Workflow is Broken
Previously if you wanted to make something an “H2” heading, you just pressed Ctrl+Shift+2. No need to use the mouse. Now, you need to hover over the line, click the popup, select “Transform to” heading like this:
And that’s not even the worst! Need to go to the beginning of a document using the keyboard alone? You can’t do it! Universally, “Ctrl+Home” is how we all go to the “top” of our documents. Now with Gutenberg, that shortcut is broken. It only takes you to the top of the current block. Years of muscle memory are broken.
Neither can you select a portion of the text of a block when selecting across paragraphs:
Bottom Line: A Page Builder is Not an Editor
The entire premise of “blocks” in Gutenberg is that it’s easy to duplicate, rename, and move around blocks. But that’s not how people write. It’s a great idea for a page builder where you need reusable UI elements. But a post editor is for writing. With no distractions. No popups. Where all our keyboard shortcuts work.
The WordPress Gutenberg editor seems to have an identity crisis. It wants to be a text editor but works like a page builder. Make up your mind Automattic! You can’t have both.