as mentioned above ..
end of ..
voice from phone ..
as mentioned above ..
end of ..
voice from phone ..
As has become usual, there have been a number of minor releases in the wake of version 5.6 which was released back in December, 2020. They typically comprise bug and security fixes. There were two releases on this occasion: 5.6.1 (February 3rd, 2021) and 5.6.2 (February 22nd, 2021).
This release concentrates principally on polishing the block editor. There is still no sign of the promised navigation block (menus) or of block-based widgets. It seems to me that they will form part and parcel of Full Site Editing when that appears.
Other changes include: improvements to import / export; the ability to send a reset password link to a contributor to your site; two security-related additions; plus a range of updates which are aimed at developers of WordPress.
FSE is the principal focus of phase two of the WordPress Gutenberg project.
Put very succinctly, the idea behind FSE is to provide the ability to visually customise the theme, as well as the content, rather than use the Customiser. This includes the likes of headers, menus, footers and sidebars.
However, FSE will only work with block-based themes. What are they, you might ask? Block-based themes are composed of block templates. This is all part of the move to the situation where everything in WordPress will be stored in blocks. Block-based themes are very new, and there are currently very few of them around at this time. An article in WPTavern on February 24th, 2021 indicated that there were only four in the WordPress.org theme directory at that time, and they are all described as experimental.
When will FSE appear? In WordPress 5.8, they say. As an old IT cynic, I think that towards the end of 2021 is a more likely date for the initial version.
What will FSE mean to you? Unless block-based versions of existing themes are produced, which I doubt, it should not affect you at all, assuming that you stay with your existing theme. But we shall have to wait and see.
FSE may be a brave new world, but it seems to me that it will take quite some time for it to become widely used within the WordPress ecosystem.
As has become usual, there have been a number of minor releases in the wake of version 5.5 which was released back in August. They typically comprise bug and security fixes. There were three releases on this occasion: 5.5.1 (September 1st), 5.5.2 (October 29th) and 5.5.3 (October 31st).
The main features in this release include:
Block editor. Seven versions (8.6 through to 9.2) of the Gutenberg development project for the block editor have been included, along with relevant bug fixes and performance improvements that subsequently arrived in versions 9.3 and 9.4. The general focus can be described as ongoing improvements to the editor and to the user’s experience. However, two major developments, the navigation block and block-based widgets, which were scheduled for this release were pulled from it. This is not the first time that the navigation block has been pulled. Obviously, it is proving somewhat problematic.
WordPress.org. There are a number of updates which specifically apply to these users: support for PHP 8 which was released on November 26th, 2020; an updated user interface for auto-updates, allowing users to opt-in to major updates; and 11 updates to the Site Health Check function.
The Twenty Twenty-One theme is introduced. It is based on the lightweight Seedlet theme which was released in August, 2020. I have not previously made it clear, and I should have done, that new default themes which are shipped by Automattic, the developers of WordPress.com, are based on the block editor, i.e. they are not relevant to users of the classic editor. This started with the Twenty Nineteen theme.
One hopes that the navigation and widget blocks will appear in 5.7!? Meanwhile, development of full-site editing continues in the Gutenberg project. I am not expecting to see it before mid-2021 at the very earliest. I read somewhere that only block-based themes will support full-site editing. I will wait to see if this is true. If it is then there are not going to be many users of it for quite some time.
As mentioned in the April newsletter, WordPress 5.4 was officially released on March 31st, 2020. There have since been two maintenance releases, resolving security flaws, fixing various bugs and introducing a couple of enhancements: 5.4.1 came out on April 29th, 2020; and 5.4.2 on June 10th, 2020.
This newsletter primarily summarises WordPress 5.5 which was released on August 11th, 2020. See the official WordPress 5.5 release post for more detailed information or the WordPress 5.5 field guide if you are looking for something that is slightly more technical.
Versions 7.5 to 8.4 of the Gutenberg project (alias the block editor project) have been included in this release. The main features are described below.
The block editor user interface continues to be refined. It includes: further use of colour in an increasing number of blocks; control of the font size in various blocks; the introduction of some inline image editing facilities; copy / relocate blocks more easily; refined drag and drop mechanism; multiple-block selection; and extended use of HTML anchors. Two new features have been introduced under the title of block tools: some blocks, notably the paragraph block, will have a line height option; and the cover block will have a custom unit option to control its size.
Note – HTML anchors allow you to specify a link which takes the user to a specified place within a post or page, as opposed to the beginning. An anchor was limited to a heading block, heading level two only if my memory serves me correctly. It has now been extended to other blocks, e.g. paragraph blocks.
XML sitemaps have been introduced to make it easier for search engines to crawl the content of a site comprehensively and quickly.
Auto-updating of themes and plug-ins. It is now possible for WordPress.org users to set up their sites to allow these updates to be performed automatically. Control can be exercised at the level of an individual theme or plug-in.
Lazy-loading of images means that they will happen only when the user nears them on the page or post. On a long page or post the user may not actually reach some images, which therefore will not need to be loaded, resulting in a bandwidth saving / performance improvement.
The block directory has been introduced which allows WordPress.org users access to individual third-party blocks. Before version 5.5, sets of blocks were stored in the plug-in directory. A complete set of blocks had to be downloaded even if you only wanted one of them. The new block directory now allows you to access only the block(s) that you want.
Block patterns have been announced although they have been present on my version of WordPress.com for a number of months! Block patterns make use of the group block feature to construct more complex, ready-made blocks which can be inserted into your page or post and subsequently modified. A limited number of such pre-built patterns are available for use. This may (or may not) be an initial step towards giving WordPress a true page-building facility.
Preview. It is now possible in the editor to see how your page or post will look on a desktop, tablet or mobile device. Once again, this feature has actually been available on my version of WordPress.com for several months.
Accessibility improvements are part of an ongoing project. There are 34 updates in this release. See the field guide for further details.
Automattic, the owner of WordPress.com, has been using P2, a home- built piece of software, to allow electronic collaboration between developers for sometime. They are now making a beta version of it available to WordPress.com users. If you are interested then read this blog in the first instance.
It is difficult to be precise about what will be in version 5.6 of WordPress, which is due out in December, 2020. Various projects are simultaneously in progress, but it remains to be seen which of them will be considered ready to be released in the next version.
Navigation blocks (alias menus to you and me) and widget blocks were both due to appear in 5.5. However, they were pulled from the release late on. Perhaps they will make it into 5.6?
Accessibility improvements will continue to appear, and there will no doubt be an assortment of other refinements and enhancements.
Another major project that is currently in progress is Full Site Editing (FSE). It is in its infancy at the moment, and so it is not totally clear how the detailed design will look. However, it can be said that in the FSE world everything will be a block. So, not just the content, as at present. Headers, menus, footers, sidebars et cetera will also be implemented as blocks. The basic idea, as I understand it, is that an outline of the site will be displayed on the screen. Clicking on a particular area of this outline will take you into the relevant editing process. I am sure that it will all be much more complex than my one line description makes out! I consider that FSE is likely to appear sometime in 2021, i.e. it is extremely unlikely to be in 5.6. Have a look at this useful article in wpengine to gain a better understanding of the background to FSE and the general direction of travel.
Pierre de Coubertin
Inventor of Modern Olympics
Pierre de Coubertin
Inventor of Modern Olympics
Pierre de Coubertin
Founder of Modern Olympics
W. G. Grace
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<td>10 Mar 2020</td>
<td style=”text-align:center;”><a href=”https://sunningdale-pc.org.uk/council-meeting-10-march-2020/” target=”_blank” rel=”noopener”>Read</a></td>
<td>7 Jan 2020</td>
<td style=”text-align:center;”><a href=”https://sunningdale-pc.org.uk/council-meeting-7-jan-2020/” target=”_blank” rel=”noopener”>Read</a></td>
<td style=”text-align:center;”><a title=”Minutes 7 January 2020 – Unapproved” href=”https://sunningdaleparishcouncil.files.wordpress.com/2020/03/minutes-7-january-2020-unapproved.pdf”>Read</a></td>
<td>12 Nov 2019</td>
<td style=”text-align:center;”><a href=”https://sunningdale-pc.org.uk/council-meeting-12-nov-2019/”>Read</a></td>
<td style=”text-align:center;”><a title=”Minutes 12 November 2019″ href=”https://sunningdaleparishcouncil.files.wordpress.com/2020/02/minutes-12-november-2019.pdf”>Read</a></td>
<td>1 Oct 2019</td>
<td style=”text-align:center;”><a href=”https://sunningdale-pc.org.uk/council-meeting-1-oct-2019/”>Read</a></td>
<td style=”text-align:center;”><a title=”Minutes 1 October 2019″ href=”https://sunningdaleparishcouncil.files.wordpress.com/2019/11/minutes-1-october-2019-1.pdf”>Read</a></td>
<td>10 Sept 2019</td>
<td style=”text-align:center;”><a href=”https://sunningdale-pc.org.uk/council-meeting-tuesday-10-sept-2019/”>Read</a></td>
<td style=”text-align:center;”><a title=”Minutes 10 September 2019″ href=”https://sunningdaleparishcouncil.files.wordpress.com/2019/11/minutes-10-september-2019.pdf”>Read</a></td>
<td>9 July 2019</td>
<td style=”text-align:center;”><a title=”Council Meeting Agenda 9th July 2019″ href=”https://sunningdaleparishcouncil.files.wordpress.com/2019/07/council-meeting-agenda-9th-july-2019.pdf”>Read</a></td>
<td style=”text-align:center;”><a href=”https://sunningdaleparishcouncil.files.wordpress.com/2019/09/minutes-9-july-2019-.pdf”>Read</a></td>
<td>11 June 2019</td>
<td style=”text-align:center;”><a title=”Council Meeting Agenda 11th June 2019″ href=”https://sunningdaleparishcouncil.files.wordpress.com/2019/06/council-meeting-agenda-11th-june-2019.pdf”>Read</a></td>
<td style=”text-align:center;”><a title=”Minutes 11 June 2019″ href=”https://sunningdaleparishcouncil.files.wordpress.com/2019/07/minutes-11-june-2019-.pdf”>Read</a></td>
<td>7 May 2019</td>
<td style=”text-align:center;”><a title=”Annual Parish Council Meeting Agenda 7th May 2019″ href=”https://sunningdaleparishcouncil.files.wordpress.com/2019/05/annual-parish-council-meeting-agenda-7th-may-2019.pdf”>Read</a></td>
<td style=”text-align:center;”><a title=”Minutes 7 May 2019″ href=”https://sunningdaleparishcouncil.files.wordpress.com/2019/06/minutes-7-may-2019.pdf”>Read</a></td>
<td>9 April 2019</td>
<td style=”text-align:center;”><a title=”Agenda 9th April 2019″ href=”https://sunningdaleparishcouncil.files.wordpress.com/2019/04/agenda-9th-april-2019-1.pdf”>Read</a></td>
<td style=”text-align:center;”><a title=”Minutes 9th April 2019″ href=”https://sunningdaleparishcouncil.files.wordpress.com/2019/05/minutes-9th-april-2019.pdf”>Read</a></td>
<td>5 March 2019</td>
<td style=”text-align:center;”><a title=”Agenda 5th March 2019″ href=”https://sunningdaleparishcouncil.files.wordpress.com/2019/02/agenda-5th-march-2019.pdf”>Read</a></td>
<td style=”text-align:center;”><a title=”Minutes 5th March 2019″ href=”https://sunningdaleparishcouncil.files.wordpress.com/2019/04/minutes-5th-march-2019.pdf”>Read</a></td>
<td>5 February 2019</td>
<td style=”text-align:center;”><a title=”agenda5thfebruary2019″ href=”https://sunningdaleparishcouncil.files.wordpress.com/2019/01/agenda5thfebruary2019.pdf”>Read</a></td>
<td style=”text-align:center;”><a title=”Minutes 5th February 2019″ href=”https://sunningdaleparishcouncil.files.wordpress.com/2019/03/minutes-5th-february-2019.pdf”>Read</a></td>
<td>8 January 2019</td>
<td style=”text-align:center;”><a title=”agenda 8 january 2019″ href=”https://sunningdaleparishcouncil.files.wordpress.com/2019/01/agenda-8-january-2019.pdf”>Read</a></td>
<td style=”text-align:center;”><a title=”Minutes 8th January 2019″ href=”https://sunningdaleparishcouncil.files.wordpress.com/2019/02/minutes-8th-january-2019.pdf”>Read</a></td>
<td>13 November 2018</td>
<td style=”text-align:center;”><a title=”Agenda 13 November 2018″ href=”https://sunningdaleparishcouncil.files.wordpress.com/2018/11/agenda-13-november-2018.pdf”>Read</a></td>
<td style=”text-align:center;”><a title=”minutes 13th november 2018″ href=”https://sunningdaleparishcouncil.files.wordpress.com/2019/01/minutes-13th-november-2018-1.pdf”>Read</a></td>
<td>9 October 2018</td>
<td style=”text-align:center;”><a title=”Agenda 9 October 2018″ href=”https://sunningdaleparishcouncil.files.wordpress.com/2018/10/agenda-9-october-2018.pdf”>Read</a></td>
<td style=”text-align:center;”><a title=”minutes 9th october 2018″ href=”https://sunningdaleparishcouncil.files.wordpress.com/2019/01/minutes-9th-october-2018.pdf”>Read</a></td>
<td>14 August 2018</td>
<td style=”text-align:center;”><a title=”Agenda 14th August 2018″ href=”https://sunningdaleparishcouncil.files.wordpress.com/2018/08/agenda-14th-august-2018.pdf”>Read</a></td>
<td style=”text-align:center;”><a title=”Minutes 14th August 2018″ href=”https://sunningdaleparishcouncil.files.wordpress.com/2018/10/minutes-14th-august-2018.pdf”>Read</a></td>
<td>12 June 2018</td>
<td style=”text-align:center;”><a title=”Agenda 12th June 2018″ href=”https://sunningdaleparishcouncil.files.wordpress.com/2018/06/agenda-12th-june-20181.pdf”>Read</a></td>
<td style=”text-align:center;”><a title=”Minutes 12th June 2018″ href=”https://sunningdaleparishcouncil.files.wordpress.com/2018/08/minutes-12th-june-2018.pdf”>Read</a></td>
<td>8 May 2018</td>
<td style=”text-align:center;”><a title=”Annual Parish Council Meeting Agenda 8th May 2018″ href=”https://sunningdaleparishcouncil.files.wordpress.com/2018/05/annual-parish-council-meeting-agenda-8th-may-2018.pdf”>Read</a></td>
<td style=”text-align:center;”><a title=”Minutes 8th May 2018″ href=”https://sunningdaleparishcouncil.files.wordpress.com/2018/08/minutes-8th-may-2018.pdf”>Read</a></td>
This newsletter coincides with the release of WordPress 5.4.
Just for information. There were two maintenance releases back in December 2019, 5.3.1 and 5.3.2, which comprised a small number of security and bug fixes.
Several recent changes have been made to WordPress.com which are not part of the Gutenberg project.
My Home is displayed on the Calypso interface after you have clicked on My Site(s) as part of the login process. It contains a number of quick links which allow faster access to various parts of the system.
Page Layouts. When you add a new page you will now be presented with a screen which allows you to pick a layout for it. I would personally call it a template, but WordPress uses that term in a different context. There is quite a wide range of layouts. If you are not interested in any of them then simply select the blank layout. This blog describes the feature in more detail.
This appeared in my WordPress.com account last Thursday (March 26th, 2020). The general layout looks more professional. It includes redesigned icons, better spacing, text colour options and a range of initial block patterns that can be incorporated into posts / pages. See the relevant blog for more information.
I must admit that I am confused with the timing of this introduction. The features recently appeared in Gutenberg 7.7 which, when you read the section below on the WordPress 5.4 release, you will see is post WordPress 5.4?!
The latest version of WordPress was released to WordPress.org users on March 31st, 2020. It will follow shortly on WordPress.com. It incorporates 10 Gutenberg development releases, from 6.6 to 7.5.
FYI – Gutenberg releases appear approximately once a fortnight. They are mainly for internal use by the WordPress developers although they are available as a plugin on WordPress.org for anybody who is brave enough to play with it (but this is absolutely not recommended for typical users or for use on production sites).
WordPress 5.4 could be best described as a release which concentrates on polishing the block editor. It includes:
A quick reminder on the overall Gutenberg project. It is said that it will consist of four phases:
We are currently in phase 2, and tentative dates for further releases in 2020 are August for WordPress 5.5 and December for WordPress 5.6. I consider that this phase will probably go into 2021. Obviously, any talk of dates is purely speculative at the moment, given the COVID-19 virus.
It might be useful to know that work on the various aspects of phase 2 goes on in parallel. Decisions on what will be incorporated in any given release depend on the stability of the relevant software at the time, and on whether it fits coherently into the overall design at the time. For example, the navigation block (the menu in old money) was considered to be ready to go into 5.4. However, it did not fit coherently into the current design, and so it has been put on one side for the moment.
Work on the full-site editing feature continues. A prototype was developed back in September 2019 if you want to take a look at how it might possibly appear. I suspect that it will be WordPress 5.6, probably later, before it is likely to be released.
The block directory, a home for third-party blocks, is currently planned for inclusion in WordPress 5.5. It will primarily be for use by WordPress.org users.
The ability for WordPress.org users to control the automatic updating of plugins and themes is also slated for WordPress 5.5.
Finally, XML Sitemaps can be used by search engines to discover the content on a website with less fuss. A WordPress prototype, implemented as a plugin, has recently been developed. Presumably, it will eventually appear in the core WordPress product at some point.
Here are some notes if you have an interest in this subject:
You can browse any of the forums without logging in. However, if you wish to participate, e.g. start a new topic, then you will need to log in with your relevant account details.
The forums are manned by a mixture of Automattic employees, WordPress contributors, volunteers and ordinary users like you and me.
Beware that if you ask a question which relates to the other set of forums, then you will be politely requested to redirect it.
WordPress Version 5.2 was launched back in May 2019. Three minor versions (5.2.1 through to 5.2.3) subsequently followed at intervals, consisting mainly of bug fixes with the occasional enhancement. 5.2.4, a security fix release, appeared a month ago.
The latest major version, 5.3, has just been made available to WordPress.org users on November 12th, 2019. It will follow shortly to WordPress.com users. The main focus of this release is to polish current interactions and to make the user interface more friendly. A new theme, Twenty Twenty, is included in the release.
Development continues with new versions appearing every fortnight as Gutenberg plugins (Gutenberg being the project name). Gutenberg versions 5.4 through to 6.5 have been incorporated into WordPress 5.3, along with bug fixes and performance enhancements in 6.6 and 6.7 Changes include:
Site admin email verification. This new screen will be displayed once every 6 months. It has been introduced because of problems where sites do not keep this email address up to date, resulting in important emails not being delivered to the current site admin.
Page templates. I have recently discovered on my WordPress.com account which runs the block editor that “add new page” now produces a display of various possible page templates that can be used. As I am not interested in any of them, I simply select the blank template.
Discouraging search engines. The method employed to keep a site secret, where this was required by the site owner, was only moderately successful. A change has been made to make it more likely that search engines will not display such sites.
Improved date / time component handling.
Site Health Check (WordPress.org users). Further features have been added.
PHP Support (WordPress.org users). PHP 7.4, which is due out shortly, will be supported.
Fixes. WordPress version 5.3 includes a lot of bug fixes and minor changes, generally making the product more reliable, while ironing out some of the idiosyncrasies.
Accessibility improvements for WordPress users. There are 50 updates in this area, including improved media controls, darker field borders and improved button styles.
I have been using the new block editor on my own website (bkthisandthat.org.uk) and on several other sites since January 2019. I have discovered a couple of minor bugs which I have reported, but I have generally found it to be stable.
My only concern at the present time is with tables. Before the block editor the user had to handcraft HTML tables. There is now a table block. However, HTML tables with empty cells or images will not convert correctly to a table block. The table block itself is somewhat rudimentary. In particular, it does not allow column widths to be specified, nor does it allow an image in a table cell.
I have dabbled with the media and text block and with the columns block. Neither is perfect at the current time. The media and text block does not appear to adhere to the margins that are used in the theme, at least not in my theme. The columns block is just about usable.
Gutenberg development has four phases:
Phase two (customisation) is currently in progress which includes headers, footers, menus and sidebars. A proposed design under the umbrella title of “full site editing” was put forward in September where these various elements, as well as the main content section, are each called block areas. The block editor would be able to display all block areas, just as a post or page might appear on the screen, and to work on any of them. Alternatively, a specified block area could be displayed on its own and worked on. At a very rough guess, it is likely to be mid-2020 before such a major change appears, always assuming that the idea is carried forward.
Auto-updating old versions (WordPress.org users). WordPress supplies security fixes back as far back as version 3.7, which was launched in October 2013. However, the effort required to support these old versions is an ever-growing problem. It is now proposed that, unless they deliberately opt out, old WordPress.org sites will be automatically updated (one version at a time) until they are on version 4.7. There has been much animated debate on this subject. It remains to be seen if the proposal will be adopted.
WordPress Version 5.2, was made available on May 7, 2019. In summary, the functional enhancements in this release are mainly aimed at WordPress.org users although work has also gone into improving the general block editor experience. The changes will be incorporated into WordPress.com shortly, where appropriate.
This is an ongoing project, principally for WordPress.org users. WordPress version 5.2 includes Improved Fatal Error Protection which aims to catch serious errors before they produce the “white screen of death”, allowing a login to admin to potentially resolve the problem.
In addition, there are two new pages in the admin interface (under tools) that allow you to check out the health of your site via a number of tests.
This subject seems to trundle on and on! 5.6 is now the minimum version of PHP that can run WordPress. However, as I have mentioned before, the PHP people only support version 7.0 and above. Unless there are mitigating circumstances WordPress.org users should be on version 7.0 or above.
WordPress 5.2 will not now be installed on your site if you are not on PHP 5.6 or greater. This minimum version requirement is likely to go up to 7.0 before the end of the year .. famous last words!
Similarly, WordPress will now check that any installed plugin is compatible with the version of PHP that you have installed. If it is not then the plugin will not be activated.
WordPress version 5.2 includes a lot of bug fixes and minor changes, generally making the product more reliable, while ironing out some of the idiosyncrasies.
The following items are not related to the version 5.2 release, per se.
I have been using the new block editor on my own website (bkthisandthat.org.uk) and on the Ascot Volunteer Bureau website since January 2019. I have found it to be stable. The current issues for me are:
There is no pressure at this time for users to convert to the block editor. As I said last time, it has been stated that the Classic Editor will be supported until December 2021. Perhaps the end of this year may be a useful time to assess the current state of play and possibly consider converting.
Sidebars and footers. It is important to realise that the implementation of widget blocks thus far has been limited to their use in the main body of the screen. What has not been mentioned is the use of widgets in sidebars and footers where we have historically used them. WordPress has now issued a Blocks in Widget Areas RFC (Request for Comments). This means that they have a draft design for handling widgets in sidebars and footers, and they are asking for some feedback before continuing. It may be late summer or autumn before any agreed design is actually implemented.
Navigation Menu. Work continues on the Implementation of the navigation menu as a block, but it is unclear to me where they are with this. They were struggling to agree on a design when last I heard.
Block directory. As mentioned earlier, third-party blocks are currently installed as plugins, usually in collections that consist of multiple blocks. I get the impression that this is seen as a short-term solution. There are design discussions on implementing a separate block directory whereby they can be incorporated individually into your site. This facility will be principally aimed at Wordpress.org users.
Wp-admin dashboard. There is a proposal to revamp it, using blocks. It remains to be seen if this gets off the ground, and if so when. WordPress.com users who use the Calypso interface will not be affected by this possible change. See this post if you are unclear about the different WordPress.com dashboards.
Finally, a few words on this subject which deals with improving the experience of individuals with disabilities. Please be aware, if you are not already, that WCAG 2.1 (Web Content Accessibility Guidelines) was issued in June 2018. Public Sector bodies, including central and local government, plus some charities and some non-government organisations (not sure precisely what “some” means at the moment), must comply with these guidelines by September 2020. There are two strands that concern us:
I refer to WordPress.com’s front-end dashboards at different times. This short item is simply to explain that WordPress.com has two different front-ends.
The original front-end to WordPress is invoked through the wp-admin dashboard. This is still the case for WordPress.org users and for older WordPress. com users. Here is an example ..
In 2015 Automattic, the owners of WordPress.com, introduced an alternative front-end, called Calypso. They will try to persuade you to use it rather than the wp-admin dashboard. They say that it is faster. I must admit that I have not found it so, and it is also missing some of the features that can be found on the wp-admin dashboard. Anyway, it is there and some of you may be using it. Here is an example of the Calypso dashboard ..
Some users may find that there is an option on the Calypso dashboard (probably at the bottom) to switch to the wp-admin dashboard if you should wish to do this. An alternative method, if this option is not shown, is to change the url by typing wp-admin after the domain name.
From late September 2018, selected WordPress.com users have been given the opportunity to try Gutenberg out. I have been trying it out on this website. My main objective has been to ensure that my existing content will work with Gutenberg. I currently use the Independent Publisher 2 theme which is aimed at people who want a simple theme where the word is king.
Please note that all observations in this post relate to tests that were performed during the last week of September, 2018. If you are reading this some months later it is possible that things may have moved on. Caveat lector (let the reader beware).
You probably know that there are two ways to invoke the editor in WordPress.com, via the original WP Admin dashboard or via Calypso. If you activate Gutenberg at the current time you will find that it only operates through the dashboard where you can decide whether to open a post / page in the Gutenberg editor (the default) or in the Classic editor. Opening a post or page in Calypso is limited to the use of the Classic Editor.
You may not have heard the term Calypso but WordPress.com users should recognise it from this screen capture. Clicking Site Pages or Blog Posts invokes the editor.
I started off with my largest document “A potted history of Association Football in England” which weighed in at 21K words. This is not a straightforward document. It includes: a quotes paragraph; a self-built HTML table of contents with links so that a reader can jump straight to a specific section; standard images from the media library; images from the Getty Images library (which are implemented by using shortcodes); and a number of bordered sections built with HTML which contain information which does not really fit in with the natural flow of the text. A brief explanation of shortcodes. They are essentially macros. One use is to provide the same functionality in the main body of a post or page that is available in some of the popular widgets, e.g. to display a gallery.
Opening the page in the Gutenberg editor for the first time results in the display of a single Classic block. This can be edited in a similar fashion to how you work now. You could in fact keep the document as a single Classic block if you so wished. However, the major drawback at the moment is that you cannot insert an image or a contact form into a Classic block. I have previously mentioned this deficiency. To me, this renders the Classic block practically unusable. I do not know if they are going to rectify this problem.
One of the options is to convert this single Classic block into multiple native Gutenberg blocks. This task took 25 seconds for my large document. While this was not unexpected, there was no indication that anything was happening, leading to the “did I really click on that option? .. should I click it again?” syndrome. Now, it has to be said that the vast majority of posts and pages are relatively small and they should observe no significant delay when performing block conversion.
Standard WordPress facilities were converted without any trouble. This is good news.
However, where a user makes use of HTML to produce effects that the current version of WordPress does not provide “out of the box”, the converter struggles.
My table of contents no longer worked. The section labels (they call them anchors in HTML) had disappeared. It appears that the converter is quite fussy about how they are defined, whereas the current version of WordPress is not. I had to manually alter all my section labels in the original version of the footie document, and then the converter worked OK.
My bordered sections which are enclosed in HTML div and /div statements were also not correctly converted. The borders disappeared and what should have been one block turned into two, and sometimes more, blocks. I was forced to set up a custom HTML block and recreate the bordered section from scratch. This was a bit painful. Fortunately, there are only four of them in this document.
I subsequently extended the testing to various other documents on this site.
The local history of Sunninghill & Ascot is currently the most popular item on the site. It includes several shortcodes to display galleries. They converted without any trouble. It also contains a table of contents. Forewarned by my experience with the footie history, I manually changed the section labels so that the converter would not get upset.
I use HTML-created tables in various places on other pages in my website. The converter recognised the fact that they were tables and created table blocks, albeit not very satisfactorily. Cells that contain images were not displayed in the editor but did appear on the rendered website page, while empty cells just disappeared totally. In addition, a table block, whether an existing table that has been converted or a newly inserted table block, insists on making each column the same width, not something that I want. Somewhat bizarrely, my converted tables appeared with the correct column widths in the editor but not on the website. I have to say that I am not impressed with table blocks at the moment. When I implemented the original HTML tables as custom HTML blocks they worked satisfactorily. I propose to adopt this approach until such time as the table block is improved.
One idiosyncrasy of WordPress is that the display of a post or page may look different in the editor from how it looks on the website, i.e. you do not necessarily get WYSIWYG. The degree of difference can vary from theme to theme. It seemed to me to be more pronounced in Gutenberg, but this may just be the Independent Publisher 2 theme that I am using?
Please note that any existing posts / pages whose content remains unchanged will display satisfactorily on the site, i.e. it is not necessary to convert them.
Re performance, loading the very large footie history page on the website was sluggish on the existing version of WordPress, and it was even slower on the Gutenberg version of the page. I had already decided to split it up into multiple pages .. something which I have now done.
Finally, I tried out a copy and paste from another application. I have been in the habit of penning the initial drafty words of my articles in Microsoft Word, and then at some point copying and pasting them into WordPress. The words in this post were originally part of a larger article in Word. When I pasted this content into a paragraph block it included the Word formatting as well as the text. In WordPress 4.x there is an option to just paste the text, but there appears to be no similar option in the paragraph block. My workaround was to create a Classic block, set the paste as text option, perform the paste, and lastly convert the classic block into Gutenberg blocks.