OK – for the past three years I have been avoiding the WordPress Gutenberg Block editor. At first it was simply because back in 2018 when I looked into it – it was not very good or usable. Later it just became a thing. I converted sites over to https://www.classicpress.net/ to assure the existence of the old standard editor on my sites. For simple pages the old classic editor was easy and reliable. For complex pages I have used the page builder from SiteOrigin, which more than met all my needs for more complex formatting. Using the Classic Editor was a lot like using a word processor. That made the learning curve for bloggers and others almost non existent.
But it is now 2021, and Gutenberg (the block editor) has been in development for years. Today my wife who has a blog hosted by WordPress.com was pulling out her hair because WordPress.com had shut her off from having the choice to use the old classic editor and forced her and other bloggers hosted on WordPress.com to use the block editor. This added to my interest in taking another look.
To quote my wife’s reaction “This is stupid, why do they need to change something that was working well?” and “Why would they not, at least, give the option to continue using the old way?” To which I replied “Perhaps they knew that no one would willingly use the block editor if there was another option.”
So what is my assessment of the Block Editor as it is in March of 2021? Today’s Block Editor seems less buggy but no less cumbersome to use. Over the past weeks I have duplicated the home page of Hinterlandspress.com using only the Block editor. The result was mostly successful and a close match. To give credit where it is due. The formatting of the home page was quite readily achieved using the block editor. But I sorta cheated. I used a group of classic blocks to do the actual work. Without using the classic blocks to allow more free form formatting, building the page with blocks would have been very tedious.
Probably the most irritating part of working in the Block Editor is that the tools for working with it are mostly hidden unless you click on just the right place at the right time. The second irritation is the huge amount of useless white space inside the Block Editor.
The Block Editor has totally failed as what-you-see-is-what-you-get editing. For example when you enter the caption to an embed image it seems to be Aligned Centered inside the Editor but when viewed in the preview it is aligned Left. If you are concerned about the careful formatting this will drive you nuts. Things that look wrong on the edit page look fine in preview and sometimes the other way around.
In short I will still be avoiding the WordPress Gutenberg Block editor where I can but it is something I may have to make my peace with.
If you are hosted somewhere that allows plugins. There is a classic editor plugin that allows the return to using the classic editor. https://wordpress.org/plugins/classic-editor/
If you are hosted on WordPress.com the work arrounds keep getting more difficult. This blog post explains the newest way to get classic editor back for WordPress.com users. https://thebelmontrooster.com/2021/04/01/classic-editor-issue-fixed-again-new-method/
If you are going to use Blocks:
A plugin called Fatso https://wordpress.org/plugins/fatso/ It expands the usable size of Gutenberg working space to use the existing space rather than limit it to 610 pixels in the center of the screen.
Yet another plugin called Editor Block Outline https://wordpress.org/plugins/editor-block-outline/ puts a simple line to outline blocks so that you can see where one starts and the next ends.
Together these two plugins do make using Blocks a bit better. But as the block editor changes a bit with every WordPress Update, there is no guarantee these plugins will continue to work.