Let’s Talk Blocks

If you haven't been following, WordPress is undertaking a potentially calamitous (okay that's a bit dramatic) update to the TinyMCE composer. It's been relatively untouched since nearly a decade ago, and oddly enough — the composer is pretty much at the core of web publishing. So some people are going to have some opinions. Go figure.

Tammie Lister of Automattic authored a comprehensive guide on the basic design principles of the blocks of Gutenberg. In her introduction:

Have you ever wondered what something is called within Gutenberg? This guide is meant to help by giving the names and the expected behaviour of some of the basic design elements. If you want to build blocks and extend Gutenberg, knowing what to use or not is important. This is meant as a starting point, not a full description of all design elements.

Tammie is super cool. She has some slides from the London Wordcamp up on Github, along with some other neat resources. I particularly enjoyed some of the potential ideas for Gutenberg (collaborative editing, apps in the sidebar such as WoldframAlpha or Spellcheck). Which would make sense. Gutenberg is for managing content and Customizer will (soon) be for managing design.

Mark my words. The days of drag-and-drop, shortcode, bloat-inducing layout builder plugins will be coming to an end.

Layout builders and their silly shortcodes

Layout builders (such as Divi or Elementor) originally cropped up in response to WordPress plainly lacking proper layout solutions for the common laymen (imagine tools like Wix or SquareSpace).

Many of them have unique and effective layout/templating solutions. But, boy do they produce bloat. WordPress users that use these tools inherit so much technical debt. I don't think the updates coming to Gutenberg (and Customizer for that matter) will solve all of the issues users have, but I certainly believe it will address a lot of them. I for one, am excited to see what comes out of this.

Further Reading:

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