WordPress Updates & Things of That Nature

WordPress Gutenberg Visual Composer

Here at Hostwinds, we’ve been thinking a lot about WordPress. “Why?” is the perfect question to ask.

The answer: Updates are in the air. Namely, the Gutenberg update. Namely PART 2, Hostwinds now offering a WordPress plugin called Visual Composer as one of our applications to tack onto your cloud server in the Hostwinds Cloud Portal. Let’s have a little chittie chat about both. We’ll start with Gutenberg.

BUT FIRST: For those who aren’t familiar with WordPress, it is a software application that makes website building sweet and simple even for those who know nothing about coding or software development. It’s awesome. It’s really easy to use. It (fair warning…dad joke approaching:) puts the “Press” in “IMPRESSIVE.” Oh, and an important note…WORDPRESS IS FREeEEeeEEEeeEE (https://wordpress.org/download/)!  Yay!

This guide from the Hostwinds Knowledge Base will help you understand more about exactly what WordPress is and exactly what you can do with it:

https://www.hostwinds.com/guide/introduction-to-wordpress/

Another guide that will help you become more comfortable using WordPress can be found at https://www.hostwinds.com/guide/wordpress-features-overview/.

GUTENBERG

…Okay, now Gutenberg:

Johannes Gutenberg
Johannes Gutenberg, the Inventor of the Printing Press

First Off, Why the Name?

Have you heard the name “Gutenberg” thrown around recently? (A dad joke certainly feels necessary here:) If this is the first you’re hearing of Gutenberg, I know what you’re thinking: “What does Gluten have to do with website making?” No, no, it’s not Glutenberg…a big chunk of wheat-filled gluten…it’s Gutenberg, as in Johannes Gutenberg – the inventor of the printing press.

This editing software is aptly named Gutenberg because of its innovative and NEW interface. Johannes Gutenberg, as the kids nowadays say, “CHANGED THE GAME” when he fashioned the printing press, and Gutenberg may just change the game in regard to website building.

Okay, so what is Gutenberg as far as WordPress is concerned? Gutenberg is a content manager application and it is in the spotlight right now.

“Why?” once again seems to be the most perfect question to ask here.

The answer: When WordPress 5.0 comes out in the possibly-imminent future, Gutenberg will be a part of WordPress Core. Currently, Gutenberg is available as a WordPress plug-in, but it will become WordPress’ official editor when this epic update occurs. Offering a drag and drop block structure to make website building more user-friendly and comprehensive, Gutenberg is supposed to evolve the way WordPress functions. It is definitely a contemporary editor and software modernization is usually a good thing. This being said, WordPress users are a touch fearful of this change for a few reasons.

During this blog post, we’ll go over this Gutenberg controversy…and it is no exaggeration to use the term “controversy” in this situation. Some people are really excited about Gutenberg, while others are nervous. Some say Gutenberg is taking the place of WordPress’ current editor, TinyMCE, while others maintain that Gutenberg will not completely take over, as certain TinyMCE editor features and perks will still very much be a part of WordPress 5.0. You could cut the WordPress tension with a knife right now and if you look up the Gutenberg online reviews, you’ll see evidence of that right away. Everyone has got their opinion about this, so the Hostwinds Team thought we’d take a looksie and investigate a bit.

 

Secondly, The Gutenberg Hullabaloo

We already went over this, but the primary fear = “Backwards Compatibility.”

In other words, people are super scared that going back in to edit their sites created with TinyMCE will cause problems with their website, be annoying, or, in the very worst case, break their site.

Another concern: Evidently it takes more time to build a website using Gutenberg because it takes more Gutenberg clicks to achieve the same thing you could more quickly achieve with minimal clicks in TinyMCE. That didn’t seem to be my experience when I demoed the Gutenberg plugin, but maybe I got lucky. Furthermore, because it works in blocks, one doesn’t have the ability to wrap text around an image using Gutenberg. I did find this to be the case when I tested out Gutenberg.

Gutenberg Block Editor
Example of Gutenberg Block Editing Options

Attempt to Explain “Block” in This Context by Painting a Metaphorical Picture:

By “block” style, here is what I mean in so many words: Imagine you are putting an actual U-Haul box at the very top of your website. On this box, you write “Title” in sharpie. Then you put a box under it that you label “Picture of Me.” In Gutenberg, rather than the actual U-Haul box, it is either text, images, a video, a URL, a navigation bar, etc. That’s how you formulate your website using Gutenberg. One step at a time, one block under the other. It is a cool way to build a website, but it does come with its downsides (like the one listed above about text wrapping).

Certain individuals feel that the block style gives you fewer options because every edit you make to text within a block affects ALL the content in that block. In certain cases, this can be limiting.

After playing with the plug-in demo of Gutenberg, critics have judged it as not so aesthetically pleasing and not so easy to work with. Also, within the Gutenberg plugin, evidently there is no ability to copy and paste from other documents (like Word documents, for example,) onto a page or block without the formatting getting messed up. I imagine the Gutenberg team will fix this before Gutenberg joins WordPress Core, but it’s still causing people to metaphorically bite their nails. I tested this out by copying and pasting a large word document’s text into one block in Gutenberg. I found that Gutenberg did its best to make sense of the various fonts and font sizes and to organize the document into multiple blocks of text. The fonts did not carry over to Gutenberg and the formatting was lost just a bit, but not too much and certainly not enough to cause great annoyance.

More Gutenberg critique from the public: Some say WordPress is just trying to do something different for the first time in a while to keep up with other site-building applications. WordPress is the #1-used site-building application, so why try to fix what isn’t broken? Certain peeps think WordPress is just trying to be hip and cool and is actually adding way more complications to its previous site-building process. Doubters of Gutenberg have called it non-intuitive and confusing.

With all that said, I am always a firm believer in evolution, change, and innovation, particularly in this constantly-changing industry, so…if you want to hear my opinion, I say “GO FOR IT WORDPRESS…YOU GOT THIS…I BELIEVE IN YOU!”

More optimism: I already noted I took time to tinker with Gutenberg myself. Unlike many who reviewed Gutenberg online, I did find it to be intuitive and easy to use. All you have to do is click on the block you want to edit and all editing options pop up either above the block or to the right of the page. I purposefully searched for editing tools that would typically be a bit difficult to find and I found them very quickly and easily. I even found the Code Editor within Gutenberg to be very easy to work with.

Gutenberg Plugin
How One Can Edit a Block in Gutenberg Plugin

Lastly, What Are The Notably Good Things About Gutenberg?

We’ve already gone over why a number of individuals didn’t so much enjoy their experience with the Gutenberg plugin. Time to review the perks of Gutenberg pointed out by the public.

1. It is cool that Gutenberg includes coded comments that you can make about each block to label it or explain something about it (Note: No one but the person or people building the site can see said comments).

2. Gutenberg’s block style will allow users to customize their websites to a T…more than they have ever been able to do before with WordPress. Beginners to website building application interfaces are said to profit from this change, as it accommodates them more than the previous content editor.

Gutenberg Plugin Info
Gutenberg Plugin Tutorial Info

More good things: There is a palpable excitement for new things happening and updates in the WordPress world. A lot of WordPress users are enthusiastic about WordPress growth and evolution. The blocks combined with drag and drop make the process more visual and this seems to be a really good thing in my eyes. I am definitely a visual learner, so I could see why this may be a nice way to structure this application.

Oh, and good news too! You can go back to “Classic Editor” if you don’t want to use Gutenberg. You can choose not to use it. Furthermore, amongst all the intense criticism about Gutenberg, many people do recognize that it is not yet actually updated to be included in WordPress 5.0 Core. Thus, it will probably become a lot more refined and a lot of the metaphorical kinks in the application will likely be fixed by the Gutenberg team before its release.

I know it’s redundant to say this, but I am hopeful about this change, particularly in light of the fact that you have the option to not use Gutenberg. This is the first update in regard to WordPress editors in  A LONG time, so newness, evolution, and cleanup might be just what the doctor ordered. As mentioned previously, WordPress is the number one used site builder, so I’m sure their team of experts will make sure it is magically perfect when it comes out for real. I’ll give their engineers some credit here and trust them! I know what you’re thinking: As the kids say, “FOR REAAAAAL.”

One more “As the kids say” for the road: As the kids say, the Hostwinds Front-Line Team is seriously “da bomb!” Two questions seem to be equally appropriate to ask here: 1. The classic “Why?” 2. “Why the sudden change of subject?” and 3. “Again, what kids and/or cool youth ever use the phrase ‘da bomb?'”

Addressing question #1 while ignoring questions #2 and #3: The Hostwinds Front-Line Team is seriously “da bomb” because they create (hmmm, let me think of even more cool youth slang to insert here:) “fire” (“fire” = amazing) Knowledge Base guides of all sorts in order to assist people throughout their web hosting journeys. The guide below listing detailed instructions as to how to work with Gutenberg is an excellent example of this “fire” I speak of. I highly recommend taking a look at this well-written guide if you are planning to work with Gutenberg:

Gutenberg Overview – WordPress Editor

 

If you need help installing the Gutenberg plugin so you can give it a go, follow this guide:

https://www.hostwinds.com/guide/how-to-install-a-plugin-with-wordpress/

 

Classic Editor

It is okay if you decide Gutenberg is just not for you. If you’d like to switch over to “Classic Editor,” follow these directions:

1. Once you’re all logged into WordPress, Click the “Plugins” link on the menu to the left of the page.

2. Once the Plugins menu has expanded, click the “Add New” option.

3. Type “Classic Editor” into the search bar that appears on the page and push the “Install Now” button within the Classic Editor plugin box that pops up.

4. Make sure to click the “Activate Plugin” link that pops up on the page after the plugin has been successfully installed. This activation immediately replaces Gutenberg with the Classic Editor. You still have the option to change these preferences and go back to Gutenberg by going into your Settings and adjusting the Classic Editor settings.

Okay, Gutenberg CHECK. Onto Visual Composer:

 

VISUAL COMPOSER

Visual Composer is a great WordPress Plugin used for customization.

Why it’s worth plugging it into WordPress = Visual Composer makes it even easier to make a more customized and intricate site. It gives you more control over the way to build your site. Its drag and drop style makes it faster to build a site. You can make templates and save them for future use if you’d like to play around with difference website concepts or aesthetics. Furthermore, it helps you to design your website in elaborate ways and it is a really great option for e-commerce online stores.

Visual Composer is notably, as the youth call it, “SWEET” because you can mess around with it/play with it and make adjustments before your website goes live. Therefore, you don’t have to worry about breaking anything while building your site. You can use a test environment where you set up your layout. Visual Composer also gives you the ability to make changes while your website is live, but the Hostwinds Team does not recommend that. This application is very good for aesthetics. Visual Composer has been around for a while, so you don’t have to worry about the metaphorical kinks not being worked out in terms of its overall performance.

UPDATE: Hostwinds now offers Visual Composer as an application to add onto a server when you create a server in the Cloud Portal (https://www.hostwinds.com/guide/create-server/). Visual Composer also allows you to plugin plugins to it. As the kids say, “Plugins on plugins on plugins…on plugins…on plugins…on…plugins (wait, how many times do you repeat it before stopping if you are young and hip? What’s that? 3 times? Oh…Let’s try this again:)…”Plugins on plugins on plugins.” In addition, you can link to social media with ease using Visual Composer.

Visual Composer

This guide goes over Visual Composer and all the other applications offered by Hostwinds in the Cloud Portal:

https://www.hostwinds.com/guide/reinstall-application-from-the-cloud-portal/

Just one more guide to plug before we conclude. This one will help you troubleshoot if by any chance you are experiencing difficulties while creating your site via WordPress:

https://www.hostwinds.com/guide/how-to-fix-common-wordpress-problems/

 

To Sum Up & Sum Up Some More

To sum up, give Gutenberg a shot when it comes out and if you don’t like it, go back to the general WordPress content manager.

To sum up some more, Visual Composer is, as those kids I keep talking about say “THE BEES KNEES” and it’s a great plugin for WordPress. What’s that? Absolutely no kids use that phrase, nor have they in decades? Thanks for keeping me in check you delightful audience you! AnyyyyywaAAaaAaAayssss, folks rave about the way Visual Composer makes the site-building experience easier. Go free and fly and play within the WordPress world because there are definitely new things happening and new things to do.

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