Warm Southern Breeze

"… there is no such thing as nothing."

Use WordPress? Hate Gutenberg? Good News!

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Wednesday, October 21, 2020

To much chagrin, and outcry of many long-time WordPress users, the company unilaterally decided to switch to a “block editor.”

It has not gone over well.

Run atop JavaScript, “Gutenberg,” as it’s called, runs entirely in the web browser, according to the company.

The longtime, stable editor built using the WYSIWYG HTML editor TinyMCE which parlayed WordPress into a power player and preferred “provider” in the web design world, has come close to being abandoned, in lieu of something touted as “new and improved!”

It is not, and anything but.

The rollout was unceremonious.

It was almost as bad as a violently forced kiss on a first date – or, maybe even worse.

If some of the technical jargon is beyond you, not to worry, we’ll do our best to explain how this is not only applicable to you, but to all of their customer base – including the no-cost gratis accounts hosted on WordPress dot com, such as this site – and how they could have done better, and apparently, have taken a lesson from, at least for the time being.

First is Customer Service.

WordPress has been a pretty good company and enthusiastic member of the tech community, and has definitely found their niche as the practical backbone of the web design world insofar as a significant portion of the world’s major websites – some which you would immediately recognize were I to name them (Microsoft, the White House official site, the UK National Archives, Sony Music, UPS (United Parcel Service), Target, The New York Times, The Walt Disney Company, Tribune Media, Vivendi {a French multimedia company}, Toyota, the official site of the government of Sweden, Wired, Variety, Best Buy, Xerox, Etsy, Home Depot, Fortune, The New Yorker, Reuters, Skype, Yelp, Chicago Sun-Times, People, IBM, GoDaddy, etc.) – and comprise at least 37.6% of ALL websites, while 62% of the fastest growing companies do so.

WordPress has become a “Content Management System” (not to be confused with CMS – the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, a division of the Department of Health and Human Services of the U.S. government), which sounds all nice and knowledgeable, even “professional” – use of acronyms and abbreviations make it seem to others like you’re sophisticated. However, being plain-spoken is more admired, and reaches more people than being a jargon-using weisenheimer technogeek.

To date, WordPress has been responsive to the needs of their customers insofar as creating a usable, workable product, which is fully scalable to comport to the specific needs of each individual user. Whether BIG or small, WordPress had been responsive.

Next, is ease of use.

Artist’s rendition of what it might have looked like in Johannes Gutenberg’s printing press workshop.

WordPress’ learning curve has been short and shallow. Having emerged from the initial fray of bloggers, WordPress has emerged the clear winner. That includes among contenders like “the Great G,” also known as Google, which continues hosting their blogging service called “Blogger,” and among newcomers like Wix.com – which ostensibly, at least as it would seem, is what WordPress is working up against. Not that it’s a contender by any stretch of the imagination, but it promotes itself by claiming that “When you choose Wix, you don’t just get a drag and drop website builder. You get the whole package. Free reliable web hosting, top security, the best SEO and a dedicated support team to help you along the way.”

WordPress has long had, and continues to have, an excellent, even enviable, gratis service.

That solitary combined three-part claim – “free,” “reliable,” and “drag and drop” – has appeal. Among those who study such matters, the word “free” has continually shown itself to be a powerful and motivating word… because, everyone wants something for nothing. And in an increasingly costly world, “free” can be perceived as a significant benefit – even if it’s not all what it’s cracked up to be. And while reliability is almost taken for granted, though again, claims are not always what they’re cracked up to be.

And then, there’s the “drag and drop” aspect.

THAT is what is most concerning to WordPress.

Despite the fact that the WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) style of editor which is what the TinyMCE HTML editor is, and which is the foundation, if not heart, of the WordPress editing tool (even within the Gutenberg block editor), and despite the fact that by simply clicking and dragging on a selected item – whether text, or media – it may be moved around within the editing field, and despite the fact that “content management” has long been part and parcel of WordPress editing software, some have wrongly perceived that somehow, someway, WordPress is either difficult to learn, to master, or to use casually.

It is not.

But, perception is reality, and in a “war of words” such as a debate or other intellectual contest for the hearts and minds of observers, it’s often not to one’s advantage to mention the opponent’s claims, or respond to accusations they make, and instead, focus upon one’s own claims, and how they’re superior. That’s not an “avoidance” technique per se, as much as it’s demonstrating understanding of motivating factors of our being, such as the power of the word “free.” Neither is it manipulative – it is demonstrating wisdom, which is the proper application of knowledge, understanding, and experience.

Thirdly, there’s security.

JavaScript has long been known to be a hacker’s paradise. By “hacker” I mean to refer to those who would nefariously and illegally hack, or break into computer networks without authorization. And among coders – those folks who write and use computer code – those who use/write/create using JavaScript were called “script kiddies,” a derisive term meaning one whom is inexperienced and uses scripts heavily, if not exclusively.

At its core, JavaScript held the promise and made the claim that as a computer language tool, it could run on any platform without any necessary customization or “refitting,” because in the era in which it was initially developed, and later became popularized, the struggle between Mac vs PC was a real thing. And in that era, Apple Computer – developer/owner/creator of the Macintosh Operating System – was not built upon the Unix-type “Big Iron” kernel system which now forms the foundation for the OS. Unix was and is a well-known powerful computer operating system, upon which many companies, tech or not, relied for their own internal operations. It was (and remains) a powerful, inherently secure, and easily distributed operating system. Its one drawback is that it’s code-driven. It’s NOT WYSIWYG by any stretch of the imagination. Not by a longshot.

In the years since its introduction, and move to using a Unix-type kernel, the OS X kernel, Apple’s revised operating system was predicated upon using a different type of computer chip – the Intel brand, which was used in most Microsoft OS type PCs – Apple’s OS has proven its mettle time, and time, and time again.

But more to the point, which is that when JavaScript was initially created, it was predicated upon solving a problem – the inoperability of computer software upon various computer operating systems.

Today, such problems are practically non-existent.

And it’s not because of JavaScript.

Today, the malware and hacker/crackers who would hijack computer networks for whatever reason, now rely largely upon trickery and deceit, colloquially known as “phishing” which are often sent through email, and are attacks that are well-designed, if poorly executed, imposters.

What you can’t see CAN hurt you.

JavaScript in many cases “runs in the background” and is invisible, per se, to the casual computer user. In fact, even though a linked URL may be shown to be to a particular known and safe website, it could be hijacked by a script running in the background unnoticed to the user. In other words, you click on TheWebsiteYouWantToGoTo dot com, and are invisibly redirected to TheWebsiteTheyWantYouToGoTo dot com.

Numerous computer software tools, add-ons, extensions of myriad types have been developed, and billions have been spent and made by firms and individuals who have created “solutions” to the problems created by hacker/crackers using tools such as Javascript. NoScript is one such free add-on which prevents invisible redirections. (See how I used that word “free”?) But the fact of the matter is, NoScript also thwarts some code-writers who deliberately WANT to redirect for monetary purposes. Think of it as a type of nefarious “click bait.”

Again, the “new and not-so improved” WordPress iteration known as Gutenberg runs atop JavaScript. And in essence, that means MORE code required. And if you’re not one for “<div></div>” or any other such thing, or simply don’t need it, you’re just kinda’ SOL, because you’re gonna’ get it, anyway. Not even their “fake” Classic editor running within Gutenberg was worth a damn hoot in hell. You couldn’t can’t select, click and drag things in the “fake” Classic editor – clicking and dragging being the practical whole point of Gutenberg.

It’s clunky.

It’s unnecessarily confusing.

It has an unpleasant User Interface (UI).

It’s not customizable.

It does things IT wants you do to, NOT what YOU want to do.

And if you neither need, nor want, the “new and improved” capabilities allegedly inherent in Gutenberg, you were just an afterthought to the code-writers.

These legitimate complaints are the veritable “tip of the iceberg” of WordPress 5.0, project code-named as “Gutenberg.”

There are more… many, many more.😳

The brainiacs at WordPress – the ones who came up with forcing their harebrained ideas upon everyone, thinking it would be something like “love at first sight” – were sorely disappointed. Hence, the ever-so-quick addition to provide a change for the WP faithful.

But I promised “good news!” in the headline, and good news I shall deliver.

There ~IS~ a workaround solution to the botched effort by WordPress.

Yes, it’s an extra step, per se, but IT IS WELL WORTH IT!

As succinctly as possible… simply start a new entry, and the Gutenberg block editor will appear. Type a few things – it matters not what, or where (body or headline). Click “Save draft” which appears in the upper RIGHT corner of the entry. Then, either return to the admin part of WordPress and click on Classic Editor under the draft
-or-
add the following at the end of the URL created for the entry:

&action=edit&classic-editor

and click “Enter” on your computer keyboard.

You’re now working in the the BEAUTIFUL, simple, easy-to-understand “Classic Editor”!

Problem solved!

All the best!

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