I know, I know, you’re picturing me wandering through the Austrian hills singing about WordPress right now, aren’t you? No worries, I’ll wait over here at my computer keyboard while you think of raindrops on roses.
Oh, you’re done? Okay, good. In my last post (Deciding to play with Blocks as an adult), I gave a bit of intro to my decision to finally use the Block Editor on my website. Consistent design for a series of posts, a little bit of improved styling on my overall blog, and some improved efficiencies in workflow got me over the early molehills and ready to conquer the mountain.
The Block Editor comes with a healthy series of default built-in blocks, ready for anyone with WordPress installed to start using. The overarching “base block” is the PARAGRAPH block. In effect, this is like your “NORMAL” paragraph style in Word. If you start typing, this is the block it uses. It is designed for text, and there is some basic formatting available. Mostly things like BOLD, UNDERLINE, colour, etc. Some are at the top of the page, some are in the admin sidebar. ** Note, you only see these if you are in the BLOCK EDITOR mode; if you are in CLASSIC EDITOR mode, it looks like it always did…white text with a style ribbon at the top (like Word).
The second one is Heading block, and it is really nothing more than applying the HEADING style to a bit of text. Pretty basic.
Once you add an IMAGE BLOCK, things get more interesting. For example, it gives you the option to turn your image into a circle layout, something Classic Editor didn’t ever do easily. Not much more in the way of formatting, but decent improvement. An option to create a GALLERY is there, with pagination, but nothing amazing about it. Any decent gallery plugin will do the same, including JetPack.
Further options include a stylized LIST with a few more styling options than normal, a sample AUDIO block that I doubt I will ever use, another image block option that looks a lot like a header called COVER (large images, ability to put text over top of it, like a banner), a FILE block that allows you to click for downloadable content (for which I already have a better plugin), a decent VIDEO block, some basic TABLE options, SEPARATORS / DIVIDERS dividers for content, some CUSTOM HTML text, a strange VERSE block (to publish poetry and control ASCII layout), a couple of decent CITATION and PULLQUOTE layouts that improve considerably on the old QUOTE options, a BUTTON (nowhere near as good as most plugins or shortcodes), some options to have multiple COLUMNS of varying widths (including styling for background colour), options to add a group / “more” or “page break” / spacing options or insert various WIDGETS, and natural embeds from a long list of popular websites.
Out of all of them? I would use the base paragraph block, heading, image block (although rarely), the video block, and one more…there is a MEDIA AND TEXT block that lets you insert an image and put text beside it, as well as some basic formatting of the overall block. That isn’t completely easy to do in CLASSIC EDITOR. I don’t think it gives me enough styling options, but it lays out simply and nicely:
Media to the left, text to the right, un resized. Colour settings allowed.
The JetPack plugin adds some extra functionality too. Much of the added functionality is around the ability to embed material from Google Calendar, Calendly, Eventbrite, Map, Markdown, OpenTable, Pinterest, Recurring Payments, Repeat Visitor, and Revue. I could, in theory, see a benefit to embedding a calendar entry or a map int eh future, but the rest are worthless to me.
It also adds options for some extra tools tools like a subscription form (already covered by a better plugin) or slideshows and tiled galleries (already covered). That really only left me two I could, in theory, use. One is another embed option, but this one is from a huge library of GIFs available online. Normally people have these GIFs in their social media accounts or chat messages. This plugin adds it for your website.
Of course one would have to use it sparingly for it to be useful. Another plugin I liked was called Star Rating, and I would consider it for my Book Reviews and other things, if I didn’t already have a better way to show that.
Last, but not least, I’m including a block that is added by CLASSIC EDITOR. You get one called CLASSIC PARAGRAPH, which is a simple paragraph option but it gives you your full formatting style bar back. Also, while a single default PARAGRAPH is one paragraph per block, CLASSIC PARAGRAPH can have entire posts or pages within them, if you want. It’s better to separate the paragraphs though as you can then move any paragraph around with a click of a button.
Overall? I can get it to do what I want, but I feel constrained still, even with Classic Editor that lets me do anything, without giving me a ton of extra functionality that I’ll use right away.
But I would be remiss if I didn’t mention a really scary button. There are some built-in layout options that come with the defaults, and it is like having templates in Word that you DL from the ‘net. Or buying a theme for your overall site. It is a collection of “sets of nicely formatted and grouped blocks” that with a click of a button will give you an advanced layout.
For me, it is scary because it is not something small like tweaking a block or a paragraph here or there. This embeds huge swaths of design elements all at once — with no real regard for whether any of it fits within your default theme’s settings. It’s powerful, sure, but it seems like an overly blunt tool to me. Some would give you a good starting point though. In the meantime, let’s try some other BLOCK PLUGINS.
Update: To see my current collection of blocks, check out the blocks I use.