Nick Ang

Initial thoughts on WordPress' new Gutenberg editor

August 21, 2018

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Photo by Aidan Hancock on Unsplash

I’m used to writing my posts in Markdown, that lightest touch to add formatting to text in the publishing world. It is reliable, does not remove my fingers from the keyboard, and keeps the visualisation part of writing where it belongs - last.

Gutenberg is everything but that. Even though the technology is fascinating (I believe it’s built completely on React by hundreds, maybe thousands of open-source contributors), I find it too loud and intrusive to my writing process. It’s like that American student on exchange in Asia shouting “U-S-A! U-S-A!” to everyone’s annoyance.

So there it is: I’m not a fan of the Gutenberg editor as it is right now. I concede that it may be because I’m used to my old ways and because I don’t know its full potential, but I’ll come out to say I’m wrong down the line if I am wrong. For now, I prefer good old Markdown.

My overthinking mind is already worrying about whether I’ll continue to love using WordPress for publishing this blog. What if the WordPress team forces it on everyone eventually, removing support for the “classic” editor? That would take away the quiet joy of writing in the distraction-free mode with no option for formatting, no drag-and-drop fanciness, no pseudo what-you-see-is-what-you-get (WYSIWYG). 

As usual, too many options kill focus and the rob us of the joy of simplicity. I’m a big fan of progress, but this is one of those rare cases where application of more advanced technology brings us one step backward, not forward, in my honest opinion.

To leave this post on a high, I offer this: words and the thoughts they represent are more important than any medium. Let’s not be distracted by the veneer above it. Worst case, I’ll just write in a text editor in Markdown, convert it, then copy-paste the output into WordPress. And if I can no longer paste an essay into the editor, well, then maybe it’s time to move to a simpler piece of software.


Nick Ang © 2020

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