Gutenberg 0.6.0 Changes Text/Paragraph Block Behavior, Adds New Cover Text and Read More Blocks

photo credit: A Tiny Break From The Rain 🐰Adventures In Wonderland & Through The Looking Glass🐰(license)

Gutenberg 0.6.0 was released over the weekend with significant changes to the way paragraphs are created within text blocks. In previous versions of the plugin, pressing enter would create a line break inside a paragraph. This release modifies the behavior of the text/paragraph block to split the block when a user presses enter. (Line breaks can still be created by pressing SHIFT+ENTER.)

This update is a small improvement in that it hides the text formatting bar when you continue on with a new paragraph, but the slightest scroll or move of the mouse brings it back into view. Contributors are considering adding a buffer at some point that would only trigger the UI after the mouse moves a certain number of pixels.

Unfortunately, the “New Paragraph” placeholder text is intrusive and distracting. It is a constant, unwanted reminder of the structure of your document, which is not helpful if you are trying to stay in the flow of writing.

Gutenberg may improve the experience of vertically stacking differently formatted content, but the writing experience still needs a great deal of work before it can be comparable to what WordPress currently provides. The new editor still gets in the way of writing, instead of silently enabling it.

After browsing the Gutenberg repository’s 400+ issues queue, it’s clear that contributors are aware of the jarring experience for writers and are working to improve it in every release. However, the beta software is not anywhere near ready for long-form writing, as the intrusive UI places too many cognitive demands on the writer.

New Blocks in 0.6.0: “Cover Text” and “Read More”

This release introduces a new “Cover Text” block that includes background, text color, and full-width options. Color swatches are available in the sidebar block options and contributors are planning to add filters to allow plugin and theme authors to supply a custom palette.

Version 0.6.0 also includes a new “Read More” block that inserts a read more link with instant visual feedback within the content.

This release also brings several improvements to existing blocks, autosaving for drafts, and initial support for undo/redo keyboard functions.

Gutenberg’s Negative Reviews are Piling Up on WordPress.org

Gutenberg contributors are regularly shipping weekly releases, with many features added as bare bones placeholders that will be iterated on in future releases. New blocks are being developed simultaneously with core editing features. Some testers have bemoaned the proliferation of blocks that may seldom be used while the basic writing experience continues to lag behind.

Gutenberg plugin reviews are currently averaging 2.3 out of 5 stars on WordPress.org, with 46 1-star reviews, 21 5-star reviews, and a handful in between. While the reviews are not a full representation of all who are testing Gutenberg, they provide a small window into users’ current expectations, delights, and frustrations with the editor. Gutenberg contributors are monitoring these forums and using the feedback to create bug reports.

Many reviewers have left 1-star ratings, begging WordPress to keep it as a plugin instead of adding it to core. One reviewer even took to verse to further elaborate on his one-star review titled “A Visit from St. Gutenberg” with an adaptation of the classic poem “The Night Before Christmas:”

A bundle of blocks he had flung on his back,
And he looked like a coder just opening his pack.

His eyes—how they twinkled! his dimples, how merry!
“Who needs MCE, when we have blocks and so many?”

Many reviewers find Gutenberg to be “unnecessarily complex” for actions that were previously easy to perform in the editor.

“I have several websites – two are for business and include blogs (technical posts, how-tos, etc),” @quantaweb said. “I’m also the editor of a literary magazine. This doesn’t work for any of these sites. It’s not easier to write blogs with it, and it does nothing to ease the work of importing critical essays and poetry into the literary magazine — and formatting them — either…Gutenberg is unnecessarily complex.”

Some of the 1-star reviews come laced with threats to move to another CMS and splinter the WordPress community if Gutenberg is included in core.

“By removing all the traditional editor buttons and trying to make a minimalist design the usefulness and ease of use has been drastically reduced,” @ovann86 said. “I found myself either not being able to do very basic content management or having to click, hover and look for the buttons – instead of them being visible and available immediately…If this was made core I would likely be forced to move to another CMS.”

Early testing of beta software is not for everyone, as many are unable to look past the initial bugs and clunky implementations to see the potential of the editor to improve WordPress’ severely fragmented content creation experience. Matt Mullenweg jumped onto the forums as recently as two weeks ago to respond to testers’ feedback.

“We definitely agree it’s not ready for prime time yet, that’s why we’re doing extensive public testing and iteration while it’s in the plugin phase,” Mullenweg said. “Thank you for your feedback and I hope you try it again in a few months with an open mind.”

25 Comments


  1. It’s interesting also to see the distribution of the rating. There are many 5-star ratings and 1-star ratings and very little in between. It seems that people either love it or hate it.

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  2. “..
    spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
    He pulled apart WordPress; then turned with a jerk,
    And laying his editor aside for all to adore,
    And giving a nod, he pronounced “Gutenberg is core!”

    That’s why I hate Gutenberg so much. It is a lot like Mitch McConnell’s health care plan, concocted in secret and sprung like a trap on unsuspecting users who are supposed to approve it. A lot of changes to the way things are done with little notice does not inspire confidence.

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    1. Wow! What a comparison. Gutenberg is seven months in, completely public, open source, on GitHub, with weekly meetings in Slack, with notes posted to P2, and since WCEU a weekly release in the plugin directory accompanied by a full change log. The entire version history is in GitHub, as well as an extensive discussion on every feature, bug, issue, and idea. Over a thousand sites have it active and are testing it right this second.

      I don’t want to touch the political aspect, but it’s hard for me to imagine something more diametrically opposed to how the secret health care bill was approached.

      The “A Visit from St. Gutenberg” poem is still pretty funny though.

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      1. Exactly! >> “hard for me to imagine something more diametrically opposed to how the secret health care bill was approached.”

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  3. I have two words for you: CraftCMS Matrix

    That’s what Gutenberg should be emulating, you get a proper writing experience and full control on how the content will be rendered.

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    1. I’ve checked that one out but it didn’t resonate with me, what do you love about it? Mind sharing screenshots of your favorite bits?

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      1. Hi Matt,
        I like that the content is separated by blocks and isn’t just floating around one big WYSYWYG content box. The drag and drop is visual and a content editor can easily understand that he can put various types of text and images easily and reorder them in an effortless way.

        The way it’s implemented server-side is also amazing, you create a component, similar to a shortcode in WP, and it can be reused on multiple pages.

        It just looks more intuitive.

        Have a look

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  4. The core of the issue seems to be that the Gutenberg editor is a way of editing content that is good for a specific use case but (very?) bad for other cases. If you run your own website/blog and have a need to ‘design’ your content in a more rich way than what’s possible with the current editor, Gutenberg could be a very nice solution. Assuming the bugs and usability issues get fixed.

    However, there are many cases where the Gutenberg editor is not the right solution. For example, for 95% of my clients for which I’ve build a website, the Gutenberg editor will be difficult to use and confusing. And it will make it almost impossible for me as the designer to control the design of the website if clients start laying out and designing every page themselves. It’s already difficult to control with the current Wysiwyg editor (please don’t create a pink text block if the brand color is red, etc).

    The current editor (visual+text) is more of a compromise where a limited feature set is possible out of the box, while more features can be made possible from case to case (using specific plugins or functions in themes). It is a compromise, but works reasonable for most people.

    That’s why my conclusion is that Gutenberg should be a plugin or at least be an option to turn on or off per website by the developer.

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    1. And it will make it almost impossible for me as the designer to control the design of the website if clients start laying out and designing every page themselves.

      This is actually one of the areas I am more excited about Gutenberg. I think it gives more tools for designers to reliably specify the look of a website while allowing their users to comfortably edit pieces of it, or change the order of things if allowed.

      Consider one of those ubiquitous three column “feature” grids many websites have—with an image, heading, and some text for each item.

      Right now this is not trivial to make. A site developer has to construct complex markup and then consider how their users may be able to edit this without ruining the layout. This often leads to having a somewhat convoluted setup where you assign a page, and indirectly tell users that they need to edit this page over here to have it affect the text shown over there. Or perhaps it’s a shortcode with different fields for each column, heading, and image, that is displayed in a modal, and doesn’t look like the final result at all.

      With blocks a developer would be able to provide a theme-specific block that directly renders this layout and clearly specifies what can be directly edited by the user. That means the user gets a WYSIWYG experience where they can’t mess up the markup but can easily update text, swap the images, reduce the number of columns, etc, without having to ask the developer for it and without fearing that they will break things.

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      1. Matías, that’s only true if:
        1) a developer can completely turn off access to all other blocks on a page by page (or section/section post/post) bases. Is that the way it’s going to work?
        2) creating such blocks is easy. From what I’ve seen so far creating blocks will be very complex compared to meta boxes now

        And it still leaves the question open why together with Gutenberg the normal meta boxes have to disappear. Meta boxes are used for many special meta info, meta info that’s NOT part of the main content of a page. Think about a real estate website with meta info about each building. Or a job board with meta info about jobs. Meta info and taxonomy info just don’t belong in the content (editor). It’s not only used to display somewhere, but also to search/filter on in different places.

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  5. I honestly believe they are investing too much time and effort into something unnecessary. As much as they manage to improve Gutenberg (for which they would have to hurry), he would never come to resemble the current block editors like Elementor, Divi, Site Origin, Visual Composer etc …

    Gutenberg, instead of facilitating the user experience, all it does is complicate it even more. It is much simpler and faster to use the current WordPress text editor than Gutenberg.

    It is really difficult to find any function and, besides, they have not even been able to establish the base correctly.

    As I told my listeners in an episode of my podcast “WordPress For Newbies” they have started the house by the roof … they have dedicated themselves to make blocks when the foundations of the project are not finished.

    If this is complicated for a regular user of WordPress, I do not want to imagine how much it will be for an end customer to which we leave a blog prepared just to introduce entries and feed the content of your blog … It would be twice as Difficult that he could continue writing in his blog if WordPress finally decides to include “to the force” Gutenberg in its core.

    I sincerely hope that you leave it as a plugin for use by those people that realmense is useful … or better yet, leave it in the drawer of failed projects.

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    1. I don’t think it’s possible to put too much effort into this. Despite really disliking the UX so far it’s got heaps of potential.

      If it gets things right it could be the first editor to marry the best of both worlds (with one world being a world class editor in which to write pure text and the other world being a page composition tool (currently occupied by page builders, of which none get it perfectly right).

      And under the hood, if the block API is done with forethought, it could form a foundation for writing components beyond the post editor (widgets etc).

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  6. I’m of the opinion that Gutenberg should be a plugin. It’s such a jarring change from the MCE editor and I’m still worried how it will affect custom meta fields that are currently used on live sites.

    It seems to me that the WordPress Foundation core team is trying to compete with Medium and Squarespace/Wix. Which I don’t think they need to do. WordPress is so much more than just a blog or generic website builder and doesn’t need to compete with them right out of the box.

    I’d really like to see WordPress core development go in the other direction. Develop it as a more flexible CMS and leave all these shiny features as plugins to allow devs and users build the WordPress they need, not force features on everyone that some just think people want.

    This is also making me look at other CMS’. I’m just losing confidence in the direction WordPress is being taken. I can’t confidently tell my clients that WordPress is the best solution for them anymore. I mean, I’ll have to add hours of dev time to my projects just to remove all these unwanted features. That just seems wrong to me.

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  7. Was there some enormous outcry to replace WordPress’ editor with something like Gutenberg that I missed? Gutenberg seems like a solution in search of a problem.

    Why are the WordPress powers that be so focused on this project when there are thousands of bugs and feature requests that are ostensibly more important, and could use the attention of talented developers?

    I really hope this isn’t forced on us without an easy way to replace it with what we’ve been using for years. That would be a huuuge mistake…

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    1. There is certainly an enormous outcry amongst my clients who just want to be able to visually edit their website without using shortcodes or html. This is the world we live in now.

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    2. Was there some enormous outcry to replace WordPress’ editor with something like Gutenberg that I missed?

      Yes. Including on here. Every time the existing editor was mentioned on WP Tavern, people were complaining about how “behind the times” it was, mentioning Medium, etc. Now WordPress is doing something everyone is complaining that it’s changing. They’re damned either way.

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      1. 1) Tavern readers are a very small subset of WordPress users. There was an outcry amoung a very small subset of WordPress users.

        2) “WordPress” isn’t doing anything about it. You see, Matt announced this project and promptly assigned the dev and design leads. Almost all of these were from Automattic. “WordPress” doesn’t have to compete with Wix/Weebly/SquareSpace, bug Automattic does. It’s very easy to see the conflicts of interest at play if you haven’t taken a swig of the kool-aid. There are a few prominent core devs that have jumped in to contribute to Gutenweg, but this is an Automattic project.

        3) Having said that, I do believe Matt wants the best for WordPress, its just really hard to fill so many conflicting roles without being contemptible.

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      2. 2) “WordPress” isn’t doing anything about it. You see, Matt announced this project and promptly assigned the dev and design leads.

        This is a true statement. Automattic is quick to point out how WordPress is a community effort and transparent, but then fail to explain how major decisions are made. Sure, you can dig around in Github for day-to-day conversations, but the larger decisions are not being discussed publicly.

        Look at the React debate; they took so much heat that it forced an open forum for discussion. Since the discussions, literally nothing has been said about any decision. The obvious PR move here is to wait until Gutenberg is launch-ready and then tell everyone a decision has been made to use React.

        How are WP based businesses supposed to plan for the future when Automattic is the only one who knows what the whole plan is? How is that in the spirit of the WordPress foundation?

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      3. People wanted a better solution. Not just any solution. Gutenberg goes well beyond being a better editor.

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  8. I’ve been using Gutenberg on my blog recently to gain some familiarity with it. There are some things about it that irritate me (such as the HTML code it produces), but overall, for what it is — a distraction-light writing experience — it’s not terrible if all you’re doing is writing blog posts.

    I feel like there’s almost the core of a good idea here that’s being misapplied. If Gutenberg turned into a really kick-ass front-end editor that could work for, say, 90% of blogging cases, while the current editor in the admin stayed intact (for the other 10% of blogging cases as well as all of the non-blogging cases), that would be the ideal. But if Gutenberg is intended to be admin-facing, then it’s the wrong solution to the wrong problem, imho.

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  9. I wonder if there’s any thought of giving Gutenberg a setting (‘low’, ‘medium’, ‘high’) that translates into the level of complexity it will present to the users.

    Sort of like how some software has a simple interface but you can switch to “advanced” mode if you want to see all the knobs/dials.

    Some users will just want to write, with the editor being as non-intrusive as possible. Other users will want the full Gutenberg experience. I think by going full-bore on this you will at best annoy and at worst lose a significant portion of the legacy customer base.

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  10. I am wondering if the Project Gutenberg and it’s future merge into WP
    Core will make all other PageBuilders obsolete. The Github FAQ states: “A lot of features are planned, too many to list. But a rough roadmap is: v1) post and page editor v2) page template editor, v3) site builder.”

    I actually like that idea as there are current dozens of competing page builders that all have different standards. Having one build into Core makes sense.

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    1. I don’t. Core should not be a kitchen sink for every trendy idea. It should be a highly performant, secure, stable engine with some core features so it’s usable out of the box.

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    2. +1, I can speak to my experiences using 3 of the most popular editors: Divi, Visual composer and site origin page builder.

      Divi is really good and pretty fast but the ui is so far away from native wp its really jarring.

      Visual composer is pretty slow, super complicated and once again the ui is pretty far from native.

      Page builder is really good, reasonable speed and pretty close to native. The love editor is pretty fast too. The only downside is when you have finished on the live editor it takes you back to the backebd. If Gutenberg could work like this but be faster (instant preview) i couldnt see barely any advantage to wix, squarespace etc

      The market that those website builders capture is the startup low cost business, but i feel like they have raised the bar where every user now thinks “I should be able to edit text live”. Certainly in the past 2 years i have seen that go from a bonus to an expectation.

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