Gutenberg 3.7 Released, Introduces Spotlight Mode

Gutenberg 3.7 is available for download and contains a number of changes. The Fixed Toolbar has been renamed Unified Toolbar. This is an optional mode that fixes all of the toolbar icons to the top of the editor, similar to the Classic editor.

The team discovered that experienced users who don’t mind the disconnect between blocks and the toolbar preferred this layout.

Unified Toolbar in Gutenberg
Unified Toolbar

There’s now an animation and icon specifically tailored for the Block Converter action. Hovering the cursor over a block’s icon will display two arrows that represent the ability to change block types.

Change Bock Types Icon in Gutenberg
Change Bock Types Icon

For those who want to focus on one block of content at a time, there’s a new mode called Spotlight. When enabled, the blocks that are not being edited partially fade away and the block outlines disappear. This is an experimental attempt at introducing a Distraction Free Writing mode.

The icons have been updated for Paragraph, Heading, and Subheading blocks to add clarity. Previous to 3.7, the Paragraph block icon looked like an alignment option causing confusion.

Updated Icons for Paragraph, Heading, and Subheading blocks
Updated Icons for Paragraph, Heading, and Subheading blocks

You can find a complete list of changes and links to corresponding issues on GitHub by visiting the Gutenberg 3.7 release post.


21 responses to “Gutenberg 3.7 Released, Introduces Spotlight Mode”

    • Users: “We want a focus mode feature”

      Ulysses, IA Writer, Calmly, Byword, Ghostwriter: “Sure, here it is”

      Users: “Yay! You’re the best!”

      Gutenberg: “We added it too”

      Users: “Yay ! You…”

      Other Users: “Shut up. It’s awful. Why haven’t you done my idea yet?”

      Users: “…”

      One day people will realize that their own way of using a tool doesn’t apply to everyone and they will stop being obnoxious to other people that have different needs, and to the people that support these different needs.

      One day…

    • I disagree with you on the blocks for paragraphs thing. But I agree on the final problem. Hiding things doesn’t help. Making more info available in more useful ways is better.

      The notion of “distraction free” has always been a distraction in and of itself. We need to let the idea itself go. It’s not a good idea. It doesn’t work. It’s kinda dumb. Let it go.

      • Sometimes a single paragraph might be a block, but more often we regard a group of several paragraphs as a block.
        We commonly move small sub-sentence phrases around within the multi-paragraph block using cut, copy and paste to improve our phrasing and meaning.
        A paragraph-spanning selection, with cut copy paste editing is common across text editing software but is not possible in Gutenberg as paragraphs are now each in their own editor and selections cannot span them.

        The line-based content editing issue was considered/raised at the very start of Gutenberg’s creation and has been raised many times since.
        I suggest it would be better if consecutive paragraphs are monolitic unless the user initiates a splitting action (inserts media at the caret, activates a splitting action)

      • Is it really a dumb idea? Do you have statistical evidence of that statement?

        Most of the writing apps, like IA Writer Pro and similar have a sort of distraction free mode. There is certainly a use case for the mode, even if you personally don’t use it or see a need for it.

      • Just because a feature doesn’t match up with your personal workflow, that doesn’t make it dumb. The popularity and prevalence of DFW tools among long-form writers shows that there is definitely a market that prefers them, and perhaps needs them for productivity.

        Meeting their needs doesn’t seem dumb to me, although focusing on single block highlighting as opposed to decluttering the UI does seem like a misprioritization of the common DFW requests.

      • “Having individual blocks for paragraphs doesn’t make sense, it doesn’t fit in with how we write.”
        @Otto: “I disagree with you on the blocks for paragraphs thing.”
        So, you’re saying that those users don’t know how they write?

    • Gutenberg has had multiple issues commenting on how the [enter] key creates a new block rather than a new paragraph, which may be confusing to writers. The UI handling of multiple paragraphs has improved but, issues remain.

      I was trained on a manual typewriter in high school many decades ago, and many millions of other writers like me have long used [enter] for creating new paragraphs in the typing process.

      The WordPress Gutenberg team has chosen to ignore this deeply embedded (at muscle memory level) user behavior. It seems that abstract blocks matter more than actual text content from their developer perspective.

      Having worked as a professional editor and typesetter during my long career in publishing, communications, and information technology; I can tell you that users choose their content creation processes based upon experience and needs, with training as a secondary concern, while following differing rules of a process or technology can be a painful hurdle.

      For example, when a user finds they have lost granularity of text selection across multiple blocks, which they see as paragraphs, they will look for a workaround. A simple workaround for Gutenberg’s [enter] behavior would be to use a double [shift]+[enter] to create the desired result of a continuous stream of text that looks like paragraphs with granular control. It looks and works as they want and need it–although it’s not structured as paragraphs as defined by HTML and as referenced by CSS and other systems. A pair of break elements within a paragraph element is not the equivalent of a pair of paragraph elements, though it may be intended to be.

      Both Gutenberg and this workaround example create issues for user entry, editorial work, and design styling. Long-read documents could require onerous review and fixes, just for the simple formatting of paragraph text.

      The maxim of “Old is easy, new is hard” is a real thing. Sure, you can make new processes and introduce them to users. But with Gutenberg on this and other issues, the maxim is most always “Resistance is futile.”

  1. Oh how simple a lot of things around the writing and coding experience could be fixed in Gutenberg. But alas these suggestions have been ignored and rejected.

    What has been ignored for years in the text tab of TinyMCE is now been accentuated by Gutenberg. If you ever looked into that space when it contained anything other than a trivial amount of content and HTML, you were looking into a field of thistles.

    A lack of formatting, no colour coded syntax, a lack of respect for indentation, and a very small canvas made it a horrid place to work. If all this had been implemented the comment tags delineating blocks would have been less of an annoyance. In fact developing code mirror further for this purpose. Could have included the option to toggle the visibility of the comment tags.

    Taking this a step further, having the option to de-block the content and returning it to a single classic block would also have helped smooth the adoption.

    And a bit more flexibility for how we can arrange controls and metaboxes for things such as custom field groups, featured image, categories etc would also be useful for those of us who have workflows based on data entry and actions other than the content itself.

    A little bit more carrot if you want Gutenberg receive more acceptance.

    • One should check out the Froala editor.I spent less than a minute with it and it is everything that WordPress should have been for the last number of years.

      The interface just makes sense. Goes some way to offering some kind of IDE interface for code and does so in one click and full screen to boot. In addition respects code indentation and recognises tab indent.

      Plus doesn’t need to explicitly scream blocks and not a comment tag in sight.

      Gutenberg is a big step backwards in comparison. To be honest, after seeing Froala in action, I am starting to wonder about WordPress as a whole.

  2. Hello, I was very curious when I was reading about the new Spotlight Mode. Like many WordPress Users, I’m a Blogger and distraction free writing if very important to me. In addition, I welcome the new Gutenberg Editor. Progress is important! Thanks to the Developers. That needs to be said when looking at the Ratings.

    The first thing which makes me puzzled is the name if this new Feature? How is it called? Spotlight mode, Focus mode or Distraction free writing?

    Second, how _exactly_ do i use it? I’ve found no description for a keyboard shortcut or menu to use.

  3. I had to deactivate the plugin after I upgraded to 3.7. Every post I tried to open, whether it had been written previously in the earlier Gutenberg version or in classic editor was returning this error:

    “The editor has encountered an unexpected error.”

    You’re given three options: “Attempt Recovery,” “Copy Post Text” and “Copy Error.”

    None of them does a thing. You can’t get to your post.

    Version 3.7 is NOT ready for prime time.

  4. Yeah we’re not with this “blocks for everything idea” either. Our writing templates are simple and specific and only require minimal effort to produce results. This whole gutenberg thing just seems way too complicated and unnecessary for something that already works just fine as it is. I fail to understand what’s so great about this or how it’s supposed to make publishing better? I can’t imagine writing long pages and needing to have a block for every paragraph or segment in a post. Sounds like a nightmare honestly.


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