Mulling the approach of WordPress 5 & Gutenberg

While the pace has definitely slowed, this blog is rolling into its 11th year. That’s a long time running WordPress. Around 1,250 posts. I revisit this as WordPress 5 is about to ship, along with the new Gutenberg editor.

The Gutenberg editor is a major change and one not to be taken lightly. Or is it? I’ve been using the Gutenberg plug-in in WP 4.9.x for the past few months, just to get a sense of it’s significance. It’s ok.

It reminds me a lot of Squarespace, which I also use to run the Woodland Heights Civic Association web site. That site was built by someone else. I assumed the admin role when I joined the WHCA board in late 2016.

After years of using WordPress it took me a while to get used to Squarespace. It seems very constraining. I was accustomed to having a fine grained control of presentation. The block-based editing of Squarespace and Gutenberg are more Apple-like. Easy to layout pages and posts. High-level control. Want to do something niggly and specific? It may be that you simply can’t. There was a little learning to just let it go.

As ever, I am anomalous. I still like to write offline. Where I once used Windows Live Writer, I now use Open Live Writer. The fact is that Gutenberg does not interfere with this. OLW posts appear to Gutenberg as “Classic” format posts, which can be converted to the new block-based format.

From my cursory experimentation, it also appears that Gutenberg posts can be read back into OLW. At least simple things don’t fall apart right away. So far, so good.

The combination of OLW and Gutenberg are interesting. OLW is about writing. It’s simple. Productive. It doesn’t create a mess of HTML like MS Word. I especially like the ability to automatically add links based upon a library of common word or phrases.

Gutenberg seems to me more about manipulating page layout and using rich media. It’s especially easy to add and manipulate media. Move things around. Craft the presentation you want.

If you’re the sort (like me) who was accustomed to spending time creating media in support of posts, it’s not all that big a deal. However, if you did not have access to tools like Adobe Creative Cloud, the improved media handling could be transformational.

I would hate to write something feature length in Gutenberg. I’ve read that some people are upset at how Gutenberg behaves as a long-form editor. I can see that. I really don’t enjoy the web-based writing/editing experience. Its just not as responsive as a native application. And it can be troublesome if you fall offline.

I see that the release is imminent. Release the Kraken Gutenberg!

Now Over HTTPS Courtesy of Lightningbase & Let’s Encrypt

It wasn’t that long ago that I reminded you of how much I admire Lightningbase. Here’s just one more reason why these guys rock. Lightningbase has recently made it very easy to deploy SSL for WordPress sites by integrating Let’s Encrypt.

Lightningbase founder Chris Piepho announced the effort in a blog post. Since I’ve wanted to use SSL for a while, but not had the time to work through the details, I took the new offer as a sign that I should go ahead with the implementation.

I must say that I was floored by how easy this was! The entire process of getting this domain running on SSL took me less than 15 minutes.

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Meta: Open Live Writer Launched

OLW LaunchedAs mentioned yesterday, I have long enjoyed using Windows Live Writer as my offline blogging tool. I appreciate its simplicity. It’s purity of purpose. It’s lightweight, just enough tool to get things done.

It’s not perfect, but it has some great features. It’s simplicity has allowed its functionality to be extended by the user community. For example, there’s a nice trick that uses DropBox to sync WLW drafts between systems. This has proven very productive as I move between desktop & laptop.

I also appreciate the way that it will automatically insert web links to a library of phrases. This kind of auto-linking, previously done server-side using a WordPress plug-in, was a constant source of problems in the past.

Sadly, Microsoft has largely ignored Windows Live Writer in recent years. It wasn’t even included in the Windows 10 RTM. There was a trick initially required to get it installed on Windows 10.

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Meta: WordPress Apps For OSX & Windows

WordPress App on MacBookToday saw the launch of WordPress 4.4. For me this is significant as most of my writing for publication online ends up in WordPress.

Some time ago I documented my initial experience with the platform and hosting services. Since then I’ve grown to admire the WordPress team for delivering utterly seamless upgrades, and Lightningbase as a wonderful hosting company. This site is just passing three years live at Lightningbase.

While I spend a lot of time in WordPress, the actual writing most typically happens in Windows Live Writer.  I like the program for it’s simple functionality. I’ll have more on that in a post to follow tomorrow.

Recent changes in WordPress have included new back-end functionality that’s designed to facilitate more evolved front-end applications. The WordPress mobile apps (Android, iOS) have been around for a while. I’ve had one loaded to my Nexus 7 tablet for a long while, but never actually written anything substantial that way. I’ve tried a few times, but ultimately found the experience lackluster.  Continue reading “Meta: WordPress Apps For OSX & Windows”

Live From Las Vegas! We’re Now Hosted At Lightning Base In Las Vegas!

Lightning-Base-Logo-Lenovo-X1-CarbonThis is the fourth installment in the long-running tale (parts one, two & three) of my search for the most appropriate host for this site.

The very fact that you’re reading this means that the site is now live on a server operated by Lightning Base. In the past I’ve used a shared host and couple of different VPS providers. In point of fact the site was at UnmeteredVPS.net for over two years.

I have nothing but nice things to say about UnmeteredVPS.net. That service is excellent, but it wasn’t exactly a perfect fit. It was an unmanaged VPS, which meant that I was responsible for everything.

Every few weeks I would need to update some aspect of the OS or supporting software. Some updates were trivial. Some, like major Apache or MySQL updates, were a bit scary. Despite five years running this site I’m no Linux guru.

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Blogging From The Nexus7

Nexus7Not long ago I read a post by a blogger who had made the effort to give up his laptop for the day. While attending a conference he left his laptop in his hotel room intent upon using only his Nexus 7 tablet throughout that day. I thought it an interesting experiment.

The tale of his day highlighted a few worthy accessories for the Nexus 7 tablet. He pointed to a premium stylus and a Bluetooth wireless keyboard as key to his productivity. I was impressed by his logic and the tale of his experience that day. So much so that I ordered those same items so that I might try them for myself.

At this very moment I’m typing on the Logitech Keyboard for Android , wirelessly connected to my Nexus 7. Just as he described the case for the keyboard doubles as a stand for the tablet. It’s handy. To use it properly really requires a table, but it’s working on my lap at the moment.

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