I started using WordPress my 4th year of teaching (after learning the basics of HTML, PHP, CSS and MySQL). It vastly simplified the front-facing aspect of my classroom. I even embedded a Moodle Login to my WP site! My students and parents would land on misterv.net (I’m still so happy I scored that domain), see announcements and lesson plans, then login to my online Moodle classroom.

I think of WordPress as everything and the kitchen sink. Over the years I’ve adapted it to do just about anything. Some examples:

  • District and school websites (naturally)
  • Online Textbooks and textbook publishing
  • Just about every form conceivable to education.
  • Including workflows
  • Badging and certifications
  • Training / Learning Management System

WordPress hits the sweet spot between simplicity and complexity. This is likely the reason it powers much of the internet.

Restless

I have a number of blogs that are retired or feature writings on an infrequent basis. Ardenlane – especially – chronicles my family’s adoption experience. And while I don’t want to take the entire site down, maintaining and updating a WordPress install when never used is a hassle.

One way to deal with this hassle to export the entire site as a "normal" (read, not PHP or database) website. Simple website hosting is free and (generally) more secure.

An additional idea is to move to the increasingly popular static site generators like Hugo, Jekyll, or GatsbyJS. I’ve lately started exploring such generators and, while I like them, they present their own challenges. Aside from the complexity (although they are great way to teach myself javascript), there is the fact that I have more than 10 years of content in my Edlightenment WordPress site.

Moving platforms would be difficult (I tried going down the rabbit hole, but gave up after spending too much time trying to address funky export issues).

Honestly, I’d feel more compelled to leave WordPress were it a platform that didn’t keep developing. But it does. Which brings me to this review.

WordPress 5.0

This newest version (which I’m using as I write) is one of the largest updates to WordPress in its history. It introduces the Gutenburg Block Editor as a replacement to the (dated) TinyMCE editor.

Folk have strong opinions about Gutenburg. A substantial group is mad that the cheese is being moved (even with the classic editor supported for a number of years). Add the complexities of an open-source project where any torqued individual can fork the code and go a different direction (party of the beauty and disorder of open-source), and I don’t envy Matt Mulligan pushing the community in a particular direction.

The thinking is that block editing allows greater use and customization for your average user. A user selects a "block" that does a particular function. Maybe that function is a header. Maybe it’s an image. I’m writing this with the "Markdown" block that allows me to type in markdown.

Developers can create their own blocks for editing. This opens the door to interesting possibilities.

So what do I think?

I think this was a smart move. I’m not one to get overly worked up about software/UI changes (which is a good thing, given I work for a software company). For me, I want clean writing experiences. Gutenburg is considerably cleaner. Novice users have fewer distractions with greater abilities. This was a good choice.

Granted, I still do most of my writing on the excellent stackedit.io and copy/paste my prose into WordPress (Stakedit’s markdown editor hits so many sweet spots.). But block editing makes sense from a number of different angles (the biggest being function).

Edlightenment will continue to live as a WordPress blog (despite flirting with Static Site Generators and Ghost). I look forward to viewing how Gutenburg will change the ecosystem.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.