Sander's Notes


Tag: Gutenberg

Time to wake up!

Enjoy the WordPress fun while it lasts folks, I’ve seen the light, and I am worried.

Automattic and the community are spending millions and millions on building a more useful but buggy JS editing interface for the web to make publishing rich documents passable. It can’t get a close button aligned on a modal, or scroll correctly in a mobile device. Basically, Gutenberg is a lesser version of Word 97. It’s not their fault, the browser stack is a brittle way to build apps. We’ve collectively stretched web technologies past what they’re best used for – there are no JavaScript native widgets that can compete with what the OS offers itself. It turns out the web excels to read documents, not write them. I know how it sounds, I’m writing this in the same editor! But we’re on the wrong path:

Because, while everyone is looking to the left at SquareSpace and Wix, trying to figure out how to improve the publishing workflow, on the right Alejandro Crosa builds an iOS app that publishes notes online by simply saving them. It abstracts the whole publishing process. Similarly to how Dropbox abstracted the filesharing site, a native app removes the web editor. In. Three. Weeks. Using Rails and Swift!

In 3 weeks he did a (subjectively) better job for this use case than the WP app and the WB mobile experience. Just look at it and it’s blog — the latter which is written using the service itself!). Yes it does less, but it’s about the job to be done. Gutenberg does less than Word 97 and Dreamweaver. The point is, that’s fine.

WP is currently deciding whether the REST API should be open to third party editors. It’s mission is to democratise publishing, but somehow this is up for discussion. However it turns out the best experience is a native one. Should WP forego the admin interface, change Gutenberg’s full site editing into the theme editor, and restructure itself for what’s to come? WP has a lot of moving parts, and consensus isn’t easily reached. It seems to me that the web will experience will refocus on reading documents, with content creation in apps.

If Apple ever adds a backend service to Pages to sync with a static site generator, or someone goes 10% further than iA Writer’s web-publishing feature in a ‘writing app’ than the whole WP ecosystem is sherlocked.

It’s time to wake up.