Amid all the hubbub of the WordPress 5.0 Gutenberg release, did anyone happen to notice that this milestone version was named for a jazz musician?
I had assumed that Gutenberg would be the official name since everyone knows what a virtuoso that guy was on the acoustic printing press.
But it wasn’t until I stumbled upon the WordPress blog that I discovered the version was indeed named for a jazz artist, and that person is…
I know! I had to ask myself and my musicological hubby – who the heck is Bebo Valdés and why haven’t we heard of him?
It also made me wonder if Matt Mullenweg is drunk-choosing jazz names again.
By the way, this is one of my first posts composed completely in Gutenberg!
I figured learning about a new jazz man was a perfect time to learn more about blocks.
Thanks to the wonders of the Internet, I soon realized that Bebo is the father of Chucho Valdés, who we saw at the Vancouver Jazz Fest in 2009.
(At the midnight jam the host mistakenly introduced him as Chuchi – ooops!)
But, his dad, Bebo? Not so famous.
Born in October 1918 in Quivican, Cuba, Bebo Valdés was a young piano prodigy active in the Havana nightclub scene in the 1940s and 50s where he was a well-regarded performer, composer, arranger, and musical director. He toured the US and Europe during that time, but soon after the revolution, he moved to Stockholm, Sweden.
His career was overshadowed by his son, Chucho, who became internationally renowned through his work in the band Irakere. Although Bebo had continued to compose, it wasn’t until Paquito D’Rivera drew him back into the studio in the 1990s that he performed again on Todo Ritmo, his first release since 1959.
Bebo died of Alzheimer’s-related pneumonia in 2013 at the ripe age of 94.
Although he wasn’t a household name, Bebo Valdes was certainly an early mover and shaker in the Cuban music business. Not as seminal to jazz as 5.0 is to WordPress, but big.
Clearly, the choice of who and when to jazz-name a new version is a wildly random decision at Automattic.
I’m still rooting for Dizzy Gillespie.
On the other hand, naming Gutenberg’s version for a fairly unfamiliar jazz artist is kinda apropos given that both of them require a bit of work to understand.
Or, in the case of Gutenberg, a LOT of work.
The trouble with Gutenberg
The purpose of Gutenberg, and what makes it seminal, is how it works as a page builder by allowing users to create blocks. Each block may have its own formatting or element or widget, which is great.
What I dislike about these blocks is that every paragraph becomes a block, automatically and without an easy override.
So if you are, like me, composing offline and pasting blog-formatted text into the Gutenberg editor, my one or two-sentence paragraphs get automatically split from the rest.
Every time you hit the Return key, you get a new block, so remember to do a soft return (Shift>Return) to avoid breaking the paragraph.
In general, this may not be a problem, but if you decide to reformat a whole page, it can be a hassle!
The best thing about Gutenberg is how it gives us an easy way to create columns.
Finally, we don’t have to upload and use an additional plugin to make columns!
Lists in a Paragraph block in a Column look good with soft returns behind each item. (right)
Not so good when your list has hard returns.
Hard returns make the list break out into a series of blocks.
If you have a column list in broken 1-line blocks, forget about putting a color background behind the whole list
In that case, the Color Settings won’t activate as a group (right) and you have to set backgrounds for each listing
Gutenberg also makes tables with two styles, regular, and (below) striped .
Bebo’s Grammy Awards
|2009||Juntos Para Siempre||Best Latin Jazz Album|
|2005||Bebo de Cuba||Best Traditional Tropical Latin Album|
|2002||Arte del Sabor||Best Traditional Tropical Latin Album|
To get more fancy elements, you need to install a plugin to add more functionality. I wrote about 18 Gutenberg Plugins to Expand Your WordPress Layouts and from that list I chose Stackable to create the following blocks.
Here are a few cool things to do with Stackable:
A plugin to help you better manage your editor blocks.
A unique collection of Gutenberg blocks for your site.
Call to Action
One day, Teddy, you will have a perfect need for a Gutenberg feature and that will be your motivation. Enjoy!
Thanks Istiak. I will indeed give it a try!
I have not found a block widget to enlarge the video frame from the YouTube link.
To place the videos on this page I used not the Video or YouTube blocks, which render a short 560×315 image, but instead I pulled the embed video code from YouTube and manually increased the size, and placed it in a Custom HTML block.
In this 2008 video, father and son play the haunting Tres Palabras on dueling pianos.
WordPress 5.0 is alright
In the months of much pearl clutching about Gutenberg as part of the WordPress core it felt a little like pre-Y2K panic. No one was certain of the widespread result once the change came.
Would Gutenberg break the Internet? Would themes and plugins be compatible? Would the world end?
Of course the world didn’t end, although people have re-discovered climate change, but that’s another danger.
In the short time Gutenberg has been released I’ve seen some positive effects.
In one case, the WordPress 5.0 update helped a client’s site work better with Gutenberg block than it did as a plugin.
It was a magazine-style redesign I attempted in October without realizing the site had been built on a Ngix server, not Apache. All my attempts to use a page builder failed, so we waited for the site to be moved by the server manager, which it wasn’t.
Last week, I updated the site to Version 5.3.0, laid out a new page in Gutenberg, and voila! The home page is now displaying unique featured posts the way it’s supposed to.
Thank you, Gutenberg
To be sure, Gutenberg requires a vigorous learning curve to master, but I do believe there is a payoff, especially when it comes to making your posts more mobile friendly.
Now is a good time to train your clients on how to use Gutenberg. If you need help, call me.
Meanwhile tell me about your experience with Gutenberg, if you use it. I’d love to hear what other users are finding.