Gutenberg: Where do we start? Part 1 – Why Gutenberg?

This is part 1 in a series on getting started with developing Gutenberg blocks, for people who aren’t sure where to start.

Before I start to learn anything, I like to ask why? Unless there’s a compelling reason to learn something, there’s always the possibility that we might not keep going if things get a little confusing.

And also, it’s a question I’ve heard people ask when I talk about Gutenberg: Why is it needed? Why are we making this change?

I have a friend who runs a choir for LGBT people. She has a website on Wix. She knows people who do WordPress, but she went with Wix. Why? She can put images where she wants easily. It’s a click or two and everything is labelled and obvious. It’s all visual.

I have a friend who blogs about cross stitch using WordPress. Or, at least, she used to. She got frustrated because she couldn’t get things positioned correctly, and didn’t know how to embed content from other sites, and found the writing process clunky. Now she uses a combination of other sites that are easy and visual.

I know that the plural of anecdote is not data. However, we all know people who have taken that path. We’ve seen the Wix adverts on YouTube. We’ve all inserted an image, aligned it right, and then yelled at the screen because it keeps moving down when we start to type again.. We’ve all done the “position image -> preview -> reposition image -> preview -> edit html” dance in WordPress.  Everyday users don’t get that far. It’s not easy, and it’s not obvious.

We might know that putting a URL on its own line in the editor will embed it on the front end. Everyday users don’t get that far. It’s not easy, and it’s not obvious.

Take a step back and watch some first time users try to embed a YouTube video in the current editor.

Some people have suggested that Automattic is only doing Gutenberg because they want to compete with Wix, Weebly, Squarespace.

The reality is that we are all competing with them, no matter if we’re consultancies, agencies, web hosts, or theme authors.

A few years ago when the average user might have gone to a WordPress host, bought a theme, possibly paid a little bit for consultancy – now they have a host of options to choose from, most of which have better writing experiences than WordPress currently does. Now they’re on other platforms, and personal choice turns into business choice.

Gutenberg! Or is it Ghost?

Heck, even Ghost, the Markdown based blogging software, has embraced an easy to use visual editor.

We need to evolve to survive. We need to evolve so we’re leading, not playing catch-up.

Best things I’ve seen this week roundup

Get yourself a Pearl that can do it all.
Watch grown men mock another grown man with a simulated dinosaur theme park ride. 
Delightful cover of a song from the Steven Universe soundtrack.

“Gordon Ramsey” tells you all about the games of the Bitmap Brothers.

Expect more nonsense that amused me next week!

These movies are NOT kids movies

Sometimes, instead of putting on some music while I work, I like to put on a familiar movie. Not one that I need to concentrate on, just some background noise to keep the noisy part of my brain quiet so I can properly visualise and work through problems.

I thought I’d put on some movies from my childhood, and I was reminded how many “kids” movies of that time were definitely not for children.

Return to Oz

A nice children’s movie about kidnapping, forced electro-shock therapy, hallucinations, decapitation, poisoning, and people turning to sand and crumbling away. And not in a metaphorical or cartoonish way.

If you think those scenes at the end of Infinity War were disturbing, well, imagine that was given a U rating and marketed to six-year-olds.

Watership Down

The sound of flies buzzing still makes me think of gory rabbit death doomsday prophecy proclaiming flesh tearing terror  even now.

The NeverEnding Story

Yes, what I’d really like is to watch a horse drown. That sounds like a nice way to spend a Sunday afternoon.

What movies from your childhood traumatised you for life? Why not, I dunno, like tell me, or stuff? I can’t force you to, you know.

Written using that new-fangled fancy Gutenberg editor that I have something to do with!

Done done done, I am done with Twitter.

Goodnight room. Goodnight moon. Goodnight twitter and your propagation of echo chambers and hate. Goodnight refusing to ban bigots, slanderers, and those that incite violence on an international scale.

Twitter – the official platform for bigots everywhere.

I will go back to using Twitter for what it was originally used for – keeping up with what people I care about are doing, and telling people what I’m doing.

And my blog posts are what I’m going to be doing from now on.

The best temperature scale in the world… EVER

Celsius and Fahrenheit are all well and good, but when it comes to describing everyday temperatures, they’re a little deficient.

-3 sounds cold.

102 sounds hot.

So, here’s a new, wonderfully descriptive, perfectly awesome scale – degrees N.

0º Nikki = 0ºC.

100º Nikki = 100ºF


( F – 32 ) / 0.68 = N

C * 9 / 5 / 0.68 = N

Want to convert them the other way? Why would you want to do that??? Tsk.

Thoughts after using for a while

I’ve been using as my primary search engine for a few months, and it’s mostly a good experience. I especially like how it doesn’t track you, and extracts StackOverflow summaries!

Not that my job is mostly this.

Nope, not at all!


There’s only one thing that jars me, and that’s how it ranks suggestions.

In my work at Automattic, and in my side project, I’m writing a lot of JavaScript. Because I frequently switch to other languages, sometimes I have to look up simple things, like… does JavaScript have a method for lower casing a string? Where can I rely on Array.prototype.forEach existing? You know, the type of stuff you’d usually have a sheet stuck to the wall to remind you of when you’re skipping between 4 different languages in the course of a day.

The issue with DuckDuckGo that trips me up every now and then is how it orders the search suggestions. If you start typing “javascript string to lower case” it suggests 4 options when you get to “javascript string to lower”

Here they are.


There’s the thing I want, but in two languages that I’m not interested in. That means if I do the same thing I do in Google, pressing down then enter (which is practically muscle memory by now), I get an option that is less relevant than the others.

I can’t help feeling that those options should be ordered by the amount of words that match my query, giving a boost to options that match the beginning of what I typed. It would stop me ending up in Java docs when I want JavaScript!

But that’s just a small glitch in an otherwise fine experience. It’s fast, not saturated with ads, and will not track at all!

Learning git

“Welcome to English as a second language! As we prepare for our odyssey through the major thoroughfares and more obscure byways of the English language, it’s important to know that English is a weakly inflected Indo-European language, with Germanic, Latin, and Greek influences.”

“Um, what?”

“Please, we have to start with these concepts. Let’s start with syllable counting…”

“I just want to have a conversation. How do I do start?”

“No, no, no, I can’t let you go off just saying ‘Hello’ to people unless you understand the history of the alphabet. You might use it effectively, but in a way that’s slightly technically incorrect!”

“I think I’m going to go here instead…”

Her first Marvel movie – watching The Avengers with Pam (part 1)

Now that Pam is 6 – and has proclaimed that she knows what is real and what’s not, and if it isn’t real, it’s not scary – we thought she might like to watch The Avengers with us. She loves the video game, so she was excited to watch it. We thought it might be a bit much for her, but she told us that if we’re with her, there’s nothing to be afraid of.

“You’ve got nothing to fear. I’m here.” – Steven Universe

I’d forgotten how slow the movie is for the first 30 minutes or so, but Pam was asking questions and talking to us about it throughout. We don’t mind that, it’s her first proper live action superhero movie, so there’s going to be a lot she wants to ask and comment on.

Our first “oh my goodness, our hearts are going to burst from the sweetness of this” was Black Widow’s first scene. Pam saw her and asked who she was. “That’s Black Widow.” “Oh yes. She is strong. Girls can be pretty AND strong.”

Oh my goodness YES, thank you for learning this lesson at 6 years old. You can be a princess AND kick butt.

Then Captain America appeared. He was in the gym, hitting a punching bag and generally having a good workout to forget the horrors of war. As soon as Pam saw him she exclaimed, “Oooooh! He’s a strong boy!” and she had a huge grin on her face. I asked her if she knew who he was. No, she didn’t. “That’s Captain America,” I told her. She didn’t say anything, but if the word “squee” had a physical expression, she did it.

I think our little girl has a crush on Cap.

We’re about halfway through the movie now. Thor has shown up and Loki is captured. Pam is eager for the Hulk to show up and smash things.

Pizza is in the oven, and the movie will resume when it’s ready.

I’m so proud of Pam. She’s still a little kid, but she’s got such a good foundation and outlook on things. She knows the things in the movie are only fun because they’re just a story. She knows girls can be pretty and strong. She knows Loki would be a bad king because he doesn’t care about the people. She knows that Iron Man and Thor were only fighting because they didn’t get to know each other and they were afraid. These were all her own conclusions.

I’ll update later with her reactions to the Hulk.

My daughter is a grunge/punk/metalhead and I couldn’t be more proud


Steven Universe is wonderful. Full of love acceptance, and magic lesbians from outer space (yes, really).

The music in it is exceptional. Such a variety of styles, from shouty punk rock to duets that could have come from a West End musical.

My daughter is currently obsessed with this song…

She jumps around, headbanging, yelling, being a joyous ball of pure energy. So I decided to find out if she’d like similar music.

Here are her opinions.

“It’s good, but it’s not as loud as the Steven Universe song.”

Hmm… loud… well I turned the volume up, but that’s not what she meant by loud.

“This is good! It’s loud!”

Ah, loud is Pam-speak means heavy and shouty! Ok, let’s see what more we can find…

“Yeah, this is good, I’d like to dance to this one! Yeah, I like this one a lot!”

I think we’ve found what she likes! Heavy speed grunge punk!

So proud!