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Paragraphs as blocks... Why? #4780
Using the latest versions of WP and Gutenberg (2.1.0) I'm overall digging Gutenberg.
There's one big usability-issue with it, from my perspective:
All paragraphs become blocks, and while I've read around the web, GitHub, the FAQ etc, I've been unable to find a place where this issue has been brought up for discussion.
Here's how I experience the "paragraphs as blocks" paradigm:
I'm writing my text in iA Writer. I paste the Markdown into Gutenberg... and good ol' Gutenberg translates every little paragraph to a block.
Problem 1: it's common for many bloggers to include lots of short one or two sentence paragraphs in their writing. Look at posts by Chris Brogan and Derek Halpern for typical examples of this practice.
The result in Gutenberg? Lots and lots of blocks. It feels messy.
To avoid it, I've begun making soft-linebreaks / double linebreaks (SHIFT+ENTER x 2) which works, but whenever I forget, due to a lifelong habit of just pressing ENTER to create a new paragraph: a new block is born.
Problem 2: there's no easy way to combine/merge blocks into one, cohesive block.
Multiple blocks can't be moved at once. A feature like "glue/group these blocks together" a la the Ulysses writing app for Mac, is IMO essential, if Gutenberg insists on making every little paragraph (and headline) a separate block.
This is also cumbersome when considering headlines/sub-headlines: they belong to the paragraph(s) below them. Moving first the headline OR the paragraph(s) to their new place in the reading-flow, adds unneccessary cognitive overload, as one has to keep track of what belongs where. Especially taxing if it's a long text and the headlines and paragraphs have to be moved far from their original spot.
If the phone rings, or something else distracts you from what you're doing: it'll be hard to start from where you left off, because some paragraphs are still in the old spot, while others are in a new spot, and the headline is missing in one of those places.
This is further exacerbated by the "click to move" functionality of Gutenberg (opposed to a drag & drop UI which would be considerably faster to use).
Is it just me?
Thanks for raising this and in fact, this has been raised several times and we actually used multiple paragraphs per block for a long time in Gutenberg but after iterations, the conclusion was that the one paragraph per block is the best way to go for a block based editor where controls are at the block level. It may be disrupting at first but proves to be a stronger approach in the long run.
The design guiding principle is that you don't need to know they are blocks, you just get extra tools on a per-paragraph level. (Ulysses launched a feature a few months ago where you could also move paragraphs as units.) Moving cursor through text should feel like just any other editor.
You can do this by dragging selection across multiple paragraphs and then moving with the arrow. Multi-selection is a core aspect of the Gutenberg experience.
See video example: https://cloudup.com/cvahzN9C3-9
You can include headings in the group-selection too.
This usecase is meant to be covered by multi-selection. From my experience dealing with long form content, it can also feel less fragile to select and move things around as you are not dealing with copying and pasting. Specially if you include things like images or headings among the selection.
Also work is being done to also allow drag and drop to move elements around, including multi-selection groups.
Hope this helps.
Ooooohhh, Matias: thank you for that tip! Didn't realize I could select and move multiple blocks that way. Neat! You' da Ace (pun intended) :-)
And thanks for the link to Joen's explanation too, Riad! Much appreciated.
Keep up the good work – I'm glad those issues where imagined issues due to my severely lacking mental faculties ;-D