Core Editor Improvement: Advancing the writing experience

These “CoreCore Core is the set of software required to run WordPress. The Core Development Team builds WordPress. Editor Improvement…” posts (labeled with the #core-editor-improvement tagtag A directory in Subversion. WordPress uses tags to store a single snapshot of a version (3.6, 3.6.1, etc.), the common convention of tags in version control systems. (Not to be confused with post tags.)) are a series dedicated to highlighting various new features, improvements, and more from Core Editor related projects. 

The experience of writing your latest post, whether as part of your weekly routine or out of excitement from a recent adventure, just got easier in many different ways. From a new mode that helps you focus on just writing to more keyboard shortcuts for quickly navigating content, there’s something for everyone, no matter how you approach writing your posts. 

For clarity, everything that will be included in the 6.1 release is explicitly noted below. Otherwise, it is available in the GutenbergGutenberg The Gutenberg project is the new Editor Interface for WordPress. The editor improves the process and experience of creating new content, making writing rich content much simpler. It uses ‘blocks’ to add richness rather than shortcodes, custom HTML etc. pluginPlugin A plugin is a piece of software containing a group of functions that can be added to a WordPress website. They can extend functionality or add new features to your WordPress websites. WordPress plugins are written in the PHP programming language and integrate seamlessly with WordPress. These can be free in the Plugin Directory or can be cost-based plugin from a third-party

Select exactly what you want (available in WordPress 6.1)

After the introduction of multi-select, where you can select text across multiple blocks without selecting the blocks as a whole, new enhancements were introduced to balance against situations where you might want to select across blocks. Specifically, partial selection remains the default option until you select a blockBlock Block is the abstract term used to describe units of markup that, composed together, form the content or layout of a webpage using the WordPress editor. The idea combines concepts of what in the past may have achieved with shortcodes, custom HTML, and embed discovery into a single consistent API and user experience. that can’t be combined, like an Image block. Tied to this, the animation and appearance of the overall experience were also updated to be clearer and smoother. You can see this at play in the visual below, where partial selection is used until an image is selected and the overlay selection color switches to every block.  This should make both the feeling of selecting blocks and the accuracy of doing exactly what you want much more cohesive. 

GIF showing text being selected at first across individual paragraph blocks before, when selecting an image block, all blocks being selected.

Move faster with keyboard shortcuts (available in Gutenberg 14.3)

Gutenberg 14.3 included support for alt + arrow keyboard combinations to make navigating blocks of text quick and easy:

  • If your cursor is at the end of a long paragraph, you can press the alt + up arrow to move to the beginning of that paragraph. 
  • If you are already at the beginning of a text block, you can press the alt + up arrow to move to the start of the previous paragraph. 
  • If you press alt + down arrow, it will move you to the end of a block of text.

Improved document settings (available in WordPress 6.1)

A revamped document settings experience improves legibility and resulting usability with a cleaner, more organized display. It should help you more readily access all the important information about your post/page, including the template picker and scheduler. Specifically, the fields for post format, slug, template, and authors are aligned and have the same width. The template displays ‘default template’ instead of none, and the Permalink link opens a popover to edit the slug when clicked. The result is a cleaner, more organized display so you can see exactly what you need to before sharing your next post. 

Before and after images next to each of changes to document settings with the after image showing more consistency.

Do more with the Quote & List blocks (available in WordPress 6.1)

The Quote block now allows you to add nested blocks, meaning you could add the new List block inside the new Quote block. Similarly, the List block uses inner blocks, meaning your list items can be easily sorted and indented with a much-improved user experience.

Quote block with multiple inner blocks listed, including image and list.

Opt in to fewer distractions and more focus (available in Gutenberg 14.4)

For those looking for an even more focused experience, enter distraction-free mode available as soon as Gutenberg 14.4 is released. It’s a more drastically reduced experience with the following settings in place, allowing you to focus on the creation experience as much as possible: 

  • Hides the top toolbar until one intentionally hovers over where it typically sits.
  • Removes many top toolbar buttons.
  • Automatically closes any open sidebars, from block settings to list view. 
  • Hides the insertion point indicator, reducing visual clutter. 
  • Hides the block toolbar. 

More work remains to be done to fully form this new mode but the promise of what it provides is exciting for those looking for a more contained writing experience.

Use the autocompletion for links anywhere you want (available in WordPress 6.1)

While the [[ shortcut was introduced a while ago, it can now be used anywhere you want to add any internal link you’d like. Previously, it was isolated to just the blocks that explicitly opted in, and as you can see in the video below, you can now take advantage of this feature no matter what you’re editing:

Transform blocks with ease with improved organization (available in WordPress 6.1)

The transforms menu offers a shortcut to switch to different blocks, depending on your content. As the number of blocks has grown and the reliance on this menu has increased, the menu’s organization has evolved to emphasize content blocks. Specifically, blocks that support paragraph, heading, list, and quote transforms, are now weighted over other more structural blocks, like a Group or Column. This should help common pathways be easier to find as more common transformations. 

Heading block transform menu open showing prioritized content blocks.

Keep List View open by default (available in WordPress 6.1)

For any List View fans, Gutenberg 13.3 introduced the option to have List View open by default. This makes navigating complex content, like a long post sharing every detail of a big adventure, much easier. Rather than needing to open it every single time you enter the editor, it’ll be waiting for you with every new post you write:

Preferences modal open showing "always open list view" checked off.

Enjoy improvements to the various inserters (available in Gutenberg 14.2)

The inserters are a big part of the base experience of using the block editor. An update to the animation effect for the sibling and in-line inserters now offers a more natural and responsive feel. On the flip side, when you’re typing, the block inserter is now hidden to reduce visual noise and allow more of a focus on the writing experience itself: 

Taken together, these enhancements will allow you to engage with the inserters better only when you need them. 

Control image captions from the block toolbar (available in Gutenberg 14.4)

You can now add or remove a caption for an image directly from the block toolbar. If a caption has already been set, it will be included by default when the image is added to your content, saving you time and giving you options.

More to come

Ensuring the base editing experience is excellent is always a work in progress and a focus, especially as work is underway to bring the block editing experience to more parts of the site for more people. As you run into bugs, feature requests, or feedback, please remember to share in GitHub so the experience can continue to be refined. 

#core-editor-improvement, #gutenberg