Tag: Rant

The Reality of Gutenberg & WordPress

Gutenberg is happening. It is coming and it is coming soon. I am not thrilled.

WordPress the CMS

Automattic have been trying to tell us for years that WordPress is more than a blogging platform, that is a true and full Content Management System. "Look!", they say. "You have custom post types, and the metabox API allows for you to create complex content types. It's a CMS!". Alas, it is all built on top of a blog with very blog specific design patterns. The underbelly of WP is ugly and hacky, even if it works "just fine" most of the time. Gutenberg is as direct of a statement of intent as I could expect; WordPress is a blogging/marketing platform, and not a CMS.

WordPress the Casual Site Builder

Gutenberg is a response to the threat of Squarespace and Wix and Medium. This update is for WordPress.com, to combat the threat of those other systems, to ensure dominance in the web publishing space, to increase market share by appealing to more casual users, small business owners, etc. Automattic can probably then generate leads for their WP VIPs. But I think this will come at the expense of developers like me, working at a digital agency, who drank the koolaid about WordPress being a CMS and it being a tool that can be used for Higher-Ed, Government, Healthcare, and not just for a blog or a simple marketing site. I am ready to move on to real CMS's for those projects. As for the marketing and bloggy sites, Squarespace has a much more robust block and content building experience. Why even bother with WordPress at this point? Gutenberg is not anywhere close to those systems, yet. It will probably get there, but will it matter, and will it be worth it?

Gutenberg the Editor

The new editorial process is nice, but super limiting. I hope that more blocks are in development otherwise this feels dead on arrival. I am having some fun with it on my site, checking things out, playing with the shiny new toy, but after a few posts, it's already starting to feel restrictive. Theme builders give me so many more options for how to present content. Sure, they are nasty and terrible, but they offer so much more out of the box. I kinda hope that WordPress does not depend on extending block functionality via 3rd party plugin. They have come this far, surely they can offer some more variety?

For example, how about letting me insert a block above the title. Typically you start the page with a large hero, then the primary h1 follows. You can do this now by excluding the post title, but Gutenberg does not let you change the post slug (why?). And if you dont have an SEO plugin installed your <title> will be empty.

How about letting me define a wrapper element around a few blocks to give me more HTML to hang a frontend design off of? Like, making a group of blocks.

How about a related posts that is not just a list of post links, but something that will allow an editor to create a curated list, or a dynamically generated list, that includes thumbnails, excerpt, tags, whatever.

If it ain't broke…

Creating custom blocks has a much higher barrier to entry than say, creating custom field sets with ACF Pro, or using Metabox.io to create modular content blocks. We typically have some unique design constraints and features of our content patterns that do not allow for perfect modular re-use across websites. In other words, we make boutique websites for our clients. ACF and Metabox.io make this extremely easy. Gutenberg blocks are going to take a lot more time to build and test (now we have to test integration on the backend?!)

Ok. I am starting to rant. Ill end this by saying I don't think Gutenberg needs to be THE editor for WordPress, just AN editor for WordPress. Leave it as an optional plugin.

What happened to empathy and compassion in the medical industry?

My wife had some irregularities in her blood work so the Dr. had her take a test to see if she has thyroid cancer or not. This Dr. tells my wife that he will get back to her in 2 business days. 4 business days pass so my wife calls and leaves a message. The woman who called her back was rude and impatient. My wife asked, clear as day, if (doctors name) has received her (specific name of the test’s) results and if so, could she talk to (doctors name) to discuss the results. This woman said “so like, I have no idea what you are asking about, I don’t understand the question“. WTF, maybe take a moment and look it up in her file, like, maybe try doing your damn job? Anyways. Finally she gets the assistant on the phone and is like, oh yeah we have the results, starts to read over it the phone, and then says oh never mind we will call you later today to discuss the “interpretation“. That was over 24 hours ago. They have to understand how stressful this is, and I would assume that they would be considerate of emotions here. If you cannot commit to following through with a follow up, at the very least call the person back and explain that it is going to be longer (and provide an accurate follow up time). If you have no intention of following up in 2 days, don’t promise to do so. Be honest and set realistic expectations for your customers.

I am extremely upset with this MD. I can understand that they are busy, but I do not sympathize. You are in the business of customer service, and especially in a medical field you should have some empathy and compassion for your customers. These are real people with real emotions who are probably feeling vulnerable and scared. To treat them like this, especially when dealing with the big bad “c” word, is unacceptable.

UPDATE:

Turns out there is no time for compassion because they don’t get paid enough. Wife finally saw the dr today and well, wow. His words: “We are not paid enough from the insurance companies to provide customer service”.

Read more here: https://www.facebook.com/nicole.martinelli2/posts/10154255615248546

Drupal is a bad CMS

My custom drupal logo

Drupal is a bad CMS. It is bad for developers. It is bad for end users. It is needlessly complex, woefully incomplete, and brutally rigid in its _extensibility_. Oh you can install modules that are mostly working, or you can write your own module if you know the API well enough (pro tip: no one does). These modules may get you close to that functionality you require, but not close enough. The response from the community when you run across these all too common road blocks is “well you shouldn’t be doing that”. What sort of cop-out answer is that? PHP is goddamned easy to write. Building websites is super fucking easy to do. Doing these things in Drupal is a nightmare. I work in an agency. We move quickly. Our clients move quickly. The web, as a whole, moves quickly. Not Drupal though. Every goddamn thing about it is super slow. Developing for it is slow, testing is slow, theming is slow, creating content is slow, community development is slow.

Most modules are unfinished and should mostly be considered “MVP’s”. Documentation of the platform and community modules are very poor to non-existent. Want to create a view for your YAML Form submissions that filters out certain responses? Too bad, custom field integration with Views probably won’t happen until sometime next year if it ever happens because the Views API documentation is so poor the YAML Form developers don’t know how to use it. I don’t mean that the YAML form developers are bad in any way, they are just at the mercy of the Views developers and their lack of documentation. The Autocomplete Search module renders pluralized versions of content types as section titles in the results container by simply adding a “‘s” to the end. So for a content type called “Story” the search results would say “Story’s”. See, MVP at best. Or maybe even an alpha. The admin menu does not scale well if you are on a 13″ laptop either. The core Structure menu extends passed the viewport and you cannot scroll it.

For every thing that Drupal does well, it does a dozen things that are painfully frustrating. Sometimes when working with Drupal I will get stoked that it did something kinda cool, but soon after I get “drupal’d” and am pulling my hair out for 12 hours because I didn’t know about some arcane combination of button presses required to unlock hidden functionality to make a module do a thing. Even trying to search the internet for solutions to common Drupal problems returns results that are sometimes 12 years old and are no longer relevant to the platform. I have witnessed experienced Drupal developers struggle with doing some of the most basic things within the platform. It does not speak to them as developers, they are all very talented, but it says a lot about Drupal. This is not a platform for the modern web.