Leaflets versus Christmas Cards

I’ve seen two bloggers write postsabout how they have been screwed by reusable blocks, just in the last week. I think I understand them (reusable blocks, not those users 🤣), so if you are using them, but are not quite sure why you’re using them, read on…

Imagine that you are running a jumble sale. You want to publicise the thing, so you get 1,000 leaflets printed up. “Come to our jumble sale, in the church hall, 11 AM on Saturday”, or whatever. Makes sense, right? Because you don’t want to write it out 1,000 times.

So one person comes along, takes a leaflet. Someone else comes along 5 minutes later, takes another leaflet. Both people are reading exactly the same information. Church Hall, Saturday, 11 AM…

Those are reusable blocks. When you want to publish the exact same thing, again and again, you use a reusable block.

Next, imagine you are writing your christmas card list.

The first card reads “Dear Fred, Happy Christmas, Harold.”

The next one reads “Dear Mabel, Happy Christmas, Harold.”

The one after reads “Dear Bob, Happy Christmas, Harold.”

And so on. Each card is almost the same, but slightly different. In that scenario, you’re stuffed. You have to write all the cards individually.

So, in that case. you can’t use a reusable block. Even though only one word is different, each message is still different.

What this means in Blogland

If you write the exact same text, in post after post, then investigate reusable blocks.

For example, if you host a prompt, and you write some preamble, and every time you run the prompt, it is the same (including any links, formatting etc. Everything.), look at using a reusable block.

But, WordPress does not understand “nearly”. So, if you write something slightly different each time, reusable blocks are not for you.

Now, how many times do you write the exact same thing, same formatting, same links, and all? Almost never, right? So, what that should tell you is that there are very few occasions where using a reusable block is any use. And that is absolutely true! That should be everybody’s gut instinct.

So, when I have text that is almost the same, how do I avoid typing it all out again?

Well, the best way I have found is to go to my list of posts. Each post has “…” written right at the end of each line.

Click “…” and a menu appears. One of the options is “Copy Post”. This takes the original post, creates a new post, then copies everything from the old post to the new. I can then start making those changes.

At the end of this, the old post is left unchanged. The new one is saved as a Draft post until I publish it. Exactly what you would expect.

Anyone Else Notice This?

If I decide to respond to a prompt, one I already responded to in the last few weeks, I’ll scroll down my list of posts and hit “copy”.

So, a new post comes up, a straight copy of the first. It has all the graphics/categories/tags set up already, but of course I need to then write my actual response.

The other thing I do is to update my hyperlink back to the thing I’m responding to, because that link’s gonna be a different page on the prompter’s site.

A few months ago, I started to notice that this link wasn’t being updated. That’s funny, I’d think. I must be more careful next time. And I could go back into the post, and sure enough the link hadn’t changed, but I could then edit it correctly. I doubt anyone would even notice, but it messes up pingbacks a tiny bit.

Anyway, over the months, I’ve become more and more careful about making sure I do this properly. Yet, it still happens. It just happened a few minutes ago – my FOWC post went live pointing to yesterdays prompt post. I’ve corrected it, but it shouldn’t have happened in the first place. What’s more, for this specific post, I’m convinced I reset the link before I put the post live.

And every time this happens, I’m left thinking, I could have sworn I changed that already. No matter how carefully I check, it still seems to happen. So I’m wondering, does anyone else see this or is it just me?

The Classic Plug-in

Been struggling to catch up with my “real” WordPress feed today, because I have been playing with the standalone version of WordPress I installed this morning.

The good news is that I got it all going. I created a new account on this standalone version, then created a post. I then logged in again using the wordpress.com account I usually use for this site, and was able to comment as Mister Bump.

Success. What that means is that other wordpress.com users can seamlessly comment on the posts.

On a roll, I then installed the classic editor plug-in onto my standalone version. This was the result. Click on the image for more detail.

Is this the “classic editor” people used to use?

If so, I can tell you exactly what I did, but anybody wanting to go down this route must do the following:

  • buy hosting somewhere on a site which allows WordPress, and also allows plug-ins.
  • install the JetPack plug-in. JetPack offers a free plan. You will also need to instalhe Akismet plug-in. Akismet expect a donation, but it looks as it that donation can also be zero
  • Then, you need to export/import your existing site, to pull all the posts across. You will need to export / import the design, too. I’m not even sure that can be done automatically.

They don’t make it easy, do they?

For Mel

What you see above is a block called a “post carousel”.

You can tell it to only display so-many posts.

You can also set it to just display posts in a certain category. In my example, I have a category called Quizzes.

The images you see are the Featured Image of each individual post.

The text that you see is the title of each individual post.

Might this help you?

Did you see the “Columns” block?

[I should say at the start, you’ll need to view the post on my site to appreciate this.]

Well, first of all, did you see the quiz I post yesterday? It went something like this:

1.blah blah blah

In fact, to get there, I had to select a Table block and edit it manually. If I’d have just created a table from the editor, and used it as is, I’d have got:

1.blah blah blah

See how it mangles the widths?

So I sent a message to WordPress and asked if there was any way to do this visually, without faffing around with the underlying code. Turns out, there is a block called the Columns block instead. This allows me to create my columns, entirely within the visual editor. Set the widths, and all.

I thought I’d mention it for two reasons. First, this appears to be quite a powerful block. After you’ve said how many columns you want, you can not only set their widths, but you can also fill then with whatever other blocks you like. I mean, I was only interested in writing a bit of text, but you could put images, or lists, or (I guess) loads of other things, if the fancy takes you.

Second, this is the one time I have to go beyond the block editor and fiddle with the underlying code.

I’ve seen/used these blocks where you can display media and text side-by-side, but it’s clear to me now that that is just a special case of a Columns block. So, this is what my quiz would’ve looked like if I’d have used the Columns block.

1.

blah, blah, blah

or

The quick brown fox

  • blah
  • blah
  • blah
2020-12-25T00:00:36

  days

  hours  minutes  seconds

until

Christmas

and all done visually!