Blogosphere

Another bug in the WordPress block editor and frustration trying to get WordPress.com Support to believe me

Let me start by saying that software support is a wicked hard job. I’ve worked in the industry more than 30 years and have experienced it firsthand on support rotations.

Until the latest update to WordPress’s block editor, it was possible to flow text around an image following these steps:

  1. Insert an image, either using an Image block, or using an HTML block to embed a Flickr image.
  2. Using the block tools, right or left align it.
  3. Grab handles appear on the image. Drag them to size the image to your liking.

Boom, that’s it, the next blocks flow around the image. At least, it did until the most recent block editor update. It’s broken now. After step 2 above, you can no longer select the block with the image in it. It appears to merge with the next block. If you click the image and use the block tools to delete the block, it deletes the next block but leaves the image in place. The only way to delete the image is switch to the Code Editor and remove the code that embeds the image. Here’s a screencast that illustrates what’s happening. This has got to be a bug.

Chicago Theater

I have found a sort-of workaround. Insert the image, size it, then left or right align it. It gives the desired end result, as you can see at left.

The only trouble is, you still can’t select that image block. I can’t resize it, I can’t move it, I can’t edit the caption. I can’t even delete it.

The only way to interact with the image block after that is in the code editor.

I opened a case with WordPress.com Support and described this regression. The support engineer said that the block editor was never designed to work in the way I described. I replied that it had indeed worked that way until a couple days before I opened the support case.

The engineer then asked me to either use the Text & Media block, or use the Classic Editor block, to do what I wanted.

This is an example of the Media & Text block. It doesn’t support Flickr embeds; unfortunately, I use Flickr to host most of the images here. Also, the default text is huge and you have to format it to try to match it to the rest of the post’s default text size. You get a slider to do that, and you have to match it by trial and error. It doesn’t actually flow the text around the image, as you can see.

MeditatingDogIt does work to use the Classic Editor. I’ve done it here: this paragraph and the image at right are in the Classic Editor block, and the paragraphs that follow are in Paragraph blocks.

It was surprisingly challenging to remember how to use the Classic Editor after all these months in the Block Editor, but I figured it out.

However, I was still sure I had found a bug, and I said so very directly to the support engineer. I shared an old post with the engineer that showed how I had flowed text around an image. I pointed the engineer to the underlying code behind the post to prove it: there were dimensions in the code for the image. Those wouldn’t have been there had I not used the grab handles to shrink the image. The engineer finally said, “Okay, I see you were able to do this before. It seems unusual that it was possible to do this before, but I can certainly report this change to the Block Editor devs. for you.”

No, it wasn’t unusual. This is how it actually worked.

Furthermore, following the steps I described above to flow text around an image results in a block you can no longer select, and can only delete by switching to the Code Editor. In what universe is that not a bug?

If anyone from WordPress happens to read this, I’d be grateful if you’d check what I’m saying here and, if I’m right, open a bug ticket for it. I’d surely like to see this fixed as I encounter this bug every day.

Most of the time when I open a support case with WordPress.com I get active troubleshooting. I’ve found several bugs over the years and most support engineers are happy to get to the bottom of it with me and, when I’m right, write a bug ticket. They even email me a link to the ticket so I can follow it and see when it gets fixed.

But every now and then a support engineer repeatedly tries to tell me that whatever bug I’m encountering is how the system is supposed to function, or that I am wrong about how the system used to work. That makes me nuts. I feel gaslit.

I know this support engineer doesn’t know me and has no idea I’ve been making software for a living since the late 80s. That I was a quality engineer for 17 of those years. I’m adept at identifying bugs.

Harrumph, enough ranting. I hope someone at WordPress.com figures out that this condition exists and puts it in the queue to be fixed.

Standard

25 thoughts on “Another bug in the WordPress block editor and frustration trying to get WordPress.com Support to believe me

  1. It seems a problem that a lot of site maintainers don’t want to deal with. The Blogger and Flickr editors are very primitive. I’ve tried to prod Flickr into fixing the editor for the discussion groups, pointing out that the issues likely contribute to the decline in use. No luck so far.

  2. You seem to have hit upon the universal response when someone in any field is confronted with a situation that he/she either doesn’t understand or doesn’t want to deal with. “This is just how it is supposed to be” or “there is nothing that anyone can do about this” must work pretty often. It is only when they do it in an area where you know what you’re talking about where they have a hard choice – admit that they were wrong (rare) or double down and try to make you out as the problem. Good luck!

    • I didn’t want to be a jerk to a support engineer because I know the job is hard. I had to work hard to maintain my composure because I know better than what I was told! Well, anyway, here’s hoping this bug gets fixed.

      • That is one of the hardest things about being a lawyer. My day job involves asking blunt, probing questions in adversarial situations. My Mrs. sometimes has to remind me to not do that when I am outside of the office. Although I have to admit that it occasionally gets results. :)

        • I actually wish I were better at asking blunt, probing questions in adversarial situations. My emotions usually get the better of me.

  3. I’m surprised they didn’t just tell you to update your computer. That’s the standard answer to everything. They don’t like it when you tell them everything was working until THEY changed something at THEIR end.

  4. I have no understanding of the specifics of what you are talking about. I do get the pictures examples! It’s too bad there are not some “pictures” to show many “in charge” of our current crisis! Maybe, just maybe, they would “get it” then! But probably not.

    • One of the great things about having a blog is that you can yell into the ether when you’re frustrated. The bottom line here is that there’s a frustrating bug in the WordPress editor and I hope they hear my plea to fix it.

  5. I feel your pain! I work for a software company. I’m a project manager and more a of a functional than technical person, but I still get to use the phrase ‘working as designed’ frequently :-) Although to be fair, when I do say that I’ve usually got the specs to back it up.

    • In my world we don’t work so much to specs. It’s all agile, with user stories and very light documentation. Lots of tribal knowledge about how things work. But it’s a consumer Web site and so it’s not like we have contracts with our users that must be upheld.

      • We tend to avoid the back of a beer mat approach because there are critical aircraft safety issues involved. Which is shame really, as I’d probably be running the company by now..

        • Closest I’ve ever come to that is when I worked on customer-service software for Medicare, as the CSR had to get the information right when talking to a beneficiary. But risk of death is far lower there than in software that in any way keeps planes in the air!

  6. tbm3fan says:

    Yep, gotta love software updates. Quicken does that and there was one beginning February as they are automatic. When I went to print out the 2019 profit and loss, after going over it at the end of the year to check for mistakes in classification, I see that this update changed a whole slew of checks to a general term wiping out who they were for and the category. That meant going line by line, between Quicken and the check book register, for the entire year and postponing tax filing till August at a minimum. Talk about po’d.

    • Yeeeeeeeeesh.

      Someday I’ll tell the story of the software company I worked for that made an enterprise resource planning product — where in one release the general ledger could not be made to balance.

  7. analogphotobug says:

    I don’t use the Block Editor here. I’ve stayed with the ‘old fashioned’ editor.

    I a forced to use the block editor when I write for @EMULSIVEfilm and others. I find it very irritating.

    GOOD LUCK!

    • I love the Block Editor. I work faster and more flexibly with it. However, it is still being developed and extended and so regressions like this are a sad fact of life.

  8. You should send them a link to this post. :) Seriously, isn’t it hard when you don’t want to be a jerk but feel like you’re being brushed off?

  9. Hi Jim! Thanks as always for your bug reports and feedback about your experience. I shared your support experience with our operations team so they can review the processes in place for handling bug reports like yours.

    I also took a look and I think the bug you ran into was already reported here: https://github.com/WordPress/gutenberg/issues/21114

    I see it was recently fixed, and there’s mention of doing a patch release with that fix in it, but I’m not sure of the timing for when that fix will land on WordPress.com. Hopefully it will be resolved for you soon!

    • Rachel, thank you for noticing my post and for responding! That bug ticket does describe the condition I’m experiencing, and I’m relieved to know a fix is in. I’ll work around the bug until that fix does get pushed to WordPress.com! Thank you again.

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.