• WordPress Post Formats and Gutenberg. Is it worth it?

    Let me save you time. The answer is, it depends, but I think it’s worth it.

    I love Post Formats, even though I haven’t always used them. With the WordPress Block Editor, they initially seem totally redundant. Let me make a case for why they still work really well together.

    A primer on Post Formats

    Post Formats is a feature that was initially introduced in 2011. The general idea was to break the sea of blog posts that looked the same no matter what content they contained. At the time a post containing only a gallery, or a video, or even a quote would look the same as a post with long-form content. Or rather, they were treated the same.

    Post Formats came along as a way to mark each post with a specific type of content. From here, your theme could utilise custom features in the code, or custom styling on the front to make each type look different. An image could be styled to make that image pop. The gallery could be made to be full width of the page and really shine. The video could have a special design with a frame of some sort.

    It can be hard to tell apart content on a blog feed that is just all one post type. It can be also hard to imagine what a site with post formats can look like. Let me share an example (that also utilises the Block Editor!). A site that has always utilised them really well is Matt Mullenweg’s blog at https://ma.tt.

    Scroll down and notice that the site has posts containing long-form content, short quotes, links to other sites and videos. Each type of post is styled slightly differently and the effect is wonderful.

    Why not just Gutenberg?

    Post Formats aren’t as popular these days for a couple of reasons. Themes have been steadily dropping support for them and with the introduction of the Block Editor, you can now craft each post to look different. Create some Block Patterns and you can just drop one of those in to include the styling for each type of post content automatically.

    I think this is fantastic, but it still feels a little manual. I have to remember the Pattern each time and so on. Also, what if I change my mind and would like to change something in all posts that aren’t covered by the pattern?

    For example, I’d like to hide post titles for status updates, or quotes. This isn’t easily done with the Block Editor.

    What if I could use the Block Editor to craft my content when I want it to, but use Post Formats to style things automatically too?

    Here in lies the power of combining both Post Formats with the Block Editor.

    Why should I care?

    It’s important to understand why I’d want my blog to have all this content and not just use Instagram for images or Twitter (X?) or Mastodon for short-form updates.

    I don’t really enjoy using Social Media. I don’t like using a dedicated app, or having to log in to view content, unless it’s behind a pay wall specifically to support an author. I’ve worked really hard to be present with people where I’m at, not constantly doom-scrolling through endless app feeds.

    Still, I’d like a place I can share thoughts, share links, let me family across the world know how I’m doing and so on. My blog is that place.

    Why should I put my content anywhere else? My blog is mine. Yes, I use WordPress.com hosting, but I could move this to any other WordPress host and things would continue to work. I own this data. My Tweets (or “X” now) are really in the control of Twitter. Instagram is in control of your photos.

    I dream of an alternate reality where social media was actually just a collection of blogs where everyone had the ability to communicate between all of them. Not the current walled garden isolating people in really unclear ways. It’s a little like what is happening with the mass Twitter exodus and Mastodon. The fediverse gives you a place to put your content, but others using different fediverse platforms can still see those in their feed and leave comments etc. It’s wonderful that you don’t need a million different apps to access your different accounts.

    Using a blog is the next step. A blog has the power to take any form of content. Again, many of these fediverse services are trying to clone another service, focussed on a specific form of content. Why use Mastodon for my Twitter fix, or PixelFed for my Instagram snaps when I can post all of those on my single blog feed, marked up using Post Formats and still use tools in WordPress to share my content automatically to those social networks for greater reach?

    Because they’re marked with a format, I can then even use that to create a separate page with a feed dedicated to a specific type of content or a filter to only show my images.

    I have that choice. It just takes a little work.

    Hopefully in the near future you’ll see a little more diverse content on my site, displayed using Blocks and Post Formats to really make them shine.

    What do you think? Are Post Formats worth it? Have you seen other blogs displaying content in clever ways? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

  • Experiments in Block Art

    Experiments in Block Art

    Playing around with methods for creating art using WordPress blocks only. These experiments all work best on desktop, although seeing how they respond on mobile is quite interesting.

    Browse More
  • Implementing SASS with Webpack – Part 1

    My CSV converter project that I’ve been working on is a test-bed for learning some key development workflows such as using Pull Requests, implementing JavaScript modules and one of the most useful of those – using Webpack to bundle project files.

    When I first started the project it consisted of the following files:

    • index.html
    • style.css
    • app.js

    That was it! It was nice and simple but didn’t really do much so this was perfect. The question is, what if I was working on a far more complicated app that would benefit from splitting the files into modules, the styles into multiple files for each module and so on? I could just import every module and style file into my project – this is okay but isn’t really good in the real world aka “production”.

    You will eventually want to take all those files and optimise them into a much more compact codebase with fewer files. Why? So that your 50 individual files don’t all use 50 HTTP requests when loading the page from the server. The idea of bundling is to take every one of those files that you work on while developing and with a simple set of tools and a command to then bundle all of that for you into fewer files and therefore fewer HTTP requests.

    This just touches the tip of the iceberg since the bundling tools will also allow you to compress, minify and make various other changes such as implementing SASS or SCSS to your code and then making it production ready all in a single command.

    Maybe I’ll come back and write more about webpack another time but for now, I’m learning how to implement SASS, so in the next part of this series we will start discussing how that works.

    Interested in finding out when the next part get’s published? Why not subscribe to this blog?

  • TIL: Passing parameters to callback functions

    Today I tried to move an Event Listener callback function to it’s own module. It seemed simple enough. Take the following code example:


    element.addEventlistener("submit", (event) => {

    Now, my callback was a little more complex so it made sense to move to a module. The question then became why it didn’t work when I tried the following:


    element.addEventListener("submit", eventHandler(event));


    function eventHandler(event) {

    I would get an error from app.js saying that event is not defined. After a little research I discovered on the MDN guide for addEventListener that you need to pass parameters using an anonymous function. My eventHandler() was fine – the issue was in the way I passed the parameter to the function in the callback. To fix it this was the solution:


    // Arrow function syntax
    element.addEventListener("submit", (event) => {
    // Full function syntax
    element.addEventListener("submit", function(event) {

    Edit: turns out there is an even simpler approach when you’re only sending a single parameter – just don’t add the parameter to the callback function at all. This is also valid and you will still be able to access the parameter in the callback:

    element.addEventListener("submit", eventHandler);
  • The second is even harder

    So, I started this blog with the intention of putting thoughts and experiences of learning somewhere. The thing that I quickly realise in my learning journey is the challenge of figuring out what I don’t know.

    I have “dabbled” in development (PHP, JavaScript and a few others) over many years and learned a lot along the but much of it was never coherent knowledge. So then if I can’t figure out what I don’t know, how can I know if I’m good enough yet?

    There are only so many times you can take a beginners course or even struggle through an intermediate course while thinking “I know this stuff, but I’m not confident so I’m clearly not ready” before I lost my way a little. I’ve started and restarted courses many times but each time I come back to it I feel lost again. Then the imposter syndrome sets in and I mentally put myself in the “still learning, not ready” category.

    I have learned task runners, local development environments, loops, site migrations, database manipulations and so much else over the years that I often question if I really know as little as I think but then actually try to develop something, get overwhelmed and give up to pursue the next project that hasn’t lost me yet!

    What is different this time? I’m not alone and I have a plan. I have a mentor, friends reviewing my code, I’m planning my project out before I even begin to write any code and so I have a framework to follow. The best part? It’s working!

    I haven’t felt this confident in my learning journey in a long time. So I encourage you, if you’re struggling to progress in your learning – get a plan, collaborate on your code, find a mentor, find a friend. Get your code on Github or some other version control system and get them to comment on your code as issues or pull requests. You will feel far better and have somewhere to get your internal criticism out into the open to allow others to encourage you instead.

    Feel free to check out the current learning project I’m working on!

  • The first post is the hardest

    Why do this blog? To make myself write thoughts and process what I learn as I grow my ability as a developer. I plan to write, even if it’s small and even if someone else wrote a better post about what I learned.

    Why public? I work for Automattic – a fundamentally distributed organisation who also make incredible Open Source software. We code in the open – you can find much of our code, issues and discussions publically so, why not learn to embrace that? Maybe someone will also learn something valuable along the way. Even if they don’t, I’ll still become a better blogger!

    Edit: how could I forget – we’re pretty heavily about WordPress so why wouldn’t I blog with it?

    I have no idea what I’ll post just yet so let’s enjoy the ride together. What I do know is that I plan to write a post at least once every month to start.

    Also…this post was written using the “Introduce yourself (Example post)” posts that are on WordPress sites by default. Whoever came up with that – you are amazing.

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