RSVPMaker User Interface Updates for Gutenberg

The new “Gutenberg” editor for WordPress, available now as a plugin and coming soon as the standard editor in WordPress 5.0, has prompted a number of changes in the RSVPMaker user interface — many of which you will see even if you have not yet started using Gutenberg.

New user interface

One of the goals of the Gutenberg project is to “declutter” the editing screen, making it easier to focus on the content of your blog posts with fewer distractions. Gutenberg discourages the use of “metaboxes,” the user interface panels that appear below the post editing screen, such as the one where you set the date and RSVP options in RSVPMaker.

Yes, the long, complicated form for setting all possible RSVPMaker options including payments for events qualifies as “clutter” in Gutenberg terms, and so it has to go. Although metaboxes are still supported, up to a point, they are an awkward match with the new design.

As a result, that form has mostly migrated onto a separate Event Options screen. In the Classic Editor, you will still see an abbreviated version of the form with date and time options, followed by a link to More Event Options. An Event Options link also appears on the black “admin bar” menu at the top of the screen when you are editing an event or logged in and viewing it on your website.

In Gutenberg, the basic date, time, date/time display, and Collect RSVPs buttons appear in the Document tab of the sidebar. Note that changing any of those options will prompt a page reload. As of today’s release, that is a hack I’ve found necessary to work around certain challenges with Gutenberg and the React Javascript programming framework. I hope to make that go away in a future release.

When you go to Add New event or choose New -> RSVP Event from the admin bar, instead of going straight to the editor screen you’ll first be prompted to enter your title, date, and time of your event. Once you do so, a draft post with those parameters will be loaded into the editor so you can add your event details.

In addition to minimizing the importance of the page reload issue mentioned above, setting the date and time up front avoids an issue I often see with new users who are so focused on the content of their event post that they forget to set the date and time.

I think the bottom line effect is to simplify the event editing experience, particularly for basic event announcement and promotion scenarios where you are not doing anything fancy with payments or custom RSVP forms. When you check the Collect RSVPs checkbox, you’ll activate a registration form that includes the standard options specified on the RSVPMaker settings page.

The RSVP Mailer tool has undergone a similar simplification, where the options for creating scheduled email broadcasts has migrated onto a separate screen. The options for sending a single broadcast are shown when you view your RSVP Mailer post, displayed in the email template. I give you the option of including stylesheets, including stylesheets associated with Gutenberg blocks, in the header of your HTML email so that CSS formatted content will display properly.

Note that certain content such as embedded media may not be compatible with HTML email. I provide specific support for YouTube video, for which I can pull the thumbnail image from Google and embed it with a link to the YouTube address.

More work to be done, but getting there.