It was like coming back home from work, only to discover that someone had snuck in and completely remodelled your living room, removing all its most useful features.
On Monday, as regular WordPress.com bloggers will have been surprised to discover, the WordPress.com web interface suddenly changed. I’m sure that somewhere in its own blogs this had been announced, but I suspect that few of us have time to wander those pages too often.
For the last couple of years, at least, WordPress.com has offered two different admin interfaces for bloggers: the old black/blue/white WP Admin, and the new blue and grey pages, which are essentially the same as that in the standalone WordPress.com app.
As is so often the case, WordPress.com wants us to use its new admin interface, but it still doesn’t provide ready access to many of the features in the old WP Admin one. For me, the most important omissions are in comment management, and the media library.
In the new admin interface, I have been unable to find any way to review and deal with comments which have been deemed spam. These come in fits and starts: some days I seem to get dozens of spam comments, others none. Every once in a while, the spam filter gets it wrong, and a real comment gets put in the spam bucket, or vice versa. The new interface doesn’t even appear willing to let me review comments which are in the spam bucket, which is a serious omission. Or maybe I’m just being thick.
I compose these articles using Red Sweater’s MarsEdit, which is still the best editing environment that I have come across. But I don’t use its built-in media management. I’m sure that it would be fine for regular articles, but I am obsessive and meticulous about those featuring paintings, which I hope is reflected in their quality. So I am heavily dependent on the WordPress.com media manager. With thousands of images stored in that, I use that feature daily, although it simply doesn’t exist in the new front end.
My workflow for posting a painting article here is to prepare the images, and their full captions, offline, then write the article, marking up the insertion point for each image. I then use the media manager to upload the images, which I apply captions to individually. MarsEdit uploads the article, which I then edit online, inserting the captioned images in the correct places, and scheduling the post.
Even then I am not done, yet! Images which are so placed, using the standard WordPress embedding, do not work like they used to – another apparently unannounced change which was made last year. So I next have to sync my MarsEdit files from those on the WordPress servers, and manually edit the marked-up source of the article so that, when you click on each painting, you are presented with a zoomable image of it. It’s not quite the “one click and you’re published” solution that it should be. Without media manager, I’d simply be stuffed.
On Monday afternoon, when I noticed that the old link to WP Admin had been removed from the menu at the left of the new interface, I felt like my living room had been remodelled in secret. There was no obvious way to bring up the old admin interface, nor any access to key features such as comment management and media manager. It was only when I started to browse the online help that I stumbled across the solution: access a different section of your website.
Let’s say that your blog is at https://mysite.com/, so your ‘new’ admin interface is at https://wordpress.com/stats/insights/mysite.wordpress.com. If you instead point your browser at https://mysite.wordpress.com/wp-admin/ you will see the familiar black/blue/white Dashboard of the old WP Admin interface, with all its tools still available.
If WordPress.com is serious about wanting us to stop using its old management interface, it would be far better to enhance the new interface so that it offers all the old features, rather than playing silly games with us and trying to hide WP Admin away. That’s a mean trick which must have caught thousands of bloggers by surprise.
I had thought that it was only Apple that ‘updated’ software by removing many of its key features.