An even dumber workaround for how dumb CSS hyphenation is

Look, it’s all well and good that CSS has a hyphens property. The problem is, that property is really dumb. It’s all-or-nothing, with no rhyme or reason to whether a word absolutely needs to be hyphenated. It will literally hyphenate any and every multi-syllable word at the end of a line.

You really almost never want that.

In my particular case, I’m looking at a very specific situation. Specific, but I am guessing probably the most common situation where a web developer wants a browser to hyphenate words: words in large headings that are too long to fit on a line. What I mean here is individual words that are by themselves too long to fit on a line, typically in a mobile browser, in headings with large or extra-wide fonts.

There are proposals to improve this, but there is currently nothing with broad browser support. So I invented my own.

This is a crafty little combination of CSS and JavaScript. (OK, technically it’s jQuery, but you could reasonably adapt this to vanilla JavaScript if that’s your thing. Since I’m deeply immersed in the jQuery world of WordPress, I just went with jQuery because it’s simpler for me that way.)

The first thing you need is a special CSS class for hyphenation. Since I only want it to apply on mobile devices, I gave it a logical name, and defined it in my CSS media query for the mobile breakpoint:

@media screen and (max-width: 782px) {
    .hyphenate-on-mobile {
        -webkit-hyphens: auto;
        hyphens: auto;

OK, with that set up, then we just need a little jQuery function to determine where it’s going to be applied. I want it to get added automatically to any h1, h2, h3 or h4 tag. (I’m skipping h5 and h6 because they’re small enough text that we shouldn’t need it.) I also made the somewhat arbitrary decision to set the minimum word length at 15 letters. This is something you may need to adjust based on your font size. Here’s the jQuery:

jQuery('h1, h2, h3, h4').each(function() {
    var words = jQuery(this).text().split(' ');
    var i = 0;
    var hyphenate = false;
    while (i < words.length) {
        if (words[i].length >= 15) { hyphenate = true; break; }
    if (hyphenate) {

And then you just want to make sure that jQuery gets fired off when the page loads. It works!

The final (?) verdict: Gutenberg (a.k.a. the WordPress “Block Editor”) is fundamentally flawed and unsustainable

I’ve been trying. Really I have.

From its initial release as part of the WordPress core in version 5.0 in late 2018, up until early 2022, I adamantly refused to use Gutenberg. I felt its conceptual flaws and practical limitations were so profound and so obvious that I really could not believe this was going to be “the future of WordPress.” And now here we are.

In the spring of 2022 I finally relented, as at least the initial impression of the user interface had improved to a point where I felt I just needed to embrace it or move on. And so I created a new base “Block Theme” for future WordPress projects, and began building new client sites with it.

The past year and a half of dealing with Gutenberg more directly has been a painful rollercoaster of emotions, as I’ve tried repeated to convince myself it’s good, only to have it, once again, prove itself a hot mess of ill-conceived and barely-documented hacks.

Many times in the past 18 or so months I have contemplated abandoning WordPress for good, checking out ClassicPress and some other CMS options before falling back on giving Gutenberg another chance.

I’ve even considered writing my own Content Management System (CMS) [again; it’s something I specialized in before 2014]; switching to Drupal, for God’s sake (until I read that they’re porting Gutenberg for Drupal too… why why why?!); scrapping CMSes altogether in favor of just building sites with Bootstrap (and giving clients some rudimentary editing tools for the very few elements of their sites most of them actually modify post-launch); and even quitting the field entirely.

Frankly I don’t have the time or energy to make an extensive, coherent case for why Gutenberg is so fundamentally flawed; suffice to say it’s a combination of four main issues:

  1. frustrations over its excessive reliance on React (the Flash of the 2020s) for so much of its functionality,
  2. irritation at its embrace of the “make the interface seem simple by just hiding everything until the user hovers over the right magic spot” approach to UI/UX design,
  3. trying to get a handle on how the damn thing works, due to its combination of woefully inadequate and outdated documentation, and the fact that it is constantly changing, in ways that break my code (which was written based on earlier assumptions about how things worked, because that was all I had to go on), and
  4. its absolute, unforgivable abandonment of the core web design principle of separation of content and presentation.

The last one is really the killer, and it is only getting worse, because not only does the code — that fragile, convoluted, redundant code, stored in the database — become increasingly unmanageable the more you build your site, but WordPress is constantly pushing more of its structure into this disastrous framework (if you can call it a framework). The Site Editor is a true abomination that can’t possibly be useful to anyone… except possibly “no code” website builders. But honestly, if you can’t write code, you should just be using Squarespace instead of WordPress. You’ll be much happier, and so will your clients.

All of these issues probably stem from one even more basic to the whole discussion though: the creators of WordPress (especially imperious leader Matt Mullenweg) do not consider WordPress to be for what most of us “WordPress professionals” actually use it for. To them, it is blogging software. Period. But very few people who make a living in the WordPress ecosystem are using it to build blogs. Instead we are using it as a general-purpose CMS.

Gutenberg is adequate for a basic blog — in fact, I’m using it for this one, and I do prefer editing my posts in Gutenberg vs. Classic Editor. Its severe flaws and limitations don’t become readily apparent in the “basic blog” context.

There’s an argument to be made that Gutenberg really exists for to compete with the likes of Medium and Substack, and the industry of us web professionals who use the open source version are of no consequence to Matt’s vision for the platform.

Anyway, I have managed to launch about ten new client sites in the past year-plus using WordPress with Gutenberg, and every time I have had to face frustration and embarrassment as I acknowledge with clients the limitations of the tool, or sympathize with their frustrations in dealing with it as users.

My current project may be the last straw though. I’m two days away from launching the biggest site, by far, that I’ve built with Gutenberg. It’s over a year in the making, and now at the eleventh hour I am confronting the possibility of having to manually edit a huge number of posts in a CPT I created — and naively used the Block Editor to manage instead of just some ACF fields — because the client wants to change the default text sizes.

It’s possible this situation could be remedied by the merger of Block Patterns and Reusable Blocks that happened in WordPress 6.3, but guess what… we had already created all of this before that functionality was an option. I still haven’t had time to even figure out exactly what the implications of these 6.3 changes are, because I’ve been too busy just trying to build the site.

That’s where WordPress is really dying for me as a viable platform to work on. It’s supposed to be the foundation for what I do, but now the ground is constantly shifting beneath my feet. Gutenberg is making web development much harder and more frustrating, projects are taking longer, and it’s making me look incompetent and unprofessional to my clients. I’ve been a professional web developer since 1996; I’ve been using WordPress for projects since 2008, and almost exclusively since 2014. But now I don’t trust it anymore.

I’m in a position where I may (fingers crossed) be able to back off taking on any new freelance projects for the remainder of the year, once this site has launched. I am really hoping that’s the case, because it’s time for me to make a serious re-evaluation of whether or not I want to build any more WordPress sites in the future, and if not, I need to take that time to learn — or build — a new platform.

The great irony, of course, is that my business has increasingly been made up of selling and supporting my commercial WordPress plugin, ICS Calendar Pro. Fortunately, my work on that plugin has very little to do with, nor is significantly impacted by, the Gutenberg/Block Editor project, although that may change as WordPress continues to (d)evolve.

(Don’t even get me started on how bad Gutenberg is for responsive design.)

Stupid jQuery and CSS tricks: Move a hidden element to the end of the parent

I just came up with a solution so simple, yet so stupid, that I had to share it.

The scenario is this: my client has some third-party JavaScript to inject a form into a page. I’ve been writing some of my own CSS to style the forms, including some crafty use of :nth-of-type(2n) and :nth-of-type(2n-1) to apply styles conditionally to adjacent fields in a two-up layout. (These are just sequential <div> tags, and I have to work with what I’ve got.) Specifically, I’m adding some right margin on the “left” element, and no right margin on the “right” element.

I noticed an instance where my margins were flipped for two fields, and when inspecting the code, I discovered why: the client has set up their form with a hidden field tucked in there before the “left” element. That’s throwing off the value for 2n in my CSS. I was going to contact them and ask them to update their form to put the hidden element at the end, but I realized this is a problem that is likely to recur, so I should just write in a workaround. (Yeah, yeah. But it’s the lesser of two evils.)

Fortunately, the site is already using jQuery, so a fix was super simple. I’m leaving the CSS class names here as they are in the actual site, but you may need to change them to suit your particular form.

jQuery('.form_container .form_page .form_question.hidden').each(function() {

Since the hidden field has the .hidden CSS class, it’s really easy to use the jQuery .appendTo() method to just take all of the hidden fields and shove them to the end of the container element. I used the parent and ancestor CSS classes in my jQuery selector just to be sure I’m isolating this action to these particular forms. Then of course I have to tell the page when to execute this functionality, which is ideally on the load event:

jQuery(window).on('load', function() { /* Code goes here */ });

It works!

A simple way to add responsive (breakpoint-specific) blocks in Gutenberg

The new WordPress Block Editor (a.k.a. Gutenberg) has improved immensely over the years, to the point where I am now willingly (although occasionally grudgingly) using it as my main development platform for client sites.

One area where it really falls down though is in smartly handling responsive breakpoints. There is some effort to make it responsive-friendly (though it’s definitely not “mobile first”), but there are really weird holes, like the fact that there’s no built-in way to apply consistent left and right margins on text content at smaller screen sizes; once you’re below the defined content width, if you don’t manually configure your theme to add padding/margins to headings, paragraphs, etc., and they don’t have a defined background color, the text will bump right up against the edges of the screen.

That’s not the problem I’m here to solve at the moment, however. Instead, I want to focus on a handy little tool I’ve been using in my WordPress development for over a decade: specialized CSS classes to designate blocks of content as only appearing on phones, or not appearing on phones.

By “phone” here I just mean the smallest standard breakpoint. I’m using the WordPress convention (at least it used to be the WordPress convention; I don’t feel like I can trust anything anymore) of setting that at the slightly odd (although even) value of 782 pixels.

What can you do with this? Once you have CSS classes that designate a block as only appearing on phones or not appearing on phones, then you can easily tailor your output to certain screens. Obviously (at least, I hope it’s obvious) this is not the ideal solution; it means you’re delivering HTML content — potentially redundant HTML content — that will not be seen by some users. But nothing in web development is perfect, and this can be a convenient way to get out of a pinch when, for example, you have a very complex desktop layout element that simply cannot be adapted in a usable way on phones. You can just hide that element on the phone breakpoint and, if desired, present the same content in a more simplified way to only phones. (Again… only if you can’t achieve a usable phone experience on the same HTML block via media query-specific CSS.)

OK, let’s get down to it. The first thing you need to do is register a couple of block styles. I am only making these styles applicable to the Group block, because that seems like a logical way to rein it in. Any block can easily be wrapped in a group, so if you need this feature, just do it.

register_block_style('core/group', array(
  'name' => 'no-phone',
  'label' => 'No phone'

register_block_style('core/group', array(
  'name' => 'phone-only',
  'label' => 'Phone only'

That should go into your functions.php file or wherever in your theme you are defining block characteristics. Ideally it should be in a function that is executed on the init action. Next, you need to make sure you’ve got a custom block style .css file enqueued for the Group block. You can place this wherever is appropriate within your theme; I happen to have a nested assets/css/blocks folder where I put mine. Here’s that bit of code, also for your function that runs on init.

wp_enqueue_block_style('core/group', array(
  'handle' => 'my-theme-core-group',
  'path' => get_theme_file_path('assets/css/blocks/core-group.css'),
  'src' => get_theme_file_uri('assets/css/blocks/core-group.css'),

And then in the referenced core-group.css file, you’ll need this:

@media screen and (max-width: 782px) { {
    display: none !important;

@media screen and (min-width: 783px) { {
    display: none !important;

Now in the Block Editor, when you switch to the Styles tab when focused on a Group block, you’ll see your new style options:

A reason to install Microsoft Edge on your Mac: viewing cookies

As a web developer, I actually don’t use cookies that often (mainly because I’m not interested in tracking users’ behavior). But I do need to use them occasionally, such as to remember when they’ve clicked the “X” to close a modal alert, so I don’t keep showing it to them on each new page they visit.

That’s what led me to today’s surprising discovery. My cookie wasn’t working properly, so I wanted to investigate a) whether or not it was actually being saved, and b) what data it was saving.

I work on a Mac, and Safari is my primary browser. But I already knew Safari doesn’t let you inspect the contents of cookies, so I fired up Chrome, which is my go-to for testing anything that I can’t test with Safari. I know Chrome always used to let you inspect the contents of cookies, so imagine my surprise today when I discovered that, at some point fairly recently, Chrome apparently removed that capability. You can still see which sites have stored cookies, and how many, but you can’t investigate the details any further than that. Seriously??

Next I tried Firefox. Nope, same.

At this point I was highly dubious that the fourth browser in my testing queue would handle things any differently, but I had no alternative, so I reached for that rarely-clicked-upon blue-green swirl icon in my Dock, loaded my page in Microsoft Edge, and… what do you know, Edge does still let you inspect the exact contents of stored cookies.

But for how long?

Anyway… for now, I have a justification for keeping Edge installed on my Mac.