Thoughts On Why: Atavist and WordPress

I Originally Wrote This Article on Atavist

I first wrote this article over on Atavist and here is the the link to the article.

Atavist Joins Automattic

When I read the piece by Mark Armstrong of that Atavist was joining ‘ parent company Automattic.’ I wondered what it meant.

I mean, on the face of it, when a company such as Atavist (or the New York Times) decides to use a different platform, that’s a matter for the company.

But here we have Atavist joining the parent company of the platform. That’s a whole different thing.

First thing though, before I started reading the article was to hop over to Atavist and find out what I could.

Once there I saw that there was an option to join for free, and that I would need to upgrade to the Individual level at $15/mo for ‘commerce features, design tools, and my own URL and logo.

I am actually writing this post in Atavist, and the first thing I see is that the editing tools are somewhat like Blogo in the way they function: Highlight something you have typed, and a set of tools appear whereby you can add a link, make text H1, H2, etc, add a quote, make text italic or bold.

There is also a PLUS (+) button. When you click that you can add a whole range of things – an image, a video, a pull quote, a piece of code, etc. And these additional pieces are called Blocks – which has echoes of Gutenberg.

For those that don’t know, Gutenberg is currently a plugin for and the intention is that it will become part of ‘core’ (the code that is part of WordPress as opposed to being in a plugin) in when version 5 comes out.

I wonder which platform introduced the word Blocks first?

And now that I look at the bottom of the page where I am drafting this I can see ‘Add a section’, which immediately reminds me of blocks in Gutenberg.

The big question from a coding point of view is how Atavist will transition to WordPress.

Perhaps it is from Atavist that Matt Mullenweg got his inspiration to branch out in to Gutenberg?

Or perhaps Atavist has been preparing for its transition to WordPress and these blocks and sections are a recent addition, though I think probably not.

Is there perhaps something proprietary in the code of Atavist that meant it ‘had’ to become part of Automattic in order that Automattic could do what it wants with the code changes in Gutenberg?

Well, these are just thoughts as I wonder what the dynamic is that brought the two together.

Thoughts On Atavist and Gutenberg

By the way, I like the Atavist platform. I like the way it looks and I kind of like the way it works. It’s a bit clunky in some ways, but appealing in others.

There are a couple of things I can compare it to. I used Blogo, an app for writing that was front-end-ish, where you highlighted text and the tools showed up.

I use Ghost, which gives you two side-by-side panels, one where you work and the other where you see what the front end looks like. I think Atavist displays pretty much how the front end looks, which I think is good.

I erroneously thought that was how Gutenberg was going to develop.

I’ve been using the Gutenberg plugin on one of my self-hosted sites for several months now. I disliked it a lot to begin with.

Mostly because I couldn’t help but think of what was said to be the impetus for developing it, which was to bring people to WordPress who might otherwise go to SquareSpace or wherever because it was easier to do certain things there.

Well no. Gutenberg was a pig to use. If anybody thought it would make a user’s eyes blossom with hearts and kisses, they were wrong. More than one experienced WordPress developer showed how painful it was to do even simple things.

Things have moved on and the latest iteration of Gutenberg behaves itself better. I am still not convinced it is a step forward. Or rather, I am not convinced it was/is the right step forward for WordPress. We shall see.


  1. reb says:

    Did you know Atavist before? I’d never heard the name until I read this.

    I used Blogo a few years ago, but then I didn’t see the point.


    1. No, I’d never heard of them, either.


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