Help, My WordPress editor has changed!

Note: this applies to self host­ed ver­sion of Word­Press, not to the ver­sion that uses

Last week, the new ver­sion of Word­Press was released. After many delays, the self host­ed Word­Press 5.0 brought the new Guten­berg edi­tor. This has been con­tro­ver­sial with a lot of peo­ple in the Word­Press com­mu­ni­ty. The new edi­tor changes the way Word­Press pages are put togeth­er, replac­ing the TinyM­CE based text edi­tor with a block edi­tor con­cept, sim­i­lar to what is already used on host­ed sites.

Classic Editor

Right now, if you are one of those that are man­ag­ing a Word­Press site, for your­self or for clients, and sim­ply want the old edi­tor back, you can do this by installing the clas­sic edi­tor plu­g­in. For those who have nev­er installed plu­g­ins before, on the left menu of your Word­Press admin area you should see plu­g­ins, click this then in the search field above, search for clas­sic edi­tor. Make sure you install the offi­cial one from Word­Press Con­trib­u­tors. Once installed, click acti­vate, this will restore the orig­i­nal edi­tor. The clas­sic edi­tor does offer more options by vis­it­ing Set­tings and then Writ­ing, its pos­si­ble to allow a choice between the clas­sic edi­tor and the new block editor.

Anoth­er con­tro­ver­sy is that Guten­berg ren­ders all con­tent through ‘the_content()’ and is stor­ing all the for­mat­ting with­in the post body. This means that unlike plu­g­ins such as Advanced Cus­tom Fields (ACF), the con­tent is not struc­tured. This may be some­thing that is more focused on devel­op­ers, how­ev­er it means its hard­er to build sites with the new edi­tor that pull out spe­cif­ic parts of a sites con­tent. With Guten­berg the focus is on hav­ing a full “What you see is what you get” (WYSIWYG) expe­ri­ence so that chang­ing theme should­n’t then change the page lay­out. That means how­ev­er that the sep­a­rat­ed struc­ture used in many projects is lost, and its hard­er then to do a full re-design. Field struc­ture pro­vides a bet­ter way of build­ing cus­tom queries, and using ACF has been the main­stay of many pre­vi­ous built sites. ACF have now got some inte­gra­tion with Guten­berg, in that they cur­rent­ly appear below the new block edi­tor by default and still acces­si­ble in tem­plates, this means that it will be pos­si­ble to adopt a mixed approach.

The Blank page of the Gutenberg Editor

All that said, I have found the new edi­tor to be an inter­est­ing con­cept, and have been test­ing it with one client and get­ting to know how it works from a devel­op­ers per­spec­tive. They have been rather pleased with it, find­ing it a lot eas­i­er to use and for­mat pages. I know oth­ers who have com­pared it favourably to the edit­ing expe­ri­ence used on Medi­um. When open­ing the edi­tor you are pre­sent­ed with full page and prompts to write a title and start typ­ing. For adding images or video, there are ded­i­cat­ed blocks which when adding to the page sim­ply require the addi­tion­al details to be added and they just work. Most themes do seem to work out the box, though to ben­e­fit from many fea­tures (or to opti­mise them for client work) then a theme does need to opt-in or opt-out of cer­tain fea­tures by declar­ing sup­port for them. I will have my own thoughts to write up at some point in the future. For now I’m still test­ing this out steadi­ly with those I work with on Word­Press, and installing clas­sic edi­tor so I can man­age that transition.

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