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