Wondering What the Heck Happened to Your Editor in WordPress?

Nonprofit WordPress Advice

Gutenberg editor options with Beaver Builder
This is what you'll see in WordPress 5.0 when creating a new post or page. We're using Beaver Builder and luckily there's an option to use the Page Builder instead of the new editor.

April 19, 2019

As we mentioned in our Why Monthly WordPress Care Matters article, WordPress publishes new security and maintenance releases every month. Last year, they released version 5.0 called Gutenberg (Bebo) which entirely replaces the Classic Editor. It's based on content sections or "block" where you can place content like headings, paragraphs, photos, buttons, etc. - similar to popular page builders like Beaver, Divi, and StudioPress. With the new version, while creating a new page or post, you'll be forced to use the new editor.  It's no suprise that a lot of users are not happy with the forced changes.

WordPress Gutenberg Facebook feed

WordPress community pushes back

Head over to WordPress' Facebook page and many users are freaking out, disappointed, and frustrated about this major change to the editing experience. While the new interface for the editor is modern and minimal, users find it confusing and overwhelming with very poor usability. Once they've learned that all of their existing content will need to be re-created using the new block format, it's only been adding to the disappointment.

Not ready to switch?

Here in Portland at recent WordCamp, the common one question was: do I have to use it and how can I disable it? Chances are your organization is already using a drag and drop theme like Divi, Elementor, or Beaver Builder. Or you have a customized theme from ThemeForest or Themify. We imagine your marketing team isn't ready for a major change that could impact productivity. Right now, you'd prefer to focus on end of year campaigns as opposed to implementing an entirely new method of creating content, right?

There's a plugin for that

The good news is that you can put your happy face on because you can turn off Gutenberg entirely and have control over it. This will allow your organization to continue using your preferred WordPress theme and/or page builder before this Y3K-like hysteria began. If you simply prefer the Classic Editor, you'll be all set. Read forth and choose your plugin path to happiness.

WordPress Disable Gutenberg plugin
Standard options for the Disable Gutenberg plugin. Remember to hit "Save Changes" when you're done.
WordPress Disable Gutenberg plugin full settings
Extended options allow your team to have much more granular control over the editor.

Disable Gutenburg Plugin

This plugin is simple and especially how it's focused one thing which is disabling Gutenberg and restoring the Classic Editor. After it's installed, Gutenberg will be turned off entirely for all users. For more advanced options, you can take full control over selectively disabling for posts, pages, roles, and more.

Plugin Perks

  • Disable Gutenberg for specific user roles
  • Disable Gutenberg completely (all post types)
  • Disable Gutenberg only on specific post types, templates, and post IDs
  • Disable the try Gutenberg nag!

The plugin restores the original WYSIWYG WordPress visual editor and the "Edit Post" screen. You can also continue using plugins, theme functions that extend the Classic Editor, and supports Custom Fields. So if you have a custom theme that was built from scratch, you'll be all set.

WordPress Visual Editor
Yes! Your favorite Classic Editor is back in action. You can breathe now.

Classic Editor plugin

If you only want the Classic Editor back and don't need the extended control the Disable Gutenberg plugin provides, install the Classic Editor instead. It restores the original WordPress editor and the "Edit Post" screen. It also hides all functionality available in the new Block Editor ("Gutenberg").

Plugin Perks

  • Administrators can select the default editor for all users
  • Administrators can allow users to change their default editor
  • When allowed, the users can choose which editor to use for each post

Back it up!

Remember prior to installing either of these plugins, we highly recommend making a backup copy of your WordPress website. In case you run into any problems, it's important to have a method to restore your website back to its prior state. If your organization is on a limited budget for new software, check out Updraft Plus. It's free and awesome.

For those who want to play

Considering this is a major release, you also can wait a month or two while the WordPress development team addresses issues and bugs. 5.0.1 was released this week so they're already iterating. If you're curious and want to experiment with Gutenberg on a staging server, here are some handy plugins:

  • Block Unit Test for Gutenberg - creates a single page with all the core blocks added, including mulitple variations of blocks. You can check the styling of each block and make the necessary fixes to fully support the new editor.
  • Gutenberg Ramp - adds a settings screen where you can enable Gutenberg selectively (for specific post types). For even greater control, you can specify Gutenberg loading behavior in code. Ramp works with both the plugin version of Gutenberg, and the core version, providing a seamless transition.
  • Block Lab - reduces the development burden of building custom blocks through a simple and familiar WordPress Admin interface and an easy to learn templating system.

By Chuck Spidell, a Nonprofit WordPress Security Expert who helps women-led communications teams free up their time and lock down WordPress from getting hacked.