WordPress released 5.0 with the new Gutenberg editor on December 6th, 2018 and I think this is the biggest change I’ve seen in my 9+ years of working with WordPress. And it`s an interesting and fundamental change – completely revamping the editor!
Now, even though there`s a bit of a learning curve (everything looks and works differently!), that`s fine for most people using one of the default themes. But if you`re using a purchased theme, especially one with a built in editor, or if you`re used to a visual editor plugin, you`re going to want to check the compatibility before you lock in the 5.0 upgrade.
And if you (like me) don`t want to use Gutenberg, there are ways to block it so that you can continue using whatever method you`re used to and familiar with.
I’d recommend doing something before Gutenberg becomes a part of the WordPress core in the 5.0 release. You don’t have to upgrade to 5.0 right when it comes out.In fact, as you may know, I generally recommend waiting for the first sub-release so the bugs can be fixed. (There will be bugs!)
If you’re not sure if your site is ready for Gutenberg, then the next best thing is to disable it. You can still upgrade to WordPress 5.0, but being able to turn off the new editor will give you more time to check on things. It`s going to be a long time before all plugins are ready for Gutenberg. I know many plugin developers that are waiting for it to actually be released so they can start working with it. There have been so many changes in the Gutenberg plugin that it makes it difficult to develop for it.
Companies like Yoast are already on board and making their plugins compatible, but you will see many more jumping on board or shutting down their plugins because they have to learn a new programming language. This is not altogether a bad thing – I see this as a way for many outdated or unsupported plugins to be cleaned out of the WordPress repository.
Since WordPress is open source, many developers have already started on providing ways to disable Gutenberg so there is more time to test and make sure sites are ready. There is a lot of work to get done over the next couple of months after this thing drops. While there are many options, I want to give you the easiest way.
My chosen plugin to disable Gutenberg (and the one I will be using for all of my clients) is the Classic Editor – because it’s developed by the WordPress contributors, and it’s easy to use. I’ve tested it in 5.0 beta on my dev site and on my own live sites with 5.0 installed and it works as it should. It has over a million active installs with a 5 out of 5 star rating. You’ll notice it says it’s tested to version 5.02, so that shows they are thinking ahead and expecting the plugin to be in use and working for some time.
Installing Classic Editor is really easy. You just log into your WordPress dashboard, then go to Plugins > Add New and search for “Classic Editor“. You can also click HERE and download it and then upload the plugin by going to Plugins > Add New > Upload Plugin.
Typically, it will be the first one that shows up. After you install the plugin, you can click on the settings link under it in the plugins menu.
Once you get to the setting area, which is actually a part of the writing settings, you will see there are two options. (you can also get to this spot by going to Settings > Writing in your dashboard)
There are only two options in this plugin, which is why it’s easy to use and the one I recommend to all of my clients
Setting 1 – Replace the Block editor with the Classic editor
This is the default for when the plugin is activated on your site. This is the one I am using and will probably be the one most people choose. This disables Gutenberg all together and doesn’t allow it to run unless the plugin is turned off or you change the setting.
Setting 2 – Use the Block editor by default and include optional links back to the Classic editor
What this does is allow Gutenberg to be the default editor on your site, but also gives you the option to add posts using the Classic editor. With the second option, you can test out Gutenberg, but if you feel it’s not working for you, go back to using the classic editor with just a few clicks.
A cautionary note: you shouldn’t try to start a post in Gutenberg and finish it up in the Classic editor. That will cause extra code to be added and can mess up the layout of your post. Stick with one or the other for each post.