WordPress 5 introduces a brand new and more powerful ‘block’ editor to the page and post editing interface that’s designed to make it easier to build pages and posts that are more complex than simple paragraph text. Rather than being limited to just text and media inserted inline, you can create column layouts and insert widget content (and new ‘block’ type content) just about anywhere on a post or page, rather than just pre-defined sidebars. If you’ve worked with ‘page builder’ plugins before (like our preferred: BeaverBuilder), this adds similar functionality directly to WordPress core.
While the WordPress devs did an excellent job ensuring WP5 will not break sites upon update, you might still run into some basic functionality quirks that are typically a result of old plugins interacting oddly with the editor. Be sure to check that your plugins are all recently updated to support the block editor — particularly any plugins that are used to format your content. For example, the issue (linked above) that we had with the cursor jumping around whenever the page auto-saved was resolved by no longer using the 7 year old WP Syntax Highlighter plugin.
If you’re using the plugin WP SyntaxHighlighter, it is very old and not compatible with the block editor. It’s strongly recommended to replace this plugin with “SyntaxHighlighter Evolved”.
If you have the time to do so and are not experiencing any quirky behaviour (like the cursor jumping while typing), we strongly recommend getting accustomed to the new block editor because not only is the block editor the future of WordPress editing, but ultimately it makes managing common settings easier than ever. Here’s a couple of examples:
Benefit Example 1: SEO Config
It never really made sense having SEO configuration, like assigning titles and descriptions to a page, were found below the post content; we had many confused customers stumbling on SEO config when they only wanted to change some content. With the block editor, SEO plugins can now include their icon in the toolbar at the top of the page (like Yoast does) and, when clicked, provide you with SEO page controls so as to very effectively split SEO management from content management.
Benefit Example 2: Changing The Author
As we wrote about in this article, with the classic editing experience, the UI for changing the post author was implemented as almost an afterthought, adding yet another box below the main content of a page or post. This simply never made sense because the author is just as equally an attribute of a post as the publish date, yet the field was extremely difficult to find. With the block editor, the author selection becomes a part of the document attributes, making it both easier to find and change.
All that said, if you don’t have the time to learn the block editor right now, if you simply don’t like it (despite the improvements described above), or if you’re experiencing odd behaviour and don’t have time to troubleshoot it, there is a workaround! Simply install the classic editor plugin and everything goes back to the way it was. Here’s how:
- In the WordPress admin go to Plugins > Add New
- Search for “Classic Editor” and proceed with the install
- Once installed, be sure to Activate it
- Go back to editing your page or post and all should be well again
If you’ve opted to use the classic editor at this time, we do strongly recommend trying out the block editor again when you have a moment to play around. Since the block editor is the long-term future of WordPress, it will benefit you to learn how to use it. If you’re already using a page builder, we recommend a combination of the two: use your page builder for pages with intensive layout demands and use the WP5 block editor for blog posts which are typically simpler in structure.