If you started using WordPress in past two years, you may not be aware of the classic editor. WordPress was using classic editor interface for years before replacing it with the Gutenberg block editor. At first, Gutenberg was available as a plugin then it became part of WordPress core with version 5.0. Though few years were past after Gutenberg was introduce, there are many users still hold on to the old classic editor. It does not seem WordPress will also completely get rid of classic editor soon. In this article, we will explain the pros and cons of Gutenberg and classic editors.
Using Gutenberg Block Editor
Gutenberg is the block editor interface introduced in WordPress version 5.0. It replaced the earlier Classic editor version with much expectation. However, it failed to meet user expectations due to slow interface, missing drag and drop feeling and insufficient blocks. Currently, entire WordPress development is focused to improve Gutenberg editor interface in terms of speed and number of blocks.
You can access the editor by navigating to “Posts > Add New” or “Pages > Add New” in your admin panel. Gutenberg editor offers all basic blocks like paragraph, table, button, third-party embeds, etc.
Customizing Gutenberg Editor
Gutenberg is meant to focus on content creation without relying on third-party page builder plugins. It offers plenty of options compared to the classic editor. You can access all settings by clicking on the three dots button on top right corner of the editor. For example, you can remove the clutter by using the following two options.
- Block Manager – this helps you to disable unused blocks on your editor.
- Preferences – use this to disable unused document panel like meta boxes added by plugins.
Learn more Gutenberg tips and tricks.
Blocks, Patterns and Library
Gutenberg offers three types of blocks:
- Individual blocks – there are more than 70 individual blocks are available under different categories.
- Patterns – choose one of the pre-defined patterns.
- Library – hidden library function. If you can’t find a block, use the search box to find it from the block repository. WordPress will install the corresponding plugin at the backend and activate the block. However, you can instantly start using the block without leaving the editor.
Prior to version 5.0, WordPress core includes the editor interface called Classic Editor. However, you can still access Classic editor by installing Classic Editor plugin developed by WordPress community.
It was a simple HTML editor where you can type content and format easily. You can toggle Text and Visual mode to see the content and the source HTML code respectively. However, classic editor was missing basic elements like Tables and Social icons. Unfortunately, people used to work with Classic editor for years do not like the new block editor. This is indicated with Classic editor plugin has more than 5 million active installation years after removing it from the WordPress core.
Using Classic Editor
After activating Classic editor plugin, you can access the editor by going to “Posts > Add New” or “Pages > Add New” in admin panel. Instead of using settings, classic editor by default has a right sidebar that contains all meta boxes.
You can copy content from Microsoft Word or any other text editor and paste directly on the editor. There are set of tools available for formatting text and inserting media files on your post.
Gutenberg Vs Classic Editor
Now that you may be wondering why people are not willing to rely on Gutenberg though it offers vast features. Here are some of the reasons why people prefer classic editor over Gutenberg.
1. Classic Editor Block
If you want to use Classic Editor interface along with Gutenberg, then you can use the “Classic” block. It offers all features of the old editor as a block which you can use in-between other Gutenberg blocks. This gives an opportunity to use the functions of both editors in single interface. However, it is a clear indication that classic editor interface will never be removed from WordPress.
2. User Interface
The new Gutenberg editor is aimed to provide better user interface with reusable blocks. However, you have to navigate to different places for accessing the tools. For example, you can easily see the number of words in your post at the status bar with classic editor. However, you have to click on the information icon on the top to see this with Gutenberg. This is increasing one additional click and you have to use many more additional clicks.
3. WooCommerce and bbPress
As of WordPress 5+, Classic editor is still used on custom post types like WooCommerce product pages and bbPress forum replies. Therefore, it will not be in near feature to get rid of the Classic editor completely from WordPress world. The problem for users having these plugin is that they have to use two interfaces on a single site. One for creating posts/pages and other for creating products/forum posts. Since, it is not possible to enable Gutenberg for WooCommerce and bbPress, it is an easy option for them to disable it on the site and use the classic editor plugin.
4. Page Builder Vs Post Builder
The basic purpose of WordPress is to focus on offering strong blogging platform. There are many popular page builder plugins like Elementor available to create custom page layouts for your site. Users can use classic editor for posts and a plugin for creating pages. However, Gutenberg is a hybrid experience which tries to offer page builder for creating blog posts. This will not work for those sites having fewer pages and hundreds of thousands of posts. Otherwise, you have to end up spending too much of time in formatting instead of focusing on content creation.
5. Slow Loading
Classic editor will not affect much loading time when you open the editor for creating or modifying a post. Unfortunately, Gutenberg needs plenty of scripts and make your admin panel very slow. You may feel annoying to wait for many seconds before you see the editor screen.
6. Plugins and Theme Support
Popular plugins like Yoast SEO supports Gutenberg editor starting from the beginning. However, this is not the case with many other developers. For example, we use the popular WP Review Pro plugin and Highend theme. Both of them are premium versions but do not support Gutenberg for inserting shortcodes. We have no other option to use classic block when needed.
7. Copy Paste Vs Block
Gutenberg offers plenty of blocks that were not part of the classic editor. Table and button blocks are good examples that you can quickly insert and customize them with Gutenberg. Similarly, adding background color, grouping blocks and editing HTML of each block are promising options. Unfortunately, not many users have the habit of creating content directly on the editor. Most users create content with Microsoft Word or other rich text editor tools. Earlier classic editor was working cool when you copy and paste the content by retaining all formatting.
Though copy paste still works with Gutenberg, it will convert each element in to a block. This may result in loosing the formatting and you have to again reformat your content on the editor.
8. Gutenberg – Still Under Development
The biggest problem is that every new WordPress release has at least one improvement for Gutenberg. It is an evident that the product was released in a hurry without completing the development. For example, button block did not have link attributes before which you can do with the latest version. Imagine that you have spent lot of time in learning how to use these blocks and in the next version everything is different. This will annoy users and trigger them to go back to the stable classic editor.
9. Too Much of Code
When you look at the “Code Editor” in Gutenberg, you will be surprised to see the amount of HTML it contains. For example, the table block will have default, striped, background color and many other CSS classes. Similarly, each block on the post needs plenty of styles, HTML and scripts to work properly. This can easily slow down the site in the frontend.
10. Many Plugins with Gutenberg
There is a block library function available in Gutenberg as we have explained in this article. With this feature, you can directly search and insert blocks from third-party developers right from the editor screen. Though it looks attractive, each additional block is actually a plugin that you can see under “Plugins” section. It does not make sense to use a plugin for adding one accordion block in a post.
Remember, each plugin needs a maintenance and slow down or break your site if not updated regularly.
Now that you know why 5+ million users still using old Classic editor plugin. In the past few years, instead of removing the classic editor completely, WordPress added classic block in Gutenberg. With WooCommerce and bbPress existing, we do not see the end to classic editor. At this point, you can use Gutenberg only when you don’t need classic editor. Otherwise, you can continue with classic editor for few more years till the time of stabilizing Gutenberg interface.