Classic editor vs block editor


Posted on: June 17, 2020

Writing new posts in WordPress is easy. Draft your content, publish, repeat. Then WordPress 5 came along and annoyed everybody. What was so annoying?

Creating new posts was central to the WordPress experience. By revamping the way posts are written, they were really changing the core experience. Typically users don't like change. As far as the Classic Editor vs Gutenberg argument goes, there are reasons to stick with either, but one clearly has an advantage.

In short, Gutenberg has added a lot of awesome features to the WordPress editor that the Classic Editor just can't do without some tinkering. Here's the main differences between the two:

Classic Editor Gutenberg
Dependent on old technologyFlexible to work for the foreseeable future
Limited page enhancementsLots of page enhancements available
Clumsy plugin integrationsSimple plugin integrations
Hard to learnEasy for beginners
No longer officially supportedOfficially supported and actively developing

The History of Writing Posts in WordPress

The Gutenberg block editor introduced in WordPress 5 was a completely new experience. It was an entirely new way of writing posts and thew away the old editor. Instead of one single HTML editor textarea, you now had huge blank white space you can write in. Settings are all moved around, buttons are different...cue mass panic.

Now that the dust has settled, you'll hear that there are two different types of people: Those who love the new Block Editor and those that stick with the Classic Editor.

If you're entirely new to WordPress, you might not understand how there are two different ways of writing a new post. Which is best for you? Which is easiest to use?

What is the Classic Editor?

The Classic WordPress editor is a fairly typical HTML editor. It had two tabs: Visual and Text.

The Visual tab showed you how your text formatting would appear inside the post. It included simple shortcuts for Bold, Italics, Quotes, and more. This made it incredibly easy to write up your post, format it how you wanted to, and then publish.

The Text tab simply showed the post in plain HTML. This was useful if you were more of a knowledgable web developer and wanted more control over the post formatting, or even to quickly put in an inline CSS style.

What is the Gutenberg Block Editor?

The new block editor introduced in WordPress 5 gives you a completely new way to write posts. This rethinks the way pages are formatted. Instead of simply writing one big block of text, you can create different blocks made up of different things. So you might have the first block be a paragraph, the next is a heading, the next is an image, and so on.

What's the benefit of the new block editor?

Easier to Rearrange things on a page: A little arrow icon will appear when you hover over a block that will let you click and drag (or just click the up/down arrows) to move a block up and down the page. This makes it easier to change your mind about where something should go on a page.

Cleaner interface: WordPress 5 introduced a very clean page editor that will be very friendly to new WordPress users. It's as simple as using Microsoft Word now.

Easy Plugin Integrations: Any external plugins you use can now take advantage of this new system by creating their own blocks. For example, Ninja forms has their own block where you can add a contact form wherever you want in the page. Previously in the classic editor you had to grab a little code snippet to do this. Now it couldn't be any easier.

Paste Text and Keep Word Formatting: This is huge if you typically write your posts in an external word processor (like Microsoft Word). If you copy a whole article from Word and paste it into Gutenberg, it will retain most, if not all, the page formatting. So all your headings, italics, and everything should remain intact. Even links to external websites.

Support for Buttons: Buttons are now a supported block in Gutenberg. You can now add in a visually pleasing button anywhere on your page, no need for customer CSS anymore.

A linear way to build pages: With a block editor, building a page just makes more sense. Start at the top of a page and build your way down. Want to start with a big call to action? Simple. Want to start with a huge banner image? No problem. Change your mind? Just drag them around to rearrange.

Which WordPress Editor should you choose?

There is a huge debate in the WordPress community as to which is better. Quite a few people think this is the end of WordPress. Others think it’s the start of a new era. Here’s how to decide which is right for you?

Are you starting a completely new site? If yes, then stick with Gutenberg. It’s only going to get more integrated into the WordPress system, and the sooner you embrace it, the more future-proof your website will be. 

Do you have a huge site that is dependent on the classic editor? Then stick with what works. Eventually you are going to have to switch to Gutenberg, but if you’re happy where you are there’s not much reason to change….yet.

I really don't want to change from the Classic I have to?

Now that it's been a few years since the new block editor has come out, it's becoming more clear where this new way of editing posts is going in WordPress.

In November, Mullenweg spoke a little bit about where he envisioned WordPress going after this. In the next few years he's hoping to add things such as gradients, navigations (Menus) within a post, buttons that appear in a row, and more. He has a lot of impressive sounding improvements coming, so Gutenberg certainly isn't going away anytime soon.

So with that being said, the sooner you prepare your site for Gutenberg the better. I'm sure there will be a way to use the classic editor for many years to come, but with so many advantages built into Gutenberg, why not start now?