WordPress Retires “Classic Editor”: What This Means For Your Blog

There was one important change missing from my recent post on upgrades to the WordPress platform. At the time it went live, I hadn’t seen the official announcement WordPress that they are retiring the Classic Editor in the next few months.

Fortunately Hugh who blogs at hughsviewsandnews.com is more on the ball than I am and just alerted me to this announcement which will have big implications for all of you who love the Classic Editor. 

woman in white shirt showing frustration
Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com

So what exactly is going on? 

From Classic To Block Editor

To understand that, we need to backtrack to 2017. If you were blogging before then via WordPress you created your content using Classic Editor (for ease of reference I’ll call this version 1).

It looked like this:

WordPress Classic Editor Version 1

In 2017 WordPress began to showcase a replacement editor called Gutenburg in “an effort to simplify into one elegant concept: block”. People who wanted to continue using Classic Editor were told all they had to do was install the Classic Editor plug in. When activated, this restored the Classic Editor (version 1) and hid the new block editor (“Gutenberg”).

This version 2 looked like this:

WordPress Classic Editor – version 2

Matt Mullenweg, founder and CEO  reassured users that support for the Classic Editor would be available for “many years to come.” Last year, WordPress refined their position. Classic Editor plugin “will be fully supported and maintained until at least 2022, or as long as is necessary”, according to their blog.

But then in May this year, WordPress announced:

On June 1 we’ll be retiring our older WordPress.com editor and transitioning to the more recent (and more powerful) WordPress block editor.

Essentially this means Classic Editor version 1 will not exist after June 2020. though the timing later shifted to August 11. WordPress said:

From August 11 on all WordPress.com accounts will start to switch from Classic editor to the new Block editor. It will happen in phases, and you’ll get an email to let you know to expect the change.

And why is this happening? According to WordPress:

There are exciting new features in the pipeline that require the new WordPress editor. It’s not technically possible to retrofit them into the older, Classic editor, and we want to make sure everyone can take advantage of them as they become available. With all WordPress.com users publishing with the Block editor, all WordPress.com users always have the latest and greatest.

End Of Classic Editor As You Know It

If you’re a die hard fan of Classic Editor and hate the new block editor, that statement “all WordPress.com accounts will start to switch from Classic editor to the new Block editor“, might have sent you into a spin. You’d be forgiven for thinking WordPress is forcing you down the Block Editor path.

It’s true that Block Editor is what they really want you to use. But fear not, you can still use Classic Editor. You just have to access it in a different way.

To use what I’ll call Classic Editor version 3 you have to add a “Classic block” to your post or page. You can do this in two ways. Both start by clicking on the small plus symbol which brings up a simplified block menu.

The simplest method is to just type “classic” into the search field in the menu.

There is a slightly longer method which I mention only because it gets you familiar with the full suite of blocks (ready for the day when you’ll have to use block editor completely).

In this method, in the simplified block menu, click on the “browse all” text – your screen will now show, on the left, the full block menu. Scroll through the various blocks in the Text category until you find the one called Classic. Then just click to add.

Whichever method you use, the result will be the same.

Your screen will now look like this:

Not too dissimilar to version 2. You get the same tools and options and in the same spot. WordPress recommends that you use a single Classic Block for each post or page, rather than try to mix in other blocks. For more details about how to work within the new Classic Block environment check out this tutorial.

What’s not clear to me is what happens to older posts and pages that were created in earlier versions of Classic Editor? Will they automatically be upgraded to the newer version? If so, will the formatting be retained or are you likely to have to do some fixes?

Time To Get Prepared

WordPress have said they will notify each blog owner about the timing for switching their site from classic to block. Some of you may have already been notified. If you’ve made the switch, it would be great to hear how it’s worked out. Did it go smoothly or did you hit any problems?

For everyone else still using Classic Editor, I’d highly recommend you start preparing to make the switch to the Classic Block. Create a dummy post that you can use for practice, getting familiar with the tools and how the block works.

If you do that ahead of the notification you’ll have gained valuable experience and confidence in using the Classic Block. Plus, you’ll avoid the nightmare that one day you fire up your WordPress account ready to create a new post, only to be confronted by a completely unfamiliar screen.

About BookerTalk

What do you need to know about me? 1. I'm from Wales which is one of the countries in the UK and must never be confused with England. 2. My life has always revolved around the written and spoken word. I worked as a journalist for nine years then in international corporate communications 3. My tastes in books are eclectic. I love realism and hate science fiction and science fantasy. 4. I am trying to broaden my reading horizons geographically by reading more books in translation

Posted on August 20, 2020, in Blogging and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. 40 Comments.

  1. I have a severe problem with the new block editor, and I’m wondering if you can help me. All I want to do is add blank lines to my post to enhance its attractiveness. However the new Block editor throws out these blank lines, In the Classic editor I could arrange my article as I wanted it. However the Block editor doesn’t allow this.

    This is important to me.

    • I take it you are using the paragraph block? I use a new paragraph block for every new paragraph of text – doing that automatically creates a line of white space between each paragraph. – if you look at my recent post this is the method I used and as you can see, there is quite a bit of blank space between each paragraph. https://bookertalk.com/jane-austens-bath-residence/
      In other words, I don’t put all my text into just the one paragraph block. I find that having different paragraph blocks means I can move things around easily.

      Another method is to create a line break. Put your cursor at the end of the text where you want the white space to appear. Then use shift and enter keys together – this will move your cursor to a new line. If you then shift/enter key you will create a blank line

      Hppe this helps, if I have misunderstood what you are trying to do, just send me a private message via twitter @bookertalk

  2. I got an email last week from them saying that the Classic editor will still be available through the WP admin page, as it always has been, and with no word that they intend to retire it from there. About which I’m glad, because if they retire it, I doubt I’ll continue blogging – the block editor is terrible.

    • I didn’t like block editor when I first used it – and actually went back to classic. But on the second attempt I got the hang of it and honestly now I wouldn’t want to use classic. This one is so much easier to create the text and then move the paragraphs around

  3. I’ve bookmarked this for future reference but might be blogging on my tablet from now on as the formatting is so much simpler. I think the new Block Editor is great if you are running a business but for a day-to-day blogger it just doesn’t feel intuitive.

    • Much of the block editor is indeed aimed at what I’ll call the professional blogger so I can happily ignore all of that. But I’ve come to find the basic tools are easy to work with once you get to grips with the principles

  4. I despised the new version when they made it. It’s a pain in the ass and they made it clear they only care about mobile/tablet bloggers when all of this was happening. I’ll probably keep using the plugin for a while even without their support. It’s just ridiculous that even paid users opinions were completely disregarded.

  5. I had no notification I just opened up and found the post I had been writing in classic had been moved over. You can’t do everything that was possible before, especially if you follow the advice not to mix it with other blocks, and on an iPad it is really difficult to manipulate. At the moment, the temptation to go elsewhere is mounting.

    • So much for their communication skills! Just announcing it on their blog isn’t good enough – not every WP user follows their blog….
      I haven’t dared to use block editor on an ipad; it was hard enough with the older classic editor

  6. Thanks for this. Will be most I useful if I can make it work in the free WordPress….

  7. Thanks for the info. I still have to get the hang of Block Editor especially placement of images

    • Adding an image didn’t give me any issues as long as all I wanted to do was have the image in the centre of the page. But when I wanted it to be alongside text, that’s when the problems started. No way could I get the image to line up with the text. I’ve now discovered the fix which is:

      1.Add a paragraph block and insert your text
      2 Add an image block above that paragraph block
      3. Upload the image into this image block and align it right or left depending on your preference
      Once you align the image, the text below it automatically jumps up to run alongside the image. If the image is too large, you’ll need to scale it down.

      When I did this, the text wrapped around the image.

  8. I still access it through the wp-admin/, as I actually used to before anyway

  9. Ok! I’m using my Phone-a-blogger option! Help! I figured out how to access the Media and Text block….I’ve uploaded my image and pasted my content….I figured how to adjust the size of content (for some reason it pasted as H2). I also figured out how to move the image in the center to the top. But…..here’s where I’m stuck….the image is now slightly above the text by at least one line. I want the first line of text to be aligned with the top of the picture. My second issue is that the text won’t wrap around the bottom of the image…the text just extends down the length of the second column. Do you have any tweaks??. TIA 😘

    • I share your frustration with this block. It took me several attempts to align and image with the text. One way to align the top of the image with the top of the text it is to change the line height. Click on your text/image block to activate the block’s settings menu (right of your screen). Find the heading typography and you should see a reference to line height. You can manually adjust that. It essentially adds or removes the space between each line of text (what typesetters call leading). However this isn’t a great solution because it means the text within that block will look different to the text on the other pages.

      There are no ways I have found to wrap text around the bottom of the picture. I’ve tried multiple options and failed…..

      A better solution is to scrap the image/text block and just use those blocks individually as follows:
      1.Add a paragraph block and insert your text
      2 Add an image block above that paragraph block
      3. Upload the image into this image block and align it right or left depending on your preference
      Once you align the image, the text below it automatically jumps up to run alongside the image. If the image is too large, you’ll need to scale it down.

      When I did this, the text wrapped around the image.

      PS be sure not put the image under the text you want to align with it -otherwise it will wrap to the wrong paragraph

      Hope this helps 🙂

  10. I got one of their horrid emails and I used it as an opportunity to draw their attention to some long-standing issues that they have never bothered to fix.
    I took the precaution of bookmarking Add a New Post, my Dashboard and All Posts, and they open up just fine in the original Classic Editor, which is the one before the screenshots you’re showing in this post. The one I’ve always used and always will as long as I can get away with it.
    The last time I was this cross about a so-called improvement was when the MS Suite changed its menus, which IMO are still inefficient and slow.

  11. Thank you for the succinct information. I am happy with my current site and do not intend going down the Gutenberg Block Editor path. My two main concerns are (a) I have a paid site but do not have control over changes, and (b) I will be angry if Block Editor becomes compulsory and my existing posts are ‘rearranged’. Either that or my blog will be a hybrid before/after compilation, in which case I would seriously look at other blogging platforms.

  12. Thanks Karen, I’ll bookmark this post for the day when I wake up and everything has changed. I gave Guthenberg a go for nearly two weeks. There was not a single thing I liked about it (I guess if you like arranging text around pics, or using lots of headings, it’s great, but that’s not my style at all).

    • if all you need is text with a few images, it shouldn’t present too many problems. You just use the block called “paragraph”, the one called “image” and the one called “headline”. i would avoid the block called image & text – it sounds good but in practice it’s too much of an effort to get them aligned..

  13. Well….you’ll be happy to know that (under duress) I’m attempting to use the block editor! I’ve also set up a practice post to try some things out. I’m thankful that I have a few bloggers I can ask to help me out if I get stuck! (Thanks for your offer!) ….onward!

  14. Very helpful. What I get angry about is that I have the free one. You cannot do plug-ins. I messed up my layout not long ago [hence the new look that I’m not happy with] I just don’t want to spend money when my numbers are not worth it. Back when I wrote on my old blog about TV’s Duggar family I got thousands of hits. They got exposed so my mission was done! lol. This blog is just books. I love doing it.

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