Anyone who’s used Microsoft Word, Pages, Google Docs, or your average email composer knows how to use TinyMCE, the Classic Editor that has been bundled with WordPress since 3.1. But with WordPress 5, TinyMCE has been replaced with the powerful block style builder known as Gutenberg. Instead of editing content in one large WYSIWYG field, your content is broken up into smaller ‘blocks’ made from a variety of field types.
Are Blocks Really Better?
Heck, yes! The advantage of blocks is that each chunk of content is contained in its own block, whether it’s a paragraph, a button, a gallery, or a video. Since you can move blocks, you can then reorder your content without needing to copy and paste. Just click and drag and suddenly that video sits above your closing paragraph instead of below. Some blocks are even interchangeable: should that paragraph actually be a list? Convert its block type in one click.
And while it makes content entry so much simpler, developers also love it. It’s much lighter than other block building editors that are often included in themes or added by developers who aren’t familiar with powerful content management tools like Advanced Custom Fields (ACF). Instead of bloating your page with excess divs and classes, you’ll only see those elements when absolutely needed to maintain the block function and style.
Adding onto Gutenberg
Gutenberg has a fantastic variety of block types like headings, separators, blockquotes, galleries, tables, columns, widgets, videos, and more. And if you create a block you want to reuse elsewhere, you can save it as a reusable block and it will become available to you in the same way in the rest of your WordPress site.
But it can also be extended. Developers can create their own blocks and insert them into Gutenberg’s builder. So if you need a specific layout for say an event teaser, or product information, an agency like Kanopi can create those custom templates and add them to the available blocks. Even ACF integrates nicely with Gutenberg, and many other plugins do as well.
Gutenberg is now WordPress Core
That is, WordPress 5 ships with Gutenberg. New sites use it, and older sites will install it when updated from 4 to 5. But don’t panic! If your pages and posts were originally made with TinyMCE, they will still work as a Classic Editor block type within Gutenberg until you’re ready to convert them. Within each page / post you can click the ‘convert to blocks’ option and watch as your classic content gets automatically shuffled into headings, paragraphs, images, videos, etc. It should go without saying, we recommend you perform a backup before you do this.
But don’t worry if your site isn’t ready for Gutenberg, there’s a plugin to maintain the Classic Editor. You’ll be able to continue updating WordPress without losing TinyMCE, that is until 2022 when support is expected to fully switch over to Gutenberg. Make sure you’re ready!
Need more convincing?
WordPress has put up a Gutenberg demo where you can rearrange and edit a page exactly as you would inside a page or post. Play with the block types, shuffle content, mess around! Try to click every button at least once and see how powerful block builders can really be.