Working With the New Blocks Editor in WordPress

When you are creating content in WordPress 5.0 and beyond, you will notice a new editing experience. The traditional text box is missing. There is a lot more whitespace. Less clutter and buttons than before. Let’s take a closer look at what is going on with the new Blocks editor.

Users will finally be able to build the sites they see in their imaginations.

Matt Mullenweg, Chief BBQ Taste Tester of Automattic

Built under the project name Gutenberg to replace the previous TinyMCE editor, this new block editor is now the default content editor in WordPress. The goal of Gutenberg and block editing was to simplify the WordPress experience and give users a better visual representation of what content will look like before they publish.

What are blocks?

Blocks are containers for organizing the information on your webpage. For example, when you create a new blog post, the post creation screen first displays a rectangular ‘Add title’ box. Whatever you type in here will be the blog post title.

You can add additional content blocks by clicking the plus sign (+) inline, or in the header, as shown below:

Blocks can be any sort of content: headers or paragraphs, lists or quotations, images or video. Just click the plus sign and the various block options become available for selection:

For whatever content block type you have chosen, there are also additional settings available for adjustment in the right-hand column to further tweak a particular block.

If you are really feeling your inner writing mojo, you can open up the screen whitespace even further with some settings in the upper right-hand corner:

  • toggle the gear icon to collapse the Settings column
  • click the three dots icon and select Fullscreen Mode
Fullscreen canvas.

Blocks can be moved up/down easily via a directional arrow, edited, or altogether removed. On the whole, the experience is quite nice for composing blog posts easily and for editing. Block editing affords a reasonable feeling of page control over the old editor.

Adding images and sorting content order are a cinch.

How does the new editor affect old posts?

The new editor will NOT upgrade old posts to blocks automatically. Only newly-created posts are blocks by default. If you go back in time and edit any older content not created with the Gutenberg editor, you will have the option of converting the post content to blocks. It is probably a good idea to first backup your WordPress before any tinkering with archived content to avoid any unforeseen problems.

Can you still use the old editor?

For WordPress versions 5.0 and beyond, you can install the Classic Editor plugin to continue blogging with the old editor. It will be supported by WordPress until 2022.

There are a lot of video and blog tutorials available for learning the new WordPress editor. But the best bet might be to launch a new post and just play around with the blocks and see how simple the blogging future will be in WordPress.