Classic Editor Plugin May Be Included with 5.0 Updates, Support Window Set to End in 2021

Gary Pendergast announced this morning that the Classic Editor plugin will be officially supported until December 31, 2021. The plugin eases the transition for sites where plugins or themes are not yet compatible with Gutenberg and gives users the opportunity to preserve their existing workflows.

“Since the Classic Editor plugin is central in this transition, we are considering including it with upgrades to WordPress 5.0,” Pendergast said. “New WordPress installs would still add it manually, and we’ve included it in the Featured Plugins list to increase visibility. If you have thoughts on this idea, please leave a comment.”

Pendergast clarified that “officially supported” means that the plugin “will be guaranteed to work as expected in the most recent major release of WordPress, and the major release before it.” He also said the project will evaluate the continuing maintenance of the plugin in 2021 and may possibly extend the date.

The post has already received quite a bit of feedback and generally positive reactions to the prospect of including the Classic Editor along with 5.0 updates for existing sites.

WordPress Core Committer Pascal Birchler asked for a clarification on what “we” referred to in Pendergast’s post, and Pendergast clarified that he is speaking on behalf of the WordPress project. Other commenters pressed for more information, as the announcement was delivered as something that had already been decided and the conversation surrounding the decision was not public.

“I’m grateful for the communication on a hard date for support of the classic editor,” Darren Ethier commented on the post. “It helps many people depending on WordPress for their livelihood to make plans surrounding things depending on it. But for volunteers who ‘show up’ at meetings and in contributing, the process for arriving at these kinds of decisions in an open source project is very opaque and seems to be increasingly so.”

This announcement highlights a trend in recent decision making for the project where decisions on important items appear to have been made behind closed doors without community input. Matthew MacPherson’s proposal for an independent accessibility audit, which had broad support from the community, was shut down in a similar way. MacPherson was named WordPress 5.0’s accessibility lead but didn’t seem to be fully vested with the power to lead that aspect of the release in the community’s best interests. I asked MacPherson if he could further clarify how the decision to forego the audit was reached, as it seemed even a surprise to him in the GitHub issue thread. He said he had “no comment” on how the decision came about.

WPCampus is now pursuing an accessibility audit in order to better serve its community of more than 800 web professionals, educators, and others who work with WordPress in higher education.

“We’re receiving a lot of interest and I’m holding meetings with potential vendors to answer their questions,” WPCampus director Rachel Cherry said. “We’ve received a lot of messages from individuals and organizations wanting to contribute financially.”

The recent report from the accessibility team demonstrates critical issues that prevent the team from recommending Gutenberg to users of assistive technology. These issues also have a major impact on those using WordPress for higher education, as the law requires them to meet certain standards. Several in this particular industry commented on Pendergast’s post to advocate for shipping the Classic Editor plugin with new installs as well.

“Many organizations who use WordPress are required by law to provide accessible software under Section 508,” Rachel Cherry said. “Until such a time when the accessibility of Gutenberg has been improved, and Section 508 compliance is clear, these organizations will require use of the Classic Editor.

“Not to mention the users who will be dependent upon the Classic Editor to have an accessible publishing experience.

“Please consider bundling Classic Editor with all versions of core, new and updated, going forward so that every end user has the easy and inclusive option of using it from day one.”

Elaine Shannon, another WordPress user who works in academia, also commented on the Pendergast’s post to recommend having the Classic Editor bundled with new versions of WordPress, due to many education sites running on multisite installations.

“Some institutions are on managed hosts, where they’ll receive 5.0 without initiating the update themselves,” Shannon said. “Others are managed by on-campus IT services, where one campus admin will push the update and affect thousands of users. In many cases, these are MultiSites where end users – the ones who need the choice of whether to use Gutenberg or Classic Editor – do not have the ability to add a plugin. So regardless of whether these users are in a brand-new shiny install or just an updated existing one, many users are going to need to fall back to the Classic Editor, and if it’s not bundled with Core there will be some folks left having to contact their administrator.”

Pendergast’s post said the WordPress project is considering including the plugin with upgrades to 5.0 but did not identify where or when that decision will be made. However, users who depend on the plugin now have a clear idea of how long it will be supported.

“As for the EOL on Classic Editor support, that’s probably more clarity than [the core team] has ever really given on a feature-to-plugin transition and I’m in favor of having that hard date,” WordPress core developer Drew Jaynes said. “It sets the right tone that the plugin is not intended as a long-term solution, rather a stopgap with a definitive EOL.”


13 responses to “Classic Editor Plugin May Be Included with 5.0 Updates, Support Window Set to End in 2021”

  1. Mmmm. Why do I keep sensing a terrible amount of BS around this whole topic regarding the current editor and the fact that we need to use a plugin to keep using it when, in fact, a simple filter in the functions.php file of a theme can be used to keep using the current editor?

    Classic Editor is actually extant in WP 5 and so therefore by extension the filter to turn on and off the block editor to get to it could be controlled by a switch in te writing settings of WordPress. It’s very frustrating as a user with specific requirements to see how clumsy all this is being implemented. I ultimately would like to use the block editor at some stage down the line when it better fits my workflows, but not yet. Not till it is more useable.

    Perhaps somebody from WordPress could illuminate me as to why it is necessary to have to use a plugin to use the current editor. Why do they feel that they have to be so controlling in how, when and which editor should be used?

    • Current phase of Gutenberg – the “editor” – is only the beginning. The later phases of Gutenberg will replace everything in WordPress backend, like widgets, menus, media library, user management, everything. Currently existing custom fields plugins like acf, pods, toolset etc. will become completely obsolete, same for all the current pagebuilders.

      Consider Gutenberg editor as some sort of a trojan horse. The “all is fine” Classic Editor plugin should/will convince many to upgrade to 5.0 “without risks”.

      Once people have upgraded to 5.0 and start using Gutenberg editor, they can not go back to 4.x and also can not simply migrate to other CMS because Gutenberg editor puts all its blocks-markup and parameters etc. as one big “datablob” right in the post_content field.

      Then the other phases of Gutenberg will be announced and merged to core, users are more or less locked in, a new infrastructure with pay-per-blocks will replace most existing themes and plugins and Gutenberg project will look like an huge success (at least in terms of number of websites).

      The trick with Classic Editor is, now it’s a filter, later various functionality including classic editor itself will be moved from core to the plugin, so this functionality will be simply gone as soon as Classic Editor expires, which now has been announced clearly for 31.12.2021.

      The four phases of Gutenberg project, the moving of core code to Classic Editor plugin, the “you can always use Classic Editor for now” talk, all that has been communicated several times at support forums, github issues, slack, twitter and so everybody can read and draw own conclusions.

  2. Once again, a super important decision has been made behind closed doors without input from the public. Whilst that does give ‘us’ roughly three years to transition from TinyMCE to Gutenberg I don’t like the fact no one was considered.

    This circles back to the issue around the merge proposal that never happened. I totally get it. At this point any call for opinions on Gutenberg will probably be met with plenty of criticism but let’s be realistic here; Gutenberg project management has been awful.

    I’ve said before via Twitter, I like Gutenberg as a thing. But with all it’s history and being merged in WordPress like it is being it’s destroying what once was an open and collaborative project effort. It’d be great if we didn’t get robot business speak answers from the likes of Matt and Gary trying to do damage control but I fear at this point it’s all we’re ever going to get.

    Just to make myself abundantly clear, if this was managed better, I’d be team Gute all the way but it’s not happened that way and we’re left with this mess of a project rollout. At this point I’ve lost all trust in the WordPress project and Automattic. Business and money has been at the forefront the whole time, not FOSS.

    • Transparency is definitely lacking and regardless of whether that’s intentional or not, it sure can be frustrating. My best guess is that these conversations do happen in the public forum but they are blips on Slack or a Twitter thread that goes unnoticed.

      When it’s all over, the Gutenberg rollout would make for a great social experiment study.

      I think the reactionary tone by the community is purely because it all feels forced. There’s nothing inherently bad about Gutenberg. When people use it they like it.

      It’s an awesome addition to WordPress and concept and like every new project, it needs work. Most importantly though, you need to compromise early and often.

      For example, this TinyMCE news could have been a part of Gutenberg discussion since Day 1.

      Give people options. If the options already exist, just include them. If you don’t want to use Gutenberg then don’t. If folks want to keep the Classic Editor well beyond 2021 and there is someone brave enough to maintain it, let them.

      Instead, focus on how those parts can co-exist in harmony and give their respective developers as much freedom and resources they require. The community will be better for it.

      • I’m with you in having thoroughly tested Gutenberg I see a lot of things I like. Unfortunately it lacks badly in what it leaves out and where it does not address some fundamental things that should have been dealt with in WordPress years ago, one not having a better code code text editor experience bulit in.

        The other big one is how WP5 will implement the current editor (Classic). Having to use a convoluted plugin to deactivate the block editor is overkill and quite frankly a sledge hammer when a one line filter tied to an on/off switch in writing settings would do the same thing. Only activating the block editor for new installs and leaving older installs would have be better PR for the GB team. Not stating a concrete date for Classic removal would also help.

        Immediately though, Gutenberg’s biggest problem is usability. Trying to locate and manipulate content buried in blocks, especially once you get into column structure and nesting is not fun. If they can crack that usability issue it would be a big step forward. But, until that happens, thinking that that the block editor will be easy for the average user, compared to the current TinyMCE with metaboxes setup, is delusional.

  3. I’m old. I am not a WordPress “Wizard” and a huge portion of the behind the curtain stuff is beyond me. That is why I like WordPress: I do not have to know those things. It’s not that I do not like change, but I prefer to edit posts the way I do now. I’ve looked at several “drag & drop” editors and I just do not like them.

    Personally I would hope that the “Classic Editor” is with us for a very long time to come.

    • I don’t like them, either. I also like widgets and clean HTML code. I looked at ClassicPress and it appears they’ve thrown out the baby with the bathwater, getting rid of some of my favorite parts of WordPress. Several of my blogger friends don’t like Gutenberg, either. So I hope we can keep our Classic Editor plugins well past 2021.


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