Gutenberg and Classic Editor Plugins Pass 200,000 Active Installations, WordPress 4.9.9 Planning Underway

photo credit: reingestalter numeral types(license)

It has been three weeks since the “Try Gutenberg” prompt was sent out in WordPress 4.9.8 and the plugin has now passed 200,000 active installations. The callout has increased the visibility of the Gutenberg project and brought necessary feedback to the development and design of the new editor.

Prior to WordPress 4.9.8, Gutenberg reviews held a 2.7-star average on Negative reviews continue to pour in and the average rating has slipped to 2.3 stars. Users are reporting that the new editor is too complicated, cumbersome, and that it offers an inferior writing experience. A few positive reviews are sprinkled in between, calling the editor a “necessary step forward,” and those reviewers seem hopeful that others will feel the same once they get past the learning curve. The vast majority of reviews, both positive and negative, report that Gutenberg’s interface is not yet intuitive to use.

The Gutenberg team’s responses to reviews have improved to be less “canned” since the initial reactions a few days after the Gutenprompt went out. However, the team still appears to be combing the feedback for bugs with the existing interface. Overall, the team’s responses are unified in a general unwillingness to admit that there are critical flaws preventing the interface from being more well-received.

Active installations of the Classic Editor plugin, the official antidote for those do not wish to adopt Gutenberg when it ships in WordPress 5.0, have climbed to more than 200,000. This number is about equal to the number of sites that have Gutenberg active. The Gutenberg team does not view Classic Editor installs as an important metric for understanding Gutenberg adoption or rejection but rather see these installs as a healthy intermediary step for sites keeping the same workflow while preparing for Gutenberg.

In response to recent discussion surrounding the ClassicPress fork of WordPress, Matt Mullenweg said, “No plans to ever have direct vote determine strategic direction in WP, but we are having a bit of a referendum in the adoption of the Gutenberg and Classic Editor plugins, people are voting with their usage. The people are deciding.”

This is essentially true in that users can decide if they want to adopt Gutenberg or not, for as long as the Classic Editor is supported. The Classic Editor plugin is an option people demanded but now the reality of two different admin experiences is nearer than before. The notion of a fork, though perhaps not a serious threat to the project, makes it painfully clear what some users are willing to do in order to avoid Gutenberg.

With the number of Classic Editor plugin installations on the rise, WordPress is headed towards a fractured admin experience. For some it may be a healthy transition option, but in the end, the number of Classic Editor installations indicates how many sites will be running an alternative editing experience because site owners are either not ready or not willing to adopt Gutenberg.

At some point in the future, WordPress will need to unite the editing experience, either by winning these users over to Gutenberg or by discontinuing support for the Classic Editor. In the meantime, WordPress product developers will need to provide support for both editing experiences or go all in on one or the other. It has the potential to erode WordPress’ momentum for a few years, especially if Gutenberg doesn’t become more intuitive.

WordPress 4.9.9 Is Expected to be a 6-8 Week Maintenance Cycle

WordPress contributors met this week to discuss WordPress 4.9.9.

“As of now there’s no specific timeline for 4.9.9,” Jeff Paul said. “That will get set once release leads are in place. However, I’d like to try and finalize leads in next week’s meeting or shortly thereafter so that we can begin 4.9.9 planning and coordination as we get into September.” Paul requested contributor submit nominations for release leads, for themselves or others, ahead of next week’s meeting.

“Until we have a confirmed timeline and plan for 5.0, my assumption is that we’ll continue with our minor release cadence of ~6-8 weeks with specific focus on items needed in support of 5.0,” Paul said.

During his announcement at WordCamp Europe in Belgrade, Matt Mullenweg said WordPress 5.0 could happen as early as August. It’s now looking more likely that 5.0 will drop closer to the end of the year. This gives WordPress users and developers more time to prepare their sites to be compatible with Gutenberg and ready to take advantage of the new features it offers. The schedule for releasing WordPress 5.0 is not yet set but the release is expected to happen in 2018.


47 responses to “Gutenberg and Classic Editor Plugins Pass 200,000 Active Installations, WordPress 4.9.9 Planning Underway”

  1. The plugin directory rounds off numbers, but the Gutenberg and Classic Editor plugins are not at the same usage: Gutenberg passed 250k active sites today, and it’s larger and still growing faster than Classic which just passed 200k on the 22nd.

    Also to reiterate: I love that people are using the Classic Editor plugin! There is an infinite number of ways that WP can be used and not all will be ready for Gutenberg when 5.0 is released, Classic allows people to still be able to update core and stay current with releases, and with the click of a button try out Gutenberg again in the future if they want to. It’s also trivial to maintain because Gutenberg also uses TinyMCE, so Classic Editor users will still get improvements and updates to TinyMCE — I won’t say “forever” but I don’t see any reason why we can’t maintain classic for the edit screen for many years to come.

    I set the original goal for Gutenberg usage pre-5.0 to be 100k sites and 250k posts. We obviously have blown by the number of sites, we’re at 10x where I expected us to be this point, but we don’t yet have good numbers for the number of posts yet. I hope to have that and some stats around block usage coming relatively soon. Hosts are already activating or exploring having Gutenberg on by default for all their new sites.

    The future is here, it’s just not evenly distributed. :) All this extra usage is going to make the 5.0 release that much more robust and solid. I also love all the plugin support that’s being built and tested with the 250k+ sites already running Gutenberg.

    Finally, I am constantly amazed by the team working on all of this, we are so lucky to have these folks putting their heart and souls into Gutenberg, and you can really tell with how fast the project iterates and evolves. Thank you, it means so much to me.

    • All the best to you Matt and all the people of WP – just PLEASE leave the option for using plain, old HTML editor to all of us that don’t want or don’t like “easy” solutions! PLEASE! It is like old cars and new ones – yes, new car has GPS and ABS and this and that, but when the CPU fails all that is good for nothing – and you can only sit by the road and look at old, stick shift, non-“smart” mechanical dinosaurs passing by – slowly, but steadily. Please, don’t kill the HTML editor. Thank you and God speed!

    • Hi Matt,

      Before Facebook changed the license, you made the hard decision that React wouldn’t be used. Also, originally Gutenberg was slated for May, but you made the decision to extend the target date. Thank you for showing good leadership and making those tough decisions.

      Gutenberg will continue to be improved after 5.0 ships and I imagine it will become the compelling option that most everyone will want to embrace. Until then, one thing that Sarah wrote is troubling:

      Overall, the team’s responses are unified in a general unwillingness to admit that there are critical flaws preventing the interface from being more well-received.

      If there is any truth in that then it is something that you may want the team to be open to hearing. It is almost like you need to have an anonymous session where all of the contributors can write on a slip of paper the “worse thing about using Gutenberg” so that you can get beyond the filters.

      In any event, the conclusion that I see people reaching in discussions on Facebook (the fount of all wisdom) is that Gutenberg is really good for certain types of posts / content, but not others. The current editor has had many years to mature and handles a lot of edge cases and creative uses and it will take time for Gutenberg to catch up. It is good to hear that it is not difficult to support the Classic Editor as long as needed.

    • Sure.
      But, with all due respect, you forget to mention 2 points (that I exposed in a previous post):

      – Gutenberg is something new people want to try because of the huge noise being made around it, while Classic Editor just keeps things as they are. Downloads and active installs are not comparable, especially if you take into account the next point:

      – There is also a Dismiss button and nothing tells us how many clicked on it. It’s hard to believe that out of the gazillion WP sites around the world only some 500,000 updated to version 4.9.8! Nobody knows how those users, apparently the vast majority, will behave when GB will be in V5.

      Praising the amount of GB active installs at this point without, at the same time, acknowledging the extremely low approval rate of those users is pure fantasy.

    • How can you even compare the installs between an unneeded plugin and Gutenberg? People don’t have to install the Classic Editor plugin so why should they? That they even bother to install it given its not even advertised in the Dashboard or needed should tell you at least something.

      • A good point. The Classic editor is only installed by people to establish a pre-emptive bulwark against proposed future changes.

        Classic Editor installs is a subset of Gutenberg installs.

        Even if there are only 200,000 Classic Editor installs to the reported 250,000 Gutenberg that means there’s an 80% rejection rate after trial!

        Gutenberg plugin installs show us the number of “curious people taking a look at what the future holds”. They are staring into a crystal ball, as they were asked to.

        Meanwhile Classic Editor installs show us “Curious people who took a look into that crystal ball … and were so freaked out by what it showed immediately started building a wall against it”

        Not great.
        I think this project needs a bit of tweaking to meet user needs more effectively.

    • Hi Matt
      I thought it might help to give some insight as to why we are avoiding Gutenberg at least for the time being.
      We maintain around 70 WordPress websites for clients, most of them built three years ago or more, and most of those clients have little or no technical knowledge – a fair proportion don’t even have access to update their content and those sites have not changed since they were built, except, of course, for software updates.
      While we’ll get to grips with Gutenberg for any new sites (and our own websites), it’s obviously not suitable for those that were built a while ago and the risk of allowing them to switch to Gutenberg with WP 5 is simply to great – it could break all kinds of things and there would have to be conversations as to whether we should absorb the cost or the client should pay.
      This is why we installed the classic editor plugin (and Piet Bos’ excellent companion plugin) on every one of our sites as soon as 4.9.8 came out, so as to avoid confusion among clients who would log in to find everything has changed, and to avoid the danger of sites breaking.

      We appreciate that the editor needs updating, especially in the face of competition, but one of the reasons we chose WordPress in the first place back in 2011 was its ability to be updated while the front end remains more or less the same. Some of our sites were originally built in 3.4 (or so), sometimes with an early version of WooCommerce, yet we have been able to update them for years with no issue – a major strength of WordPress.

      I hope this helps you understand that this issue probably affects a vast proportion of WP sites already built and why we need the classic editor to remain an option for a good while yet. It’s not that we’re against progress – far from it – but our market won’t stand the disruption and clients are likely to jump ship to the likes of Wix or Shopify if we make things difficult for them.

    • Hi Matt
      Why are you and the WordPress core team still totally ignoring the community and why has this brilliant open source project suddenly decided that the community has no voice, no opinion and no right to contradict your plan that currently has more chance of loosing you the 30% of the web that uses WordPress than increasing your market share?
      The fact that the team is still unified in a general unwillingness to admit that there are critical flaws with Gutenberg is why the large community of Support companies are quickly disabling auto updates on core or installing the (Now Very Popular) Classic Editor, or as someone already pointed out, adding code to the functions file to disable Gutenberg.
      I find it just unbelievable that with a score of 2.3 and the massive number of people against this change that you continue to ignore the community that has made WordPress what it is and don’t just insert into 5.0 an on/off switch for Gutenberg!

      • I can’t agree with the “totally ignoring the community” part of your comment.

        What I see rather is them listening to but not agreeing with & not following the demands of a significant & vocal part of the WP community that want Gutenberg to Opt In rather than Out Out (via Classic Editor plugin etc.)

        You clearly have the right to express your opinion & be heard but you must also expect that it might not be agreed with & followed.

    • I think gutenberg is a great step forward for wordpress but the problem is that pushing it too fast will bring poor experience and the first experience is the most important. The try gutenberg button were launch whereas gutenberg were not ready and the plan to release it before the end of the year will bring more bad experience with gutenberg.
      Gutenberg team needs more time to bring a good product.

    • I’m intrigued by this comment:

      I set the original goal for Gutenberg usage pre-5.0 to be 100k sites and 250k posts. We obviously have blown by the number of sites, we’re at 10x where I expected us to be this point, but we don’t yet have good numbers for the number of posts yet.

      This assumes that a good level of posts would be on average 2.5 posts per site install (fairly small). Yet the site installs is already far higher than this expectation, but the number of posts are much lower than expected – either less than 250k or less than an average of 2.5.

      Either way, this leads to an assumption that it may be installed, but it’s not being used. Therefore pitching the number of installs of Gutenberg vs Classic isn’t a great signifier of what is happening on the ground.

      • Actually, it means we don’t have good data on posts made with it. Data gathering from sites that are not actively monitored is not our strong suit. We do respect things like privacy. doesn’t really have some kind of data treasure trove. 🙂

  2. It’s now looking more likely that 5.0 will drop closer to the end of the year.

    For the sake of everyone who works with clients or in support, please do not release Gutenberg at WordCamp US or any time in December.

    The holidays are stressful enough as it is without having to deal with the backlash from this becoming the default editor :)

  3. I still hold out hope we’ll see a proper 4.9.x LTS release when 5.0 rolls out as an alternative to the Classic Editor plugin. Without such an LTS release, there will be an incentive for people who don’t like Gutenberg to promote a fork like ClassicPress which will cause a rift in the community. Giving people a clean off-ramp from the 5.0 release so they can push the pause button on Gutenberg until they are ready to transition is key to keeping the community intact and avoiding an unnecessary schism. This is, I believe, what the ClassicPress people ultimately want, and it is a tried and tested approach to software development.

    • Your ideas for a “a proper 4.9.x LTS release when 5.0 rolls out as an alternative to the Classic Editor plugin” is probably worth a whole other post here, if you haven’t done it already elsewhere.

  4. It does beg the question why things are being over complicated in how we can continue to use the current editor up until Gutenberg is polished enough for mainstream use?

    Contrary to the general understanding out there, Gutenberg is just a React override of the current editor(classic). This will be the same once WP 5 is released.

    The current editor (Classic) will still be there in core, with Gutenberg overriding it. The Classic Editor plugin, like many other plugins, is a switch to disable Gutenberg being the de-facto default. In fact, if you don’t install these plugins you will still be able to disable Gutenberg by either adding a filter to your theme/child theme’s functions.php file or configuring any custom post type (including regular posts and pages) to not conform to the requirements for Gutenberg to be active.

    This highlights the fact that we actually will not need a plugin to retain the current editor. This either or choice can actually be built into core for the foreseeable future.

    Without speaking for others I personally see merit in what could be achieved with a project like Gutenberg but, if it does not address the pain points that are encountered by experienced users and introduce good replacement workflows for all the use cases that can be achieved with the curreng editor, it will be very difficult to get the majority of the user base on board.

    A little bit of finnessing the rollout wouldn’t go astray.

  5. I won’t say “forever” but I don’t see any reason why we can’t maintain classic for the edit screen for many years to come.

    From one side it looks good, that there will be this option, but… that also means, as Sarah noted, for many years developers will have to maintain this compatibility, which is no fun.

    In the meantime, WordPress product developers will need to provide support for both editing experiences or go all in on one or the other. It has the potential to erode WordPress’ momentum for a few years, especially if Gutenberg doesn’t become more intuitive.

  6. All I can say is that text boxes are a major pain in the neck. The videos I’ve seen of Gutenberg are great reminders of the retro text boxes of the past.

    I use, and if it comes down to a complete removal of the classic editor, I will be removing myself from wordpress as well. I choose WP because it was intuitive, simple, and classy. But if you all think that some redesign of retro junk is the latest and greatest, than you probably live somewhere where it is legal to smoke marijuana.

    Thanks, but no thanks.

    • Actually, it seems there is an invitation to try the “improved editor” (they don’t call it Gutenberg, fearing people will run away too fast, or is it something else?) when you edit a post/page:

      Add New Post
      There’s an easier way to create posts on
      Switch to the improved editor.

      • I would take a look but I don’t have a website on .com account. So if it’s true that Gutenberg is not on .com, probably because they are “paying” customers of Automattic and they don’t want to rock-the-boat. Funny considering the claim is to compete against Squarespace, Wix, etc; when it’s that is more in competition with and not .org.

  7. Overall, the team’s responses are unified in a general unwillingness to admit that there are critical flaws preventing the interface from being more well-received.

    One of the things I like the least about Gutenberg, and WP in general, is the core team’s monolithic lack of self-criticism, their inability to listen to any outside perspective and their reluctance to acknowledge when something is not as great or useful as they think. Now that I think of it, this “we know better than you” attitude is a general problem with most of the IT industry.

  8. I checked out the Gutenberg demo. I also have checked out a few of the third-party editors that are out there, such as Elementor. Turns out I like Classic Editor the best.

    I find the Classic Editor easy to use. I like having everything I need right there on a toolbar. I like putting in a Youtube URL and it automatically embeds. I like the clean HTML code, which I can easily understand and fix if something in the visual editor doesn’t look right. (There’s so much garbledygook in the Gutenberg text editor.) I don’t understand the need to change it for something else, especially something that basically “hides” all sorts of functions so you have to look around for them.

    I’ll be happy if we can keep our Classic Editor for good if we like, not be forced to switch at some point down the road. Matt saying “many years to come” is comforting, but “forever” would be a lot more comforting!

    • @Nyssa Actually, the classic editor is not forever (as many wish it were). Last year Matt said “….for now” which means it’s temporary.

      Even if you get to keep using the editor for years to come, the problem is going to be themes and plugins because developers now have to create them for both editors (Gutenberg and Classic). This means having to develop two versions (hopefully this is exaggerated) of everything. But basically as WordPress digs deeper into Gutenberg, there will be plugins and themes that are either built:

      1. only for the classic editor environment
      2. only for the Gutenberg environment
      3. or, for both, either separately or together as one.

      Further plans for Gutenberg is to eventually include more structural elements such as your header, footer, and widgets. Widgets are on their way out as well.

      • @Ken then, McDonald’s is the best food, and all the thrash pop music they play in commercial radio is the best music, right?

        Being the most popular does not equal being “the best” (whatever that means). And even if it were the best, at any moment it can stop being the best, possibly because it becomes stagnant (for which Gutenberg is supposed to be the solution), but also because of self-inflicted problems, like forcing Gutenberg into the community if the community is not ready for it, triggering many people to abandon WP and look for alternatives.

        WordPress is certainly the most popular CMS right now, but that doesn’t mean it will forever be.

    • @Ken Depends on what specifically is “best” and against what other platforms.

      For example, I can claim that WordPress is a better solution for blogs because WP is a blogging platform. Using Joomla or Drupal for a blog is not ideal as these are full content management systems for more complex websites.

      Every CMS has pro’s and con’s and not every CMS is right for all websites; depends on what the site is and needs. If you are basing it soley on usage, then the statement should read “clearly the most popular” and not “clearly the best” platform.

  9. I tried Gutenberg on my personal blog and I liked the writing experience. However, as a developer, I also tried it for custom post types where content is just one part of the data. And in this case, classic editor is better.

    Why maintaining both editors is possible, it puts burden on developers in the long term. And might split the community.

    • @Anh I’ve been building a theme to test out creating it for both classic and Gutenberg. I can already make the claim that developing for both is definitely adds a lot of extra time and workload.

      For example, and even though I am not creating custom blocks, I am styling some of the core blocks in Gutenberg, such as the Pull Quotes. Messy, Messy coding. You need one stylesheet for the classic editor which is basic CSS like the theme style.css has. then another for the Gutenberg editor. For the pull quotes block, the fun begins when you realize you cannot simply put the basic CSS styles into it because only part of it will work. You also have to add extra CSS for the editable areas of the blocks which means now I have to style the editor’s own containers. Example:

      /* Pull Quotes */
      .editor-block-list__layout .editor-block-list__block[data-align=left] .editor-block-list__block-edit

      Fun times! So yes, development will become a burden.

    • Agree. It’s not all about the content.

      In terms of data entry on a custom post types with custom fields, if you are using custom field groups set up in metaboxes, as is the case with Toolset, the user experience is much better:

      • There is a better clarity in terms of the form to be filled in, contrast between elements in the UI is better

      • Metaboxes/field groups can be arranged to match any use case, and this holds true for the standard post controls as well such as featured image and Categories etc.

      Outside of content you may also be working things like Yoast. On a given day you or somebody else may want to work across all posts for SEO purposes. To save having to scroll down under the metaboxes you would drag Yoast to the top to speed up the worklow. NOTE: You can only position something like Yoast directly below the post title if you have configured your CPT to exclude the content text area or if you have activated something like the Divi builder.

      Yes, Gutenberg may look prettier but it is not as functional as the current editor. Yes, the current editor looks like the cockpit of an Airbus to novice users, but to many there is an expectation of this level of complexity in a professional tool such as WordPress.

      The developers at WordPress have a lot of work to bring the same level and functionality and flexibility to Gutenberg.

    • I find it’s best to think of Gutenberg as one of many optional components of the edit screen. For posts and pages – anything with a generic “content” section – it usually makes sense to include a flexible block editor. For most custom post types that rely on custom fields, it doesn’t. So when using register_post_type(), if you don’t include the ‘editor’ in the ‘supports’ array, you don’t have to deal with Gutenberg OR the classic editor and can rely entirely on custom fields (adding your own, more semantic wysiwyg fields if you like).

  10. There are plenty of drag-and-drop builders for WordPress. Gutenberg was unnecessary before the project was even launched. Gutenberg can join the ranks of Apple Maps, New Coke, 3DO, Google Plus, the Amphicar, VirtualBoy, the Facebook phone and Clippy.

  11. I run a start-up media operation, with a WordPress site as our core offering. I am publisher, editor, sometime writer (we have a set of contributors), and technical resource. Eliminating friction from my work is critical.

    I have installed various plugins to increase efficiency and make the editing/posting process both easier and more effective. Gutenberg (which I’ve tried twice now) breaks all of those, and essentially reduces the value of my site.

    If I wanted to be on Medium, I would be. If I wanted to be on Squarespace, I would be.

    I have left detailed (very detailed) feedback to the Gutenberg team. The first feedback got a response. The second did not.

    And, FWIW, I am not a Luddite nor a noob. I retired from a 25-year career in IT to start this company, and my problem with Gutenberg is not technical. (Other than the fact that it slows my site down.) My problem is what I said above – it is an unnecessary and in some cases fatal interruption into my work flow.

    If the 5.0 release does not include some way to work in the Classic Editor, with my plugins working, I will have to seriously consider moving to another platform, simply to keep producing what I am producing now.

  12. Hey Matt,

    are you actually reading these comments?

    Because if yes, you might be willing to help me answer a question: should I sign up for next year’s Word Camp Europe, which happens to be in my home town?

    Here’s why I am struggling with an answer:

    A few years ago I fell in love. With WordPress. Deeply (on a developer level) and non-biased (meaning being someone you could not easily put into one of your user or community member categories).

    Falling in love with some…thing mostly has a few reasons and with WordPress it were these:

    – I liked the fact that WP could deal with dynamic content easily. I do not come with a blogger’s background in mind. I rather loved the structure of WP for its ability to create custom post types and fields which allows us to do whatever our mind comes up with.
    – I also liked the fact (and I took it as the philosophy of to have a clean core install plus the possibility to extend my projects with plugins. Functionality of my choice. Needed functionality goes in (via a plugin or coded by myself) and not-needed functionality stays out. Simple. Effective. Lovely.

    I was in love with WP because there was one thing in our relationship that made me a loyal partner: freedom.

    Freedom of choice.

    And now I feel as being cheated on.

    The problem with people like me is that once we feel this one wrong move, this one step crossing a border which cannot be taken back, we will give the reason for our relationship a second thought and get our mind clear.

    With observing how my partner apparently changes into a direction I cannot relate to anymore I am forced to take action.

    Now, how should this action look like?

    Should I cheat back and go with ClassicPress where my loyalty seems to have a better home or do we want to speak about a relationship coaching held by Mortan Rand-Hendriksen?

    My support goes always and only with people who make the right decisions and this is why I wonder if I better wait for a ClassicPress Camp Europe. I guess there are the people whose community I rather want to be part of.


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