The Future of WordPress: The Block Editor Is Here to Stay

It is inevitable that when we publish a story on the Tavern that is remotely related to the block editor or the Gutenberg project, we receive negative comments. Despite sprinting along in its second year as part of core WordPress, there are still those who liken posts on the editor to Soviet-style mind manipulation and propaganda for certain unnamed companies.

It is not all negative. Far more comments are from people who are ecstatic about the current editor and the upcoming features that will expand the block system to other areas of WordPress.

However, I felt the need to address a recent request that we stop covering the block editor. While I cannot speak for our entire staff, there are two simple truths about why I write about blocks.

Truth #1: Blocks are Here to Stay

The block system is not going anywhere. WordPress has moved beyond the point where we should consider the block editor as a separate entity. It is an integral part of WordPress and will eventually touch more and more areas outside of the editing screen.

Frankly, it would be poor journalism to not cover stories related to blocks.

Some of the most exciting things happening in the WordPress ecosystem is around what developers are doing with blocks. Whether it is a fun T-rex game, a block-ready theme, or a team of block developers being hired by a major company, there is always something interesting happening in the world of blocks.

Every day, more users are embracing the block editor. Even the percentage of holdouts still running WordPress 4.9, which was the last version without the block editor, is decreasing. Currently, only 12.8% of WordPress installs are on 4.9. Nearly 73% are running WordPress 5.0 or newer. Some of those users are running plugins like Classic Editor, which has maintained a steady growth rate in the neighborhood of 0.5% – 1.0% in recent months. Currently, the plugin has over 5 millions installs, which is a drop in the ocean in comparison to total WordPress sites.

At the moment, and self-hosted Jetpack users are creating content via blocks on 44.5 million WordPress sites. Yesterday, those users wrote 302,000 posts in the block editor.

Blocks are the future of the platform. What we need to do as a community is avoid putting our heads in the sand or railing against the powers-that-be. Instead, we should ask ourselves what we could do to continue improving the system. How can we move forward? How can we present our ideas, even dislikes, in a constructive manner? How can we create better software?

Criticism of the editor is fair. Make it constructive so we can dissect and address that criticism. That is an essential part of building great software.

Truth #2: Love of Blocks

Believe it or not, I actually love blocks. While I may criticize some decisions about the editor, summoning an internal facepalm emoji at times, this is the most excited I have been about WordPress in years. But, it is not about me. I have enough familiarity with dozens of editors that I can live with even the most mediocre of experiences. And, if I am not satisfied, I can build my own.

What it is about is seeing the face of an inexperienced WordPress user light up for the first time because they get it.

For years, I helped an older family member run an outdoors site. I had no interest in hunting, fishing, or most other topics covered on the blog. However, he was passionate about what he was doing. I wanted to help fuel that passion in any way I could. The problem? He simply never learned how WordPress worked. He never had that lightbulb moment. His face never glowed when he finally figured out how to lay out his content in the editor.

He had big ideas and no way to accomplish them.

At the time, most page builders were little more than shortcode soup, which I knew would eventually mean I would be the one to clean up the mess. There were few options other than the classic editor. My older cousin stuck it out for longer than most. After a few years, he finally let the site go.

Even some of what I would consider the most basic of things were too frustrating for him. It was also frustrating for me because I could not understand why he could never learn what I was teaching.

However, the block editor changed things. He was thinking of starting a new site but was asking about non-WordPress platforms. I spun up a demo install and a basic block-ready theme for him not long ago. Suddenly, this guy who routinely broke links and accidentally made all of his blog post content bold — twice — was piecing together media-filled content with few issues. That initial passion that he had all those years ago seemed to come back. Maybe, just maybe, WordPress might now be the CMS for him.

I am fully aware that this is not everyone’s experience. However, what I have found working with new and less-than-tech-savvy users is that the block editor is a stepping stone toward them being able to create the sites they want more easily. Right now, those users have far more control over their content than ever before. In the future, they will have that control over their entire site.

When I share a story about blocks, it is because I am excited about them. More so, I want to share that excitement with others who are on this journey. Whether they want something on the wacky and weird side of things or want to build custom patterns for reuse in their posts, I want them to find those tools.

If I am a bit optimistic about the future at times, I will not apologize for that. I look forward to the next block-related story that we have the opportunity to cover here at the Tavern.


77 responses to “The Future of WordPress: The Block Editor Is Here to Stay”

  1. Quick note about blocks and classic editor –

    I keep my sites current, so have had access to blocks for some time. Yet, I stay with the classic editor. Why?

    Because, frankly, I am running a publishing site that puts up 5-10 stories a day, and I have a workflow using the classic editor and a collection of plugins that I have finally gotten most of the friction out of. And whenever I have tried to use the block editor, I simply cannot do the things I can using my current workflow.

    I understand what you say about blocks, and about the advantage of them for both newbies and for people whose needs they meet. So far, that’s not true for me.

    I am sure I will have to move to blocks at some point. I am sure that at some point the classic editor will not work, and neither will most of the plugins I use. At some point, I will have to start figuring out how to move my workflow and tools to a new environment. So, keep writing about blocks; I need to keep up with what’s going on in that world.

    But don’t expect me to be thrilled about it. :-)

  2. Well, that’s bad news for me :-) Each time I try to work with blocks, it’s a complete failure and I struggle for nothing. I planned to do a beautiful home page for a site and I gave up after one hour of work. So deceiving. And I won’t lose time to learn how they work. I’m not a WP professional, just an amateur who likes WP’s engine. And what the use to learn something that slows the way you work and cut some nice functionalities you have in Classic Editor?
    In the last WP patch I saw there was security patches relative to… blocks. So blocks seem to be another security risk for WP.

    I’m OK with blocks if I can use Classic Editor but all the article looks like a subliminal message saying : “One day, there will be no more Classic Editor. Be prepared.” So scary.

    • Hi @Li-An,

      In the last WP patch I saw there was security patches relative to… blocks. So blocks seem to be another security risk for WP.
      Sure! Just like every part of this software. Each part of WordPress can leads to security risks. In 5.4.1, there were also some fixes concerning security issues in the Customizer or in file uploads. I’m sure you’re fine with using file uploads on your website. Each moving part of the software can lead to security issues. And also the oldest/more “stable” ones ;)

      To be clear, security releases are not a bad thing: those issues were fixed in a release before anything was known publicly. In fact, this is a very great news: issues are fixed–this is a concrete proof that this software is active, healthy and well maintained :)

  3. I am not a “big” fan of the Gutenberg/Block editor… I think “it’s not there yet”… I mostly use Elementor, though I’ve used others…

    And that’s the problem: people complaining about Blocks are comparing it to full and mature page builders…

    Though I never really saw myself using it, I always welcomed the Block editor, because I compared it to what it was supposed to be compared with: the old Classic Editor… And that is certainly an improvement over it (of course, there are people really used to Classic Editor that can hardly find how to do it the right way and will complain Block is worse… Or compare it to the first few versions…).

    I know though, like you said, that it’s “here to stay” and that probably someday I’ll switch to it for different reasons (hence why I bought my first Block addons, Qubely, before the price raise too much, even though I don’t intend to use it for now)…

    Great article!

    • Yeah, it will be a while before the core editor can be fairly compared against fully-fledged page builders. There are miles to go. The only thing I would really compare there, at this point, is the underlying foundation. It would be interesting to see what developers say about the long-term outlook based on that particular piece of the puzzle.

  4. Gutenberg plus over 20 plus WordPress page builder plugins for life….

  5. “The future of WordPress” currently has a 2-star rating on the plugin directory. And frankly it deserves much less for what concerns me.

    Is this a joke I’m too dumb to understand, or a good chunk of this mythical beast known as the “WordPress community” is in denial of how much the community really hates that wreck known as Gutenberg?

    • Two stars means it has a lot of room for improvement. Since it is now a part of WordPress, it is now essential that we work toward a future where it is a vastly better editor for those who currently have issues with it.

    • I have used/tested the most popular page builders and always felt that there was something wrong. Why? Because we were no longer working with WordPress. Why should we install another (commercial) software to make some simple layouts and no longer use WordPress? Page builders complicated things for me and my clients, which should learn how to use WordPress, not some page builder. After WordPress 5 all my problems are gone. Now I can build websites with WordPress and my clients are using and learning WordPress and everything is WordPress. It¨’s search a relief.

      I predict that some of the biggest page builders out there will only be used to landing pages. Others will end up like Microsoft Frontpage. For WordPress consultant like myself, it’s kind of great if web designers still use page builders….more work for us to “clean up” in a couple of years :-)

  6. Just finished my second website with the block editor, and must say if a theme supports the block editor the result can be quite nice. And it’s easy to set up a post or page if you understand how it works. But for older sites that contain many posts and pages I’m a bit reluctant or maybe even scared about the change from classic to block editor..

    • Old posts will work just fine because they are simply content. They’ll just work as always.

      If referring to converting old posts to blocks, I have not had much trouble with that. The one issue I did have is with Jetpack Markdown’s handling of code blocks. That broke a lot of old posts on one particular site.

      If you ever want to try converting all old posts, maybe check out Bulk Block Converter. I’d recommend a backup of your database anytime you do bulk conversion.

    • Hello Guido:

      Yep, I’m with you. I’m using the WordPress 2020 theme and dropped in WP Stackable and WP Kadence plugins. Those two, along with the existing blocks in Gutenberg, give me most of the tools I need to build a solid and super-fast website. It’s not perfect, but neither is Elemntor or Divi. The blocks work best with posts, but they are OK with pages, too.

      I say all this, and I get the frustration and hesitation. I was there in the beginning as well. Then, I read a blog post — may have even been on WP Tavern — and it was clear that WordPress was going to move to blocks regardless of what users wanted. It’s kind of like when you’re a kid and your parents say summer school is a must, you may as well learn and make the most out of it. But just as I eventually mastered algebra — OK, mastered may be a stretch — I’ve learned a lot about Gutenberg/blocks. The best thing? That in a crazy, divided world, most WP users are willing to help each other — and whenever I get stuck, there is always someone to help me out.

      Patience is definitely a virtue. And with blocks, it’s proven to be true.

  7. I am a big fan of the block editor. I like the way it allows me to break away from the restrictions a theme may place on me. I am now able to make my home page and posts look like what I had in my mind. I am a little confused by the anger over the introduction of blocks.

    • The block editor is fucking brilliant. People need to see the potential of what it is going to be. Right now you can run a block independent from wordpress. Don’t people realize what that means? Don’t you see the potential usefulness of this. Have some vision and stop winging about your precious workflows. Adapt or die. Period. Go use classicpress if it hurts u that much. The only thing I really want is to make it available on the front end for user generated content. That needs to be easier. Then it will be absolutely magical!

  8. Completely agree.

    I recently wrote about this very same topic (in Spanish), about how the future of WordPress is nothing but blocks; themes, plugins, core WordPress functionality…I’ve been using WordPress for 13 years; started to use Gutenberg around 2.0 and fully adopted it starting 2019, working exclusively with it since then. So far I’ve edited a little bit of everything, short articles, some pretty long articles (my longest is 12K words, hundreds of blocks, images, videos, etc), and wouldn’t think of doing it in Classic Editor even if it’s just one more time. Can’t go back.

    Classic Editor had its successful run, now it’s time to let it go.

  9. A better metric for acceptance of Gutenberg is how many monthly downloads of the classic editor plugin and other means to disable Gutenberg are there.

    People must update core even if it has features that they don’t like. The security cost is too high to do otherwise. But as long as there is a high volume of tools designed to bypass or remove Gutenberg then it might not be the optimal solution it’s painted to be.

    I’ve learned how to develop with it and how to create blocks and package variations because that’s another tool in my WordPress arsenal, not a particularly useful one but it’s there nonetheless.

    There are basic editing features that I would expect an editor to have but that are absent from blocks. This is particularly important if you’re bringing older posts into a Gutenberg environment

    The licensing issue is still fishy to me. I raised the issue on Github given the intransigent position Matt took regarding split licenses in WordPress code delivered through WordPress theme and plugin marketplaces. I got an answer regarding Gutenberg and the MIT license but not a satisfactory answer regarding licensing overall.

    So yes, Gutenberg is here to stay if for no other reason than it’s what Matt and the WordPress team are pushing forward. I’m still waiting for a fully usable editor before I make a decision.

    • I do want to clarify that all major branches of WordPress from 3.7 onward receive security updates.

      I’d love to see even more tools to bypass the block editor. Having multiple, competing editing solutions should create a healthier ecosystem. It’s not a bad thing to have other editors that are popular, even if they gain more widespread usage than the default. Personally, I’d like to see a complete Markdown editor for WordPress, which is my favorite way to write.

      What license issue are you referring to? I am out of the loop the issue.

      • I raised a concern on Github whether React and its MIT license conflicted with Matt’s position about WordPress themes and plugins released in having to be GPL license only (see I opened an issue on Github and it was told that it only had to be compatible with GPL, not exclusively GPL… I don’t expect it to change but I’m not sure it won’t.

        I didn’t know that security updates went that far back… but they are not easy to get as WordPress will always push you to the latest version without giving you a choice to stay where you are, right?

        The point of using download numbers for tools that bypass Gutenberg as a metric of Gutenberg acceptance is that, if Gutenberg was the ideal solution, then we’d see fewer alternatives, and more people would rally around the editor. What will the different editors and options do to market fragmentation?

        I would love to see a full Markdown editor too

        • Both plugins and themes on must be GPL or compatible with the GPL. So, you could have a theme with the GPL but include assets that are licensed under something like MIT, which is compatible. That’s always been the case (I was on the theme review team and a team lead for several years, so we dealt with licensing almost daily). Even in the post you linked to, it specifically states, “We will only promote and host things on that are 100% GPL or compatible.” Maybe it was just a misunderstanding.

          As for updates and security, WP auto-updates are based on the branch. So, if you’re on version 4.9.2, for example, you will be automatically updated to 4.9.3. For manual, one-click updates, it would offer you to upgrade 5.x.x or whatever the latest is. With that said, this should change later this year when auto-updates roll out for major versions. Anyone from that version (5.5 or 5.6?) forward, unless disabled, will get the most recent version.

  10. I love learning about blocks! It really is here to stay and here on the Tavern I stay learning as much as I can about wp and blocks.

  11. I’ve grown to like the block editor, however, it can become tedious when attempting to maintain/audit/update older posts.

    And on another subject, when will we hopefully see some new and interesting themes? A few of my favorite themes have been retired.

    • I have been on the lookout for unique themes, but it’s tough to find anything that really stands out. Someone needs to breathe some fresh life into the market. Probably 8 out of every 10 themes I look at are multipurpose/business themes with little variation. It’s a popular category and a safe play for theme shops to stay in that comfort zone. The space is ripe for innovation.

    • I think the best theme out there right now is the Kadence theme. Astra is also great, but Kadence has a better header/footer designer in the customizer and they have some nicer addon blocks.

  12. I am getting used to Gutenberg. I can’t say as it’s grown on me, but I can use it credibly. So I have that going for me.

    I read an article a few months ago somewhere. It was on using a blocks approach to building websites in general, though not specifically to WordPress. I was just then warming up to the idea of a headless site and this article predicted a block built site, not headless site, is the future.

    I don’t know if that is true, but it did make me think that WordPress may be on the right track after all.

  13. Well if someone is running 4.9 then they should upgrade. It is important for security purposes. Blocks are the heart of WordPress and they are fun to create different types of content.

    Initially, when it was introduced I felt a bit uncomfortable but as soon as I started using it and got to use through it is really fun…I have the flexibility for creating different types of content for the page…

    Nice to read and come to know some facts in the industry…

    • WordPress version 4.9 also receives security upgrades. Currently, all major branches from 3.7 onward get them. However, there is talk of dropping some of the older branches, such as the 3.x versions.

  14. Blocks are a joy to learn and use. A few years back, when I used the classic editor, I was always in text mode working with HTML code (since the visual method was a train wreck). Now with the block editor, I am seldom in the coding mode, which is testament to me that the new editor is approaching WYSIWYG. The pace of Block Editor development is a significant indicator to me that jumping on the Block Train is the most effective use of my time. Technology moves fast, and the Classic Editor and WordPress 4.9 are a colossal waste of time IMHO.

  15. “Currently, the [Classic Editor] plugin has over 5 millions installs, which is a drop in the ocean in comparison to total WordPress sites.”

    This is on par with Yoast SEO, Akismet, WooCommerce, and Jetpack.

    Having Gutenberg coverage is fine. Minimizing the fact that Gutenberg is the worst accepted feature in the history of WordPress project is rather poor.

    • Whether the block editor is the worst-accepted feature in WordPress history is a matter of opinion rather than fact. I lived through the nightmare of pushback against the customizer while being a lead for the theme review team. I see things through a different lens (and it’s OK that we do not see it the same).

      I would even argue the acceptance/non-acceptance of the editor has far more to do with marketing/PR early on. I firmly believe that the Gutenberg plugin could have had the massive support of a feature plugin like MP6 if the rollout had been much different. Of course, that time has long passed. Hindsight and all. I am sure there were a lot of hard-learned lessons.

  16. Since you are asking for constructive criticism, here are a few thoughs from a site developer point of view (the most forgotten collective in the “WordPress community”):

    It’s a pain in the neck to style both the frontend and the backend to make them look the same in a theme
    The Gutenberg API is constantly changing from version to version, leading to developer fatigue in the short term
    It’s not possible to add a block with some meta fields at the bottom of the editor that cannot be moved or removed while allowing all kinds of blocks over it. So, if I want to add some meta fields in a custom post type, I must resort to use the cumbersome plugin sidebar feature, which is not ideal for custom post types with many meta fields and/or where meta fields are as important (or more) than the main content.

    These concerns have been brought up in GitHub some times in the past and brushed aside.

    • Most of the theme developers I talk to say that it is far easier now to have the site look the same on both the back and front end. That has been my experience as well. I still shudder when thinking about styling the old visual editor and the headaches it gave me. The block editor still has a few problematic styles that you must overwrite, which can sometimes change between versions. Other than that, it’s nearly one-to-one to style them today.

      If interested, I can put you in touch with a private chat group that has several top theme/site developers who have been building block-styled themes for at least two years. Feel free to shoot me an email.

      The biggest complaint I see is the changes between versions, and I have been vocally critical about this issue in past articles. Part of that is building something too fast without thinking enough about third-party development in the long term.

      For a lot of CPTs, I wouldn’t recommend the block editor right now (it can be disabled when registering), particularly if they are more focused on meta than post content. It really just depends on the situation. CPTs are custom things, so the solutions are going to vary.

      Anyway, thanks for chiming in. That is useful feedback that I hope the dev team reads.

      • Thanks for your answer. I’m just looking for a simple theme with Gutenberg support to use as a guide for my themes. Before, I was using the Gutenberg Starter Theme, but it seems it has been abandoned. I look at the mammoth block stylesheets in Twenty Twenty and others and I shudder.

  17. The block editor can sure be a nice for non-techy people and I get that WordPress(.com) needs it in order to compete with other, more modern “website builders” which boast a drag and drop interface.

    But for professionals building WordPress websites for clients its just not mature and flexible enough to use in production (yet), and introduces unnecessary bloat in the front- and backend of the website – even when deactivated by the Classic Editor plugin.

    So why not let admins choose which editor they want to use on their WordPress website in the installation process or through a flag in the wp-config.php file?
    It would be a much cleaner solution than installing an extra plugin. If Gutenberg is in the core, the option to disable it should be too.

    • I love it !!!
      That has been always my opinion, if you want to do blocks, go for it…
      I, myself, prefer to stay classic.

  18. I was not a big fan of Blocks when the community started to speak about them and after some test on beta versions (and also for the “soviet style”)
    Today, while the editor have still lot of lacks, all my sites are based on it and I trashed all builders (yes , they are shortcodes soup, a reason why they’ll all fail) .
    Using some dedicated blocks libs (Getwid <3) or my owns for specific purposes, I’ve rebuild many of the sites I managed.

    For my customers, once some moment of desillusion with the new blocks concepts had passed, they embraced the new tool and all is perfect !

  19. When Gutenberg came out, it seemed very strange to me, but I migrated quickly, I have blogs, I write in them and I also told my editors to migrate to blocks, everything is chaos at first. It took us a while to make each news but the months have passed.

    Now I and my editors love to write with the block editor (gutenberg). Last week we switched to the classic to try and we found it strange we saw the classic editor with nostalgia but at the same time as something outdated.

    The blocks are here to stay and when people understand the potential they will stay in blocks.

  20. I am excited to see new technology, and the block editor is definitely interesting to use. But the barrier entry for newbie developers to contribute to it is just impossibly high (IMO).

    If you want to contribute to GB core, just to grasp how things work internally is something that you’d need to spend a considerable amount of time on (which, if you are not paid to do, just don’t have). And the rate of change inside the plugin is impossible to keep up with.

    This is why most people are not happy with it. They feel like they have no say in what direction it should move or how it should work – and let’s be honest, they don’t. The decision making is in Automattic hands completely. All we outsiders can do is make suggestions, and do a QA for the editor in the hope it will be improved.

    I have recently started to play with using GB blocks outside the editor screen, and I am excited to see how things will look like in the future. I actually liked that experience of building plugin settings with it, made me aware of tons of things I wasn’t aware of before, made me play with React a bit more. One thing is certain, Matt wasn’t kidding when he said: Learn JavaScript deeply ;)

    • The barrier to entry for new developers, and even seasoned developers with little modern JavaScript knowledge, is one aspect that worries me too. Whether it’s contributing to core or developing plugins, it is a problem. It’s not that JavaScript in and of itself makes the barrier too high. It’s the build tools, setup, etc. I worry about the state of the plugin market with this higher barrier for new developers. Will the only players in town be large businesses with the resources to handle continuing JS/React training?

      On the flipside, I could see this lowering the barrier to entry for theme development. If we move themes away from the more complex programming languages into mostly CSS and HTML territory, it opens up the playing field.

  21. I have no issues with the block editor vs classic editor but blocks don’t support Right to Left languages, so it’s like the block editor is not for 1/3rd of the world, if not more. I still have to use the classic editor blocks just to add Urdu and Arabic languages.

      • Assalamualikum Riad, thanks for your response, I would like to show you the issues I am facing with RTL before raising it as an issue on the GitHub, would that be fine and can we use a better communication platform? If not then I can proceed with reporting the issues on GitHub.

  22. Hi Justin
    Great article, once again. This is one of the hot places places to learn and discuss Blocks. And I hope it remains like that.
    I really like blocks and fully understand the strategic move towards them.
    I would love to help build it, do you advice “the best spot” to discuss and suggest ideas (the official sites seemed overused :) ?
    If I may say something, one thing I notice and feel strange to me is that the “personality” of WP seems to be neglected.
    One thing is to point to a Elementor/Divi/page buider way, the other is to forget the essence and power of WP: a great engine and CMS.
    Shouldn’t it be a priority: improve and modernize these strong factors into modern solutions?
    I still see too many people (long time respected users) complaining about important factors in this evolution. It’s strange that such a war has evolved inside WP. It feels like a waste of resources.
    Maybe that energy could be used, even if splited into 2 “branches”, and then unified and stronger in the master one..
    Long live WP!

  23. I’m fine with blocks being the present and future of WordPress. And since it’s the newest part of the code, and the biggest shake-up in a long time, it’s inevitable that a lot of stories would relate to the new editor.

    But the news feed on WP Tavern is starting to sound a bit monotonous – it seems like every other article has “block” in the title. It’s like saying “post” all the time. Yes, a lot of WordPress is implemented as posts in the database, but that generally isn’t the important thing. Likewise, Blocks are an implementation detail that seems to have grown to eclipse all things.

    For example, take the recent article “Should the Block Editor Have a Grid System?”. The real question being asked is, “Should the Editor Have a Grid System?”, or, is it a good idea for the page editor to give people power over the layout and compete with page builders, or is that counter to its purpose? But the focus on the block implementation of the editor obscures that question somewhat.

    I think most WordPress users will eventually be happy with the new editor, but only when they can use it without having to think about blocks in themselves.

  24. One of the biggest mindset mistakes is that ‘they’ always have said: Gutenberg is not a pagebuilder. But the reality is that it needs to become one to go really mainstream. So we welcome patterns and global styles; but that should have entered way sooner.

    The reason for Gutenberg was also to have independance towards third parties like pagebuilders and how it saves your ‘content’. But the irony is that the depandency will remain, in fact even more then before cause now it totally focussed on the content field. Before Gutenberg, a lot of content was also stored in meta.

    But I do like blocks too. It’s the future.
    But i also strongly believe that the block editor was released way too soon. But as said; there are thankfully escape routes like the Classic Editor.

    • Gutenberg was a pagebuilder from day 1. Gutenberg will be just as powerful as Elementor and/or the DIVI Builder at some point of time.

  25. No, it is most definitely not the time to stop railing against the powers-that-be. It never is, and definitely not when they continue down this path. Also, definitely no room for optimism in this situation.
    More options are always good, but that’s as long as they don’t come at the expense of current features, and also as long as new or less knowledgeable users aren’t herded towards them, often without being fully aware that alternatives exist, and then used in the numbers game to paint a picture of mass acceptance and even support for the decision made by just some of said powers-that-be.

  26. Thank you for covering the block editor.

    I am a complete convert to this new way of editing. Currently in active use on about 6 or 7 sites. These early stages were always going to be a little rocky, but the system will soon mature into something we all take for granted.

    Well done to the WP team and thank you to Justin for covering it!

  27. To the direct question of covering Gutenberg stories (releases, etc): they are part of WordPress and this is a site for WordPress-related stories, so that’s a no-brainer.

    As to whether or not Gutenberg is a good thing: that’s for readers to make up their own minds. I neither like nor dislike blocks, I’m interested in what they can do for my workflow (answer: no change) and how customisable they are (answer: not as much as I’d like). I’m confident that there’s enough will and experience in the wider WP community to come up with solutions to block failings… some are already out there.

  28. You reinforced my point. The use of React library blocks on the front end UI is for people without tech skill, the same market as Wix and others.

    However I build and maintain sites for my biz. I do not build themes for sale. I am not training clients, as I once did, to use a site. My business owns its sites.

    I have zero interest in using others code in widgets or plugins except for a couple that make no sense to code myself as a function. I have the same reaction to blocks. I do not want to work with blocks on the admin UI. I also do not want forced updates; I test local first and correct code hiccups, if any, before they are live.

    Where do I go? I am looking and frustrated. All departures mean loads of wasted time learning and converting to new dynamic systems. Frankly that raises my hackles as I think of what that unnecessary work does to my schedule and think on the unravelling of my past work — with the end result being the same sites with the same features.

    In the new WordPress, you are either a React Block coder or you are a non-techie, selling setup or doing it yourself. And I do not believe there is an infinite number of blocks in the universe. At some point only maintenance will be needed and block developers will shrink.

    And what will be left? People with low tech skills who help people with no tech skills set up what you see sites and then exit, maybe with a lean on me fee for periodic help…. and Automattic and it’s investors, plus some maintenance devs. Oh well. That will be so awesome. Imagine all the new people getting interested in front end coding. That does not matter, I know. It’s not a talking point. The only things that is important is that the least skilled be able to build a site and Matt’s investors have an exit strategy. Unintended consequences? Not relevant. And if you don’t drink the cool aide you are a dinosaur, subject to a ban in the WP forums.

    But I waste time, a nonrenewable resource, I need to instead figure out what the hell to do.

  29. From a Dev perspective, blocks really are awesome. I have had to rely on shortcodes, custom HTML in the editor, elementor or just plainly keeping site design simple as possible like a 1 column design.

    Tech writers love it, it’s simplistic and easy to use nature.

    I have a site that uses the classic editor because I already have advanced layouts created with elementor. I think this is where there is issues for many people, they already have a ideal workflow setup or at least one that works well enough.

    Justin, some more coverage on how to migrate from elementor or other page builders to Gutenberg would be helpful as well. I see there is a post about classic editor to Gutenberg:

    Looking forward to more Gutenberg insightful articles and your passion is encouraging on this topic! – your articles are always interesting and I always learn of a new feature or possibility from your articles.

    • Moving from a page builder to Gutenberg is an interesting idea for a post. I’m sure there are many custom designs that are not easily replicated in the block editor yet. Once we get full-site editing maybe it is less of a stretch. Of course, some sites could make the switch with little work. It just depends. I think this would make for a good contributor post for someone who’s familiar with a particular builder.

  30. I enjoyed reading this post, mainly because only just recently within the last two weeks have I installed and now work with the new editor.

    For me, I prefer it, it makes the work easier for one and your finished product looks slick and polished.

    My conversion came with a change of Theme to GeneratePress, which itself embraces Gutenberg. I tried it liked it and installed it.

    So I can agree with much of your post and now have Gutenberg on the 3 sites I have.

  31. Blocks are not clean code. Content & style moving backwards. Database full of fluff. I picked WP because it did not add crap to the content. I don’t care if it’s there. I don’t understand why it has to be.

  32. First, to respond to a few comments about the low reviews on the Gutenberg plugin, reality isn’t so simple. I’d think of many of those low reviews on the Gutenberg plugin as 1) emotional responses to change and 2) fair responses on the current state of Gutenberg. Both are expected and both are right in their own way.

    WordPress is 17 years old, thus not a community of early adopters for the most part. Some people have been using the same “kit” of plugins/themes for the last 5-10 years. They have workflows and favorites and think everything is fine the way it is. I’d wager #1 are the emotional responses from this group–it’s a fear-based response. Not right or wrong, it just is.

    #2 are the ones who compare Gutenberg to other experiences. Is it at par with page builders? No. Does it do what you need yet? No. Does it have the variety of options you want? No. Does it still have a long way to go? Yes. The people in this group aren’t wrong either–Gutenberg still needs a lot of work.

    The clash between feelings about Gutenberg simply comes from perspective:

    If your perspective is very focused on what you do today and you have a system that works for your needs, you might hate Gutenberg.
    If you’ve heard about Gutenberg, so you finally try and it doesn’t do what you need, it’s awful because you feel you’re being forced into it and it sucks.
    If you see that the number of websites overall is stagnating and that WordPress is essentially in a zero-sum game with other site builders (who are collectively losing to apps like Instagram and Facebook) and believe it needs to modernize to stay relevant, then you’re probably a fan of Gutenberg.
    If you understand that Gutenberg is still very much a work in progress and see criticizing Gutenberg now like criticizing an early version of the Model T or the internet over 14.4 kb because it’s too slow, then you’re also probably a fan of Gutenberg.
    If you see WordPress as a crowded market (for products and freelancers) and see this as a way to finally differentiate to create the next Yoast/Gravity Forms/WooCommerce of the Gutenberg era since they are so slow to adapt bogged down by their existing bases, then you might like Gutenberg. Same if you see an opportunity to establish your agency/freelance business as an early authority you probably also like Gutenberg.

    So, how do you choose to look at it? Does knowing that Gutenberg is inevitable change that? On some level this is a microcosm of the human experience.

    For some of this the Upton Sinclair quote also rings true: “It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it.”

    The debate around Gutenberg is quite fascinating. I’ve been thinking about Gutenberg for much of the last 10 years from a strategic perspective and am a HUGE fan of Gutenberg. Adoption is slow. In fact, there are companies looking to hire for $150k/yr that cannot find Gutenberg experts (people who understand WordPress and JS deeply).

    But I also get the hesitation for product companies and freelancers. If you’re a product company and your revenue comes from your existing base, investing a meaningful amount of money in an experiment with a Gutenberg product may be a risk you can’t afford. But then again, that’s why business is hard and why disruption is a thing—somebody will win, it just won’t be you.

    And if I was a freelancer competing with thousands of others and barely making it, I’d probably also dislike Gutenberg…if I had a scarcity mindset rather than a growth mindset and seeing it as an opportunity to differentiate in the crowded market.

    It’s a hard situation and risk aversion is high in times like this, but this is what reality is made of: It’s messy and complex and there are no easy answers and there will be many more losers than winners.

    But the future of WordPress really does depend on how quickly the ecosystem adopts Gutenberg. If widespread Gutenberg adoption/compatibility drags out for another 5+ years WordPress won’t end, but it will slowly continue its trend of becoming less relevant .

    For a bit of a reality check: The total number of websites isn’t growing—its stagnant. You know what is growing? Usage of apps like Instagram, Facebook, etc. Websites are becoming less relevant because they’re still hard to use–even Wix/Squarespace are hard. Why bother with that when I can sell on Facebook or Instagram?

    Don’t let that W3Techs data fool you—it just looks at the top 10M websites (constant), not the whole pie and doesn’t account for apps, so it is highly skewed and not representative–it’s like trying to understand the transportation industry at the dawn of the automobile and just looking at a list of the top horse breeders. Gutenberg isn’t going to save WordPress, but I guarantee you it’s the first step on the path that will.

  33. Is there a metric that shows how many WordPress sites are ACTIVELY using the Block Editor every day? I’d like to see it.

    If there isn’t, add a survey in the next major WordPress release where, upon installation, users are prompted to simply respond with a “yay” or “nay” for the Block Editor. I might be wrong but I have the feeling that the result would be unpleasant for Project Gutenberg (just look at the ratings for Gutenberg vs Classic in the plugin repository).

    But considering how far this project went already, it’s probably a metric that us normal users will never get to see.

    For me personally, the Block Editor does TOO MUCH. It has the complexity of a site builder – but is restrcted to posts and pages! I just don’t need that functionality every day. I used it on my start page and perhaps a few other static interior pages, but for my day to day writing, the Block Editor seems to constantly be in the way of a natural flow or writing, editing and shuffling sentences and paragraphs around. The longer the article, the worse it gets.

    • The best metrics I could find were those available from I’d like to see those metrics for all WordPress sites, but I’m unsure about the feasibility of doing that.

      As for it getting in the way of the writing process, I’m not sure if you’ve tried moving the toolbar to the top. That was the most frustrating part of writing in the block editor for me in the past. Once I moved the toolbar to a permanent spot, it became a lot nicer. This is one tip that has helped a lot of people.

      Of course, there may be other problem areas, depending on your workflow. I don’t think the issue with cutting text from two paragraph blocks has been fixed yet, for example, which I think is a big one for some writers (some of the foundational stuff to fix it was addressed though).

      • The only statistics that I could find were on (but the site doesn’t say anything about who compiled it, how recent the data is, etc. – it DOES say that the numbers come from and Jetpack enabled sites) there are 44 million Block Editor installs.

        That would be a little less than 10% of an estimated 455 million WordPress installations (according to a Feb 28 blog post at

        I tried moving the toolbar, but it doesn’t change the one thing that completely drives me nuts, namely, that each paragraph and heading is turned into its own block, instantly.

        The best for distraction free writing I could come up with was to compose & draft in a “Classic Editor” block, and then at the end convert that to blocks and perhaps fine-tune the layout, if necessary (which it usually isn’t). That, I figured, kind of defeats the purpose of having the Block Editor in the first place… :P

      • The thing is, it isn’t just that you can’t cut and paste from two paragraph blocks it is that one and half years into this that still hasn’t been fixed.

        Gutenberg broke editing for many people who like to write.

        I design websites sometimes and as a designer I get the block idea. But I write a lot too and mentor others who write using wordpress and Gutenberg is unusable as an editor for me and for them.

        Although I’m always grateful to have WordPress at all, the response to this critical break in a core funtion (ie that you can’t edit text with the new editor) has been completely tone deaf. There’s no wonder people hate it. They feel as though they’ve been treated as though end users just don’t matter.

        Gutenberg acceptance won’t improve until that is mended.

        So far as I’m concerned, WordPress ships with an editor which doesn’t, at a basic functional level, work.

        And no-one is listening.

        • To say that no one is listening is hyperbole at best. This specific issue pointed out has had work done toward it, which involves partial selection across blocks. It’s not complete, but some of the foundational code work is done. It’s fair to criticize that this hasn’t been 100% fixed yet given the amount of time. Frankly, I’m right there with you on that. A regression from normal text editing should take precedence over building new and shiny features.

  34. I am meticulous about ease of use and clean code. I format my posts with basic markup. Have since 2005. The Classic Editor makes it so easy.

    Gutenberg messes up my code and slows down the writing process with too many extra clicks. Just feels awkward and clunky. Almost insulting to use.

    That is why I prefer Classic Editor, so simple and elegant.

    Gutenberg should have been left as a plugin, not forced into core.

  35. Wow. This post has about 10x the comments an average Tavern post has. That makes painfully clear how controversial the block editor still is, almost 1.5 years after it was merged into core.

    I think the problem is bigger than the block editor itself. It’s about WordPress, and the audience it targets. Because that audience is, well – everyone. From non-technical no-knows to seasoned developers. It’s widely used for blogging, e-commerce, corporate web sites and web applications. When you make changes this big in front of so huge and diverse an audience, keeping everybody happy is hard.

    This is made worse by the fact that the block editor is highly opinionated about the way people create content. It almost forces them to use blocks for that. I say almost – of course, several other commenters have already mentioned that other ways still exist, but they have been pushed to the background, into hidden sidebars or metaboxes somewhere below the main editing canvas. The block editor literally absorbs all of the editing experience.

    I’m not saying that the block editor is bad. It is a great tool to create rich content with, much better than the old editor. The problem is that it seems to have become the one and only way to create content, whether you like it or not.

    • Most productive writing I do in Google Docs. Once I am done editing and formatting I copy/paste it to WordPress. The parser in Gutenberg is brilliant. No further editing necessary. Something classic editor was never able to deliver.

  36. I love blocks! It has been a true game changer for myself and many other WordPress users and business owners I know. Anytime you can keep me informed about blocks, I am more than good with it Justin…!

  37. If they’re winds up being no alternative but to use the block editor I will likely just roll my own thing in codeigniter or something and dump WordPress entirely. The black editor is just fine for people who don’t know what they’re doing but for people who actually, write their own code and have specific functionality in mind the block editor is counterproductive.

  38. Block editor is something that will change the future of WordPress. People who are allergic to WordPress, will never recover from it.

  39. All this criticism isn’t a surprise. I think it depends on who you are.

    Regular users. I was surprised at how little my theme customers complained about Gutenberg. They don’t rave, but they don’t complain. They just go on and new users don’t even know. The only problems I see are when they mistakenly have the Gutenberg plugin installed (definitely some confusion there).

    Writers. They seem to hate it and I understand. It’s a chunky experience compared to the old Word-like editor. You have to learn shortcuts and develop “power user” skills for a fluid experience. Not realistic, so I wish the Classic block was made more apparent so less people would resort to the Classic Editor plugin. Writers do deserve an easier editing mode.

    Freelancers and agencies. I think this is where the heavy complaints are. The block editor really does create a load of extra work for professionals responsible for a large number of client websites. It throws a monkey wrench into what was already “done” but at some point it’s helpful to realize that in any business must adapt to stay competitive.

    As a theme developer I no longer look forward to major WordPress releases. The sacredness of backward compatibility in core has been violated with frequent block editor style and markup changes. Updating multiple themes every few months is inconvenient at best. I would rather WordPress have been rewritten from scratch and a modern ecosystem launched in parallel.

    The breaking changes will simmer down. There was no easy way to get blocks into WordPress. I’m actually surprise it went as “smooth” as it did, because it truly was rushed out. The transition from widgets to blocks and full site editing will probably be painful too. In the long term I look forward to themes being heavier on HTML and CSS than PHP and as far as plugin development goes, I do like blocks.

    WordPress will be fine, better even. I only wonder if the man at the top will pursue a total rewrite in ten years because all that junk under the hood can’t stay forever. WordPress development is already quite laughed at. It’s not inconceivable that a new solution steals WordPress’s mantle before then. Sometimes I’m surprised to think that nothing is nipping at the heals of WordPress right now.

    • I find I agree with much of this Stephen!

      When Gutenberg was first announced I said it would be better if we had a separate WP+GB ‘product’, coded properly and not backwards-compatible.

      Widgets being a case in point – my own-rolled ones threw errors and the tag cloud replacement block doesn’t have a title field. I converted my widgets and a tag cloud one into shortcodes, which can be called as blocks or via do_shortcode. But I could only do that because I knew I could do that.

  40. I was not a fan of the Block Editor at first. It was clunky and I usually didn’t use the visual editor at all before that. I would hand code HTML and cut and paste into the post editor. But doing that made making posts a chore.

    The Block editor makes adding posts so much more fun and it allowed me to use it as a visual editor so I know what the post will look like before I publish it.

    The recent update allowing text and background colors for blocks really helped a lot.

    I previously coded my own theme but Blocks allowed me to renovate the sites I maintain into a basic theme like Twenty Twenty and it looks good with less work for me in the long run.

    My guess is if I was more into page design and CSS I would want more control than Blocks give you now. But for an intermediate hobbyist like myself I like Blocks

  41. I am not comfortable with block editor prefer classic editing method. I know with time we’ll get something more advanced than it

  42. I love the block editor. I do not love the fact that it consistently refuses to load properly, presenting me with a completely blank white screen for any new/edit post request. I’ve been through many iterations of browser configuration, etc., and there is no consistency with when I can expect a proper authoring screen to appear or when I’m going to be yelling in frustration at my WP screen.

    • I think you need to look at your development/hosting platform. I have never experienced this.

      • I’m using Dreamhost, which is supposed to offer a pretty good WP environment. I use shared hosting because I don’t get that much traffic on my site. My plugins are pretty vanilla, and I’ve tried the usual workarounds of disabling all plugins, clearing my browser cache/cookies, using different browsers, etc. It’s usually quite random, and I could work around by using the Classic Editor plugin to start a post, then switch to the block editor, but now that doesn’t work either. Creating and posting using the iOS apps or the old Open Live Writer work fine, obviously, so I’ve been using those.

        If you think that it’s the development/hosting platform, can you provide any direction in diagnosing if that is the problem? Should something be logged when this error occurs?

  43. I can’t use the block editor on my website not because I don’t like it but because it lacks support for grammarly.

  44. I really like the block editor / Gutenberg and use it on all sites I build these days. Reading about developments and funny/weird blocks here on WP Tavern really helps. I’m glad you’re planning to continue covering the topic.


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