Notes on the WordPress Classic Editor plugin

August 30, 2021

Topics: Accessibility, WordPress.

I’ve observed a lot of conversations about how long WordPress will continue to support the Classic Editor plug-in. It’s something that people seem highly passionate and concerned about – and I haven’t really understood why. In the course of a recent conversation, I learned the reason: people were not aware that the Classic Editor is still part of core.

The Classic Editor Plugin does not contain the editor

Yes, that’s right.

The classic editor plugin offers controls allowing users to switch between the classic and the block editors. The plug-in allows gradual conversion of complex documents. It can enable different users to choose different editing experiences. It can allow you to selectively implement the block editor. The plug-in would be called the Block Editor plug-in if the defaults were reversed.

The editor itself is still part of core. If what you want is to only use the classic editor on your site, then you don’t need the official classic editor plug-in.

Instead, you need this line of code:

add_filter( 'use_block_editor_for_post', '__return_false' );

Don’t ask “how long will WordPress support the classic editor plug-in?” Instead, ask “how long will WordPress continue to contain the classic editor?”

How long will WordPress continue to contain the classic editor?

It’ll be a long time. WordPress only enables the block editor in custom post types if they declare support for the REST (Representational State Transfer) API (Application Programming Interface). Older plugins that use custom post types may not have the REST API enabled. Many plugins incorporate portions of the classic editor for editing fields in their own settings or in custom contexts. The classic editor has been around for a long time, and there are a lot of dependencies on it.

Removing the classic editor would be a significant breaking change, so I wouldn’t anticipate that going away anytime soon.

As usage declines over time, problems could crop up with the classic editing experience that are less likely to get caught or fixed. That’s not so much a function of intent as inevitability: fewer eyes on the experience make it harder to catch problems.

But if you depend on the classic editor experience, you shouldn’t be looking at the end of 2022 as the next possible end of support. The worst that would happen at the end of 2022 is that the official plug-in stops being supported. The plug-in will still function in 2023, even without official support, and the classic editor will still be present in WordPress.

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5 Comments on “Notes on the WordPress Classic Editor plugin”

  1. The point, however, is that if the concerns are about support for the Classic Editor plugin, then that’s the wrong thing to worry about. The plugin is trivial; if the editor is removed from WordPress, that’s a catastrophic problem.

  2. The reason there is a lot of concern about the Classic Editor plugin is that serious writers use WordPress. And Gutenberg makes writing and editing so painful that even I would quit writing if I had to use it.

    Automattic has split the WP community in half. And as Viktor said, serious writers need to move to ClassicPress before their sites stop being a good place to publish.

    Message to Automattic: If we wanted a page builder, we knew where to find one!

  3. People really shouldn’t have to read this on a site like this. WP’s communication should be as explicit as yours. If they have -any- intent of removing it from core proper in the near or even far future, that is what they should be telling people, instead of acting like the classic editor plugin’s expiration date has any real meaning. It feels like a FUD campaign at times 🙁

  4. Pingback: Day 6: Notes on the WordPress Classic Editor plugin – WordPress Advent Calendar 2021

  5. One side of this conversation that people don’t know about is how outdated the core version of TinyMCE is. It still uses TinyMCE 4, which is no longer supported since December 31, 2020. With the block editor, it might not get updated. Especially since it’s not an easy upgrade and would break stuff most likely. Trac ticket to upgrade TinyMCE has been collecting dust for years.

    Anyone who really needs a classic editor should consider migrating to ClassicPress. Many ClassicPress users value the accessibility of the classic editor and want to be able to continue using it without worrying it might stop working on them. Plus, ClassicPress began work on upgrading TinyMCE to version 5.

    It’s not WordPress, but it’s a very good accessible CMS (Content Management System) with a growing user base.