Gutenberg Block Editor

late 2018, WordPress released version 5 of its platform. At the time of release, the new Block Editor was buggy and somewhat inflexible. Originally, the editing was done via a WYSIWYG editor that is now referred to as the Classic Editor.  The new approach that we are implementing now uses blocks of content (e.g. paragraphs, headings, images etc.) that are each managed individually in what is called the Block Editor.

The PACS website’s customization had been done through the use of a popular plugin called Advanced Custom Fields, and the custom layouts have been made available throughout that we’ve called “Advanced Content”. This advanced content allowed us to style our pages in ways that were not possible through the regular Classic Editor. The Block Editor wasn’t immediately compatible with ACF and our “Advanced Content” layouts.

It is now possible for us to leverage a more mature and advanced WordPress Block Editor, along with an updated Advanced Content Fields plugin that is more fully compatible with the Block Editor so the decision has been made to introduce the Block Editor to the PACS website.

What Makes The Block Editor Better?

The Block Editor allows a page author to have greater control of the layout of content within the page they are creating/editing.  Additionally, the creation of advanced or complex layouts should be more simple and intuitive.

Unlike the Classic Editor, the Block Editor displays content in a manner that looks more like a real-life preview of the page being created and doesn’t require that the author use their imagination to see how the content translates on the front end.

Complex layouts were possible using the Classic Editor, but it required the use of some less intuitive custom fields and field blocks (like our “Advanced Content”) to introduce that capability.

What is Affected By This Change?

All posts/pages on the site have a primary body of content that uses either the Classic Editor or the Block Editor. This includes pages and posts, events, publications, courses, and more.  

However, while a regular page is mainly made up of that primary body of content, other content types might be more focussed on meta-data associated with it.  Events are a good example of this. This is the main body area for events, but most of the key information about an event is made up of meta-data that is entered into discrete fields in the editing screen (i.e. start date, location, etc.).  Meta-data boxes are unaffected by this change. 

Likewise, a page/post’s taxonomy is unaffected by the change to the Block Editor.  You would set a program, topic, or a person’s role using the same kinds of input panels as you had done before.

Do We Have To Update All Existing Content?

No. The approach that we’ve chosen to go with for the PACS website is to support both the Classic Editor and the legacy “Advanced Content”.  This means that there isn’t any need to migrate or modify any site pages that are fine as they are.

Pages that are updated frequently should be migrated from the Classic Editor to the Block Editor, and newly created content should use the Block Editor.  The methods of choosing the editor, and migrating a page are detailed in the pages that follow.

Where Can I Learn More About the Block Editor?

There are a number of sources of good tutorials and information about the new block editor.  I’ve selected two short videos that you can link to below that will give you a good introduction to what the block editor is and how it works.  Videos are short (2:58 and 7:07 respectively).

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Some other worthwhile references are found below.