WordPress 5.0: What to Expect and Why It’s Frustrating
The Nightmare I Awoke To This Morning
I woke up this morning and, after the typical morning routine, sat down at my desk to work on a client’s website. When I opened the page editor, I nearly had a panic attack. No longer did my beautiful Visual Composer (WPBakery) blocks of content (see Figure 1) exist. In their place was a string of unintelligible Visual Composer gobbledygook (see Figure 2).
At first, I attributed this to the fact that my theme had updated itself. (I had just received an announcement from Artbees that Jupiter was being upgraded to their new Jupiter X.) I checked all my websites that run the Jupiter theme and discovered that two of them had this frustrating upgrade. I tried to contact Artbees support and their chat box was broken. (I attributed this to the fact that everyone was experiencing the same problem as I and everyone was trying to contact support.)
WordPress 5.0 Block Editor
I was finally able to contact Artbees via Instagram. They discovered that the problem wasn’t related to the theme, but was the result of WordPress updating to version 5.0. The new WordPress 5.0 comes with a block editor feature. Apparently WordPress’s proprietary block editor automatically overrides any other content editor that has been installed. So the content editors that you’re paying for? Obsolete unless you install a plugin to make them work again.
As frustrating as it is that WordPress is trying to force you to use their proprietary editor, I was relieved to discover that there are methods to force WordPress to use their former editor, which allows external content editors such as Visual Composer. I’m not sure if all other content editors will be affected by this change, but any theme that uses Visual Composer (such as Jupiter or The7 – both of which I’ve used extensively) will need a workaround if you plan to upgrade to WordPress 5.0. Otherwise, you’ll be working from a string of gobbledygook like the screenshot above.
While there are a couple solutions to prevent the block editor from taking over your backend, none of them are exactly ideal. I am sure that in the future, plugins such as Visual Composer will be forced to update and accommodate the WordPress changes. Here are the solutions I was able to find that will allow you to use your custom content editor.
Classic Editor Plugin
When you first update your WordPress version (if you’re not on a server that does it for your automatically as some of the website I manage are), you will be redirected to a “Welcome to WordPress 5.0” page. On this page, there is a link at both the top and bottom you can click on to learn how to use the old editor. (Or just use this link to access Classic Editor plugin.)
When you click either of these links, you’ll be taken to a page that will instruct you on how to install the classic editor plugin. Judging by the fact that, within only a couple days of the WordPress 5.0 release, the plugin already has almost 1 million active installations, I would guess that the block editor has not been very popular.
Editing the Child Theme functions.php
If you want to go this route, make sure you install a child theme. Otherwise, any updates to your theme will override changes that you make. This YouTube tutorial explains how to disable the block editor by editing your theme’s functions.php file.
Does It Matter?
For those of you who manually update WordPress, this isn’t a huge deal. You can choose not to update for the time being. It might be worthwhile to ride it out for a couple updates and see if WordPress reverses this proprietary change. For those of you who host your websites on servers that automatically update WordPress, this is an issue you’ll have to deal with sooner than later if you want to maintain editing capability on your website (which I’m sure you do).
The frustrating part about WordPress’s update isn’t so much that they updated their content editor. The frustrating part is that they have made their content editor override any editor that users pay for (such as Visual Composer). If I am going to pay for a content editor, I obviously don’t plan on using WordPress’s editor, no matter how glorious they may make it out to be. Let’s hope that this is a temporary glitch – or even that it’s a temporary “we’re going to force people to use our editor for a while so they’ll see how amazing it really is” tactic. My hope is that, in the next update (which is hopefully soon), WordPress will work out this kink and allow other content editors without the necessity for the plugin workarounds!