WordPress Hacks: Removing the Block Editor Nag Screen

If you are a WordPress administrator, or even just a user, you have probably noticed this nagging message every time you begin a new post in the back end of your WordPress theme:  “This post type is set to use the classic editor by default for new posts. If you’d like to change this to the block editor, please go to page builder settings and uncheck use classic editor for new posts.” This message started appearing with the introduction of the final build of WordPress 5.0 on December 6, 2018. (They really should have waited 24 hours.)

When Progress Goes Retrograde

With the introduction of long-awaited WordPress 5.0, the gurus of the WordPress community decided to foist their new “block editor” on 75 million WordPress websites around the world.  WordPress, as you probably know, is the most popular website authoring and content management tool in the world, with almost 60 percent of the market, and is the only content management system with a market share in double digits, according to an undated article in OpenSourceCMS.  Their closest competitor, Joomia, has just 6.7 percent of the market.

The block editor system is the basis for the new Gutenberg Editor, which was supposed to replace the old TinyMCE in-line text editor with a hybrid system that would allow end users to customize their posts to the point where each post would assume many of the characteristics of unique website pages.

Here’s the difference: Under what Wordress now calls the “classic editor” system, administrators could prevent end users from adding blocks of text with specialized formatting. That functionality was available if administrators wanted to make it available to end users simply by adding the widely available Page Builder plugin (or one of its competitors) to their website setup.

With Gutenberg, system administrators would have to pro-actively disable that functionality.  In the end, it would probably have been possible to customize the Gutenberg setup so that end users would not have the functionality that should be restricted to website designers…at the cost of a significant additional overhead in terms of time, effort, and system resources.

Much Ado About Something or Other

Unfortunately for the WordPress community, the WordPress gurus decided to forge ahead with their rather authoritarian approach, pushing Gutenberg and its block editing capacities as the future of WordPress, apparently against the wishes of a significant percentage of the WordPress community.

Millions of WordPress users were perfectly happy with the previous WordPress model, which raises the question of why WordPress was upsetting its own apple cart, imposing significant design issues to solve a problem that doesn’t seem to exist in the real world.

As it is right now, with more than 40,000 plug-ins available for the WordPress platform, WordPress users can approximate just about any design that anyone could ever come up with for a hand-coded custom built website. (I can assert this because I spent twenty years hard coding websites, long before there was such a thing as the World Wide Web, before  finally throwing in the towel and starting to use WordPress in 2008.)

Some people (including, alas, my own son) are building websites using Python and other fifth generation languages, convinced that their tools give them greater creative control…at the cost of having to manually manage the content of their websites…or building tools to do that using Python in tandem with database management systems.

When they are all done with their developments,  they will end up with something that will have pretty much the same look, feel and operating parameters as they could have gotten with a tenth of the effort using WordPress, with the additional liability that, because their sites are hard coded, it will be very difficult for anyone else to maintain the sites they have developed.

With WordPress sites, just about any WordPress developer can look at any WordPress website and figure out how to fix, modify or upgrade that site in a few hours and, since developers retire, die, or simply move on to something else, that becomes very important when you are looking at your website in terms of its longevity and its importance to your business model.

Why NOT Mess with Success?

So, why is WordPress messing with success?  Well, WordPress was getting pretty long in the tooth and there are some newer development systems that steal a stitch or two on the good old WordPress workhorse,  so they decided to impose some enforced obsolescence on their installed base, rather like the Big Three automakers trying to cajole car buyers into buying next year’s model, or Microsoft trying to turn Windows into a subscription product.

The problem is that the WordPress community isn’t buying into the Gutenberg reboot. Firefox lists 20 million hits on the search term “classic editor” and more than three million for “classic editor plugins.”

It is actually relatively easy to prevent your website from “going Gutenberg.” All you have to do is NOT follow the instructions that appear whenever you attempt to begin a new article in the latest versions of WordPress. Unfortunately, end users are shown the same nag screen, which causes them some consternation. In addition to taking up four lines of vertical space, displaying that nagging message simply makes everyone uncomfortable.

When The Conventional Wisdom Doesn’t Work

The conventional wisdom for prevent your website from going Gutenberg is to simply check off “Use Classic Editor for new posts” in your page builder plugin.  And that seems to work….but it doesn’t remove that annoying nag screen that takes up valuable screen real estate.  For extra security, some WordPress plugin builders have suggested that you install the Classic Editor plugin and that seems to work whether the check off for the Classic Editor is checked off or not, giving you more site security…but that nasty nag screen remains defiantly on your new post editor.

The Final Solution to the Gutenberg Nag Screen is a little plugin called the Classic Editor Addon which does, in fact, finally remove the annoying nag screen from your editor’s header once and for all.

Here’s the crazy thing:  Once you have installed and activated the Classic Editor Addon, and the nag screen has disappeared, you can turn the Classic Editor Addon off, and the nag screen remains off. I haven’t figured out why that works, but that seems to be the case.

In fact, I am now running with the Classic Editor not checked off in my page builder controls, and with both the Classic Editor plugin and the Classic Editor Addon plugin turned off…and the Block Editor has still not made an appearance….so far at least.

(UPDATE:  Since this article was originally written, someone somewhere has thrown a couple of switches and, now, if you want to protect your site from Gutenberg, you cannot disable or remove the Classic Editor or the Classic Editor Addon.)