FAQs on Wordpress 5 and Gutenberg

This set of FAQs is aimed at individuals who might describe themselves as modest WordPress users who may not have not been keeping up with the development of Gutenberg. It is not aimed at expert users.

I have penned it because I have not found a succinct summary of the options that are available to existing WordPress users of the TinyMCE editor (which has been at the heart of WordPress for many years) now that WordPress 5 and the Gutenberg editor (aka the new block editor) have been released.

I will maintain the information in this post until such time as somebody writes a better summary. Feedback on errors, omissions et cetera is welcome.

After covering some general topics, questions relating to WordPress.org users are kept separate from those relating to WordPress.com users, even though there is significant overlap.

Last updated on 16 January, 2019.

General Topics

What is the Classic Editor?

Prior to WordPress 5, TinyMCE was the editor. With the advent of WordPress 5 it is now generally referred to as the Classic Editor. I will use the Classic Editor term from now on in these FAQs.

What is Gutenberg?

Gutenberg is the name of the project which developed the new block editor in WordPress. In essence, all content is split into blocks; there are text blocks, image blocks, embedded blocks .. everything is a block. The first test version (0.1) of Gutenberg appeared in June 2017, and at the time of writing we are on version 4.8. The software was initially implemented as a plugin which WordPress.org users could incorporate into their sites to try out.

What is in WordPress 5.0?

In late 2018 Gutenberg was incorporated into the core WordPress software. This was a Major Major Major Major change (apologies for the frivolity – people of a certain age may know who he is!? .. no looking it up in a search engine!). Version 5.0 was released to WordPress.org users on 6 December, 2018, and WordPress.com users started to see it two weeks later.

Why does WordPress.com not mention WordPress 5.0?

Automattic, the owners of WordPress.com, tend not to mention versions of WordPress. They also tend to use the term “new block editor” rather than Gutenberg.

WordPress.org users

What if I do not want to install WordPress 5?

There is no reason why you have to install it. There may be valid reasons not to, e.g. you want to wait until you are confident that it is stable; or you may be using plugins that are not yet compatible with WordPress 5. Whatever the reason, there is no pressure at this time to move from WordPress 4 to 5.

Can I stay on WordPress 4 and just use the Gutenberg plugin?

This is not recommended. The plugin will continue to exist but it will be used in the development of Gutenberg V2 when widgets and navigation menus will be turned into blocks. So, it will not be stable, apart from possibly introducing unwanted effects.

What preparation do I need to do prior to installing WordPress 5?

The minimum preparation should be to check that your theme and plugins are compatible with WordPress 5.

What if I am happy to install WordPress 5 but I do not want to use the Gutenberg editor?

Install the Classic Editor plugin. This will ensure that you continue to use the Classic Editor which will be supported until at least December 2021. At the time of writing more than 1 million users have installed this plugin.

Do I have to convert all my content to Gutenberg?

This assumes that you intend to embrace Gutenberg and its features. It is important to realise that all existing content will be correctly rendered on your website without you doing anything. For example, there is no need to do anything with old posts that are never going to be altered. So, the answer is no.

How do I convert a post or page to Gutenberg?

When you open a post or page for the first time in the Gutenberg editor the content will be contained within a single block, called a Classic Block. This acts just like the Classic Editor with one or two exceptions. If you wish, you can keep it as a single Classic Block within Gutenberg. Alternatively, you can convert it into multiple native Gutenberg blocks. To do this, click on the three dots icon that is on the toolbar which is related to the Classic Block and select the “Convert to Blocks” option.

What if I want to mix and match the Gutenberg and Classic Editors on a per individual post or page basis?

This is not possible. Gutenberg will act as the editor unless you have installed the Classic Editor plugin. The only option within Gutenberg is to keep the post or page as a Classic Block, thus allowing you to edit it using the features of the Classic Editor.

WordPress.com users

What if I do not wish to install WordPress 5?

WordPress.com is a hosted service and you have no control over which version of WordPress that you use. You will be using WordPress 5, whether you know it or not.

What if I do not wish to use Gutenberg?

So long as you do not click on anything that encourages you to switch to the new block editor (or to try it out) then you will continue with the Classic Editor. It has been stated that the Classic Editor will be supported until at least December 2021.

Can I control which will be the default editor?

If you are a new user (post 19 December 2018?) then Gutenberg will probably be your default editor. If you are an existing user then the Classic Editor will be your default editor unless you switch to Gutenberg. At the time of writing this switch can be done in two places: in the panel at the top of the editor screen which is invoked via the wp-admin dashboard; or in the right-hand sidebar of the editor screen if you are using Calypso.

Can I switch back to the Classic Editor?

Yes. The switch option can be found in the Gutenberg editor screen by clicking on the three dots icon (near the top right of the screen). Switch to Classic Editor is at the bottom of the list of options.

Can I mix and match the Gutenberg and Classic Editors on a per individual post or page basis?

Yes if Gutenberg is the default editor and you use the wp-admin dashboard. It is not currently possible if you use Calypso. In the wp-admin dashboard:

  • creating a new post with the Classic Editor. Do not click on add post in the wp-admin dashboard, as that will bring up the Gutenberg editor. Click All posts instead, and select Classic Editor from the Add New dropdown box at the top left of the screen (as shown on the left).
  • If you are editing an existing post and Gutenberg is the default editor then clicking on the name will bring up the Gutenberg editor. However, hovering on the line below the name will display various options, including the Classic Editor, if you want to use it rather than Gutenberg. See the screenshot below.

Do I have to convert all my content to Gutenberg?

This assumes that you intend to embrace Gutenberg. It is important to realise that all existing content will be correctly rendered on your website without you doing anything. For example, there is no need to do anything with old posts that are never going to be altered. So, the answer is no.

How do I convert a post or page to Gutenberg?

When you open a post or page for the first time in Gutenberg the content will be contained within a single block, called a Classic Block. This acts just like the Classic Editor with one or two exceptions, e.g. there is no insert contact form option. If you wish, you can keep it as a single Classic Block within Gutenberg. Alternatively, you can convert it into multiple native Gutenberg blocks. To do this, click on the three dots icon that is on the toolbar which is related to the Classic Block and select the “Convert to Blocks” option.

Second December 2018 Update

Sorry to write another newsletter so soon but there is a lot going on. Version 5 has been available for WordPress.org users for two weeks, and there have been two bug-fix releases so far. WordPress.com users appear to be just catching sight of it now.

WordPress.org users

There have been two bug-fix releases of WordPress V5 so far:

  • 5.0.1 (released on 13 December, 2018) focused on security fixes. They have also been applied to previous versions of WordPress, back as far as 3.7
  • 5.0.2 (released on 19 December 2018) focused on performance improvements. There were 73 bug fixes.

5.0.3 has a target date of 9 January, 2019. Note that if you have installed V5 and have the auto update facility enabled then these bug fix releases will be installed automatically.

The plugin directory now contains a section at the beginning for block-enabled plugins. There is talk of putting them in a totally separate directory.

WordPress.com users

It looks as if WordPress V5 has just started to reach WordPress.com. If I sound not altogether confident, that is because Automattic never mentions versions of WordPress, nor do they mention Gutenberg (it is simply called the new block editor). The reasons for my claim are:

  • The appearance of new invitations to switch to the new block editor. The old invitation to try out Gutenberg which appeared on the main dashboard has now disappeared. If you use the dashboard to invoke the editor then this new invitation appears across the top of the screen when you go into edit post or page. If you use Calypso it appears in the right-hand sidebar within the editor. Beware that if you do make the new block editor your default editor there is no way to switch back at this moment
  • Twenty Nineteen, the new default theme which uses Gutenberg, has now been made available to all WordPress.com users.

I said in the last newsletter that there appeared to be no way in Calypso to invoke the classic editor for a specific post / page if you had set Gutenberg to be your default editor. I now see that the more settings button within the Gutenberg editor (3 dots icon top right) has a feature which allows you to switch to the classic editor for the currently opened post / page.

The bottom line for WordPress.com users is .. if you want to continue with the classic editor, as least for the moment, do not accept any invitation to try or switch to the new block editor.

What Next

There is talk of version 5.1 in late February although it is not clear to me precisely what the scope of this release will be, other than more bug fixes and a PHP upgrade notice for WordPress.org users.

Gutenberg V2. General design ideas are being kicked around for the implementation of widgets and menus as blocks, which will happen later in 2019. The Gutenberg plugin will remain in existence for WordPress.org users to test these changes.

Links

Here are some useful links ..

Release notice for WordPress 5.0

Support Article on Gutenberg in WordPress.com

A recent explanation of Gutenberg blocks (15th Nov 2018)

paste text from Word test

Here is some rhubarb to hopefully demonstrate that space characters between words are lost when pasting from Word into WordPress. A number of months back, pasting was frankly abysmal, and I adopted the workaround that was mentioned in this topic, i.e. by using the paste text icon within a classic block. Pasting from Word has significantly improved since then except for this current problem.

December 2018 Update

This newsletter focuses on the options that will be available to WordPress users when version 5.0 is launched. As some of the options are not yet set in stone for WordPress.com users, I will, if necessary, re-issue this newsletter when they eventually become crystal clear. These items are in red in this issue.

Preamble

There have been five beta versions so far, and we are currently, at the time of writing, on release candidate 3. The general opinion is that it is not ready for release. In the November 2018 newsletter I said that the target launch date was November 27th, 2018, and that if it was not met then it would be put back to January 22nd, 2019.

Well, we have passed the first target date, but all the signs are that Mr. WordPress is intent on reneging on the backup date, and is pressing ahead to release it as soon as possible despite the clamour to delay it. Hence, I am writing this newsletter now rather than waiting for some unknown surprise date. In fact, I have just found out this morning that December 6th, 2018 is the new target date.

Some reported bugs are already being put on one side for resolution in 5.0.1 or later. These are the bug-fixing releases which may appear fortnightly.

I will cover the options for WordPress.org users and WordPress.com users separately. In each case I will mention the following topics: the installation of version 5.0; the default editor; and the choice of editor for individual posts / pages. Note – I will simply use the term post from now on rather than say post / page each time. Suffice it to say that where post is mentioned it also applies to page.

Options for WordPress.org users

As version 5.0 is a major release, you can decide whether to install it or not. You may sensibly decide to delay it until you are ready and you are confident that it is reliable. If you do propose to install it please ensure that any plugins that you use will work with version 5.0. As an aside, if you want better control of WordPress updates there is a popular plugin called Easy Updates Manager (over 200K activations) which you might check out.

You can disable the new Gutenberg editor in version 5.0 by using the Classic Editor plugin (or optionally the Classic Editor Addon plugin). This will allow you to continue to use the existing editor which will be supported until at the least the end of 2021.

If version 5.0 is installed and the Gutenberg editor is enabled you can still use the old editor for individual posts:

  • creating a new post with the Classic Editor. Do not click on add new post in the wp-admin dashboard, as that will bring up the Gutenberg editor. Click All posts instead, and select the appropriate editor from the dropdown box at the top left of the screen.
  • If you are editing an existing post and Gutenberg is enabled then clicking on the name will bring up the Gutenberg editor. However, hovering on the line below the name, as shown underneath, will display various options, including the Classic Editor, if you want to use it rather than Gutenberg.

Options for WordPress.com users

WordPress 5.0 will be installed. Unlike WordPress.org users, you have no say in the matter. There is a question mark, as to when this will happen. A sensible approach would be for them to launch it gradually to groups of users .. but who knows!

Enabling / disabling Gutenberg. At the time of writing, the majority of WordPress.com users can choose to try out Gutenberg or not on 4.9.8 (the current version of WordPress). However, There is no information on whether a similar option will be made available in 5.0, e.g. enable Gutenberg (or not).

Choice of editor for an individual post. There are two ways to use WordPress, via the original wp-admin dashboard or via the more recent Calypso front-end.

Wp-admin dashboard

If the Gutenberg editor is enabled you can still use the Classic Editor for individual posts:

  • creating a new post with the classic editor. Do not click on add new post in the wp-admin dashboard, as that will bring up the Gutenberg editor. Click All posts instead, and select the appropriate editor from the dropdown box at the top left of the screen.
  • If you are editing an existing post and Gutenberg is enabled then clicking on the name will bring up the Gutenberg editor. However, hovering on the line below the name will display various options, including Classic Editor, if you want to use it rather than Gutenberg.

Calypso

This alternative front-end was introduced in 2015. WordPress.com will try to persuade you to use it rather than the wp-admin dashboard. They say that it is faster. I must admit that I have not found it so, and it is also missing some of the features on the dashboard. Anyway, it is there and some of you may be using it. The accompanying image shows the top level menu for Calypso.

At the time of writing, there is no ability to choose the editor for a post. If Gutenberg is enabled you get the Gutenberg editor. If it is not enabled you get the Classic Editor. I guess that this may change in WordPress 5.0. We will have to wait and see.

Other Notes

The classic block. When you edit a post or page with Gutenberg for the first time the content will appear as a single classic block. You can retain this format if you wish. The formatting icons will effectively give you the same facilities as can be found in the Classic Editor. However, if you are happy to fully embrace Gutenberg then you can convert the content into multiple native Gutenberg blocks.

Switching Editors. If you go into the Gutenberg editor by mistake then simply exit it. If you have saved a post or page in the Gutenberg editor, and then you subsequently decide that you wish to revert to the Classic Editor, a message will inform you that some formatting may be lost in the process. So, beware.

November 2018 Update

Summary

If you do not want to read the detail that follows then the latest information can be briefly summarised as follows:

  • The major news is that the launch of WordPress 5.0 (the Gutenberg release) is currently set for November 27th, 2018
  • If this date is not met (and my money is on it not being met) then the launch will be put back to January 22nd, 2019
  • There is talk of subsequent minor releases every fortnight initially to fix bugs .. 5.0.1, 5.0.2 et cetera
  • My confidence in the reliability of WordPress 5.0 when it is eventually released has taken a nosedive in recent weeks. I plan to continue to use the current editor until such time as I consider that the dust has settled
  • It has been announced that the Classic Editor (i.e. the current editor) will be officially supported until at least the end of December 2021
  • WordPress.org users should be using version 7 of PHP from January 2019, as version 5.6 will no longer be supported after December. Version 7.3 is due to be released shortly but it should not be used until WordPress announces that it supports it. 7.0, 7.1 and 7.2 are ok.

The WordPress Rollercoaster

I previously said that version 4.9.9 would be launched in early November, and that it would focus on preparing the way for 5.0 (the Gutenberg version). This sensible approach (to my mind) was abandoned. The pressure to get Gutenberg out as soon as possible resulted in a change of plan. Work on version 4.9.9 was halted almost before it got started and all the focus was switched to version 5.0.

The WordPress version 5.0 project is being led by MattWullenweg (Mr. WordPress himself), a sure indication that he is determined to launch it ASAP. Quite a few people were convinced that he wanted to make the big announcement of its arrival at Wordcamp US, a conference which takes place in early December. You can read his “plan” here. The initial target date for the release was November 19th, 2018.

Beta versions of 5.0 have been around since October 24th (beta 4 is due out today). However, significant bugs have been found, leading to general cries for a delay. Another factor has been a big hoo-ha on the subject of accessibility in Gutenberg, i.e. the ease of use for individuals who require assistive technology. The target date has now been put back to November 27th. If that date is not met the launch will be delayed until January 22nd, 2019.

Latest Gutenberg Information

Gutenberg 4.3 is the latest release. In theory, the development of new features in Gutenberg was halted around early July. In practice, new items continue to be added. I will mention just a few of them.

Distraction-free writing

There has been much criticism that the Gutenberg user interface “gets in the way” of free-flowing writing. A number of features have been introduced to placate these critics:

  • The positioning of the toolbar which relates to the current block just above the block was one particular dislike. A unified toolbar option now allows you, if you wish, to position the toolbar at the top of the screen instead.
  • Spotlight mode is another new option. When set, it greys out all blocks except the one that you are currently working on.
  • Thirdly, there is a full screen mode. This removes the dashboard items on the left of the screen. So, not actually full screen but simply a larger area.

I feel sure that further changes are likely in this area, and indeed to the general user interface which has come in for some stick.

Classic block – insert media button

I had previously mentioned that there was no insert media button in this block. This has now been rectified. However, there is still no insert contact form option. If you need to insert a contact form you will have to use a shortcode to do so. See the contact form support item for further details. Note that existing contact forms will continue to work OK.

Multiple reusable blocks

The reusable block which was introduced some time back was somewhat limited in its usefulness. It has now been extended. Multiple blocks can now be exported and subsequently imported elsewhere.

Media and Text Split Block

As the name implies, it allows you to have text alongside an image. I do not like the initial implementation: there are no facilities to vertically align the image within the block; and the text does not wrap round underneath the image. I will monitor it to see if any changes are made to the implementation.

My Experiences with Gutenberg on Wordpress.com

As a WordPress.com user, I decided to act as a guinea pig in late September and try out Gutenberg on my bkthisandthat.org.uk website. My main objective was to ensure that my existing content would work with Gutenberg. I currently use the Independent Publisher 2 theme which is aimed at people who want a simple theme where the word is king. Here is the link to my feedback in early October if you have not seen it.

It was moderately upbeat in tone. However, I had another play with Gutenberg recently and immediately hit a problem which was not there before. Converting a post / page to Gutenberg resulted in all images being duplicated! The problem has not been resolved at the time of writing. Hence, my current mood is somewhat downbeat, given that this is such a basic item of functionality.

On the plus side, the problem with pasting content from Word into Gutenberg seems to have been resolved.

How to control which editor you use on WordPress.com

I do not know! There is still no news on this front. It is said that Gutenberg will be the default editor. Question – will we be able to specify the Classic Editor as the default? There is talk of making a link to the Classic Editor plugin available on the WP Admin dashboard. However, it is not clear if it would only apply to WordPress.org users. The phrase “we are considering” keeps appearing on this general subject. It seems obvious to me that they want people to use Gutenberg, and will only allow them to specify the Classic Editor as the default if they absolutely have to .. and that they will not make a decision until the last possible moment.

The current set up in WordPress 4.9.8 is that if Gutenberg is activated then it is treated as the default editor when posts / pages are accessed via the WP-Admin dashboard. However, there is an option on the second line (underneath the name of the document on the all posts/pages directory listing) to select the Classic Editor instead.

PHP

This item is only relevant to WordPress.org users. WordPress server-side code is written in the PHP scripting language, of which there are various versions. Although WordPress will work with PHP 5.2, that version has not been supported for some time. The minimum version which is currently supported is 5.6 but support will also cease for that at the end of December.

Version 6 of PHP never officially appeared, so that means that you should really be on version 7 in January 2019. There are currently three versions: 7.0, 7.1 and 7.2. In addition, version 7.3 is due to be available in mid-December although it should not be used until WordPress announces that it supports it.

You should check with your ISP or support person as to what version of PHP you are currently using, and then arrange to be on some variant of version 7 if you are not already using one of them.

Miscellaneous

New default theme. If you have used WordPress for two or more years then you will know that Automattic was in the habit of producing a new default theme annually, usually around December time. There was no new theme last year, presumably because the emphasis was on Gutenberg’s development. However, it has been announced that there will be a new theme to accompany WordPress 5.0, unsurprisingly called Twenty Nineteen. Also unsurprisingly, it will be a Gutenberg theme!

Support for the Classic Editor. There has been a fair amount of clamour for information on just how long the Classic Editor will be supported after Gutenberg has been launched. It has recently been announced that the Classic Editor will be officially supported until at least the end of December, 2021.

Classic Editor plugins. I have been asked to explain the difference between the Classic Editor and the Classic Editor Addon plugins for WordPress.org users. The Classic Editor plugin currently has over 500,000 activations, so obviously quite a few people want to stick with the current editor, at least for now. However, it is still possible to inadvertently activate Gutenberg. This is a potential problem for any site where more than one user has administration rights. The Classic Editor Addon plugin installs the Classic Editor plugin and then removes all mention of Gutenberg from it. The bottom line is that they are both effectively doing the same thing; it is just that the Classic Editor Addon adopts a safety-first approach to avoid any accidental activation of Gutenberg.

Activity is a new feature on WordPress.com. It logs details of changes on your site which you can browse. It sounds as if people on the free plan will be able to see the last 20 items, while those on paid plans will see items from the last 30 days. There are various plugins on WordPress.org which can provide logging information for those users, the most popular being Activity Log.

Beyond WordPress 5.0

Plans are already taking shape for subsequent versions.

As mentioned, there will obviously be room for bug-fixing releases in the early days .. 5.0.1, 5.0.2 et cetera.

The next stage of Gutenberg development will minimally include the following: widgets will become blocks; there will be menu navigation blocks; and nested blocks will be supported. Quite what else may appear in block form in the short to medium term is not yet clear, at least not to me.

Also, expect changes / new functionality in the areas of privacy and accessibility.

Experience with Gutenberg on Wordpress.com – Late Sept 2018

From late September 2018, selected WordPress.com users have been given the opportunity to try Gutenberg out. I have been trying it out on this website. My main objective has been to ensure that my existing content will work with Gutenberg. I currently use the Independent Publisher 2 theme which is aimed at people who want a simple theme where the word is king.

Please note that all observations in this post relate to tests that were performed during the last week of September, 2018. If you are reading this some months later it is possible that things may have moved on. Caveat lector (let the reader beware).

You probably know that there are two ways to invoke the editor in WordPress.com, via the original WP Admin dashboard or via Calypso. If you activate Gutenberg at the current time you will find that it only operates through the dashboard where you can decide whether to open a post / page in the Gutenberg editor (the default) or in the Classic editor. Opening a post or page in Calypso is limited to the use of the Classic Editor.

You may not have heard the term Calypso but WordPress.com users should recognise it from this screen capture. Clicking Site Pages or Blog Posts invokes the editor.

I started off with my largest document “A potted history of Association Football in England” which weighed in at 21K words. This is not a straightforward document. It includes: a quotes paragraph; a self-built HTML table of contents with links so that a reader can jump straight to a specific section; standard images from the media library; images from the Getty Images library (which are implemented by using shortcodes); and a number of bordered sections built with HTML which contain information which does not really fit in with the natural flow of the text. A brief explanation of shortcodes. They are essentially macros. One use is to provide the same functionality in the main body of a post or page that is available in some of the popular widgets, e.g. to display a gallery.

Opening the page in the Gutenberg editor for the first time results in the display of a single Classic block. This can be edited in a similar fashion to how you work now. You could in fact keep the document as a single Classic block if you so wished. However, the major drawback at the moment is that you cannot insert an image or a contact form into a Classic block. I have previously mentioned this deficiency. To me, this renders the Classic block practically unusable. I do not know if they are going to rectify this problem.

One of the options is to convert this single Classic block into multiple native Gutenberg blocks. This task took 25 seconds for my large document. While this was not unexpected, there was no indication that anything was happening, leading to the “did I really click on that option? .. should I click it again?” syndrome. Now, it has to be said that the vast majority of posts and pages are relatively small and they should observe no significant delay when performing block conversion.

Observations on how successful the converter was

Standard WordPress facilities were converted without any trouble. This is good news.

However, where a user makes use of HTML to produce effects that the current version of WordPress does not provide “out of the box”, the converter struggles.

My table of contents no longer worked. The section labels (they call them anchors in HTML) had disappeared. It appears that the converter is quite fussy about how they are defined, whereas the current version of WordPress is not. I had to manually alter all my section labels in the original version of the footie document, and then the converter worked OK.

My bordered sections which are enclosed in HTML div and /div statements were also not correctly converted. The borders disappeared and what should have been one block turned into two, and sometimes more, blocks. I was forced to set up a custom HTML block and recreate the bordered section from scratch. This was a bit painful. Fortunately, there are only four of them in this document.

I subsequently extended the testing to various other documents on this site.

The local history of Sunninghill & Ascot is currently the most popular item on the site. It includes several shortcodes to display galleries. They converted without any trouble. It also contains a table of contents. Forewarned by my experience with the footie history, I manually changed the section labels so that the converter would not get upset.

I use HTML-created tables in various places on other pages in my website. The converter recognised the fact that they were tables and created table blocks, albeit not very satisfactorily. Cells that contain images were not displayed in the editor but did appear on the rendered website page, while empty cells just disappeared totally. In addition, a table block, whether an existing table that has been converted or a newly inserted table block, insists on making each column the same width, not something that I want. Somewhat bizarrely, my converted tables appeared with the correct column widths in the editor but not on the website. I have to say that I am not impressed with table blocks at the moment. When I implemented the original HTML tables as custom HTML blocks they worked satisfactorily. I propose to adopt this approach until such time as the table block is improved.

Other Observations

One idiosyncrasy of WordPress is that the display of a post or page may look different in the editor from how it looks on the website, i.e. you do not necessarily get WYSIWYG. The degree of difference can vary from theme to theme. It seemed to me to be more pronounced in Gutenberg, but this may just be the Independent Publisher 2 theme that I am using?

Please note that any existing posts / pages whose content remains unchanged will display satisfactorily on the site, i.e. it is not necessary to convert them.

Re performance, loading the very large footie history page on the website was sluggish on the existing version of WordPress, and it was even slower on the Gutenberg version of the page. I had already decided to split it up into multiple pages .. something which I have now done.

Finally, I tried out a copy and paste from another application. I have been in the habit of penning the initial drafty words of my articles in Microsoft Word, and then at some point copying and pasting them into WordPress. The words in this post were originally part of a larger article in Word. When I pasted this content into a paragraph block it included the Word formatting as well as the text. In WordPress 4.x there is an option to just paste the text, but there appears to be no similar option in the paragraph block. My workaround was to create a Classic block, set the paste as text option, perform the paste, and lastly convert the classic block into Gutenberg blocks.

September Update

Some short notes ..

Some WordPress.com users have started to receive an invitation on the dashboard to try Gutenberg out. This includes me (on my WordPress.com account). Do not take up the offer unless you are prepared to be a guinea pig. WordPress.org users have been receiving the invitation for a number of weeks now.

There is going to be a version 4.9.9 of WordPress which is currently slated for release on November 5th. This will presumably push the date for 5.0 (the Gutenberg release) back. As they originally said (way back) that it would be released sometime in 2018, I guess that there will be some pressure to get it out in December? Who knows!

I get the impression that 4.9.9 is an attempt to clear the decks of any current problems / issues (a) to ease the effort required to implement 5.0 and (b) to minimise any problems that WordPress.org users who choose not to install 5.0 immediately (for whatever reason) may encounter.

WordPress.org users who are happy to install 5.0 when it hits the streets but do not want to use Gutenberg should install the Classic Editor Addon plugin. This can be done now. Consult your developer / support person before taking this step.