Activate Gutenberg block-editor on specific pages or posts, or Gutenberg migration the client-friendly way

Since 5.0 the Gutenberg block-editor is here and it seems like curiosity about what you can do with it, slowly surpasses the panic about what Gutenberg could do to all your beloved projects. To get the block-editor into one of your existing projects, there are some hurdles to take:

  • getting to know Gutenbergs editing experience
  • building at least one block-ready template
  • deactivating classic editor (not really a hurdle)
  • and … convincing your client

Say you tackled all these problems and your Gutenberg migration project is good to go: how do you start?

Step by Step: Gutenberg for specific posts or pages

In my (very humble) experience of one finished and one ongoing block-editor migration project, if you can’t start from scratch, you should do it step by step, post by post and page by page. First group your posts and pages by special features and make a plan about how you can build them in Gutenberg. Which blocks do you need, can you apply an own color scheme, what about forms, custom fields and short-codes etc.

With that plan in place, you can now get to one pilot post and start to shape it in the Gutenberg-way. At the same time you don’t want to interfere with your clients possible changes to other posts and you want to give them the chance to get to know the block-editor in a limited playground. So now you have to do some coding.

  1. Deactivate Gutenberg everywhere. I know, you just activated it. But remember, you basically want to preserve the classic experience on the entire site, so that has to be the default. This time, we don’t use the plugin, though. We use this line of code in the functions.php file:
    // Disable Gutenberg for all posts
    add_filter('use_block_editor_for_post', '__return_false', 5);
  2. Next step is to activate the Gutenberg block-editor for specific posts and pages. I think the best way is to use a special meta field, which I called use_gutenberg. If that field is true, you just activate the Gutenberg block-editor with the appropriate filter (use_block_editor_for_post).
    function theme_enable_gutenberg_post_meta($can_edit, $post) {
    	if (empty($post->ID)) return $can_edit;
    	if (get_post_meta($post->ID, 'use_gutenberg', true)) return true;
    	return $can_edit;
    add_filter('use_block_editor_for_post', 'theme_enable_gutenberg_post_meta', 10, 2);

If you add the meta-field with ACF, like I did, it might look like that:

Now you can transfer the group of pages and finally the entire site to Gutenberg in a very controlled and fail-safe way. Your clients will thank you!

Do you have thought about Gutenberg migrations or other experience of transferring the block-editor to existing sites, please let me know in the comments.


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