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Gutenberg & TinyMCE FAQ

September 29th, 2018

4 min read


Written by

Andrew Roberts


World of WYSIWYG


The WordPress Gutenberg project is one of the biggest changes in WordPress in a decade and we thought we would address a few questions and misconceptions about how it relates to TinyMCE.

What is Gutenberg?

Gutenberg is the codename for the new editor experience in the next major release WordPress. An official date has not yet been set for WordPress version 5.0, but you can try out the beta today.

Is Gutenberg replacing TinyMCE in WordPress 5.0?

The goal is for Gutenberg to replace the Classic Editor interface in WordPress, not TinyMCE. Both Gutenberg and the Classic Editor use aspects of TinyMCE underneath the hood.

Matt Mullenweg, a WordPress co-founder and the lead for WordPress 5.0, helped explain “Gutenberg uses TinyMCE, so a better way to think of it is that Gutenberg is a new version of our approach to TinyMCE.”

Is the Classic Editor based on TinyMCE?

The core rich text editing engine and part of the user interface in the Classic Editor was built using TinyMCE libraries. However, the Classic Editor is both less and more than TinyMCE.

The Classic Editor is less than TinyMCE in that it exposes just 6 of the 54 of the official plugins and a fraction of the UI. A popular WordPress plugin called TinyMCE Advanced created by Andrew Ozz exposes more of TinyMCE’s UI, core features, and plugins.

The Classic Editor is also more than TinyMCE in that there is significant custom code in WordPress. This includes WordPress-specific UI components and backend code for embedding, links, media, and more. Some of the filtering code is specific to WordPress.

TinyMCE and the Classic Editor are not one and the same thing and never have been. Some confusion does arise when people inaccurately conflate TinyMCE with the Classic Editor.

Default WordPress editor interface in V4
Default WordPress editor interface in V4

Is Gutenberg based on TinyMCE?

Gutenberg is a significantly more sophisticated undertaking than the Classic Editor ever was. Gutenberg continues to use TinyMCE for rich text editing, and there is a Classic block which has some TinyMCE UI. However, Gutenberg as a whole is a very different editing experience based on the concept of blocks and with more of a focus on layout. Rich text editing is one thing it does.

Furthermore, Gutenberg no longer directly exposes the TinyMCE APIs to developers. In the past, WordPress developers had extended the Classic Editor by interacting directly with the TinyMCE API. Moving forward Gutenberg has its own API that encapsulates all third-party APIs, including TinyMCE’s. The RichText API allows you to do some of what is possible with TinyMCE. If you need more rich text capabilities or UI, you can use TinyMCE's React integration in your blocks.

The Gutenberg user interface


Will WordPress keep shipping updates to TinyMCE?

Yes. TinyMCE is under constant and active development. Some of this new work should flow through to WordPress.

WordPress has said it will continue to support the Classic Editor for many years to come and it has a dependency on TinyMCE that it will keep up-to-date. Many other plugins in the ecosystem expect TinyMCE to be available too. Matt Mullenweg has indicated that they will continue to ship new updates of TinyMCE.

Regardless, installing new versions of TinyMCE is simple. There are freely available CDN versions available through Tiny Cloud and elsewhere. NPM is also an easy way that developers include TinyMCE into their projects.

WordPress developers and users will still be able to use TinyMCE as much as they like.

Do I have to use Gutenberg?

The Classic Editor plugin restores the previous WordPress editor and the Edit Post screen and makes it possible to use the plugins that extend it, add old-style meta boxes, or otherwise depend on the previous editor.

Did the Tiny team help build Gutenberg?

Throughout 2017, Automattic sponsored TinyMCE. This enabled members of the Tiny team to contribute to the design and development of Gutenberg. There were also modifications to TinyMCE core as a result of the partnership.

We worked closely with Tammie, Matias, Joen, and others on the team and think the world of them. We hope the collaboration continues for many years to come and have full respect for them and what they have built.

Will Gutenberg influence the Tiny roadmap?

Version 5 of TinyMCE will have a whole new UI. Some of the new UI components have been influenced by modern design trends, including what has been happening in Gutenberg. In fact, version 4.7 of TinyMCE had a design that was inspired by the early beta versions of Gutenberg.

TinyMCE does not yet have a block concept per se, although you can implement block-like behavior using the noneditable plugin. We are keen to see how the Gutenberg roll out takes shape and before making detailed plans. We continue to listen to our developers, users, and customers to see what is needed and why.

Does this impact Tiny's business?

Not at all. Tiny’s core business comes from a mix of software vendors, large enterprises, and agencies building custom solutions for clients that has little to do with the WordPress ecosystem. It is a popular and commercially viable project in its own right.

The TinyMCE and WordPress projects have had a symbiotic relationship over the years. We hope that this goodwill and sense of community continues for many years to come.

Do you have any other questions about Gutenberg and TinyMCE we haven’t addressed? Please contact us and we will respond.

byAndrew Roberts

Co-founder and CEO of Tiny, the company behind TinyMCE and other great content creation products and services.

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