The way WordPress widgets work has been unchanged practically since the beginning of this CMS. Soon, however, their life as we have known them for years will come to an end, as a new block-based widget system is set to appear in WordPress 5.8.

New Widget System

WordPress 5.8 will include several components from the project Full Site EditingThe new widget system is a new feature that gives users more control over the appearance and layout of their sites. One of these is the redevelopment of the widget system.

Widgets will sooner or later become an obsolete feature of WordPress, and looking at how you can build the look of pages based on builders like Elementor PRO It can be said that they have deserved that name for a long time now. They will not disappear any time soon, however.

This will be the first time that many members of the WordPress community will interact with blocks in a new context. The Gutenberg editor, which appeared in WordPress 5.0, focused solely on arranging post content. The widget system in 5.8 will turn classic sidebars into block containers. In short, users will be able to stick any block in any sidebar.

Classic Widget

Classic Widgets plugin in the WordPress repository

Three days ago WordPress released a plugin called Classic Widgets. It allows end users to disable the upcoming block-based WordPress widget system. Support for this plugin is planned until 2022 or as long as needed, according to what you can read in the plugin description.

Why this plugin? If you've been working with WordPress for at least a couple of years, you surely remember the end of 2018 and the arrival of Gutenberg. It was a big change that not everyone liked and until now, many site owners use the classic editor plugin abandoning Gutenberg.

They motivate this most often by productivity, but the truth is that you cannot stop development, and while some of its paths may not suit us, we either choose to consciously escape these changes, which in my view is simply acting to our own detriment, or we accept them and learn to use them to achieve our goals.

The Widget System and the whole FSE will be a similar change. On the one hand, theme developers will need time to adapt their products, on the other hand, the users of sites created on themes that are updated from case to case or even abandoned, will also need time to make changes to their sites, e.g. by changing to a theme that is dynamically developed, see The best free WordPress themes.

To ensure that the site doesn't crash after updating to WordPress 5.8, site owners with themes that can't handle the new widget system will be able to disable it by installing the Classic Widget plugin.

The purpose of the plugin is simply to return users to the traditional widget system with which they are familiar.

But remember that if you start using the new block-based widget system and later decide to revert to the old working methodology you will lose all your widget blocks. Make sure in this situation that this is what you actually want. The old blocks will not reappear, even if you change your mind again and disable the Classic Widget plugin.


See also

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