Happy New Year! 🎆 🙌 🎉🥂
I hope you all had wonderful time over the Holidays and you didn’t have to work. And if you had to work, that it was quiet time for reflection, catch-up and strategic planning. At Whistler, we encountered -21 °C (-5.8 °F) weather and this Florida Weather wimp had to put on about 15 pounds (ca. 7 kg) of layered clothes to feel warm enough to go outside. It is easy to forget what Real Winter feels like. I also was pretty amazed how fast one can adapt to anything, given enough time.
After a day and a half, we were ready to head up to the top of the mountain and all the suffering was definitely worth it. Look at the view!
Before I get out of the way of the curated list of fabulous Gutenberg content, I want to express my wishes for you and the New Year: Good health, stay safe, prosperity, lots of laughter and loads of love for you and yours.
In the 39th episode of the Post Status Excerpt Podcast guest Anne McCarthy talked with David Bisset about the delay of WordPress 5.9, Automattic, COVID’s impact on contributors, Full Site Editing, and the future of the Customizer.
There’s a new Hallway Chats episode! Topher and Cate DeRosia sat with Tammie Lister, Senior Product Designer at XWP, and talked about what it means to be a web designer these days, as well as how Gutenberg and the WordPress editor are changing and growing.
Block Editor related DevNotes for WordPress 5.9
- Theme-focused changes and filters in WordPress 5.9
- State of the Customizer with block themes in WordPress 5.9
- Bundled theme updates with WordPress 5.9
- Block themes, a new way to build themes in WordPress 5.9
- Updates for Settings, Styles, and theme.json
Block Building and extending Gutenberg
- New API to access global settings & styles
- Miscellaneous block editor changes in WordPress 5.9
- Take more control over Inner Block Areas (as a block developer)
- Using multiple stylesheets per block
- Posts, Post types and Taxonomy changes in WordPress 5.9
- Locking Blocks in WordPress 5.9
WordPress 5.9 Release Candidate was released on Tuesday, January 4th, 2022 and the version is on schedule to be released on January 25, 2022.
If you have a some spare time, Anne McCarthy has great instructions and topics on how you can Help test WordPress 5.9 Features. It’s a huge release and test can help.
A full reading list about the Block editor updates for WordPress 5.9 for developers, site builders and content creators is in the works. You can start reading here.
Gutenberg Plugin 12.2 and 12.3
Only Gutenberg features and enhancements until version 11.9 made it into the WordPress 5.9 version. Only Bug and UI fixes to existing features of later Gutenberg plugin version were backported to WordPress 5.9
Anton Vlasenko published the release notes: What’s new in Gutenberg 12.2? (22 December) and points out as highlight the following:
- Seamless navigation between the Site Editor and the Template List
- Improvements to post comments
- A new home for border controls
- New font sizes in the
- Improved color picker
- Preview for Block Styles in the Widget Editor
Justin Tadlock gave it a whirl in his post Gutenberg 12.2 Focuses on User Experience Improvements.
Luis Herranz released Gutenberg 12.3 and published the release notes on January 5th, 2021: What’s new in Gutenberg 12.3? (5 January).
Highlighted PRs are listed as follows.
- New blocks to build with
- More controls for Spacer and Group Blocks
- Set your site icon using the Site Logo block
- Restrict Navigation Menu creation for non-admin users
- Core Blocks Reference
The last bullet point references the new Handbook page Core Block Reference and it is a big step forward to a complete and updated documentation of the core blocks. The blocks’ block.json information feeds into this page automatically.
Justin Tadlock wrote about it in Gutenberg 12.3 Introduces New Blocks, Design Options, and a Complete Core Blocks Reference
Grzegorz Ziolkowski and I recorded the 58th Gutenberg Changelog episode on Friday, January 7th, 2022. We talk about WordPress 5.9 release and DevNotes for Full-site Editing and block themes, and Gutenberg 12.2 and 12.3. We also, answered listener questions, this time by Aditya Kane and Jessica Lyschik.
Developing for Gutenberg and Block Building
For those among us, who still rely on ACF for site data handling, Joey Farruggio built a command line tool to streamline the ACF blocks creation. You can read more about the context and the making of the CLI and what you can delegate to a script. The Create-ACF-Block CLI code is available on GitHub.
Speaking of scaffolding blocks, the official WordPress create-block received and update, too. Once you are done with developing your plugin, you can automatically assemble the plugin.zip that you can upload to WordPress or share with other users via the plugin directory. Here is a short blog post about it: Run plugin.zip for create-block.
In his tweet, Ryan Welcher pointed to the most recent Block Plugin Checker updates. When you submit your single block plugin to the directory, the Plugin Checker now validates against the block.json schema and also has a check for unique plugin namespaces as well. You can read about the details in this trac ticket: Block plugin validation tool UI improvements.
In his post, How Advanced Custom Fields handle blocks, Carlo Bravo, discusses how you can create blocks with ACF (the plugin Advanced Custom Fields), what advantage is has and what downsides are for the users of such blocks. If you try to decide to invest in learning how to create dynamic blocks or ACF Blocks it’s a great article to start the process.
Marie Comet explains in her post Adding options and controls to an existing Gutenberg block, how to extend core blocks with an additional button in its Toolbar or more option controls in the sidebar. Sometimes extending existing blocks is faster than recreating features via Custom Blocks.
Updates for Designers and Theme Developers
Apart from the list of developer notes and reading list, Angela Jin published a Proposal for Approving Block Patterns Submissions to the directory. If you are a designer, or theme developer it might be interesting for you, and you might have an opinion how submissions should be curated on the official WordPress repository.
Speaking of the WordPress repository, Munir Kamal created his idea of a Theme directory via the Gutenberg Hub: Re-Imagined WordPress themes directory. I really like the way how themes details on color schema, typography, and block styles can be surfaced to a Theme directory page. Kamal was right when he wrote: “This makes it much easier to find the theme that’s right for you without having to download and test multiple themes.”
Justin Tadlock at the WPTavern also took a look and wrote: “In the dawn of the block theme era, the WordPress theme directory could use a reimagining.” The rest of the article is ready for your purusal.
Carolina Nymark, write and developer on Fullsiteediting.com has a tutorial for you on how to use a php template to create a block template for Custom Post Type. Given how often I see the question on what about Custom Post Types, this is a very timely tutorial for Theme Developers. Nymark wrote: “The main pain point is that people are expecting to be able to create this type of template via the new Site Editor interface. This is a reasonable expectation, unfortunately the feature is not complete yet and not included in WordPress 5.9.0.”. In her post she shows you a viable workaround, that doesn’t leave you with too much technical debt.
Carlo Daniele took a Deep Dive into Twenty Twenty-Two and WordPress Block Themes for Kinsta. The article describes the upcoming new WordPress default theme, that will be the first default block Theme. Kjell Reigstad and Jeff Ong worked on the design and development. The Theme will come out bundled with WordPress 5.9
Getting Started with Block Theme development
If you like to get started on block theme development, there are a few choices depending on how you want to learn.
The Developer Handbook on WordPress.org hold all the documentation about Block Themes. You start at the Overview page, then walk along the Create a Block Theme tutorial to learn more about the templates, template parts, template hierarchy and all necessary files. A primer on theme.json enables you to control the feature set and setting for Global Styles.
Marcus Kazmierczak‘s Devnote Block themes, a new way to build themes in WordPress 5.9 catches you up on the latest updates.
Another opportunity to is the Twitch live stream series by Ryan Welcher and Daisy Olsen Creating a block-based theme. Part 1 is available on Twitch, and will later be posted on YouTube. The start was a bit wonky with some audio issues that cleared up at the timestamp 14:32. The next session will be next week, Thursday at 10:30 am ET / 15:30 UTC
On January 12th, Daisy Olsen and Sarah Snow present the first installment of another series: “Zero to Block Theme Series: Foundations” at 1pm ET / 18:00 UTC.
Kelly Choyce-Dwan, core contributor on the meta team, takes you along her journey while switching to a block based theme. She shares with you her process and her challenges and how she overcame them. Choyce-Dwan also surfaced a few things that are bugs and some have already been fixed. She also noticed that there is no way to give buttons or links hover state/colors, and CSS is your fallback. In conclusion, she wrote: “It was a fun experiment to refresh this site, and I really see the promise of block-based themes for easy site building. It’s a new framework to get used to, and sure there are bumps to work through, but it’s going to be great.”
Tools for Site Builders and content creators
In her latest YouTube video Connecting The Dots: Level up with Query Loop block, Anne McCarthy is showing off a real-world example of the Query Loop block, and she demonstrates how it saves her time.
In his review Anariel Design Releases Bricksy, Its Third WordPress Block Theme, Justin Tadlock gives Ana Segota, designer at Anariel Designs, and her theme high marks on beauty and versatility. It sports 32 Block patterns and also supports WooCommerce. Certainly, worth checking out.
Alexandra Yap introduced you to a new feature from the team at Stackable: Their plugins now gives you the option to start your design process directly in the Site editor. Learn how you can use Gutenberg to wireframe a website.
Although the block editor can handle Markdown in and of itself, it’s not the most convenient Markdown editor. The MarkUp MarkDown plugin seems to change that although it gives me unwanted flashback to pre-block editor times. In his review, New WordPress Plugin Offers a Markdown Editor Solution Justin Tadlock, is of other opinion, so it was a worth a read for me.
Speaking of Flashback, read A Throwback to the Past: Retro Winamp Block by Justin Tadlock on his take on the block plugin that allows you to embed a Winamp player and skin into your 21st-century website.
Phil Webster created the Newspaper Column block, and interesting approach to have this block automatically display text over three or four columns automatically. It works best with paragraph and lists. Webster also plans to work on Accessible Block Collection to offer additional accessibility features for core blocks and build blocks that are missing for instance an Accordion block.
As a sidenote, here is a twitter exchange with Webster about what is best for the user: Single purpose blocks or bock collections. What has been the better experience been for you? And would you pay for a single block premium plugin? And more. I found it quite insightful.
Good news for site owners looking for high-quality block themes: WP Engine Acquires Brian Gardner’s Frost, Opens It to the Public – now available for free. Justin Tadlock has the skinny for you.
Kelly Choyce-Dwan released ‘a souped-up Spacer-type block’. With the Grainy Gradient Block plugin end-users can decorate the area with various gradient backgrounds and spruce up their content with interesting forms and color combinations. Justin Tadlock took it for a spin and shared ways he experimented with with the block on the WPTavern.
Upcoming WordPress Events
January 12, 2022, 1 pm ET / 18:00 UTC
Zero to Block Theme Series: FoundationsJoin this space via WordPress Social Learning Spaces
January 14, 2022 1pm ET / 18:00 UTC
Demo: All About Colors with Full Site Editing with Roxy Kohilakis via WordPress Social Learning Spaces
January 17, 2022 3pm ET / 20:00 UTC
Advanced Layouts with the Block Editor with Wes Theron via WordPress Social Learning Spaces
January 17, 2022 8 pm ET / 1:00 am UTC
What’s coming in WordPress 5.9 Panel discussion w/ Brian Gardner, Courtney Robertson and Birgit Pauli-Haack via WordPress Meetup Boulder, Co
January 20, 2022 – 7 pm ET / 00:00 UTC
WordPress “Mega Meetup”: Block Patterns, WordPress 5.9
South Florida WordPress Meetup Group
January 26, 2022, 6:00 pm ET / 23:00 UTC
Intro to Templates and Template Parts (Full Site Editing) with Wes Theron via WordPress Social Learning Spaces