New Era for WordPress Themes in 2021 – Updates and voices around WordPress 5.8 release – Weekend Edition #167


Happy May 2021! We are a third into 2021. Phew.

I can’t tell you how relieved I feel that my husband and me as well as many US friends got vaccine shots. It’s also bitter-sweet and sad. In other places of the world there are again lock-downs. Hospitals are filling up fast. Hundreds of thousands new infections. People dying. Distribution of vaccines is slow, if there is any available at all. The WordPress community spans all around the globe. We are not out of the woods. We still have friends and business partners in places of crisis. The team of the New York Times curated this list: “How to Help India Amid the Covid Crisis“. Consider donating and ask your employer if they have matching programs.

How are you and your communities weathering the epidemic 14 months later? Please share in a reply!

Hang in there, my friends. Stay safe. 😷

Yours, 💕

WordPress 5.8: Four weeks to Feature Freeze:

The Gutenberg and WordPress Core team is gearing up for the next major release 5.8 in July 2021. We are less than four weeks and two more Gutenberg plugin releases away from feature freeze.

Goals of Gutenberg updates for the next major WordPress release

In the last two or three weeks, I listened to the interviews and Q & As. I learned the team working on the block-editor pieces for this release has two goals:

First, to release enough stable tools for developers and designers to start using aspects of Full-site editing in their themes, via theme.json and hybrid constructs for classic themes. The hope is that by the time the rest of Full-Site-Editing interface is released to the users in December 2020, there are plenty of block-based themes and block patterns available from the community of extenders.

Second, to introduce the new page template feature. It’s a new way to use the block editor to create and modify page templates for landing pages. This will be the first time in WordPress that a content creator or site owner would be able to change headers and footer for single pages. This takes a bit of a switch in the publishing / producing mindset. Gutenberg developers are hoping here for plenty of user feedback to make sure that the new blocks and in their new context, the user-facing elements are clear enough to handle in this smaller scope of a single page before the expanded version of Full-site editing is released in December 2021, that allows users to create and modify site-wide templates, template parts and to build new themes.

Block-Editor Features to come to WordPress 5.8

After the Go/NoGo meeting and decision, technical lead Hector Prieto published Full Site Editing Go/No Go: Next steps with more details around the full scope of the block editor pieces for WordPress 5.8

  • Gutenberg plugin releases 9.9 – 10.7
  • First version of theme.json for theme builders of block-based themes.
  • Theme Blocks (Query, Navigation, Site information)
  • Template Editing with the post editor
  • Widget Editor and block widgets in Customizer
  • Persistent List view in the post editor
  • Duotone (Image filter) block supports
  • Gallery block refactor

In the post you’ll find links to issues and pr for even more details.

Increased Buzz about Full-Site Editing

On the WordPress News site, there were a few posts regarding the block-editor and Full-Site Editing. Using the WordPress News space to published more frequently about the ongoing development and ideas is one part of the stronger communication outreach planned for this new feature release. The more intense communication about Full-site editing from the core team is a direct result from the feedback from the WordPress community after the first Gutenberg release in 2018.

Curious about Full-Site Editing by Josepha Haden Chomphosy. A short article on what Full-site Editing is and how it will affect different kinds of users. You have been following Full-site Editing for a while now. So it’s not necessarily for you. It is a great first article to share with WordPress users and co-workers that hear about Full-site editing for the first time. The resources share are good starting place to catch up.

The second article wasn’t about Full-site editing, so much but about the Gutenberg. Anne McCarthy posted Become an Early Adopter With the Gutenberg Plugin, and tackled the various terms, we have mostly used as synonyms between Gutenberg, block-editor etc. Also, a good place to start, if someone likes to dive deeper into Gutenberg beyond the WordPress Core implementation.

The latest article in the WordPress News section, is the tutorial Getting Started with the Figma WordPress Design Library by James Koster. Learn how to quickly create design prototypes for WordPress UI in Figma, a collaborative interface design tool. The tutorial is quite comprehensive and not only shows you how you work with it. Being knowledgeable about Figma can also jump start contributing to WordPress as it’s the tool of choice by the WordPress design team.

WP Briefing is the new podcast hosted by Josepha Haden Chomphosy. In her fifth episode, she was Talking Full Site Editing with Matías Ventura (ICYMI). Josepha and Matías answered user questions, from “is full site editing a standalone plugin?” to “will full site editing break my current site?”. The episode comes with a transcript.

Gutenberg Release and Block editor updates

In Core Editor Improvement: Refining the Block Toolbar, Anne McCarthy elaborates on the refinement and standardization implemented for the Block Toolbar with the goal to simplify the hierarchy of the block, to make it more predictable what goes where. Below graphic is part of the newly updated Best practices for Block Design page of the developer handbook.

This week Gutenberg 10.5 was released and in short succession v 10.5.1, v 10.5.2 and v 10.5.3. to fixing regression bugs. Ajit Bohra wrote about What’s New In Gutenberg 10.5. 15 new block patterns made it into the release and template editing is now also available for classic themes. For the latter, exercise optimistic caution should you use the Gutenberg plugin in productions. Many, many more changes came to the block-editor. Grzegorz Ziolkowski and I recorded our take on it for the Gutenberg Changelog podcast yesterday, and it should come to your favorite pod catcher over the weekend.

Justin Tadlock shared his experience in his post Gutenberg 10.5 Embeds PDFs, Adds Verse Block Color Options, and Introduces New Patterns

 “Keeping up with Gutenberg – Index 2021” 
A chronological list of the WordPress Make Blog posts from various teams involved in Gutenberg development: Design, Theme Review Team, Core Editor, Core JS, Core CSS, Test and Meta team from Jan. 2021 on. The index 2020 is here

Block Pattern Directory

Speaking of Block Patterns, Kelly Choyce-Dwan posted the Block Pattern Directory Update from the Meta team. She invites you to follow along on the site that is a red-hat zone for now, but it already gives you a good idea on how it is going to work. Check it out on The patterns are arranged in squares in five categories: Buttons, Columns, Gallery, Header, Text. You click on the square to see a details page with a larger representation and a button “Copy Pattern” or add them to your ‘Favorites’. Although, Kelly wrote that the copy button doesn’t work yet, I quickly tested it, and you can just paste it into your next post, even if you are not in code edit mode. 

The meta team is now working on the process for users to submit patterns into the directory, and the accompanying automated evaluation and moderation feature. WordPress users will be able to find block patterns right from the block editor inserter and add them directly to their post or pages.

Ultimately, the core block patterns will be removed from Gutenberg and made available through the Pattern directory only.

Testing Full-Site editing: The outreach program

The Full-Site Editing Outreach program is in full swing.. Anne McCarthy and dozens of people contribute to WordPress by testing the new feature.

Since the last Weekend Edition, there were quite a few updates coming out of the program.

🗓️ Upcoming FSE Outreach Program Schedule – Synch your calendars! 😂

For anyone who wants to learn more about the program, Anne McCarthy was a guest on the WordPress Jukebox podcast last month. Nathan Wrigley, host of the revived WPTavern podcast Jukebox, discussed with her How Full Site Editing Will Impact WordPress and why the program and its participants are an essential part for a successful implementation of the new features.

In Building a Restaurant Header Summary you can read a curated list of outcomes and finding from the 4th Call for Testing.

In this week’s Hallway Hangout: Discussion on Full Site Editing Issues/PRs/Designs, participants in the FSE program talked through the findings of the last call for testing with Anne McCarthy, Marcus Kazmierczak and Sabrina Zeidan. Using screen sharing and video the groups was able to discuss some of the interface challenges much easier than when just reading through a blog post. This was already the second of this Video chats. The first Hallway Hangout chat took place on April 8th, 2021, when Caroline Nymark, Paal Joachim Ramdahl, and Olga Gleckler joined Anne and Marcus.

You have until May 5th, 2021 to participate and comment on Testing Call #5: Query Quest.

If you have questions that still need answers, Anne McCarthy started the second round of collecting questions to bring back to the team and get you answers. Bookmark this page, so you can open it quickly when you have another question. If you want to read up on the answers for the previously submitted 47 questions, follow this link to previous posts of Q & A

Need a plugin .zip from Gutenberg’s main (trunk) branch?
Gutenberg Times provides daily build for testing and review.
Have you been using it? Hit reply and let me know.

GitHub all releases

Developing for Gutenberg

Jem Turner, a reluctant adopter of Gutenberg, has six things she does to make developing websites with Gutenberg easier. It’s a great mix of developer and content creator processes.

Will Morris posted How to Create a Custom Gutenberg Block in WordPress (In 3 Steps) on the Torque Magazine site and helps you how to extend your WordPress site with the Genesis Custom Blocks, one of the few ‘almost’ #nocode block building tools.

Do The Woo podcast, co-hosted by Bob Dunn and Mendel Kurland, discussed WordPress Core and Gutenberg Blocks with Grzegorz (Greg) Ziolkowski. They talked about the opportunities of working with blocks in an eCommerce context and beyond full-site editing. Grzegorz explained how micro templates and blocks are the building material for more complex implementation and the advantages of the standardized interface for users and extenders in WordPress Core. 

Plugins for the Block Editor

Speaking of WooCommerce: Jamie Marsland shared his Top 10 Blocks for WooCommerce – Plugins mentioned:

New Era for WordPress Themes

Anders Noren, Swedish theme developer and co-author of the WordPress Twenty-Twenty theme, sees A New Era for WordPress Themes. In 2021, we will “see the introduction of the most significant change to WordPress themes since the modern theme system was released in version 1.5 of WordPress, 16 years ago.”. He has great explanation and insights, and embraces the new era and is happy about the slow release this time around, so theme developers can get familiar with the new tools. “Developers will have plenty of time to create fully block-based themes by the time the Site Editor and Global Styles are released in WordPress 5.9. And no excuses if they don’t.” Last month, Anders released a new free theme called Eskell. Read Sarah Gooding’s review on WordPress Tavern.

The 47th edition of the Gutenberg + Themes roundup by Maggie Cabrera from the Themes team, lists all FSE related issues and PRs from the Gutenberg repository that need your attention, your opinion and your comments. The post also provides a list of resources if you are just now getting into block-based theme development. One issue caught my eye specifically: Presets used in patterns: register them as user presets? in it Andre explores a way how block pattern could be used across a theme change and still keep their styling. Reading through the comments from the Gutenberg contributors, it’s clear that there are a few questions still unanswered, when users can change colors. This applies to a few other elements of the themes and blocks, when classes don’t survive a theme change, and designs in navigation or group blocks lose their background colors. There are quite a few of these discussions that need your input and ideas.

In his latest post, Chris Wiegman walks us through the process of reducing WordPress themes to the bar minimum and still be able to render blocks. Creating A Minimal WordPress Theme In The Era Of Gutenberg. This minimalistic and sustainable theme is available on GitHub

If you are looking to share your future block-based theme in the repository, Carolina Nymark has a proposal for you: Removing blockers for block themes on the Themes team. I am quite surprised that it hasn’t received any feedback from the community yet.

In his post Themes Set Up for a Paradigm Shift, WordPress 5.8 Will Unleash Tools To Make It Happen Justin Tadlock took a tour around the upcoming WordPress 5.8 features and took them for a spin and a first evaluation. “Themes are not going the way of the dinosaur. All of that overly complex PHP code work necessary in the past might just be. The shift is putting themes back into their proper place: design. Previously available tools such as patterns and styles coupled with the new pieces like theme.json and template-related blocks will be the backbone of the new system. It is all starting to come together.” he concluded.

As a former Theme developer, Justin Tadlock keeps his ear to the ground of theme development. I very much appreciate the tremendous effort he puts into his Theme reviews. I learn something new every time.

WordPress Events

10 – 14 May 2021
Page Builder Summit 2021
Gutenberg is part of it with the following sessions:

  • How to turn Gutenberg into a Page Builder with Stackable w/ Benjamin Intal
  • Don’t Compete with Gutenberg – Embrace It w/ Danielle Zarcaro
  • Google’s Core Web Vitals – Get Green With Gutenberg w/ Jake Pfohl
  • Creating newsletters in the Gutenberg block editor w/ Lesley Sim
  • Building Fast, Block Based Landing Pages with Mike Oliver

May 24-28, 2021
WordSesh 2021

June 7 – 9th, 2021
WordCamp Europe
A virtual event and contributor day. Call for Sponsors is open.

June 20 – 26
WordCamp Japan
The schedule has been posted. Most sessions will be in Japanese, with exceptions, I think…

Don’t want to miss the next Weekend Edition?

We hate spam, too and won’t give your email address to anyone except Mailchimp to send out our Weekend Edition

Thanks for subscribing.