Changelog #32 – Block Editor in WordPress 5.6, Gutenberg 9.3

Gutenberg Changelog
Gutenberg Changelog
Changelog #32 - Block Editor in WordPress 5.6, Gutenberg 9.3

Birgit Pauli-Haack and Mark Uraine discuss what’s new with Gutenberg in Gutenberg 9.3 review the upcoming Block Editor in WordPress 5.6.

Show Notes / Transcript

Show Notes

The Queens Gambit

WordPress 5.6

Gutenberg 9.3

Block Patterns

Block Directory Design

Updates to the Block Editor in WordPress 5.6

A list of the Gutenberg Release notes for the versions 8.6 – 9.2

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Birgit Pauli-Haack: Hello, and welcome everybody to our 32nd episode of the Gutenberg Changelog. In today’s episode, we will talk about what’s new for the block editor in WordPress 5.6, of course Gutenberg 9.3 and WordPress 5.6 beta 3.

I’m Birgit Pauli-Haack, curator at the Gutenberg Times, and I’m here with my co-host, Mark Uraine, designer at Automatic and co-contributor to WordPress. How are you doing this evening Mark?

Mark Uraine: Hey, Birgit. This week, as you well know, has been intense. I feel for every American right now. Having endured the back and forth of the voting process. However, it turns out, I sure hope we all just can grow together in strength and each other through this. But, intense. How’ve you been doing?

Birgit Pauli-Haack: Well, was there an election going on? It has been intense, of course, even outside the election. I was glad that I removed Twitter from my phone. So I wasn’t constantly checking on the news, which kind of induced some anxiety. And I rather binge watched a new series. And let me tell you, The Queen’s Gambit was an utter delight. It’s funny. It’s a great episode piece. And if you think that eight episodes about chess could be boring, far from it, was really well done.

Mark Uraine: You know, Netflix has recommended that one to me as well. And knowing that Netflix knows everything about me, I got to sit down and watch that one. It looks interesting.

Birgit Pauli-Haack: Do that. And I would be interested to hear what you think of that. 

Mark Uraine: All right.


Birgit Pauli-Haack: Last episode, we had a few technology problems or actually one, and apologies to our listeners who got the wrong file for the 31st episode. There were some human technology interface mystifiers that resulted that we uploaded the wrong file. But not only that, it also took us a couple of days to notice. Really sorry about that. The problem has been solved. And if you weren’t able to get the new episode, you might want to delete the existing episode from your podcast app and request it again. And then it will download the newest version of RSS – this feed thingy on some of the podcast apps, it’s a little tricky, not very conducive to human mistakes.

So I guess, WordPress core wasn’t the only one having technology gaps last week.

Mark Uraine: Yeah. Thanks for bearing with us listeners. We appreciate it. 

WordPress 5.6 Beta 3

That brings us to WordPress 5.6 beta 3 is released. I know we’ve said that Gutenberg 9.2 was going to be the last version that made it into 5.6, but the team has been backporting a few single PRs as fixes into 5.6, and they’ve been doing this in like 9.2.1, Gutenberg 9.2.2. And also this week with 9.3, which just dropped. Not, but a couple days ago mostly bug fixes are being backported right now for the block editor though. If you’re interested, we’ll have a list of the back ports for all the beta versions in the show notes, beta 2, beta 3. And beta 4 is coming on November 10, we’ll see, for 5.6 and a release candidate 1 will be coming out on November 17. Keep on your date on your calendar for December 8, which will be the release of WordPress 5.6.

Birgit Pauli-Haack: Yeah. Awesome. Release candidate 1 means every bug fix needs to be in every string is to be freezed. That’s actually just the release candidates as it should be the version that goes out. Gutenberg not only your 9.2 is going to be the last version, but it’s also bringing everything in what is in Gutenberg since the 8.6 version of the plugin.

Gutenberg 9.3

So before we go dive into the what’s in WordPress for 5.6 for the block editor, let’s talk about the Gutenberg 3 release, which was this week, November 4. And it’s the first Gutenberg release that it’s not included in 5.6, and it has quite a few improvements for the full site editing players and also for the site editor navigation panel. And of course all the good things that have been implemented for the widget screen. But, those are all the experiments and we’re going to dive into it a little bit later.


In the enhancements we have one thing is that the font size presets is now considering all the different units. So if it’s RAMs or AMS or clamps or pixels or VW or something like that, any valid CSS property for font size is now accepted as the presets. That’s a big milestone for theme developers as well.

Mark Uraine: Yeah, I like that screen.

Birgit Pauli-Haack: There was just a line item in the release notes, but it kind of reminded me of now the post formats in the list are now in alphabetical order, not in the order that the programmer thinks they should be, but in alphabetical order. 

But it reminds me that I’ve used post formats in Tumbler, but I never used it in WordPress. So maybe it’s time for me to catch up with it and see what the block editor can do for it.

And then also, the alignment options from toolbar to toolbar, from one block to the other, always in the same order. So users can actually trust that if they do the second from the top, it’s always the same. And then the buttons block received an overhaul on the alignment and justification controls. That I really wish that would be backported, but it’s an enhancement. So feature freeze for 5.6 was with beta 1 on October 20. So it doesn’t get in. 

And then for accessibility purposes, the focus position when tabbing back to the block editor is now retained, which was a hiccup for keyboard and screen readers. Then we got some dark mode Y enhancements. I’m really happy that they’re in there. I was testing the theme Twenty Twenty-One on a new site and actually selected a dark background and had a few hiccups with my blocks that I couldn’t see the handles and all that. And I chatted with you Mark, and then I’m glad that you jumped on it and it really made it better.

Mark Uraine: Yeah, we made it happen. A lot of themes are embracing these dark modes now and allowing options, if the OS of your computer’s set up for dark mode, it automatically conforms to a dark mode setting on your theme. So, really cool stuff, and I really liked that we were spending some time to get the UI up to date with some of these dark modes.

Birgit Pauli-Haack: It’s so much easier now to manage that.

Mark Uraine: One thing I want to correct is, I keep calling it dark mode, but it’s actually a dark theme setting that kind of gets interjected. Dark mode, I want to clarify as actually something else. We can have a dark mode UI in Gutenberg, and I could foresee that being something else, where the UI of Gutenberg takes on a dark mode, not just the editor displaying the dark theme patterns from the theme. So, they’re kind of separate in that instance. I think it was Joen that kind of shed some light on that for me.

Birgit Pauli-Haack: There is actually in the Twenty Twenty-One theme test scrub this morning, that’s Friday morning, on the core channel was actually a discussion on how. Because the Twenty Twenty-One theme team is actually considering making a dark mode toggle switch and then see how that flows. Normally the dark mode is more for apps or for browsers or for your operating system. It’s not so much for websites per se that they offer a dark mode. And so, the team on the Twenty Twenty-One theme is kind of considering having an experiment with pushing forward on that offering dark modes for users, the visitors on your site. And that has some interesting ramifications when you switch a normal light theme to dark mode, how the theme color setting would need to change.

Mark Uraine: The last I heard that was getting moved to a plugin. Did it change from that?

Birgit Pauli-Haack: No.

Mark Uraine: Okay. So, they’re looking at it in a plugin right now?

Birgit Pauli-Haack: Yeah. But they were discussing where the target would be, well, should this be available and all that. It was pretty interesting.

And another enhancement is the social links. It now has also Patreon, Telegram and TikTok icons. I think there are now 40-some icons available through the social links block.

Mark Uraine: Wow.

Birgit Pauli-Haack: But to clarify, this is not the social sharing buttons, this is the social profile buttons that come with a social link block. There is no core block for social sharing.

Mark Uraine: For sharing. 

Birgit Pauli-Haack: Yeah, maybe.

Mark Uraine: Who knows. I was looking at that social links block the other day, I think actually. No, it was the other day. And it’s interesting, the whole setup for the social links block right now has undergone a lot of changes, where it just kind of shows some circles with color, but it doesn’t really show any social media yet until you add the ones you want. And I think it’s done well, because I know before it was a little confusing.

Birgit Pauli-Haack: It still might be confusing. But there’s some learning curve with it. Because I think the color choices are not content creators to make. It comes from the icon that you select when you put the link in. But it got through quite a few iterations, and I like it very much to have that now in a block instead of a menu or something like that.


Mark Uraine: And so there were 27 experiments in this release for 9.3. Full site editing, so many of them such as disabling the customizer in widget screens for full site editing themes. So if you have a block-based full site editing theme and the hook, or it’s noted in that, then the WP admin will recognize that and shut off any widget screens or the customizer from the WP admin panels menu. Automatically enabling full site editing experiment. So you have the Gutenberg plugin it’s automatically enabled. You don’t have to go into the experiments and turn it on. Removing the demo templates, which is nice. So you really realize on some of the theme templates that are created. There’s the site editor saw a lot of changes which ties directly with full site editing. Adding dropdown to create generic templates. There’s adding the option to convert a template part to regular blocks. 

Birgit Pauli-Haack: Yeah, that’s good.

Mark Uraine: Pretty cool, right?

Birgit Pauli-Haack: Yeah.

Mark Uraine: I like that. Fixing invisible template previews in the sidebar. Must’ve been a bug, but yeah, so they fixed that.

Birgit Pauli-Haack: No. Invisible template previews are a feature, right? 

Mark Uraine: Yeah, it’s a feature.

Birgit Pauli-Haack: Invisible ink. Talk of a dark mode.

Mark Uraine: There are several more in the site editor, but continuing on, there were query block improvements. When you add the query block now, it gives you a list of variations similar to the columns block. So you could kind of select your layout of the feed that you want. Sticky posts are now supported in the feed, in the query block. There are a couple, about three actually, global styles improvements and a few navigation component improvements as well, including adding support for right to left languages and fixing the focus behavior when opening the panel as well. Did you have anything to add on that?

Birgit Pauli-Haack: No, but this is coming along nicely. I think I need to reserve some time in the middle of the night to test some of the full set, again, coming back to full site editing testing. And so I think it’s time now to get involved in that and not be completely frustrated.

Mark Uraine: Sure, I know. Get the opinions out there now while it’s fresh, right?

Birgit Pauli-Haack: Yeah. But it’s an interesting move to say, okay, we automatically enable to full-size editing experience. That’s different from making the widget screen default. It’s kind of one step lower from that.

Mark Uraine: It is.

Birgit Pauli-Haack: So I think that people learn from all that.

Mark Uraine: That’s not taking over anything. Still something separate.

Birgit Pauli-Haack: And you can switch it off and then be done with it.

Bug Fixes

Mark Uraine: There were 23 bug fixes in this release. Listing a few here, fixing the visual regression on the color palette editor. There were some overlapping issues there. The cover block restoring default overlay background. So that’s corrected. Fixing the single column block display for smaller screens. So it was evidently a problem there. I really liked that single column addition last release. Let’s see, fixing the gallery block undo issue. So you can undo properly in the gallery, and fixing embed blocks rendering in widget areas. Yes.

Birgit Pauli-Haack: That was quite missing.

Mark Uraine: Right. There were some problems there. And fixing the design of the color and gradient controls. So about 23 bug fixes.


Birgit Pauli-Haack: There are three new APIs. There seem to be of the smaller nature, not the big new APIs, but it’s allowed text buttons in the dropdown menu that’s in the toolbar is certainly now available for plugins. And then support the custom viewpoint width in the block previews that helps with the smaller screen and the column for the block preview tube. So the plugin developer can have a control about this. That’s really good. 


Documentation, there are a few updates. One I really like is an update to the glossary that now includes more block-based terminology. So we all know what template parts mean, what templates are or what block variations are, block patterns, all that terminology and lingo.

Mark Uraine: And just when you get it down, then we’ll change it again.

Birgit Pauli-Haack: Yes. The block navigator is now what? List view.

Mark Uraine: And options are now preferences.

Birgit Pauli-Haack: Right. Options are now preferences. 

Code Quality

Then there were some updates on the code quality. There’s nothing in there that I would kind of remove analogous components from global style of sidebars. The global style of sidebar is really cool, don’t get me wrong. But what I wanted to point out is the CSS in JS is now coming more and more to the reapers components. And this one, this time it’s for the spinner and for this disabled component.

Build Tooling

Mark Uraine: There were 18 build tooling improvements. And those included things like loading the Twenty Twenty-One theme by default in Gutenberg’s local environment. So if you’re using the WPNV setup through the plugin, then you get Twenty Twenty-One on by default.

Birgit Pauli-Haack: That local environment is actually really cool. I used it the first time two weeks ago when I was looking at your PRs and it was really fast. I like it because you can pull it up in any directory or anywhere then just stop it and then it’s gone again.

Mark Uraine: Was it my PRs that made it so exciting?

Birgit Pauli-Haack: The PRs were exciting, yes, because I like the changes that you’ve made to the dog scene things.

Mark Uraine: I’m just kidding.

Birgit Pauli-Haack: I know. I know you will but, I can’t think but I now went through the whole process of how to test a PR of somebody. Because I got my first PR request from you.

Mark Uraine: Excellent.

Birgit Pauli-Haack: And I wanted to go through the process. Was quite interesting. And I got my second one now, so that’s going to be….

Mark Uraine: Oh really? I’ll start pinging you all the time.

Birgit Pauli-Haack: Right. I have nothing else to do.

Mark Uraine: Like a lot of PRs.

Birgit Pauli-Haack: But it’s actually a good experience for non-coder experience people there to go through that and just test some PRs. You can do it. I can do it, you can do it.

Mark Uraine: Right. Another one of the tooling improvements was moving to Dart Sass, moving to Dart Sass, a compiler. I think it’s like, we’re not using really NPM Sass as the command, but just Sass or something like this. It was interesting. Improving end-to-end tests stability was another one, which was a big one, because very good for like the last two weeks, if you were submitting a PR, there were tests that were failing all the time and had nothing to do with the changes that you were making. So it’s so good to see that contributors are spending some time to help improve these end-to-end tests. And so we don’t have these fails all the time.

Birgit Pauli-Haack: That can be really frustrating, but it’s also important that these tests are done because there’s so many things that can be automatically tested. So PRs can be merged faster.

Mark Uraine: Totally. And they help keep a lot of consistency with coding as swell and syntax and stuff. 


Finally brings us to our last column or our last section of various items. There were three of them. All three of them were probably something that goes over my head, and that’s why they’re in the various stack here. So we’re updating the list of categories to pick from. So when you, as a plugin author create a block, you have some categories that you can put your block into. We had to update that list. The performance benchmark, as y’all know, who listen along that when they do these performance benchmarks, they’re testing with a sizable post of around 36,000 words and about a 1,000 blocks, which is incredible. My average posts, I think I’m using about 20 blocks maybe. So, 1,000 blocks. That’s a lot.

Birgit Pauli-Haack: Yeah.

Mark Uraine: Anyway, from Gutenberg 9.2 up to this release, we saw a little slight slowing in the load time about a 10th a second or four tenths of a second. And then to the key press event again about a little less than one millisecond of a change.

Birgit Pauli-Haack: Half a millisecond.

Mark Uraine: Yeah.

Birgit Pauli-Haack: These performance benchmarks, I think if I would ever do 36,000 words and 1,000 blocks, my ventilator on my machine would really be getting a workout.

So, we’re coming to the section of our podcast that deals with active development and what’s discussed. 

What’s in Active Development or Discussed

First up is the every month now Anne and this time it was, I think Daisy, created a focus post for November, for the team what’s going to be worked on. And of course it’s the preparation for 5.6. It’s above full site editing. The query block global styles. And then in the block she also put in which meetings to join and how to test things. If you want to start out contributing or just want to know what’s going on, certainly start there and then you can work your way backwards if you’re just getting up with Gutenberg development in 2020.

Mark Uraine: You know what, while we’re talking about that particular post, I’d love to hear from any listeners out there, how they like those posts. Because they’re so full of information and really good links and insights into what’s happening with Gutenberg. I’d love to hear if anybody has any opinions on those posts, because I know the team is always looking for ways to improve the communication channels and things. Are we posting those to the right blog on make core? Or do you think those should be shared out anywhere else? Let us know.

Birgit Pauli-Haack: Yeah. Good questions. So Alex Shiels from the meta team started a discussion on creating a block pattern directory similar to the block directory that went into 5.5 or four, to have a centralized repository for block patterns that content creators can search for, and then just install that one pattern. 

It definitely needs some input from the community, what you think about. So should it be similar to the block directory that it’s in plugins or should it be in theme or should it be a total separate young, new post type kind of way to do this? In the community, there are some examples, and inspiring that out there. There’s share a block by Jeffrey Carandang. Then there’s the GutenberHub templates from Munia Kalal. And then the Redux framework also, and a lot of themes or many themes and frameworks also offer patterns and landing pages out there. But I think it would be really helpful for content creators and publishers that are not into installing plugins, not into working through a framework, bigger framework to just be able to find a block pattern that they like and then just install it. So your input would definitely be important and wanted. We, of course, always we share the links in the show notes on the Gutenberg Times.

Mark Uraine: I need to catch up on Alex’s posts there, Birgit. I’m very curious to find … are these block patterns just going to include core blocks or if the block pattern includes a block from this particular plugin, is it going to automatically install that plugin for you? So full of questions. I’m sure the team there, the meta team are probably figuring that all out.

Birgit Pauli-Haack: They have similar questions. So the whole post is I think about 20 questions or something like that.

Mark Uraine: Okay. So they asked us the questions.

Birgit Pauli-Haack: What do you want? 

Mark Uraine: I like that.

Birgit Pauli-Haack: Speaking about the block directory, Michael Arestad has created the version two of the block directory designs for it, and he has a post that wants your input and he’s requiring your feedback. It’s on the design make blog, and there’s also a video. So the design team does a once in a while show and tell.

Mark Uraine: Yeah, once a month.

Birgit Pauli-Haack: Yeah. Once a month. Okay, thank you. And they do it on YouTube so you can follow along or just kind of watch it afterwards. And Michael did a walk through his designs for the block directory. It’s really interesting to see and kind of gets you right in there from the horse’s mouth so to speak.

Mark Uraine: That block directory, those designs are a lot more involved because you’re installing a plugin essentially when you’re adding those blocks. So Michael, I think did a really good job at kind of bringing in sort of that plugin kind of feel where you are including active, installs, reviews and stuff, but still showing the block that’s going to be added to your site.

Birgit Pauli-Haack: Yeah. And he builds on the prototype designs from Mel Choyce a year ago that were not all implemented because the admin pages for the block directory. So the designs are mostly for the admin pages of the block directory. That part hasn’t been implemented yet. So the version two is kind of the next generation of that prototype from Mel Choyce. All right.

Mark Uraine: And, let’s see. That wraps up what’s in active development.

What’s New for the Block Editor in WordPress 5.6 for Content Creators

So we have a little treat for content creators today, Birgit. You managed to get together all the Gutenberg, or a lot of the big features that are going to be coming from Gutenberg into WordPress 5.6. And so we thought we’d go through that list with you all and kind of briefly talk about some of the big ticket items that are coming in.

Birgit Pauli-Haack: Yes. Kind of going through the memory lane from Gutenberg Changelog episode 24 to 31. The best of so to speak.

Mark Uraine: There you go. That’s it.

Birgit Pauli-Haack: Before we kind of head first into the list, I also noticed that the frequently asked question about the block editor has been updated. It was still the version of 2017 or 2018 and Anne McCarthy did an update on it. So if you, or you know somebody who’s starting out with Gutenberg on the block editor, it’s definitely a link that you wanted to share with somebody, so to answer some of the questions that we all had two years ago when it came into 5.0. So, 8.6 to 9.2, the block directory got a few more enhancements, it was new in 5.4.

Mark Uraine: I think you’re right there.

Birgit Pauli-Haack: And now, there are some iterations on it.

Mark Uraine: Later, yeah.

Birgit Pauli-Haack: But what I like about it is that there is now a re-install button on the block type when the block isn’t found anymore. So if you search for something and you used it before installed it, deleted it again, and now you can reinstall it if you used it before. So that’s definitely a good new feature there to point out.

Mark Uraine: That is.

Birgit Pauli-Haack: There was a lot of tightening on the overall UI. So the block editor changes are actually more qualitative and not kind of new feature-ish. So it really makes it much more better experience. So the editor in full screen mode now displays the site icon for some more. Well, we’ve mentioned it before, block navigation is now list view. And then there were some changes for when the block validation doesn’t work. There’s a block recovery. That’s not a default option. Some people, or sometimes you have these oldest block had an unexpected error. And would you want to attempt to recover it or do you want to delete it or just make it a plain paragraph or something? I think that that flow has been much improved. What else is in there? Improve the why of the custom gradient pickers. But it also has the gradients now also have a sharp object.

Mark Uraine: That’s key. I like that. Yes.

Birgit Pauli-Haack: So it’s not just the gradual kind of go from one thing to the next. You can also have sharp geometric forms in there, and this is really exciting.

Mark Uraine: Playing labels instead of icons in the top toolbar. There’s that one, I remember.

Birgit Pauli-Haack: That was quite the time coming. It took a while to get this into that and were a lot of comments around it like 63 comments, 29 comments, 28 files changed. Sometime, it’s really surprising how much work goes into something so little. What else was in there? 

The options on our proof preferences, don’t forget that. And one is that now all static blocks, core blocks, and I think also the ones that are coming in from plugins, I need to verify that, but now have an anchor ID. So now you can have links or link to parts of a post, not just the URL, but from parts that are not headings. So you could link to an image or to a media and text block or to a simple paragraph. So the citations can be much more direct or pointed when you link to somebody who uses blocks, or you can make them available for somebody who wants to help you with the post. If you use it for social media, for instance, you can just kind of highlight that quote and use that HTML anchor to directly link to it. I really liked that very much. It’s still in the works for dynamic blocks.

Mark Uraine: There was a lot of inserter sort of changes.

Birgit Pauli-Haack: Oh, and I one thing, I’m sorry.

Mark Uraine: Oh, yeah.

Birgit Pauli-Haack: The transform feature now also works for multiple blocks. So you can transform multiple heading blocks into a list or a paragraph and you can transform multiple selected blocks into columns. And that really changed your changed your creation flow there. Definitely. I think that’s it.

Mark Uraine: So there were inserter as I mentioned updates. Birgit, you pointed out that we have terminology all over the place for this quick inserter, canvas inserter, slash inserter, sibling inserter. Well, nevertheless, the canvas or sibling inserter hasn’t written a redesign. As many of you have seen adding the block variations to the slash inserter. So the slash inserter’s when you type in forward slash, and it pops you up a whole list of blocks. You could quickly search and add blocks to your page. You have block variations in there now. Adding reusable block tabs to the inserter, which is a good one. On the inserter panel, you have multiple things. Everybody recalls these additions. Adding block pattern, category selection to the inserter was a big one, and hiding the quick side inserter when the user is typing as well. So several changes in the past several releases for the inserter and kind of how you get blocks into the document, which is really cool. 

Block variations have seen some changes over the last few releases, like adding support for finding variations using keywords and including block variations in the inserter as mentioned. Block patterns have been enhanced, cleaning the patterns list to include in core block pattern updates to various types of patterns that users would like to include in their documents and styling improvements to all of them. Just lots of really cool UI changes and patterns, block patterns that are being added for you content creators. What else did we have?

Birgit Pauli-Haack: Speaking of block patterns, Twenty Twenty-One the default theme, we haven’t talked much about that here, but it will bring additional block patterns to the ecosystem. 

Mark Uraine: Nice.

Birgit Pauli-Haack: We mentioned the discussion about the block pattern directory already. 

So the block toolbar has gotten a lot of different changes. One of the major changes was that the dragon drop feature was actually hidden. So well hidden that people thought it was actually dropped, but it wasn’t. And now, there is now a clear separation between the arrows and the handler for the drag and drop in the block toolbar.

Mark Uraine: We simplified the UI so much that there was no UI for it.

Birgit Pauli-Haack: Well said. And the block movers are just a little bit bigger for touch targets and visible focus, and added the pull quote block got added to the transformations. You could transform a paragraph into a quote about only from a quote into a pull quote, and now you can do it right away. 

Mark Uraine: Very nice.

Birgit Pauli-Haack: As mentioned, the new options page, I really like how that comes along with the keyboard option, more tools and options. It’s now preferences.

Mark Uraine: The flow of it is really nice, so I agree.

Birgit Pauli-Haack: And there are some great designs actually discussed right now. I will pull that out so people can kind of look at it, because now it has become so much that the design team is looking at having a little sidebar with headers and then different pages come through that similar to Twitter or preference pages or other apps. So I think using that design model is really cool. As mentioned the drag and drop got a few additional enhancements and fixes.

Mark Uraine: Thank goodness. That needed improvement.

Birgit Pauli-Haack: Definitely needed a lot of love.

Mark Uraine: For those of you not using the Gutenberg plugin regularly and you rely on these bigger WordPress releases, you’re going to see a big improvement with these drag and drops.

Birgit Pauli-Haack: And it really works now well. I finally got accustomed to using drag and drop. Before, I just didn’t bother with it, but now you can really easily drag and drop something from the normal place into a column or into a cover block and it doesn’t lead you astray or to the end of the post and all that. Really good. Alright.

Mark Uraine: There were sidebar improvements like the sidebar controls have been polished, adding modern WP admin color scheme support. So there was the modern admin scheme and we added that there to support it, making preview and save draft buttons, use the same style. Lots of other additions. And the sidebar people will notice the UI kind of improving throughout. Keyboard navigation and shortcuts are improving, of course, lots of just the interface there. I know even being discussed right now in current development is kind of allowing people to edit those shortcuts and make them their own.

Birgit Pauli-Haack: Editing or adding keyboard shortcuts was always available for the plugin developer. So if they had a plugin and they wanted to add keywords, that was possible, but the users still won’t be able to still discuss. But what I really liked about that is that quite a few people had trouble with the full screen editing.

Mark Uraine: Oh yeah, full screen.

Birgit Pauli-Haack … that came with 5.4. And now there is actually a shortcut to switch it on and off. It doesn’t get into the wave that much anymore.

Mark Uraine: It just requires 11 fingers to do. I look at that shortcut and I’m like, Oh my goodness, it’s not really a shortcut.

Birgit Pauli-Haack: How would I ever remember that? That’s old folks talking.

Mark Uraine: Right. Maybe those younger folk could really handle it quite well. And of course I want to bring up, there’s been so many updates for accessibility in Gutenberg. If you’re coming into it from WordPress 5.5 and you just see the new stuff in 5.6, you’re going to be impressed. We’ve come so far with accessibility and really making this something that is usable for all people. And I’m really proud of the work that’s done there.

Birgit Pauli-Haack: And now we come to the blocks, the core blocks. Have they been changed or are there some new things in there and a few blocks, a lot of love and some of the blocks aren’t mentioned or have only limited changes. But I do like that we have the buttons block has some changes and it reduces the style conflicts for the same developers. And you get an example now for the buttons block, because the buttons block change has a lot of changes in the last two years. And now it’s actually a buttons block with multiple buttons in it and that’s a different concept. So that is certainly something that will improve. Having more than one button in a call to action or in a paragraph or after a paragraph. So that is really cool. The columns block got two new features. One is the single column functionality of the columns blocks. So you could just have a paragraph in it.

Mark Uraine: Single.

Birgit Pauli-Haack: Have a single column.

Mark Uraine: Single column.

Birgit Pauli-Haack: And then also transform two columns from a single block. Let’s say, you can say, Oh, I want to do, instead of media texts, you can say, okay, I want to do with this and the columns, and then transform that. The cover block really got quite a few iterations. You get the control for the video positions or the focus for that. The cover block also has now the repeated background options, that is a pattern. So you can have a pattern in your cover block. Reminds me a little bit of my space. And the overlay capacity has additional UIs for that. Wasn’t there also the alignment of the….

Mark Uraine: Yeah, the text inside of the cover block.

Birgit Pauli-Haack: You can move it around. That’s great. 

The embeds block one that I could find enhancement that it actually is able to use a 9:16 aspect ratio styling. But other than that, the embed blocks are only, there were a few removed. One that’s the Hulu block was removed because Hulu stopped supporting one bed. The same happens with Facebook and Instagram about a couple of weeks ago. So we removed, or this was then removed from the embed. Now you can also upload PDFs to the file block and that is fixed within a core block where also there’s a little thumbnail. I might be mixing that up. 

Mark Uraine: I don’t recall.

Birgit Pauli-Haack: Because Kevin Garcia has….

Mark Uraine: I never looked at that file block.

Birgit Pauli-Haack: I used it for my little Gutenberg nightly project quite a bit. Because of course I upload a file and then I use the file block to download that or to show the download button. That’s actually quite nice. If you have something that needs to be downloaded, you just drag and drop it into your canvas, and then it uploads the file in the background and creates the button and you just have to put in the name of it that you want to have on the button. So it’s really cool. 

So the gallery block got a few enhancements.

Mark Uraine: Like the undo thing was fixed recently. But, some of the enhancements there are pretty nice too.

Birgit Pauli-Haack: The image caption is now used as a fallback for alt texts, which I really like that, that’s a feature now. And the caption is now centered again. There was a bug fix there. But if you need captions that have more alignment options, there’s actually a plugin out there, it’s called editors kit, which gives you also left alignment on … when you have multiple line captions, you probably want to put them left aligned because that’s easier to read for people.

Mark Uraine: For readability.

Birgit Pauli-Haack: Readability. The group did not get any love, the heading block, except for changing the group block description. But the heading…

Mark Uraine: I like that heading block.

Birgit Pauli-Haack: … Now has wide and full with options for the alignment, and that is really helpful. The image block got some additional features and fixes for the image editing, and also the ability that it allows you to upload external images from when you copy paste over from another system like Google docs, for instance, that’s where we used it. Or I use it quite often is when I write in Google docs and have collaborators work with me there and then we upload images to the Google doc, and then highlight the whole thing, control A, and paste it into a post or a page. The image wouldn’t come through, so the image would always point back to the user’s directory. There would be public, but nevertheless, if the user deletes the Google doc, the original owner, the image would go away, and now there is in the toolbox a little button where you can click on download that image to my media library and replace it in my posts so that saves a lot of work.

Mark Uraine: Spacer block getting reduced down to one pixel.

Birgit Pauli-Haack: Well, the latest post block got some additional feature one is that you can put links into the featured image. The image alignment controls are fixed and that’s twice in there. So the post featured image is now the link to the post, but you can also add a different link to it. So that’s two things about links. The list block finally has color controls, yay. Median text.

Mark Uraine: Yeah, color.

Birgit Pauli-Haack: The median text just got some bug fixes so it always shows up on top of the text in mobile. That was a feature that if you forget to switch that on, it does it out of the box. The spacer block, you said. That was a big deal. Now you can have a spacer block with one pixel. Yes.

Mark Uraine: For those of you who really need that pixel adjustment.

Birgit Pauli-Haack: And the search block got a lot of love.

Mark Uraine: There was a lot of changes there.

Birgit Pauli-Haack: You can now add a button and a label and a with option and the different… So it’s really cool.

Mark Uraine: And different layouts of it.

Birgit Pauli-Haack: And, we talked about the social links block already. The place holder experience is now much better first inserting. And you can have the links in open in new tab, yay. 

And then the last one is the video block now has tracks functionality. So you can have captured tracks and all that.

Mark Uraine: Really cool.

Birgit Pauli-Haack: You can have a better experience for the visitor.

Mark Uraine: Those are the big highlights that are coming into 5.6 WordPress. So, Give them a go. Try them out. You content creators should be pleased with a lot of those features coming in this release.

Birgit Pauli-Haack: Yeah. And, this also brings us to the end of the show. As always the show notes will be published on This is episode 32.

Mark Uraine: 31 I thought. 32?

Birgit Pauli-Haack: 32. 

Mark Uraine: We’re on 32. Yes you’re right.

Birgit Pauli-Haack: Enjoy. It’s 32. 

Mark Uraine: You win. 32.

Birgit Pauli-Haack: I win. If you have questions and suggestions or news that you want us to include, send them to That’s, Thank you all for listening, and I hope you have a wonderful time post-election.

Mark Uraine: Yes.

Birgit Pauli-Haack: No matter how it went or worked out. And we see each other in two weeks.

Mark Uraine: Yeah, I think so, next Gutenberg release. Thank you, everybody. 

Birgit Pauli-Haack: Thank you.

Mark Uraine: Birgit, it was wonderful seeing you again and spending some time talking.

Birgit Pauli-Haack: Same here, same here. Thank you. Goodbye. Until the next time.

Mark Uraine: Bye.

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