Changelog #53 – WordPress 5.9 Go/No Go decision, Gutenberg releases 11.6 and 11.7, and Themes and Styles for the Editor

Gutenberg Changelog
Gutenberg Changelog
Changelog #53 - WordPress 5.9 Go/No Go decision, Gutenberg releases 11.6 and 11.7, and Themes and Styles for the Editor
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In this episode, Birgit Pauli-Haack and Grzegorz Ziółkowski discuss WordPress 5.9 Go/No-Go Decision, Gutenberg Releases 11.6 and 11.7, and ongoing discussions about Themes and Styles for the Editor.

Show Notes / Transcript

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Show Notes

Announcements

WordPress 5.9 Updates

WordCamp US

Community Contributions

What’s Released

Gutenberg 11.6

Gutenberg 11.7

What’s in active development or discussed

Gallery Block Refactor Dev note by Glen Davies

FSE Q & A – Submit your questions!

FSE Theme Switching

Stay in Touch

Transcript

Transcript

Birgit Pauii-Haack: Hello, and welcome to our 53rd episode of the Gutenberg Changelog podcast recorded on October 15th, 2021. In today’s episode we will talk about so much, WordPress 5.9 go/no go decision, Gutenberg releases 11.6 and 11.7 and ongoing discussions on themes and styles and editors and everything. 

I am Birgit Pauli-Haack, curator at the Gutenberg Times and WordPress developer advocate, sponsored by Automattic. I’m here with my co-host, Grzegorz Ziółkowski, code wrangler at Automattic and WordPress core contributor. How are you, Grzegorz? How are you doing?

Grzegorz Ziolkowski: I’m great. I had a blast during my vacation. I want to tell you more about it, but we have so much to cover today that there isn’t much time for chit-chat. How have you been lately, Birgit?

Birgit Pauii-Haack: Well, I had a blast running live Q&As this week and last week and the week after next and talking to developers and users. You’re right, let’s catch up after the show and let’s get this started.

Grzegorz Ziolkowski: Yay. Before we start we want to thank you, Jorge Calle user name, AtrumGeost from Ecuador for his five-star review.

Birgit Pauii-Haack: Yay.

Grzegorz Ziolkowski: Hooray. We are so thrilled to have you as our listener. Jorge wrote, “the best all-the-things Gutenberg podcast. This is my favorite Gutenberg and WP-related podcast. It helps me keep up-to-date with all the new and upcoming changes and to understand the reason behind those changes.”

Birgit Pauii-Haack: That’s so nice. That’s exactly what we’re trying to do. Thank you, Jorge. Greetings to Ecuador.

Grzegorz Ziolkowski: Yeah, we could put that as our mission. Yes, greetings.

Announcements

Birgit Pauii-Haack: Yes. All right, we have a few announcements because it’s been a while. The next live Q&A, put this on your calendar, is a discussion with the BuddyPress team on how they converted classic widgets into blocks. We learn what was hard and got easier over the first two times I did it. Join us on October 28th at noon Eastern, 1600 UTC with Mathieu Viet, David Cavins and Varun Dubey on the live Q&A show. It’s going to be really, really interesting, especially for developers who still are a little bit on the edge to jump into Gutenberg development, also theme developers who have widgets in their themes. It’s definitely going to be educational because we will have some demos.

Grzegorz Ziolkowski: Yeah, I guess it should be also useful for the developers who have plug-ins and they still waited to convert them to blocks because it’s all about that, right?

Birgit Pauii-Haack: Right, right. Everything needs to be a block now. It’s just so much better for the users to use them because everything’s just one concept, they don’t have to do the mystery meet with what are widgets, what are menus, what are sidebar and all this kind of thing. Yeah, speaking of live Q&As, yesterday I had the privilege to host a discussion among WordPress giants, Mark Jaquith, core committer for 17 years, Helen Hou-Sandi working on WordPress for 10 years and Riad Benguella who is the newbie in that regard.

Grzegorz Ziolkowski: A rookie.

Birgit Pauii-Haack: He’s already working on Gutenberg for even five or even seven years, so …

Grzegorz Ziolkowski: Five. Five.

Birgit Pauii-Haack: Five years. They discussed how can we make building blocks easier. It was a follow up on a Twitter thread Mark started with a question, what if building custom blocks for the block editor was as easy as supplying attributes and a block of HTML? What if this produced react editing code and PHP rendering code without a build stack? Coincidentally enough, he and Riad independently of each other were exploring some technical avenues for that and Helen was too. Grzegorz, you know more about the technical framework and underpinnings of Gutenberg, what was your take from the discussion yesterday?

Grzegorz Ziolkowski: I was really excited to see this discussion happening in the forum where people have more time to express their ideas, where they come from, what’s their use case and how they arrived at similar conclusions which is the best part of that. All three people, they were working on different aspects. Riad is working only on core, mostly on core and Helen is doing work for customers, same as Mark. Basically different venues came to the same conclusions. It’s really nice that we have good understanding where it should all go now. Those ideas that they both shared are pretty decent and I guess this is something that should be materialized in the future. That should greatly benefit all the developers that increase blocks on a daily basis. It was really cool and I encourage everyone who is doing block development to catch up with this discussion. 

Also check the references they mentioned. One is from Riad, it’s on his GitHub, it’s called Block, we will provide links. Mark, he also has the same idea, I believe it’s called Blocksta, the code name. Yeah, that’s really insightful from my perspective. I learned a lot, especially about the background, all the friction people have and the pain points. It’s something that, as a core team member, I heard a lot about that, but it was more on the side of showing what’s wrong and not necessarily what are the challenges people have on a daily basis that end up with all the frustration they share, which is very limited, especially on Twitter which is a few characters.

Birgit Pauii-Haack: Yeah, yeah. I also like that both Mark and Helen expressed and emphasized that the ideas that they had on how to do some templating and all that would not have been possible from the beginning because you need some underpinnings already working and some expansion of the API. Mark mentioned the block API version two where PHP and JavaScript have the same information about blocks, that was necessary to actually even think about any of the additional helper function, tool function for block editing and block writing or building. They also expressed that it shouldn’t, it’s not necessarily something that needs to be in core, but it could be one of the official tool building for plug-in developers. Yeah, it was a really good discussion. I will also share in the show notes Helen Hou-Sandi’s blog post called exploring custom blocks from a PHP-centric developer UX point of view where she even more elaborated on where she was coming from from the agency work there.

WordPress 5.9 Go/No Go Decision

Grzegorz Ziolkowski: Yeah, definitely. I could continue on this topic for long, but let’s go to the most important announcement of the day which is the go/no go decisions. The meeting happened yesterday. The official post isn’t ready yet. Yesterday will be October 14. We spoke with Matias and Hector Pietro who attended the meeting. It looks like all the features discussed during this session should be included in the WordPress 5.9 release which means that block themes will be supported as an option with how they call it, a remark that there will be something like early access or something along those lines just to build proper expectations for users. At the same time it’s worth to mention that the new Twenty Twenty-Two theme built out of the blocks will ship with WordPress. Therefore, the default experience with themes for all new websites will start with blocks. I think it’s huge and super exciting to see it happening finally. They took so much time, but there is more. Do you want to say something about that?

Birgit Pauii-Haack: Well, I just wanted to notice that the theme Twenty Twenty-Two was actually introduced last week by Kjell Reigstad and he’s working with Jeff Ong on it. We will share, of course, the link in the show notes, but if you want to check it out it’s on the design, actually on the core make blog, very buried but it’s beautiful. He also has some ways how he can change the theme.json and then make the theme a total different look than what he’s originally planned there. It’s really nice. You had more to say about the go/no go from Matías Ventura?

Grzegorz Ziolkowski: Yeah. No, you sidetracked my brain now for the Twenty Twenty-Two theme. It’s really beautiful. I really admire the work done with that, especially because it was very challenging on the technical level. We had to build all the blocks to make that happen but the outcome is really good. 

I also would like to bring to your attention the issue that was created today by Matías which contains a series of bugs and shortcomings that he faced during preparation for this 5.9 go/no go decisions meeting. We will share a link to the issue which has the number 35662. It only confirms that there aren’t any significant bugs that put too much risk on the roll-out plan, however it will be essential to sort out those minor issues because they might negatively impact the first user impression. One more thing to mention is that you all will be able to watch the progress of the release execution in the traditional way which is through the issue, through the project board which is Gutenberg and the name is WordPress 5.9 must-haves. The project number is 62.

Birgit Pauii-Haack: Yeah. Thank you for the summary there. There’s actually a video that you can, it was a one-hour meeting and they recorded it, it’s available on WordPress.TV. I wanted to go still for those who … the plan, the schedule of the release. Feature freeze will be November 9th, that’s 42 days after go/no go. From today on it’s 41 days.

Grzegorz Ziolkowski: Or even 40 because the meeting was postponed by one day.

Birgit Pauii-Haack: Oh right. Right, right. It’s actually 39. Beta one will be released or is scheduled to be released November 16th and then the release candidate one is scheduled to be released on November 30th. The final release is scheduled for December 14th, 2021 and will have, from the Gutenberg plug-in releases, the latest one will be 11.9, all the versions from 11, or 10.8, or 11.0 I think to 11.9, release candidate. 11.8 will still be a normal release on Gutenberg plug-in and then 11.9, the release candidate, the features that are in there will be then merged with core and then bug fixing starts. 

I just also want to mention that before the go/no go meeting the group working on the navigation block and editor screen, navigation editor screen held a hallway hangout so to speak. Among other things they concluded that the navigation editor screen itself is not ready for 5.9. Only the navigation block and the block for new navigation and I think it has some … I don’t think it has a feature for existing menus, so we need to see about that, the main reason why they won’t solve the underlying backwards compatibility issues successfully before the release. A menu is a major part of a website. There are a myriad of third-party products tapping into the current features and they all need to be accommodated in one way or another. 

There is a summary post about that on the core blog, we’ll share the links of course and there’s also a video where you can also follow along on the meeting. We will share all the relevant links for the 5.9 at the current stage in our show notes, that’s a summary post of the meeting, Matías’s roadmap, Josepha’s planning post and then the meeting recording as well as the summary post by Hector Pietro. That’s about that.

Grzegorz Ziolkowski: Yeah. Just to summarize, the navigation block is going to be included, right? It’s crucial to have it for the block themes.

Birgit Pauii-Haack: Yes. Yes, but they were still trying to figure out if they need a second block for the backwards compatibility or they want to put it all in one block. They concluded now that they don’t want to burden the new feature, the new navigation block with the legacy part from 18 years of WordPress development so they are working on a second block that is the compatibility, that handles the compatibility issues. Also, some of the plug-ins actually tap into the navigation editor screen as well and the customizer so there are so many different branches of what to think about that they said, okay, we need to take a step back and see that we’re not making the same mistake that happened with the widget editor where they weren’t having enough tests with the third-party plug-ins to get this out.

Yeah, that’s about the release. I’m totally excited about it, especially because of the block theme with the full site editing. We will have some new or old terms. I think we were always talking about the block-based theme, it’s now called block theme. We were talking about the site editor, or template editor, now it’s the editor. We were talking about the global styles, they’re just the styles because, yeah, that’s all there is. Yeah.

Grzegorz Ziolkowski: Everything gets simplified.

Birgit Pauii-Haack: Simplicity is to aim for, yes.

Grzegorz Ziolkowski: Even the user experience that the blocks provide.

Birgit Pauii-Haack: Yeah, and….

Grzegorz Ziolkowski: Okay. Let’s move to another point.

Birgit Pauii-Haack: Move on. Yeah.

WordCamp US 2021

Grzegorz Ziolkowski: Yeah. WordCamp US, I didn’t watch it live, I watched some talks afterwards. How about you, Birgit?

Birgit Pauii-Haack: I watched it live. I took the day off from other work so I could really concentrate on that. My favorite talks were, I couldn’t decide on the favorite so I have three favorite talks. One was from Rich Tabor from Extendify, his talk was building modern WordPress sites, the interplay of blocks, pattern and theme.json. That’s definitely a very good presentation to watch, not only because all his slides were so beautiful and his voice was so soothing, we were all very relaxed about all the new things that come to WordPress, but he also made very clear how all these things work together.

Grzegorz Ziolkowski: I saw also that some people were confused whether it’s an advertisement for WordPress or is it an actual talk.

Birgit Pauii-Haack: Then the other one was a voice for the new White House Administration with the block editor by Helen Hou-Sandi. It was an hour-long presentation but it had a few different parts in there. One was making clear the advantages between a form-based content collection screen to the what-you-see-is-what-you-get editor and how they accomplish that. They actually built custom blocks, they did that for the experience. Then Helen, in the second part of it she also went in and explained why native blocks, Gutenberg blocks are so important. Then went on to actually show how she coded one of them and made the difference between the different, showed the difference between the approaches that they were exploring and where they finally settled. She has actually some code examples in there and she walked us through her set-up. That was really good. There was a lot of things packed in there, but it was one whole presentation.

Then the last one was Kjell Reigstad who showed us creative uses of block styles. Block styles is something that you use the core block, but you add additional CSS to it. That’s pretty much what block styles are. He showed how to do this, he also shared his repository, but he did all kinds of different graphical and animation. It was just beautiful to see what is all possible with just using block styles. You don’t have to do a whole lot of programming from that, at least not in JavaScript or in PHP, you need to do a lot of CSS for that. A lot of designers know that part and I think it’s a good starting point to get your creative juices going. Yeah, how about you? What did you watch on the rerun?

Grzegorz Ziolkowski: I watched all the talks you mentioned so you took my picks. Anyway, I have one more to share, the one from Cory Webb, software engineer at Fast. He had a talk named the demystifying Gutenberg blocks, understanding first steps to becoming a Gutenberg developer. I really liked the talk because it was structured in a very nice way. It covered all the APIs, basic APIs you need to know to start with blocks, but he also added a section where it was nice to know and there’s some additional going further if you want to extend your knowledge base and there are some other topics. That’s a good way of approaching that and it will be super beneficial for anyone who either already started working with blocks or they want to start because it covers all the levels when you want to become a master going from the beginner and scaling your knowledge. I liked that about this talk.

Birgit Pauii-Haack: Yeah. If you watched that you have all the pieces that you need to go from beginner to experienced. That’s also a part of my talk that will be shown at the Page Builder Summit that starts on Monday from Nathan Wrigley and Ann le Roux. There are a lot of talks there on the professional use of page builders in all areas. Ann is doing her full site editing talk and I’m going to talk about how to customize blocks for client projects. If you missed it, last week was also a theme developer live Q&A. Ellen Bauer, Anders Norén and Carolina Nymark were on the show. Anders showed his block theme, Tove, and Ellen Bauer showed her studios theme, Aino, as a hybrid theme. I loved their excitement about the new possibilities of themes and blocks and full-site editing. They also shared how they made the journey from building classic themes to going block themes now. They also answered a ton of questions from the audience. The recording is available on YouTube and we will try and post a transcript and resources on the Gutenberg Times next week.

Grzegorz Ziolkowski: I started listening to this live Q&A as well, it was pretty good, but I was driving so I couldn’t show the demo so I stopped. I didn’t have to time to go back, but I definitely have to. One thing that caught my attention was that Anders mentioned that one of the users of his team, he applied a lot of modification using styles and similar things. He sent a link to show the end effect. Anders said that he didn’t recognize this theme, he couldn’t say it was his. That’s a great thing about the future of building themes, the user will be so much empowered to achieve their goals.

Community Contributions

Birgit Pauii-Haack: Right. Yes. Yeah. Speaking about themes, there is a new site out there called wpblockpatterns.com. It’s a place where you can find out how your block patterns or the block patterns in the directory look with any of the block themes that are in the repository. I did a few tests and I’m delighted to see that block patterns will persist even when you switch the theme on your site, so something that’s very hard to do with third party page builders but that’s also very hard to do with classic themes where you sometimes lose content just because you switch themes. Now with block patterns that’s a much better build and they all persist, including the design, when you switch the theme. It’s really interesting to see. Speaking of block pattern, there’s a small change in the pattern directory. The meta team has added now a featured category so the best patterns you can look up in the featured category. You can also select them from the inserter inside of the editor.

Another community contribution came from Marius Jensen. He updated his plug-in called persistent block editor settings. He added support for the following user settings, block breadcrumbs, that’s the breadcrumbs on the bottom of a screen, on and off, change the most used blocks to what the user actually is doing and the caret positioning. Then all the settings are stored in the individual user profile information on the site so that persists between computer or browser changes. I think it’s a great plug-in and many, many people have asked for that. It has quite a following on the WordPress repository. I also think that sooner or later, I know that the core team is working on something like that, but it’s still blocked by some of the not finished things I would say. Yeah.

Grzegorz Ziolkowski: Yes. It’s in progress for so long. There were several approaches that tried to address that. Maybe it’s good that it didn’t happen before because now we will have several screens for the editor and that brings another level of complexity. Still, the way it’s structured, even in the local storage of the browser, so it persists per browser at the moment, it’s still something that might change slightly at the time of the WordPress 5.9 release. Starting from that, I guess it’s a very good moment to finally bring the same functionality to core.

Birgit Pauii-Haack: Yeah. Yeah. You mentioned this, I was just … you were distracting me because I was counting the different editor screens that we have now and it’s quite a few. It’s a post editor, it’s a widget screen, it’s a template editor, it’s a template parts editor, it’s the reusable block editor. It’s really interesting.

Grzegorz Ziolkowski: Yeah, that’s a lot. I mean some of them are the same editors behind the scenes, but conceptually they are different. Now, as we will cover soon, we also have this zoom mode so you can switch in the editor as it will be called from now on from a full template view to the template part view, so that’s yet another way of looking at that.

What’s Released – Gutenberg 11.6

Birgit Pauii-Haack: Yeah. Well finally, half an hour into the show, we are at the releases. Gutenberg 11.6 was released on September 29th. The WP Tavern covered some of it and of course some of it is also in the … oh, the WP Tavern actually had two posts about it. One is about the release as a whole and the other one was introducing the new API for locking blocks. I think that was one of the major features there. Let’s go through that. 

Enhancements

We start with the query pagination now can use the flex layout which is really cool. The site logo now has the feature to crop the image. If your logo that you uploaded is not fitting in the spot you can crop it. Now it’s also possible to zoom and rotate the image, so that is really a step forward.

Grzegorz Ziolkowski: There is this item for gallery block which is at toolbar bottom to convert old galleries to new format. I’m not quite sure it’s something that will stay for longer, or is it something for the transition period, but it’s great that this is now possible because it will help with the ongoing efforts to bring inner blocks for the gallery.

Birgit Pauii-Haack: The gallery block has experienced a refactor, instead of just having the IDs of the images in there and then rendering them it actually comprises now of single image blocks that you can add all the different features that you have with the image block also to the single image in a gallery block. You have then the gallery outer and then the inner blocks are image blocks. The roll-out is, in that regard it will not automatically convert the old to the new galleries until it’s rolled out and until it’s coming to core because right now it’s still an experiment. You can switch that over to the new gallery. It’s called update, the button in your gallery toolbar and then you can convert it to the new format. I think in the final roll-out, when you open up the post it will automatically convert it, but not with all the previous. It will not touch that unless you really wanted or unless you edit that particular post. Yeah. 

Then the color picker got changed and is rolled out, it’s more accessible and it also has a copy function and all that. It also makes the rounds now, we saw it in 11.6 as well as in 11.7, that’s gradually exchanged on all the blocks. Do you know anything else about the color picker?

Grzegorz Ziolkowski: No, I know that there is a big redesign happening. I don’t know why, but there’s always a reason.

Birgit Pauii-Haack: Yeah. I think it was accessibility problems that the old color picker had.

Grzegorz Ziolkowski: Oh. Maybe, as far as I remember that was something that was worked on before, WordPress 5.0, which was a long time ago. I’m sure it was accessible enough to get through to the release then. Maybe there was some concerns that are addressed now.

Birgit Pauii-Haack: Now there is a simple styles preview in the sidebar of the template editor or site editor that you can modify some of the styles in your panel and it also now uses a navigation component. That’s just the underlying feature for the global styles preview.

Grzegorz Ziolkowski: Yeah. For the preview you see some characters and it shows the typography, how it looks in practice and also the colors that are applied to that. It just gives you a slight preview so you don’t have to navigate through the page and look for that. It’s pretty useful in my opinion.

Birgit Pauii-Haack: Yeah. You see the final version of it right now in the video from last night’s meeting of the go/no go when Matias Ventura was demoing it. It’s a nice … also with additional color palettes. It has received quite a few iterations since it got added to the plug-in. Full site editing, there is now basic support, the executive word is basic support for child themes when you have a block theme so you can have different features added or switched on and off in your child theme that maybe the parent theme doesn’t allow. You have different color settings and any settings that you want to you can do in your theme.json for the child theme and still get updates for your parent theme.

Grzegorz Ziolkowski: Yeah. The feature that I mentioned a few minutes before is a way to edit template parts in a special view. When you are editing your template you can use this dropdown menu which is an icon with three dots. There is this new option, edit template part. When you click that, everything disappears but the template part and you can focus on editing only that area, which is pretty handy. In the context when there is a lot of blocks sometimes it’s hard to see when the template part starts or ends. I like this addition.

APIs

Birgit Pauii-Haack: Yeah. Yeah. Then we come to the lock control for block type level. As we mentioned there’s an article that covers that as a whole at the WP Tavern. At the attribute level it supports locking the block from being moved or removed and it hides the block moving errors and the delete button if the block is locked. You can use that also with your … it’s just an attribute in the block.json if I see this correctly. You can also use that for your block patterns. That can have locked and unlocked blocks. That’s-

Grzegorz Ziolkowski: Oh yeah. That’s true. That would be a good use case, yes.

Birgit Pauii-Haack: Yeah. That’s also something that Matias demonstrated yesterday, last night in the video. What else do we want to point out from the 11.6? Bug fixes, well we’re going to jump over the bug fixes.

Grzegorz Ziolkowski: I think you had something highlighted for the site editor.

Birgit Pauii-Haack: Yeah, the experiments. The experiments, yeah.

Grzegorz Ziolkowski: Basic plug-in support.

Experiments

Birgit Pauii-Haack: Yeah. Sorry. The site editor now has basic also, our executive word is basic plug-in support. It adds the support for the plug-in sidebar. The site editor is now the editor and that’s where you do the full site editing pieces. The sidebar there can now be targeted by plug-ins for the sidebar, for the menu items in the menu as well as close and open general sidebar action. Plug-in developers, extenders will really be happy to hear about that. We were waiting for that too. 

Documentation

There was a big push for documentation updates, especially for the packages and the components. Developers can now look up some of the documentation and don’t have to figure out from code what does this do.

Grzegorz Ziolkowski: Yeah. I guess there were also some updates related to how to contribute to the WordPress components package. That’s the most important part that builds all the experience, all the UI elements and so on. There’s a lot of movement in that area which also shapes how global styles look. You can see a lot of changes in that area. That’s all because of these efforts.

Birgit Pauii-Haack: Yeah. All right. Code quality, I think that was all … was that all that we wanted to say about 11.6 in this episode?

Gutenberg 11.7 Release

Grzegorz Ziolkowski: I guess we have a lot of cover also from 11.7 that was released on October 13th. It would be fair to say that we are done with the 11.6 release and just move to the next one because it was a huge one and there was a lot of enhancements included in this one, way more than the one we already covered. 

Enhancements

Let me start with the changes to the block editor. With the work, ongoing work on the navigation block and all the child blocks there was a need to have a way to use also slash inserter in this content. So far you could do it only through the paragraph block, which was quite a big limitation. It is now fixed. 

It’s enabled to some of the links to the blocks that allow you to insert links and stuff like this. When you insert a link and it has some name, when you delete that name and write a slash then you will be able to insert a block, other types of blocks that fit in that context, which is pretty good. This is something that is still, the API behind that is still experimental. Every block author there can experiment with that by enabling the flag called underscore experimental slash inserter.

Birgit Pauii-Haack: Yeah. I think what that also does is give you a little input screen from the slash inserter, not that you have to … up until now the slash inserter only added, gives you fast access to adding a block, but now you can actually add also some parameters to that and enter it right there. That’s a real speeding up the workflow quite tremendously. As you said, any block can have that so it’s also the plug-in, the blocks that come with plug-ins can also use that. That’s really good, immediately extender friendly. 

It also has added or enabled the ability to create pages directly from the inline link UI on the navigation bar. The new empty page gets created, that’s a feature that comes over from the other editor screen but I think I really like how they implemented that, the new empty page gets created behind the scenes with a title set on the text typed in the search input field. That’s definitely also a fast way to create a menu when you know you have the outline of your website and you just create the menu headers and then it automatically creates all the pages for it as well. That’s really cool.

Grzegorz Ziolkowski: Yeah. At the end of the process of creating your navigation you just go to those pages and fill it with content, which is pretty nice. It should speed up the whole process really.

Birgit Pauii-Haack: Exactly. Yeah. In 11.6 came the site logo cropping and image manipulating features, now you also get, with 11.7 you also get duotone support which means that you can have a fixed color scheme around your website. Every image that you have might fit better into it. Really that’s a cool thing.

Grzegorz Ziolkowski: Yes. Exactly. There’s more for the columns block, they enabled the block gap feature which we covered in past episodes. When it’s combined with vertical margin support you can have a really nice effect, so finally you can add some spaces between columns and there is a control for that which allows that and some nice animations that support that. It’s a very nice way that was missing for so long. Now it’s finally implemented.

Birgit Pauii-Haack: Yeah. If you’re a theme developer who has actually taken out the gap between the columns, you can now, it can now be done through the interface. I saw some nice animations or demos where you have three columns that are a different color but they don’t have a boundary so they go from one color to the next without the background color of the site shining through which is quite a nice effect when you just want to liven up the text, the wall of text when you’re writing so much and just have some graphical play around with it interspersed there. 

The navigation, oh yeah, from the navigation block you can now transform your link into other allowed navigation blocks. You can transform it into a sub-menu, menu or a site logo or a home link or a social icon, which is cool if you change your mind on some of the links.

Grzegorz Ziolkowski: Yeah. I’m not quite sure what happened with the content. For instance, if you have a site logo and you want to transform it into something else, which probably will have a different URL, it might be it uses just the same URL and then you just need to edit that. Anyways, it’s a really interesting idea to speed up the process.

Birgit Pauii-Haack: Well this one is actually only going from a link to something else, not the other way around.

Grzegorz Ziolkowski: Oh, is it?

Birgit Pauii-Haack: Yeah.

Grzegorz Ziolkowski: The initial idea that I always, that stuck in my mind, all the transforms should be two ways. If you convert from something you are able to convert that back. Maybe it’s now relaxed, you can always use an undo button and that should be pretty much it. I guess it’s whatever makes it easier for the user is fine from my perspective.

Birgit Pauii-Haack: Yeah, I think I need to press that for this if there is a way going back, just from a social icon link to just a mere menu link. Maybe it’s a different context here. Yeah. Now you can actually … there was a problem when you have these.

Grzegorz Ziolkowski: Just to explain that, why the rule was like that, when you are transforming from the heading to the paragraph then you use the same content and it’s pretty straightforward. However, if you would like to go from the image to cover block then you have only the image, but as soon as you add some heading or something like that in the cover image, when you go back to the image block then it isn’t quite sure what should happen with this heading. You could lose some content.

Birgit Pauii-Haack: Yeah. Yeah. No, I get it. Yeah. I’ve only been situational, but I’ve never had a situation that I have already a cover block and only want to go back to an image. I think that’s just a lack of imagination I guess.

Grzegorz Ziolkowski: Also, when you’ve invested so much time to polish your cover block and make it pretty, it doesn’t make any sense to go back to the image.

Birgit Pauii-Haack: Yeah. That’s so true. Yes, yeah. The next item on our list is show none as an alignment option and use contextual text to clarify the settings. There are now hints included in the alignment options, spread text maximum wide, 720 pixels wide or something like that. It explains a little bit to the user what does it mean when you change something to align wide or to full width. Some users had trouble to see, I’m one of those, to see that you can uncheck those alignments and then remove it. Now there is and option that says no alignment, just do what you normally do as a block, don’t make it wider or go out of the content. I think that’s a good addition there because I got totally and utterly confused. Oh, I can switch it just off. It was not a good.

Grzegorz Ziolkowski: Yeah, you had to click on the same option again to disable it, which wasn’t so straightforward.

Birgit Pauii-Haack: It wasn’t clear. That’s a toggle switch, that wasn’t clear. Yeah.

Grzegorz Ziolkowski: I wanted to emphasize that the number you mentioned is not something that is hard colored, it depends on the theme. It is able to, the context there provides very useful information which can vary between themes, right?

Birgit Pauii-Haack: Is that coming from the theme.json file do you know?

Grzegorz Ziolkowski: They probably compute it on the fly using some JavaScript.

Birgit Pauii-Haack: Okay. Yeah. All right. That’s great, but we’re not done yet. What’s the next thing?

Grzegorz Ziolkowski: Format library.

Birgit Pauii-Haack: Yeah.

Grzegorz Ziolkowski: This is one of the options you have when you have text based blocks. Before it was only possible to change the foreground color of your text, so change it to something different. Now there is also an option to change the background color or the highlight how it’s called in other tools. The change was applied to the existing controls so now you have a pop up dialogue, I don’t know, which has tabs so you can switch between text and background and apply those different colors.

Birgit Pauii-Haack: I think that’s a feature that has been missing from the beginning for a very long time. There was something that you could do in the classic editor very easily with the little toolbars up there that you can just highlight a word in your text within the paragraph and then give it a different text color or give it a different background color. The text color was still there, is already there, but now you can change the background color of that. Yeah. You find it at the same place where you also find the text color change in your paragraph toolbar. You can now, as a theme developer you can now also set presets on the duotone for your theme. If you say every duotone, when it comes out of default, should be a blue filter or a pink filter or something like that, you can help your user to set the right duotone on certain images in the content.

Grzegorz Ziolkowski: Yeah. You can change it per block, so that’s pretty nice. You can say, oh, site logo, I want to have it in a red filter and that’s also possible now.

Birgit Pauii-Haack: Yeah. The possibilities become endless.

Grzegorz Ziolkowski: Yeah. In general all the management for colors becomes so complex that now it got extracted, the color palette is in its own global styles screen. Basically you need to, when you go to the editor for editing, for changing your site, when you go to the styles sidebar, now you need to first click on the color link and then it will show all the colors you have. You can also drill down to the palette or individual elements to change those settings.

Birgit Pauii-Haack: As the next iteration, probably not for 5.9 because it takes a little more, but one of the features that will come is that you can, in that you can also have multiple color palettes to choose from or have a color palette directory where you can grab a wonderful … yeah, Matt Mullenweg actually mentioned that in yesterday’s video that there is a colorpalette.com site where you can pick the color palette that you like and then you get all the hex decimal values for it for your site. That would be so cool to actually have a source like that that can pull in new color palettes for your theme there or for your site. Yeah, this has opened so many possibilities, it’s really mind-boggling. Right now we just have these three screens, all the styles, the color styles and then the color palette separate where you can add additional colors to it.

Grzegorz Ziolkowski: Yeah. It’s really hard to wrap your head around how colors work at the moment. If I am correct, now you have the default colors that come from the WordPress core, then you have theme styles that every theme can provide and it looks like you can also, the users can define their own colors right now.

Birgit Pauii-Haack: Yeah. The hierarchy is users first, then the theme, then the core, but it’s also that the theme can say please disable custom colors, my users don’t know how to use color. 

Grzegorz Ziolkowski: Yes.

Birgit Pauii-Haack: To offset or to avoid the GeoSitters interesting page designs.

Grzegorz Ziolkowski: To make it even more advanced, it’s also possible to say that, a theme author can say that for this particular block I want to have a different color palette.

Birgit Pauii-Haack: Yeah, yeah, yeah. There’s also something new and I didn’t realize that until now when I see the screenshot that I was looking at here from the post. In the styles there was, up until 11.6, with the new version now you can actually go directly to the blocks to change their settings. Before you had to close the sidebar from the style, from the global styles and go back to … when you do template editing you have to go back to the blocks sidebar. There wasn’t a clear path for that. Now you can, I see here blocks is another panel that you can open there. That’s really cool.

All right, next thing, the template editor got some new workflow things. There’s a back button now for the isolated template part editor. When you drill down you can go back up the rabbit hole again. Then also the template areas have added some template details like header and footer areas there. That’s really cool.

Grzegorz Ziolkowski: When you go to the header and you click on the name of the template you are currently editing, you not only see the details about the theme template but also some details about template areas used in that template which allows you to quickly navigate to them because there are dropdown menus with additional options.

Experiments

Birgit Pauii-Haack: Exactly. Yeah. Then the navigation screen still in experimental has a new feature that you can add tool tips to navigation items in their set-up states. That is interesting and helpful.

Grzegorz Ziolkowski: I guess it’s coming from the block editor. When there’s something wrong, the link is missing in your navigation where it should be, then it just underlines it with the squiggly line. When you hover over it it just shows you what the issue is.

Birgit Pauii-Haack: Yeah. You don’t want to have in the menu a link or a menu item that doesn’t go anywhere. That helps you too. Then the next one is insert the navigation link blocks by default in the navigation block.

Grzegorz Ziolkowski: Yeah. Basically, when you click on the plus sign to add another item, you can start writing and it will show you a list of matching links. You can just click on one of them and that will add it to the menu. You don’t have to choose the type or you don’t, give me category page, no, we just type the name of the link and it just does everything behind the scenes.

Birgit Pauii-Haack: Yeah. That’s a very nice feature because in the current menu screen you really have to know what kind of type you’re looking for. This goes away right away with that feature. I’ve got to test it, what happens with custom post types and post categories or are these pages also being surfaced. Yeah. Wow, that was a lot in this release. Do you have anything else? I think that was it, the major parts.

Grzegorz Ziolkowski: Yeah. We had to cover two Gutenberg plug-in releases pretty packed with features. I guess that’s a lot already to process for our listeners.

What’s in Active Development or Discussed

Birgit Pauii-Haack: Yeah. In one sitting, yes. Let’s go to the active development and what’s discussed. I wanted to highlight again the gallery block refactor will come out of the experimental stage with the next plug-in release, that’s 11.8, that’s in two weeks. It will be in 5.9, WordPress 5.9. At the moment we’re doing the extender outreach to plug-in and theme developers to alert them to the changes. If you are one of those and/or you work for agencies but you don’t have public plug-ins or themes in the repository, then I would suggest to go to the developer note that Clan has already published a month ago on the changes so you can see if that affects your gallery handling in your theme or your plug-in. We will have it in the show notes of course. 

Then on the FSE Outreach Program update Anne McCarthy has another call for questions where you click on a button and have your question and then it gets sent to her inbox and then she finds the answers for that and she will publish all the questions and answers in a post later on. The deadline for getting your question in is October 27th, that’s in two weeks. Then she will, within a week, publish that post. This is also for 5.9 when full-site editing comes in with early access there that you can get your questions answered, or also your fears, either way is fine.

Grzegorz Ziolkowski: I think we should also include a link to the previous installment and all the answers. I think there were about 50 questions answered. That was a lot. Maybe that would be also good to check. Maybe you already have answers for your questions and you don’t have to reach out again.

Birgit Pauii-Haack: Right. Yeah. I think the reason that Anne does it now at this stage is because the last one was at the beginning of the year. With the, I don’t know, six or seven plug-in releases that happened since then, quite a few things have changed, some irritations that were … because it was annoying or it was an interface that didn’t make sense, you had questions there, but that has been already fixed so the new questions certainly also in regards to the go/no go decision, I would wait until the post is out, to read through it and get … some of the answers might be in that summary post from the go/no go meeting that Hector will publish.

Then also from the FSE Outreach Program was the summary of the theme switching experience. It was a great read. There were quite a few theme developers who had some expectations there that also went through, some site owners went through the testing and had some surprises there. Channing Ritter on the design team did some nice mock-ups on how to make it a better experience. It might not be part of 5.9, but it’s definitely something that you who sent in or did the test have influenced how the next steps are going to work.

With that, get your questions in, think about the gallery block refactor and then live Q&A October 28th with the BuddyPress team members on converting classic widgets to blocks. This is the end of our show.

Grzegorz Ziolkowski: Yeah. I wanted to remind everyone that we are waiting for more reviews and that’s always great to hear from you what do you think about the show. You can also ping us on Twitter or send DMs with questions, with the feedback, whatever you’d like to talk about with us. My handle is GZIOLO and Birgit is BPH.

Birgit Pauii-Haack: Yes. As always, the show notes will be published on GutenbergTimes.com/podcast. If you have questions and suggestions you can also send them via email to changelog@gutenbergtimes.com. That’s changelong@gutenbergtimes.com. Well, it was good to see you. I’m glad you’re back from vacation and rested and ready to go. Thank you so much for being here and a big thank you for our listeners to stay with us so truthfully into another long episode. That’s it for me. Goodbye.

Grzegorz Ziolkowski: Thank you, Birgit. Thank you everyone for waiting four weeks for the next episode. See you in two weeks. We won’t do so long breaks for quite a while I hope. Goodbye.

Birgit Pauii-Haack: Goodbye.

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