In this episode, Mark Uraine and Birgit Pauli-Haack discuss an upcoming Live Q & A on our YouTube Channel, a Full Site Editing Theme development course, the release of WordPress 5.4.2 and Gutenberg 8.3, plus Community Contributions.
Live Q & A again, so save the date June 26 at 2pm EDT 18:00 UTC on Block-based Themes and Full Site editing with Carolina Nymark, Eileen Violini and Kjell Reigstad.
- Carolina Nymark: Full-site editing Course and Blog
- Riad Benguella Experiments with using blocks for Collaboration.
WordPress 5.4.2 A security and maintenance updates.
- What’s new in Gutenberg (11 June)
- Gutenberg 8.3 Updates Block Categories, Includes Parent Block Selector, and Adds New Design Controls
What is in active development or discussed
Birgit Pauli-Haack: Hello, and welcome to our 22nd episode of the Gutenberg change log. In today’s episode, we will talk about the next live Q&A coming up for Gutenberg Times, full site editing theme development course, the WordPress 5.4.2 release, Gutenberg 8.3 release, and other good things coming from the community. My name is Birgit Pauli-Haack and I’m the curator of the Gutenberg Times, and I’m here with my co-host, Mark Uraine, designer at Automattic and core contributor to WordPress. Hi Mark, how are you today?
Mark Uraine: Hey, very good. I’m doing well. I’ll tell you, the summer heat has definitely hit home recently. I’ve been building a skate ramp in my backyard for my kids in the afternoons and that heat is intense. I’m hoping to finish it this weekend though, and I could watch the kids enjoy some skateboarding through the summer.
Birgit Pauli-Haack: That sounds like great fun. I wish I were a bit younger, but skateboarding is probably, if I would do this, it would kill me because I would still think I’m a 15-year-old and I can do all these things.
Mark Uraine: I’m right there with you.
Virtual Contributor Day – WordCamp Europe
Birgit Pauli-Haack: So last week, so many things happened, even in the WordPress space, and one of the big highlights was the first virtual contributor day at WordCamp Europe. And we participated in it with the documentation team and we’ve had a five hours open Zoom meeting with demos and Q&A and new ideas. And how we’re going to organize, block, edit documentation. We had two rooms. One was for the end user documentation and one was for the developer documentation.
And we had a lot of people coming in, especially for the block editor end user documentation, because it’s one thing that people can do easily without having to write code or review code or something like that. So there were many, many enthusiastic people on there and we got at least eight or nine pages published. Six are still in the queue. I have quite a few things to do, mainly to kind of get myself out of the equation because right now I’m the bottleneck for reviews, and with people are kind of doing reviews and doing publishing. And so we all organizing ourselves in a new channel, not as a new channel, but we are hijacking an existing channel, which is the meta-help hub on the WordPress Slack.
Mark Uraine: You are an amazing leader, so I have no doubt you’re going to get them the resources they need, and they will be able to step in and take on some of the reviewing for you to help you out there.
Birgit Pauli-Haack: I definitely hope so. And Mark, happy anniversary! It’s one year since we recorded our introduction episode on June 14, 2019.
Mark Uraine: Oh, my goodness. Already a year?
Birgit Pauli-Haack: Yeah.
Mark Uraine: It has been so fun with you on this podcast. I’ve loved every minute.
Birgit Pauli-Haack: Yeah, same here, same here. I learned so much and it’s exciting to see that also more and more people are listening to the show. And well, thank you Mark for this adventure, and thank you to the listeners for being so loyal and encouraging us. And that’s what we live for, pretty much.
Mark Uraine: Yeah. Thank you. Happy anniversary!
Birgit Pauli-Haack: Yeah. Speaking of listener comments, Kim White, an early supporter of the Gutenberg Times on Patreon for many months and a core organizer and teammate on the WordCamp US 2018 and 19 on the sponsor relations team and an excellent speaker on WordCamps. She wrote in her review on iTunes:
“The only way I can keep on top of the changes in the WordPress editor. I work every day building and supporting WordPress websites. It’s important I know what’s happening now and what’s coming up for the new editor. This podcast has made me aware of relevant changes and enhancements I need to know to keep my knowledge and websites up to date.” Thank you so much, Kim. This is an awesome review and we are very, very grateful for that.
Mark Uraine: Thank you, Kim. Yeah, that’s wonderful to hear.
Live Q & A – YouTube
Birgit Pauli-Haack: We also have an announcement. We are starting live Q&A on the Gutenberg Times YouTube channel again. Well, I have one session scheduled for June 26 at 2:00 PM Eastern that’s 18 UTC. And we will talk about block-based themes and full site editing with Carolina Nymark, Eileen Violini, and Kjell Reigstad. They are all major contributors on the project and expert theme developers. So we will have the registration link in the show notes, of course, or just subscribe to the Gutenberg YouTube channel, which is youtube.com/gutenbergtimes, and you will receive notification as soon as we go live. So it’s going to be a great show. We have some demos for you and we will have discussed the whole full site editing and how your theme can change, have to change, don’t have to change, then of all the different angles of it. So join us.
Mark Uraine: Yeah, that sounds like a great lineup of people, Birgit. Wonderful people involved with themes and blocks and how that all fits together. I know recently we’ve been doing more Zoom conversations in the design channel and we’ll pull up a video conversation and just kind of talk through some design work that someone’s doing. And Eileen has been showing up, and she’s been bringing some really great questions about how these template parts interact with blocks and really like giving us some great insight into how others are looking at this working together. And so thank you, Eileen, for that. That’s been so helpful. I look forward to that Q&A.
Birgit Pauli-Haack: Yeah, me, too. Cause I get to ask all my questions to all.
Mark Uraine: Yeah. I’ll push you some other questions maybe, as well. There’s been some community contributions lately, as there always are. This section is never without contributions from people, which makes me so happy to see people always innovating, always building, always doing something out there.
Carolina Nymark created a full site editing course and blog. It’s at fullsiteediting.com and the heading on her site really explains it all. It says, “Full site editing will change how everyone uses themes, and how we build with them.” That is such a good way to explain it for people coming to her site. Jump into those courses. They’re fantastic. They give some really good clarity around what’s happening in Gutenberg right now and how it’s going to affect themes in the future. So I really recommend it; both Birgit and I recommend that.
Birgit Pauli-Haack: Yeah, absolutely.
Mark Uraine: Another contribution from Riad Benguella, he’s been experimenting with using blocks for collaboration. So he’s got an editor that you can spin up at asblocks.com and you can jump in and start typing a post, and then invite others to jump in and collaborate on the posts with you in real time. WPTavern’s Sarah Gooding has the skinny on this in a post on WPTavern. And I know that the Gutenberg Team actually used this this week to organize the what’s new post for Gutenberg 8.3. And it worked really well. I know I jumped in on there, and I saw there were like four other people at the time writing in the same post altogether at once. And that’s kind of the phase three of where Gutenberg is going. So, seeing some of this happen gets me so excited.
Birgit Pauli-Haack: Yeah, me too. And I have all the three years that the Gutenberg Times is now around. Later this month, we will have our anniversary, three-year anniversary. And one of the complaints was that decisions were made without a lot of input. And then I said, okay, well, three months before release that input doesn’t do anything. It needs to be three years before release. And that’s pretty much now for phase three.
Mark Uraine: Right.
Birgit Pauli-Haack: So it’s the moment where everybody puts their heads together and thinks through, how can this go forward? That’s actually one of the reasons for this change log is also to alert people that people are working on this now. It’s nothing set in stone, but it’s all experimental, it’s explorations, it’s side tracks of some things. So one process for the full site editing is, I haven’t had this in the show notes, but there is a new channel on WordPress Slack.
That’s the full editing outreach project. Where Josepha had a call for people to apply for being part of that group, which were small business theme developers, those who build sites for others to get at the full site editing and test it and really put some input together. And, Ann McCarthy is actually liaison for that and does developer relations for that part and other parts, too. So, there’s a lot of things happening. Just don’t ignore things if you want to have an input or if you want to be at the beginning of something. It’s always great to see the beginning of something, and then study three years later, how did it come to pass for that?
Mark Uraine: You bring up a good point though, about trying to get in at the beginning of something, right? WordPress has been around for a long time, but there’s so much opportunity right now where it is the beginning of a lot of different things happening in WordPress. And it’s a great place for people to come and join and just get involved early on.
WordPress 5.4.2 Release
Birgit Pauli-Haack: Yeah. So the next section in our changelog here is the what’s released, and this week was release week, not only for a Gutenberg plugin, but also for WordPress 5.4.2. It was actually released before Gutenberg 8.3 and it was a security and maintenance update. It tightened security for file uploads and some other cross site scripting issues that surfaced. And it also was the opportunity to fix some regression and bug fixes mostly for the 2020 theme. If you had some quirks with that, they should be resolved. Definitely update now. Most hosting companies all automatically update, and hopefully you also had automatic updates for the point release and security releases. It was patched back to 3.7. That always happens with the security release. Yeah. So that’s about work with 5.4.2.
Gutenberg 8.3 Release
So Gutenberg 8.3 has another big release with 146 change items. That’s more than 146 PRs.
And that’s awesome. Yeah. You kind of feel that 5.5 is kind of around the corner. There’s only four weeks to go, two more releases before beta one of WordPress 5.5 is on schedule. So there will be 8.4 and 8.5 features that will go into core and 5.5. And so beta is scheduled for July 7 and then 5.5 for users on August 11. Yeah.
So what’s in Gutenberg? New features. So first there’s an experimental padding control for the color block and then there is a link control. That’s something that, as soon as we have background color for paragraphs, I was waiting for the link color to come in. So that’s been about two and a half years because every time you change the color and the background color and the text color, and you have a link in there, it didn’t change color. It takes the theme color.
Mark Uraine: That’s so true. And so oftentimes, right, you want the background to kind of match the theme color, but it might be the same color as the link. The link, you’re losing that.
Birgit Pauli-Haack: So there was this white space in between that nobody knows, oh, hover over, then you know it’s a link. It’s the hidden link or those secret ink. It’s still experimental, but it’s in 8.3.
The team also changed the default block categories. So if you are a plugin developer or have some blocks in the repository, you don’t have to worry about it. There are provisions for backwards compatibility. And then one thing I really, really like, I tested it yesterday, is the new parent block selector for time blocks. When you have a column and then multiple columns in a columns block, or in a cover block, you have multiple columns, and it was very hard to figure out where is the parent block. How do you get there to the controls of the color block or the group block? And you always have to kind of aim for it and it was hit and miss. And now the tool bar, when you click on the…
Mark Uraine: Or hover.
Birgit Pauli-Haack: …transformer actually, it opens up another button on top of it that kind of gets you one step higher to the parent and then to the parents. So it’s very easy to kind of follow through that if you have a mouse. I don’t know yet how that works with the keyboard, but I think they worked it out. Just need somebody to test this and see.
Mark Uraine: If I’m right, I believe it’s actually easier with the keyboard. I think there’s a way you might be able to arrow or something right through the nesting columns. Yeah.
Birgit Pauli-Haack: Yeah, I think the arrow keys, the up and down arrow keys, get you through the hierarchy of your nested blocks. So these are great features in there, just a little caveat of the custom spacing on the cover block, as well as the link color. They both are experimental, but they are not in the experimental settings. You need to add underscore support function to your theme to unlock those features.
Mark Uraine: That’s right. Yeah. So it makes sure that you get that theme support in there and you’ll be able to use these features in the editor. Great point.
That takes us to the enhancements. There are about 20 enhancements, several applied to the blocks themselves. You had like the site title block, adding alignment. There’s the latest post block adds the ability to filter by author now. We can add transforms between the core widgets that have equivalent of the blocks. So that kind of means when you’re on the widget blocks screen or the widget areas screen and the experiments in Gutenberg, that if you already have a pre-existing widget there, in one of the widget areas, you can hover over the transform tool and transform it to the block rather than using the widget. So it’s kind of an easier way to get to the block rather than relying on the widget itself right now.
There’s a little interface packages that some updates that happen, like adding block areas tab sidebar to the widget screen.
Birgit Pauli-Haack: Say that again.
Mark Uraine: Yeah, five times real fast. When you’re in the widgets area screen in the block inspector… In the editor, you normally have the document tab and then you have the block tab, so it gives you settings for either one. Well, in the widget areas screen, you have a block area tab and you have the block tab. So because in the widget screen you might have, depending on what the theme defines for you, but you might have a couple of different widget areas as we’re all familiar with. And so you’re able to jump through those areas pretty quickly.
The sidebar reacts to screen size now and refactors to use the interface package. So there’s some more responsive features kind of coming into the UI itself. As you’re familiar with now that the inserter kind of opens up as a side panel, so when the screen is too small, if you have the inserter open and the block inspector open, it could collide with things, so it kind of like might hide the sidebar for you, basically. Let’s see, there’s moving between nested levels with the arrow keys and navigation.
Birgit Pauli-Haack: That’s confirmation, yes.
Mark Uraine: And adding icons for the image tools. And so we’re updating some more icons that got merged in. Basically the image block is coming with a lot of new image features that you can edit an image with. So, we need some icons being integrated there. Along with those enhancements, there are about three new APIs. These included things like adding a new package, @wordpress/lazy-import, for lazily installed packages, and added in experimental block types end point to expose all registered blocks.
Birgit Pauli-Haack: All right. Yeah. You mentioned before we are now in the experimental section of changes that come with Gutenberg 8.3, and the first one is the experimental version of the rich imaging editing tools.
Mark Uraine: Rich image editing tool. That’s how you say it.
Birgit Pauli-Haack: Rich image editing tools, not permitting tools, but rich image, editing tools. And so you can crop them, you can resize them, you can rotate them. And it’s all done in the block editor. You don’t have to go back to the media library to do all of this. It is experimental and it tries to kind of not destroy your work, but so test it out, and if you find bugs or something like that, because that would be so awesome. When it came into 5.5, a lot of people are waiting for that and for a content creator. That’s just wonderful when you can edit the images right there and not go to a different tool.
If you want to see how that looks, go to WordPress TV and look for the WordCamp Europe. There’s only one video from WordCamp Europe 2020 now online, well, at least this weekend. There might be more, but Matias demonstrated those image editing tools live to 5,000 users on WordCamp Europe.
And it was quite amazing to see how that all works. We put the, of course the link to the video, into the show notes with the timestamp where he does that.
So in the experimental section to have the rich image editing tools, you need to enable them on the experimental setting screen of Gutenberg. It’s now another checkbox that you have to click. And then for the full site editing, there’s a new template creation flow for the edit. The site also tries to un-customize templates on the first load, so some business logic was refactored into closed style, but now reacting to the theme.json file. So when you put in a theme.json file, you can control the global styles or make them default styles. And then also for some blocks support, the global signs are also supported in the block.json, that is used for the single block plugin and the block directory and anywhere else, where there’s a block, obviously, the global signs are now supported from the block.json. I don’t know if that makes sense, but sounded better in my head.
In the navigation screen, there was a lot of work being done to also make it available on small screens, fetch all the menus over from the other interface. That’s really helpful, so you have backwards compatibility and you have a starting block for your menus that you do in your full site editing as well as in your smaller ones in your post and pages. And then there is movement on the block directory. There were some refactor done in how the status and the block is stored. Some semantic elements were needed or useful to download heading. And they’re also trying to list all the installed blocks in a pre-publishing sidebar. That’s going to be interesting to see in terms of how that’s going to work out and what information that brings. The block directory is still on the tentative 5.5 list, but there are quite a few people now working on it, so I’m keeping my fingers crossed that we get at least some experimental stuff into 5.5.
Mark Uraine: Me, too. I’m looking forward to that.
Birgit Pauli-Haack: Yeah. So the block fixes for existing blocks to tighten them up, to fix them up, like the latest block we had. The author selection for the latest block’s already in there. It’s also fixed that it displays. The legacy Richards Mark already mentioned that, that you can kind of convert them. Some bug fixes necessary for that to work smoothly or as smoothly as possible. And then the group block, the gallery block, the color block, the navigation block, and the buttons block all have some bug fixes and make the interface even more stable.
Mark Uraine: They’re all fantastic. Let me tell you, all of that.
Birgit Pauli-Haack: Yeah, well, they’re all necessary. And for the user, definitely. And also for the developers who work with all that.
There were some performance fixes or changes and they’re all in a higher order component. That’s more for the block developers and for the Gutenberg developers to use or not use because they remove the… ifBlockEditSelected component and the remove the withBlockEditContext, a higher order component, just to mention it.
Mark Uraine: Yeah. Yeah, definitely. And then we had about 26 documentation changes, several in the handbook, the theme.json specification, documenting the link color feature and the features integration. Some others include the initial documentation for architecture decisions, reusable blocks, initial improvement documentation. There’s a lot of conversation around reusable blocks right now, especially with how these template parts work and everything. So it’s good to see these updates to the documentation. JSDoc comments included several things, block editor, the block library, blocks components, just you name it. It seems like it got some comments there. Contributor docs had some changes like adding the code examples section.
Birgit Pauli-Haack: Yay.
Mark Uraine: Yeah, right. And you’re the docs guru here, Birgit, so if you see others that I’m not calling out please….
Birgit Pauli-Haack: No, no. The developer documentation, it’s another team, you know. It’s another team. We don’t do code. But it’s good to know that there is what’s there.
Mark Uraine: It really is. It really is. The environment referencing the destroy command, fixed use of backticks, all improving the end to end test read me file. It’s a lot of things throughout there.
The code quality section had about 16 changes this time around. These included refactoring some components to use hooks. Some of those components were like the block title, block compare, tab panel, all these things, polishing the image size control. There’s a number of them here that were improving the code quality.
And then there were a total of two breaking changes. So these are the big ones that everybody should be aware of out there, the legacy ENV command and then the ES limp plugin scripts, updating the ESLint and related deps to 7.1 0.
Birgit Pauli-Haack: I’m thinking that’s dependencies, right?
Mark Uraine: Dependencies. Yes. Thank you.
Birgit Pauli-Haack: Yeah. So all this geek talk here.
Mark Uraine: Right.
Birgit Pauli-Haack: Yeah. That brings us, the talk about deep talk, to the bill tooling had 14 changes. The most of them were in the local development package environment package. And one stood out that it’s now having a correct multisite support. So you can have now a development environment that is a multisite enabled.
And then more scripts add support to postcss.congif.js and support for the splitting up the jest configuration for test commands, and a Webpack loader rules for CSS and SASS files or the split for the Webpack loader rules. So there’s some release tool. One’s about open issues. The changelog is enhanced to entry normalization, and then the performance tool fixes to one across branches, development branches on the repository, I would say.
Then there were some, the most important section, right, is the various section. That’s our kitchen drawer where we find everything that we couldn’t put in any other drawers. There are 20 changes there and I don’t see anything that needs to have a shout out.
Mark Uraine: Yeah. Just alignment of icons, fixing some read meets and tags, code owner updates. Not a whole lot. Yeah. Yeah.
Birgit Pauli-Haack: There’s some end to end test changes that might be important for contributors and those who… Oh, there’s a mousetrap change. We have more cheese than the mousetrap. Sorry. All right. So that was our release of a Gutenberg 8.3 tested out. Well, hope you have fun with it. There are some great things in there that I definitely want to have fun with.
Mark Uraine: For sure. Birgit, that takes us to some of the things that are happening right now, which we know WordPress 5.5, as we mentioned earlier, is on the horizon. We’ve had some clarification around the Gutenberg or the editor or editor leads for that release. We know Ella van Durpe will be the tech lead, and she will be leading that with Michael Arestad, who will be the design lead for this release on the editor. And they’re maintaining a project board on GitHub. It’s the project 45, but that project board will kind of cover all of the features that they’re really hoping to push and get into 5.5, so keep your eyes on that project board.
And that 5.5 should include the Gutenberg plugin versions from 7.6 through 8.4 or 8.5, depending. And those versions will be merged in decor. Any help you can give on issues or testing, reporting bugs or development, those are all great places to start. So, for an overview of what will be in WordPress 5.5, coming from Gutenberg, you can read a post that I put up on the make core blog on wordpress.org, titled “Editor Features for WordPress 5.5.”
Birgit Pauli-Haack: Yes. And it gives you a great overview of that. Now we are at the end of our show, but I wanted to highlight the theme team that started about four weeks ago, publishing the Gutenberg + Theme News on their make blog. And they just posted also this week’s blog post. And we will have the link in the show notes.
Mark Uraine: He did it and now he’s helping everybody else learn it deeply, which is….
Birgit Pauli-Haack: Yeah, absolutely. He has some bootcamps and courses on this website, but the conference will have a one-day workshop. That’s a beginner react workshop. And then a one-day one-track conference about WordPress and Gutenberg and the next day would be a one-day one-track headless WordPress talks and presentations.
So that’s it for this week’s show. Well, thank you all for listening, and thank you, Mark, for walking us through all this and yeah. I hope you have-
Mark Uraine: Always a big list to go through with you, Birgit. These changelogs, wow, they’re amazing.
Birgit Pauli-Haack: Yeah, it is really. So, as always, the show notes will be published on the gutenbergtimes.com/podcast. This is episode 22.
And if a show that you listen to moves you and you’ve got a few minutes time, please, leave us a review on iTunes. You can learn how to do this if you don’t know yet. If that would be your first review on iTunes, there is a how-to tutorial on gutenbergtimes.com/iTunes. And we read it on the shelf. And be honest, yeah, it doesn’t have to be a four-star review. We read every review and we are very happy when you give us your feedback. That’s it. Thanks for listening, goodbye. And for me, until the next time.
Mark Uraine: All right, goodbye everybody. Thank you so much, Birgit, it was a wonderful time with you.
Birgit Pauli-Haack: Thank you. Same here.