Gutenberg Changelog #73 – Gutenberg 14.1, next default theme, design Tools in WordPress 6.1

Gutenberg Changelog
Gutenberg Changelog
Gutenberg Changelog #73 - Gutenberg 14.1, next default theme, design Tools in WordPress 6.1

Birgit Pauli-Haack and her special guest, Channing Ritter from the WordPress design team, discussed features in Gutenberg 14.1 release, default theme Twenty-Twenty-Three and the update to the design tools coming to the next WordPress release.

Show Notes / Transcript

Show Notes

Gutenberg 14.1

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Birgit Pauli-Haack: Hello and welcome to our 73rd episode of the Gutenberg Changelog. Today, we are going to talk about Gutenberg 14.1, WordPress 6.1, and a lot of good design tools. I’m Birgit Pauli-Haack, curator at the Gutenberg Times and full-time contributor to the WordPress open-source project. And, today, I’m thrilled to have with me, as co-host, Channing Ritter, from the WordPress design team and design director at Automattic. Good afternoon, Channing. Thank you for joining me.

Channing Ritter: Hi.

Birgit Pauli-Haack: We have been trying to do this together for so many months. So happy it’s worked out today.

Channing Ritter: Good afternoon. Thank you so much for having me. I’m really excited to be here.

Birgit Pauli-Haack: Awesome. Awesome. So what have you been working on at Automattic right now?

Channing Ritter: I have been working a lot on the 2023 default theme that’s coming up soon with the 6.1 release. It’ll be released alongside 6.1 in November. So it’s been a really, really interesting process. It’s different than the way we’ve previously done the default theme, in the sense that it’s been very collaborative with folks all across the community helping design the theme and designing different style variations that will get bundled with the theme. So it’s been a really interesting process. We’ve been having a lot of fun so far.

Birgit Pauli-Haack: Yeah. So how many submissions did you get?

Channing Ritter: We got 38 total. Yeah.

Birgit Pauli-Haack: Wow. Yeah. For a first time, that’s really cool. Yeah.

Channing Ritter: Very cool. And they’re amazing submissions as well. If you go through the repository and just glance through what people submitted, they’re so creative. They’re so unique, and everything’s really pushing the boundaries of what’s possible in the editor currently.

Birgit Pauli-Haack: Awesome. Awesome. Yeah. We will show in the… We’ll share, in the show notes, the link to the repositories so, dear listeners, you can go and kind of browse around, get your own creativity going. And, also, is there a process for, or thought about a process for, the ones that don’t make it into the default theme because there were only 10 that make it? What happens with the others? Is there a way to download them, upload them, or something like that? Or what would be a good process to also use them?

Channing Ritter: There should be. We haven’t quite figured out what it will be yet, but it sounds like it might be a child theme or some way of showcasing all these amazing submissions. Because, like you said, there’s so many cool ones. And we really are only moving forward with 10 that will get bundled with the theme. But I think folks would definitely love to be able to play with all of the submissions because there’s some great stuff there.

Birgit Pauli-Haack: Yeah. Yeah. I know that Justin Tadlock plans to do a child scene with that, with his variation, and maybe bundles others as well. So we’ll see.

Channing Ritter: His submission rough draft was really great. I really enjoyed his submission especially.


Birgit Pauli-Haack: Yeah. Yeah. So, yeah. Well, thank you for going through this with me. So the first announcement that we have is, of course, yesterday… No, September 13th, the release team was on a recorded public Zoom call to discuss what features will make it into WordPress 6.1. And, of course, the recording is available now on WordPress make blog. I will share it in the show notes. But, also, the team gave us an outline of what will be coming in 6.1. And so, at the start, Matias also walked us through the default theme, with the various style variations. But what else is going to be in WordPress? Is there anything that stands out for you?

Channing Ritter: Yeah. I really enjoyed the product demo, by the way. I know it was very cool to see Matias demo-ing 2023, but also showing how 2023 will interact with some of the new features that have been built into the editor at this point. He especially showed… One thing I thought especially cool was the zoomed-out view, where you can kind of zoom out and see the full template and kind of interact with things at a container level. I don’t think it’s going to make it into 6.1 because it’s still flagged as an experimental feature, but it was so cool to see that and how he was interacting with the style variations.

And you can really get a sense of the different style variations in that view because you can see so much more of the template. I thought that was very, very cool. And then also tons of interesting new design capabilities that we’re also playing with in 2023, for example, the fluid typography and the spacing presets. It’s been really cool to experiment with those in 2023. And I think it’ll give folks a good example to kind of go out and start using those new features, just kind of referencing what was done in the default theme.

Birgit Pauli-Haack: Yeah. Especially the fluid topography really puts responsiveness right into the editor and to the front end without having to think about view ports or think about other considerations. It just kind of scales if the theme actually happens to use those things naturally. Yeah.

Channing Ritter: Yeah. Exactly.

Birgit Pauli-Haack: So, yeah, there will also be the new version of the quote block that we talked here on the show about, where you can add inner blocks to the quote block. So you can put a heading in there and images and paragraphs and lists. And then there’s also a new version of the list block, where each list item is now a block. And you can navigate that a little bit better with up and down. There were also quite a myriad of changes to locking things that started with 6.0, but now it’s expanded into patterns. You can lock certain blocks and patterns, and you can lock the child. There’s this: Apply these locks to the blocks inside the container block. And then so these content locks for blocks is really expansion of that. Do you know how that’s going to work?

Channing Ritter: Yeah. So I think this one is super interesting. And, like you said, the first kind of iteration of locking controls was released with 6.0, but those were more… It was almost like a blunt instrument for locking. You could lock down things like movement or removal of a block. But the content lock is such a more nuanced locking control. Right? Because you can lock down the general structure of something, like, say, a pattern, but then restrict the editing capabilities so that folks can’t kind of take apart the pieces of the pattern. But yet they can still get inside to edit text, make copy tweaks, change out images, that sort of thing. So you have a lot of control over the general structure and the attributes of the pattern, but folks can still get in there and make edits. So I think it’s a really interesting evolution of the locking controls that were introduced in the previous release.

Birgit Pauli-Haack: Yeah. And I think it’s also a merging of two concepts, one that was in the block editor from the beginning, which was a reusable block, which always tripped a few people up. Because they changed it, and then they changed it all over the site, in that they used it as a pattern, where patterns weren’t available. And, instead of kind of converting it to regular blocks and then changing, they changed the reusable block, and it was the same over the whole site.

Channing Ritter: Right.

Birgit Pauli-Haack: I think combining those two concepts is probably further down the line, where, yeah, things can be locked down for content or for structure and styling and be a little bit more granular in the lock pieces. Yeah.

Channing Ritter: I also think it’s interesting the way that both the zoomed-out view and the content lock are kind of moving towards the same idea of this container-first editing. It’s been a real pin point we’ve seen over the past many releases, is that folks struggle with these kinds of complex block structures, where you have a lot of nested inner blocks. And it’s something that I’ve seen people really struggle with. Especially, in June, we did user testing, as a part of the full site editor outreach program. And we paired with folks and kind of watched them try to make changes in the editor.

And that was something that, over and over again, you see folks struggling with that. They think they’ve selected a certain level. They think they’ve selected the parent. But they’re not actually on the parent and are accidentally changing the wrong level of block. So I think that’s an issue that we’ve been trying to come at, from the product design side, of trying to solve that in many different ways. And I think both the zoomed-out view and the content lock are interesting kind of simplifications of the editing process. And the container-first approach, I think, could go a long way towards just general usability and making it super easy to make changes without trying to dig through and figure out which level you’re at, or are you editing the right block, and that sort of thing.

Birgit Pauli-Haack: Yeah. I can see that, yeah, even just thinking about a parent and child kind of concept. And how do you get to the parent when the toolbar then, all of a sudden, changes? And then you’re looking for some controls in the sidebar, but you have selected the wrong block. Yeah. I can see that. Yeah. There’s definitely some usability there. Sometimes, it’s also just the complexity of, all of a sudden, you have so much more freedom that these concepts need to be learned first before you even can manage your freedom well.

Channing Ritter: Right.

Birgit Pauli-Haack: Yeah. So, yeah, it’s an interesting balance to strike with the interface there. Yeah. And we will have, of course… What we talked here quite a bit was also for 6.1. There will be more templates available to the site builder, or site owner, to get through the template interface, where you can add new templates for authors and for… We had the authors and some others. But now it’s also for custom post types. You can do it for single categories. So you can have, on your site, a category WordPress, a category travel, and a category personal notes. And each one of them can have a different styling on their summary post or on their single post blocks. So that’s going to be a real change for the capabilities of WordPress at all. Because, before, you actually needed a developer to implement those template changes. And now you can do them all yourself, when you have additional block custom prototypes that are available through plugins and all that.

Channing Ritter: Agreed. Those are really big changes. And I think we saw a lot of changes there, in 6.0, which kind of expanded template creation capabilities. And it’s cool to see that continue into 6.1, with it just getting more and more refined.

Birgit Pauli-Haack: And then there will also be some developer focused changes, or features, in there. There’s the big style engine revamp of the consolidation of classes and styles and style variables. Then the team has been working on PHP hooks for the theme JSON file. And, also, there is also a call for testing out, but there’s also an elements API that, right now, I think, only goes through the theme JSON, where, for any heading, you can have a setting, a styling, in the theme JSON file, without identifying the block or the blocks where those could be used. The same with links and other on buttons. There you can have a general kind of styling for those. And then there will be also settings for the captions, yeah, like the embed. The images have captions. Galleries has a caption. And the embed blocks have captions. And those were only… You only could do, I think, bold and italics and a link in there, but now you can actually add more settings to them or styling to them but only through the theme JSON. The user interface hasn’t been built yet, I don’t think, even designed yet.

Channing Ritter: I think you’re right. It tends to go that way. Right. The capability is added in theme JSON first, and then get around to adding some UI there.

Birgit Pauli-Haack: Yeah. And I like that because then you can actually see what people do with it before.

Channing Ritter: Yeah. Me too.

Birgit Pauli-Haack: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. So there will also be, in the 6.1, a feature where you can use block-based template parts in classic themes. And we have been hearing that quite a lot that, for the classic themes, or those that have doing hybrid themes, if they could gradually adopt block themes, or full site editing, by giving a certain feature, opening up certain features for classic themes. And the template parts have been merged into Gutenberg 14.1 and will be in the beta next week for 6.1. And there is a call for testing and feedback about using it because it’s the first version.

And, as you know, the first version is never really built out. It kind of does the most important things. But what else is needed? And does it even work? The developers have envisioned that. So it offers you, yeah, as I said, gradual adoption. And it’s full set editing. Agencies have requested that. And that needs to be testing before we go into release candidate, which is beta. Beta one is September 20th. And then, three weeks after that, which… Release candidate is on October 11th. So it would be good if your feedback would come in before October 4th, for the last beta, to make some changes to that. And I think that…

Channing Ritter: This is a…

Birgit Pauli-Haack: Go ahead.

Channing Ritter: This is a perfect feature for a full site editing call for testing, in my opinion. It’s just such a major feature. Like you said, it’s something we’ve talked about for a long time. And, obviously, we want to encourage folks to be adopting site editing and all the amazing new capabilities that are possible. And it kind of is an easier barrier for entry or lowers the barrier for entry. And it gives folks an easy way to try it out with their classic themes.

Birgit Pauli-Haack: And it also gives a perfect opportunity for agencies to talk with their customers about one thing that they can offer to them that they can change, like headers, or footers, or maybe sidebar items. So they can both, clients and agencies, can kind of figure out what’s the balance between being locked down and giving freedom. And I like that. Hopefully, we get quite a few feedback on that before it makes it to 6.1. We also are certainly happy to get the feedback afterwards. But then the change might not happening until 6.2, which is not yet scheduled. But it will come in 2023.

Channing Ritter: Right.

Birgit Pauli-Haack: That 6.1 is the last major release in 2022, yeah, while we are at it. So I can repeat the dates again. Beta one is September 20th. The scheduled release candidate is, right now, scheduled for October 11. And then the final release is scheduled for November 1st, in 2022.

Channing Ritter: Coming soon.

Birgit Pauli-Haack: Coming soon to a WordPress instance near you.

Channing Ritter: Exactly.

Community Contributions

Birgit Pauli-Haack: That brings us to the community contributions of this show. And I have two things. And some of you probably have already heard about it, either through Gutenberg Times or through Twitter. So I had a conversation with Artur Grabowski from the Extendify team, and they have a new product they work with, called Launch. And they work with hosting companies to install the most modern onboarding experience for WordPress customers of the hosting companies. Hosting companies did some research, and they have a relatively high churn rate on 50% of customers leaving for an SAS for software as a service, CMS, also a locked one. And Launch, the Extendify Launch, should help them to help those WordPress customers to onboard. And they give them very personalized information.

They ask for the goals for the industry and then have images and copy that is already kind of usable for those verticals and then also have a simultaneous integration for the WordPress instance. Give them a to-do list on: Yeah. What’s next? Write your about page. And here you need to have your contact form and also include a… They don’t include yet anything for third party page builders. But this is so important, when you have ever seen someone who installs WordPress on a hosting company’s site and then is greeted with a WP admin dashboard. Many people are lost and don’t know what to do next. And, most of the time, it’s kind of installed at page builder, which, yeah, it’s not kind of… And then they’re lost for WordPress entirely.

Channing Ritter: Right. Right. That sounds like a great project. I can’t wait to check this out actually.

Birgit Pauli-Haack: Yeah. It did. So I only saw a demo. I didn’t get my hands on it yet. But it’s also very, very new. So they just started talking with the hosting companies. I will share the link in the show notes, so you can check out their website and see what they have planned there. The second interesting conversation… I had many, many interesting conversations at WordCamp US. And one got really my attention. One was with Aaron Edwards. He demonstrated an early beta version of the Imagine newest product, which is a plugin that brings the magic, as they say, the magic of AI image generation to WordPress. So you give a prompt for an image generation API through that plugin, like a young female assembling blocks in the right corner of a car repair shop kind of thing. And then you get a set of images back indicated. So, in the interface, you can indicate which painter you wanted to kind of feel like.

And I selected the Mexican painter Frida Kahlo. And, in the second set, the Spanish painter Salvador Dali. And it was really interesting to see how that topic kind of changes with the different styles. And, if you haven’t yet looked, the featured image on the latest post. Weekend edition 2028 actually has an image, a featured image that was AI generated through that plugin. I just heard this morning… And we are recording this on September 15th. … That the plugin is now available through the repo. So I will add it to the show notes. Right? Fresh from here.

Channing Ritter: So cool.

Birgit Pauli-Haack: So have you played with any imaging AI?

Channing Ritter: Yeah. I’ve been playing with Midjourney a lot, way too much. It’s hard to tear yourself away once you get going.

Birgit Pauli-Haack: Yeah. It’s really addictive. And Midjourney has-

Channing Ritter: Definitely.

Birgit Pauli-Haack: Yeah. Have you exceeded your free hundred points or whatever it was?

Channing Ritter: Yes. I immediately upgraded. It was really cool. I mean, obviously, there’s a ton of cool things that could be done with this new technology and WordPress. So I’m really excited to check out this plugin.

Birgit Pauli-Haack: Yeah. Yeah. Me too. And I’m glad that it comes to WordPress all the cool stuff as well because it’s such a… Because they used CMS. Yeah.

Channing Ritter: I keep having this idea floating around, in the back of my mind, that the jet pack image compare block would be so cool for trying different styles, if you use the exact same prompt but changed the painter, or the art movement, that’s inspiring the style. And then you could have the image compare block and sort of slide across and see how similar, different the different images are that’s on WordPress.

Birgit Pauli-Haack: That’s a good idea. For demonstration purposes, we can kind of do that.

Channing Ritter: Right.

Birgit Pauli-Haack: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. And this plugin, also, when you give the prompt to it… And it takes about… I don’t know. … 30, 40 seconds. It’s not instantaneous. But it’s very… You can wait for it, and the anticipation increases.

Channing Ritter: Right.

Birgit Pauli-Haack: And then you get four images back. And then you can refine them. And Midjourney has that same.

Channing Ritter: Right.

Birgit Pauli-Haack: Yeah. Where you can refine it, and then you can upscale a portion you like, and then you get more details in it. It’s just, yeah, phenomenal what this does. Yeah.

Channing Ritter: And they’re so much more impressive after you upscale, too.

Birgit Pauli-Haack: Yeah. Yeah. Which one was it? I think… Was it 2027? I spent one morning, on a Sunday, on Midjourney, and I actually had an image in 2027. And 2027 was with Midjourney. And then 2028 was with that plugin. So you already can compare two things right there. Yeah. So, now, from the cool stuff to the cool stuff. 

What’s Released – Gutenberg 14.1

So what’s released? We are looking at the Gutenberg plugin release 14.1 with 59 contributors. And seven of them, new contributors, merged 348 PRs in this release.

Channing Ritter: Wow.

Birgit Pauli-Haack: That’s a huge number.

Channing Ritter: That’s a huge number. I love when you… The Gutenberg releases, the last few leading up to a major WordPress release, are always so epic. There’s so many things getting merged at the last moment. It’s really exciting.

Birgit Pauli-Haack: Yeah. And, yeah, no, don’t fear. We are not going to go through 348 PRs today. There were a lot of PRs that we’re cleaning up some of the code, or merging something, or migrating something over to a different type script or to switch out Lodash for performance reasons. So that, of course, also contributed to a fair number of PRs. So, yeah, do you want to do us the honor and kind of dive right in into the change log?

Channing Ritter: Yeah. So let’s start with the zoomed-out view that was added to the site editor. We just chatted about that briefly because it was demoed during the 6.0 walkthrough earlier this week. But it is one of the most exciting things, I think, going into this release. And, like I said, it’s always exciting when you’re getting close to a major release, and you have all of these features that have been cooking throughout the release cycle. And then you want to try to get them in. Even if this is going to remain experimental for a while and probably not go into the major release, it’s still really cool to be able to try it in the plugin. So this is something you have to go into the Gutenberg experiments page and actually enable it. So some folks might miss that. You have to turn on this feature in order to be able to try it out.

And, as we mentioned, this is a more container-first approach to editing. It kind of does this really nice zoomed-out effect, where you can see more of the template, above the fold on the page, makes it really easy to select, at a container level, and move around entire sections, really easy to insert new patterns as a new section. And you can imagine that this is just a really easy way to rapidly build out a template from preexisting patterns and making it really easy to, like we were saying before, not get lost in the little granular inner blocks. And you’re looking at more of the big picture layout structure of your template in this view, which I think is incredibly helpful.

Birgit Pauli-Haack: Yeah. And you can then also scroll through, or browse through, all the templates that are on your site and kind of compare them and see what is the same and what is different, just in a great smaller view. But you see the full page of that. So I really like that. Yes. Cool.

Channing Ritter: And another major one, which we also touched on briefly, is the new content locking experience. I had worked a lot on the block locking tools that were released with 6.0. And we had actually tried a couple things around content locking. For example, we tried something on the reusable block, where it would add kind of a click-through overlay. But you wouldn’t be able to click through the overlay. The overlay would kind of block you from being able to edit the content inside. And I think that was an interesting approach, but it was more of a blunt instrument. And, once we started testing that and looking at how it worked, it occurred to us that, actually, folks probably need to be able to edit some of the content inside. And you don’t want to remove all of the editing capabilities. You just kind of want to restrict it. So this is a much more nuanced approach, and I’ve been playing around with it a lot. I think it’s working really well.

Birgit Pauli-Haack: Oh, cool. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Looking forward to that. Yeah. As I said, it’s the kind of reusable block going to be merged into this idea. Yeah.

Channing Ritter: Right. Right. And then, also, lots of design tools improvements. I think we’re seeing a lot of typography support being added just across tons of different blocks, with the goal being to get the design tools to a place where they feel really consistent across different blocks. And, if you interact with topography in a certain way on one block, then you go to a different block. It should be familiar. And you should recognize, see, the same controls there. And a ton of PRs in this release. Is this right? Twenty-two more blocks have more typography support enabled. That’s a lot.

Birgit Pauli-Haack: Yeah. Well, last release, it was 30. So we’re coming to this.

Channing Ritter: Right.

Birgit Pauli-Haack: I think they’re 80 blocks. Well, no, 50 blocks about, in there. And I think it’s now finished with that. In the same round, we… The typography consistency, typography being available consistently over all the blocks where you need to change the font. Also, the same is true for the spacing supports for blocks. So you can have dimension controls and padding and margin. And you can also step through that and have step sizes there. And it’s now also available for the gallery block for the common block category list and other blocks, like it was also from the previous release. It’s a continuation on that. And then what’s also has been… And Matias actually demonstrated that also, in the walkthrough of 6.1, that the transformations are gotten a little bit chaotic because they’re also considered… Which were mostly used or less used blocks.

And so you could get an interesting listing of what you can transform a block to. And now there is a decision made that the most used blocks, like paragraph list and quote… You can kind of have them on the top of the list of all the transforms. So you have always those available, and other blocks actually get additional transformations in this release. The code block can now be transformed to a mere paragraph block, which wasn’t available before. And, back to the spacing, columns block now also have the axial blocks, X-E-L, block spacing. So you can have spacing on one side of it but not on the other, like you can also do with images. Yeah. You can have a radius on one side, but the others are corners, normal corners.

Channing Ritter: Right. Right. Right. These consistency improvements, I feel like they go such a long way with usability, especially for newcomers who are trying to learn how to use Gutenberg. And it is really helpful, right, if you learn how to change a setting on one block. You come to expect those settings, and you know exactly where to find it. It’s really nice to see all this movement.

Birgit Pauli-Haack: Yeah. It really came out great together. And there was a ton of improvements, also, to the navigation block. And I just want to highlight two of those. And you are more than welcome to talk about the others if you wanted to. So there is create a classic navigation menu as draft and for the site editor. So, if there is… That’s certainly something to have the migration process from old to new a little bit smoother, that, when you have a classic menu that you wanted to use and that you can go back and forth with it. Not quite sure how that’s going to work, but it’s definitely something that has been missing.

Channing Ritter: Yeah. Definitely smoothing out some rough edges with the navigation block. All of these improvements are little iterative tweaks, but they go a long way towards just making that block feel like more intuitive, like a little smoother to use. I love a few of these. This adding the animation when you open the overlay, I think that’s so cool. It feels super smooth when you do it. And, even just fixing the position of the X overlay, or the X icon, so it’s in the exact same position as the icon you use to open the overlay, those are the small tweaks that designers obsess over. Right?

Birgit Pauli-Haack: Right. Right. Right. But that make it so easy to spot it when it comes out. And you kind of see it when you’re using it. Yeah. And now you can even select a different icon for your mobile menu button on that, so…

Channing Ritter: Yeah. I love the new icons. Those are great.

Birgit Pauli-Haack: It doesn’t have to be a hamburger. It also can be something else. Right?

Channing Ritter: Those are great. Collectively, all of these improvements to the navigation block, they just make it so much more like customizable and more pixel perfect. I’m really happy to see all this movement happening there.

Birgit Pauli-Haack: Yeah. The designers are really very happy about that. And here’s one that I like very much that’s in the block editor: When you add a link to a paragraph or so, or to a section, and it shows you the latest post and pages in a dropdown box, and now each one of them gets a different icon, so you can distinguish easily by icon: Is it a page? Is it a category page? Or is it a post? So I really like that because then you are sure. Just, if you have a post on a page that have similar titles, yeah, it kind of hard to find the right one, if you don’t have additional clues in there. So I really like that.

Channing Ritter: Yeah. It is really helpful. I had never really thought about it before, but the addition of the icons is very helpful.

Birgit Pauli-Haack: Yeah. Especially also because there is this new keyboard shortcut. I don’t know how new it is. It must be maybe two or three Gutenberg versions before. When you want to do an internal link, you can do just two left brackets, square brackets, and then it gives you a list of all the posts, and you can search on it. And there you will find that too because they use the same component there. So it’s really interesting to see.

Channing Ritter: Yeah. Nice improvements there. And then we also have some great improvements in this release around patterns. So one of them was post type restriction API for patterns. I believe that’s where you can restrict patterns that are being inserted based on the post type. So, if you had a really specific post type, like books or something like that, you could have particular patterns that will only appear for that particular post type, which gives a lot more control over what can be inserted there. And another one was allowing remote pattern registration in theme JSON, when core patterns are disabled. I think this was a request from the theme developer community, who would like the ability to disable the core patterns but still be able to include specific patterns from the pattern directory. So, again, more nuanced controls there, which is very cool.

Birgit Pauli-Haack: Yeah. Yeah. It’s more like a curation. Even if it’s not your own patterns, you can kind of select the best five patterns that you think, as a theme developer, those are good to have, and they fit your theme as well. Then you can have them included in the pattern inserted without enabling all the other 800 patterns that are in pattern directory. And-

Channing Ritter: Right. There’s a lot of great stuff in the pattern directory.

Birgit Pauli-Haack: Right.

Channing Ritter: But you do have to kind of search around to find it.

Birgit Pauli-Haack: Yeah.

Channing Ritter: Very cool.

Birgit Pauli-Haack: Yeah. There is a little bit of a quality kind of… I think we should do a little bit more curation there, in terms of quality of the patterns, but some… It’s just how it is, yeah, when the community comes in. You have all qualities, from low to high and in between. And some are cool, but you would never put it on a business website. Yeah.

Channing Ritter: True. True.

But it’s amazing to see how many are there, considering there wasn’t even a pattern directory maybe a year ago. And just how many community submissions have been added there. It’s amazing. There’s a ton of things to choose between. I use it all the time.

Birgit Pauli-Haack: So we didn’t talk about that. But are there additional patterns that would come with the default theme that you remember?

Channing Ritter: I don’t think so. I think we were kind of looking at… The general approach to the default theme was: Take 2022, and just strip out the opinionated aspects of it, and just make it kind of like a blank canvas approach. And I think we were thinking something similar with the patterns, like almost the exact same patterns as 2022, but maybe strip out some of imagery and whatever else might be included there. I haven’t really taken a close look at that, but it’s probably getting to time where we should be taking a look at that. Good reminder.

Birgit Pauli-Haack: Yeah. All right.

Channing Ritter: And then. Let’s see. One more thing that was added here. This is to global styles, adding outline support for blocks via theme JSON. That’s very cool, to give the ability to control the outlines there on buttons and whatnot.

Birgit Pauli-Haack: Yeah. But it’s only for the theme JSON right now? No UI.

Channing Ritter: No. Ah, right. Right.

Birgit Pauli-Haack: It’s graphic interface, that. Yeah.

Channing Ritter: Always good to start there. Let’s see. And then also theme JSON addition is the ability to style citations. So that was not previously possible. And citations, of course, appear across many different blocks, including, quote, pull quote. So just a little bit more nuanced control there.

Birgit Pauli-Haack: And I know quite a few people add that to their normal text. Yeah. They go to custom HML and then put site in. So now this can be styled as an element as well through the theme. So that’s really… It’s good.

Channing Ritter: Yeah. That’s great.

Birgit Pauli-Haack: Yeah. And, yeah, there’s also a filter for inner blocks for the navigation block that was added. So developers, like plug-in developers, can add additional menu items to the navigation block without having to worry about the interface for users. A use case for that is to add, for instance, a log out or log in menu to a navigation menu when it’s necessary. If you want to have just a subscriber only thing, or it’s for membership plugin or so, that can be added to the navigation block. It took a while to get this in because there was this kind of hesitation to bring something into the block editor without a user interface. But there’s definitely a use case that Andy Fragin had for it. It was really quite plausible and got approved and merged into this release. So it will be available for 6.1.

Yeah. And then Grzegorz also worked on the input that’s more developer oriented, of course, as well, to input individual blocks to your plugin, or, yeah, app, instead of completely input the library. So you can target specific blocks that’s for your app. And then, another for the block API, there’s now a render field for the block JSON that will allow you to point to a dynamic block rendering template on your theme or plugin that you need. So you don’t have to register your rendering page separately. You can just kind of take it from the block JSON meta field, and that’s now enabled. Yeah. And then we are going to get past a lot of back fixes and back fixes and back fixes.

Channing Ritter: A lot. A lot. Yeah.

Birgit Pauli-Haack: A lot. Yeah. Good job, team.

Channing Ritter: Yeah. Squashing those bugs.

Birgit Pauli-Haack: And, yeah, you can definitely kind of go, “Has my bug been fixed?” Yeah. There’s definitely some hurrahs around the community.

Channing Ritter: Thanks.

Birgit Pauli-Haack: So finally it’s been fixed. Yeah.

Channing Ritter: Thanks to everyone who’s been logging the bugs as well.

Birgit Pauli-Haack: Yeah. Thank you. It’s such a major important contribution to actually go through the pain. Sometimes, I say to actually test something that is quirky, and make it so you can make an issue on the Gutenberg repo so people can fix it.

Channing Ritter: Definitely.

Birgit Pauli-Haack: Yeah. It’s such a big contribution.

Channing Ritter: And so many of those bugs come out of the full site editor outreach testing. Folks are constantly uncovering just enhancements and finding bugs and just seeing how things could be improved upon.

Birgit Pauli-Haack: Yeah. Indeed. For all of us, also some for developers, also kind of pointing out some documentation updates that are already available on the block editor handbook… And that is that the documentation for the block template parts for the theme support for classic editors, classic themes… That documentation is already in the repo, I’m sure. We also will have a developer note out when it hits the 6.1. Also, in the call for testing, there are some instructions there, how to test things. So that is definitely a well-rounded feature release. And then another piece of change is that the doc generation script for JavaScript can now handle a SYMS tag. So, changes into packages and other JavaScript tools that are used with Gutenberg components, you can now see since when this particular feature is available in the documentation. That’s something that WordPress does quite a bit in their reference guides on the backend side. But, for JavaScript, it was always a little bit cumbersome to get this in. So, now, there is a first version of that available, and we’ll probably see some more usage of that.

Channing Ritter: Nice.

Birgit Pauli-Haack: So what else?

Channing Ritter: And then, jumping way ahead, we’re coming almost to the end of the list here. Some updates around themes. We’ve already talked about block-based template parts for classic themes, which is huge. Do the call for testing that’s out now. That would be great to get feedback on. Another one that’s pretty cool is adding the ability to add a gradient overlay for the post featured image block. This was actually something that came up when working on 2023. And someone had submitted a style variation with this idea that you could use a gradient overlay on something like the home template, where you have the post featured image block in the query loop. And, obviously, duo tone is possible there already. But the gradient overlay is kind of a different effect. You can make it a bit bolder. You can play with the opacity there. So it was very, very cool to see that, kind of a rise out of a need. Yeah.

Birgit Pauli-Haack: Yes.

Channing Ritter: Yeah. I think there’s this long tradition.

Birgit Pauli-Haack: Gradients.

Channing Ritter: Yeah. Exactly.

Birgit Pauli-Haack: Gradient. Yay.

Channing Ritter: There’s a long, long tradition of default themes kind of influencing features and vice versa, and the product design and the theme development kind of informing each other and working in parallel. And that’s been really cool to see throughout the course of this release cycle. I think that feature, in particular, was something that it was really cool to see that get added and now will be used in that style variation.

Birgit Pauli-Haack:Wonderful.

Channing Ritter: Which is called pilgrimage, by the way. Coming soon with 2023. And then another really cool one is this new justification controls that you can mess with on a constrained layout. And it will give you the ability to kind of add justification to the inner blocks in a container. So you could have them all go left justified or all go right justified. Again, just a lot more detailed, or more nuanced control, than you ever had there before.

Birgit Pauli-Haack: Yeah. Or kind of collecting all the nuanced controls and do it in one step instead of 15. 

Channing Ritter: Right.

Birgit Pauli-Haack: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. I really like that all. That’s awesome. I think we… Did we jump over a few things here? Let me look.

Channing Ritter: Sorry. I may have skipped a couple.

Birgit Pauli-Haack: Yeah. No problem. No problem. We can always go back. And, oh, there was one thing that I wanted to mention. Was that you can now pass extra query arguments to the rest API for an accurate preview of the extenders for the query loop. So that is something that, if you do want to add additional arguments, then you can add them to your blocks or to your block variation. And so it’s more like an extension for developers and theme developers, rather than for AI. Woo Commerce uses that quite a bit and others as well. So, yeah, check that out. The PR has quite a few details in there. And that’s definitely something that will also be in 6.1 and will have a developer out in the field guide, of course.

Channing Ritter: Nice.

Birgit Pauli-Haack: But prepare yourself for it. And I think there was… Oh yeah. And global styles data will also be filterable. There is a first version already in there that you can use global styles default, or global styles blocks, or global styles… So there’s this four layers of changes from global styles. Yeah. The default one comes with core. And then each block can have additional filter for the global styles and then as well as the third party blocks. And then the theme has an opinion about how their styles. And then the user can change those styles.

Channing Ritter: Right.

Birgit Pauli-Haack: Say, “Okay, I want a different color. I want a different font. I want a different spacing there. And I want a gradient there.” And then there are now filters to tap into that, with PHP, to change some of the styling, if there is a need.

Channing Ritter: Nice. Thanks for explaining that one. I saw it on the list, and I wasn’t quite sure what it was.

Birgit Pauli-Haack: Yeah. As always, yeah, it’s the first version. Try it out. I think it would also be a good call for testing for that. But this was also… It comes often in conversations that plugin developers don’t want to do their own styling for things. So maybe a default styling but also… Except some of the things that are theme JSON and just kind of bring them in. So, the block, that also has a front end version of it, kind of feeds seamlessly into a theme or into a site. So that’s definitely something that people want to do.

Channing Ritter: Cool.

Birgit Pauli-Haack: But there’s a lot of that. It went to multiple iterations and just landed now for 14.1. So it’s going to be real interesting to see what other people do with it. All right. Yeah. You’re right. That’s the end of our change log. Wow. We made it.

Channing Ritter: We got through the full list.

Birgit Pauli-Haack: Yeah. It was awesome. Yeah. Thank you so much.

Channing Ritter: Three hundred and forty-eight, was it, changes?

Birgit Pauli-Haack: Yeah.

Channing Ritter: Very impressive.

Birgit Pauli-Haack: Three hundred and forty-eight in 48 minutes or something. Yeah.

Channing Ritter: I love it. This is such a great way to keep up with everything that’s going into Gutenberg, by the way, because it’s hard to keep up. Things move so quickly. And so this podcast is such an awesome way to just get the overview, this along with the What’s new in Gutenberg release posts.

Birgit Pauli-Haack: Yeah. Oh, thank you.

Channing Ritter: That’s definitely how I stay up to date.

Birgit Pauli-Haack: Well, thank you. Yeah. No. Now you’ve been a part of it. And thank you for making the time today. So, if people want to get in touch with you and connect with you, what would be a good place for you to do that?

Channing Ritter: Probably just on the making WordPress Slack. You can always send me a DM. My username is Critterverse. That’s C-R-I-T-T-E-R-V-E-R-S-E. I totally love to get DMs from folks. And I have folks reaching out to me all the time, especially about the default theme lately. And I’m always happy to help point you in the right direction, if you want to contribute to Gutenberg or help contribute to the default theme.

Birgit Pauli-Haack: Wonderful.

Channing Ritter: Would love to help there.

Birgit Pauli-Haack: Excellent. Thank you so much. And I don’t have anything to remind you about, except for: Okay. Beta is coming out September 20th. And all beta testers are asked to test it with the beta tester plugin. And, as always, the show notes will be published on the This is episode 73. And, if you have questions, or suggestions, or news you want us to include, send them to That’s:

And, well, again, thank you, Channing, for, yeah, sharing this with me and kind of being on the podcast with me. It was wonderful. And I hope you do it again sometime soon.

Channing Ritter: Yeah.

Birgit Pauli-Haack: And thank you all for listening. And I’ll talk to you in about two weeks. Bye-bye.

Channing Ritter: Thank you for having me. Bye.

Birgit Pauli-Haack: See you. Bye.

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