Tammie Lister and Birgit Pauli-Haack discuss Gutenberg 16.1 and WordPress 6.3 and what’s coming to 6.3
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Podcast With Tammie Lister: How Gutenberg Evolves and the Future of WordPress with Emma Young at Hostinger
Upcoming Live Q & As
July 6th, 2023 – 17:00 UTC Leveraging Gutenberg’s architecture to take plugin development to new levels
July 21, 2023-17:00 UTC Live Q & A with designers and developers for WordPress VIP. They created a bridge between Figma Design themes and the theme.json file for classic and block themes
WordPress.TV: Developer Hours: Introduction to the Interactivity API
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Birgit Pauli-Haack: So hello and welcome to our 85th episode of the Gutenberg Changelog podcast. In today’s episode, we will talk about Gutenberg 6.1, WordPress 6.3 and that’s pretty much it. We have a full program alone with that. I’m your host, Birgit Pauli-Haack, curator at the Gutenberg Times and full-time core contributor for WordPress open source project sponsored by Automattic. And I’m so happy that Tammie Lister joins me today. She’s one of the Gutenberg design leads of phase one and design lead of WordPress 6.3 release squad and will be the editor tech co-lead on the all underrepresented gender squad for 6.4. In her day job Tammie works at the global agency Inpsyde from Germany as a developer. Good afternoon, Tammie. So happy to see you again. Thank you so much for making the time to be on the show. How are you?
Tammie Lister: I am great. Thank you so much for having me.
Birgit Pauli-Haack: Oh, it’s so wonderful. And for our longtime listeners, you are no stranger. You’ve been on the Gutenberg Live Q&A few years ago, and you were part of the last year’s developer hours, and it’s actually the first time that you’re on the podcast. How did that happen? For those of you listening for the first time, tell me a little bit about your WordPress work and what you’re doing now.
Tammie Lister: So my WordPress journey has been a long one and an awesome one. Like a lot of people, I started out by blogging and poking around themes and then I worked for a long time on the problems with themes, went via core through BuddyPress and then for a long time I worked as creating themes and working through that. And that’s where I started really my contribution journey through the theme review team and a little bit in core. And then Gutenberg, I guess it was my adventure by Gutenberg. The seed of Gutenberg is rooted in a lot of people from the theming background. It’s one of those not so hidden facts about Gutenberg, that a lot of people who worked on it had that background as well. And I’ve been really lucky since I worked on that project, to have quite an adventure working in various roles from design.
And at the moment, I’m really lucky to be balancing back my developer skills. I’ve always done both, but at the moment I’m really focusing on how can I raise back up those skills, and I’m really lucky to be doing that in an agency role. So I am now getting to work with this amazing thing that we’ve created in the editor and getting to implement it within the agency at a development level so that I’m having all sorts of fun now.
Birgit Pauli-Haack: Yeah, I can imagine that. That’s awesome. Well, thank you so much and yes, so you will have opinions about the extensibility of Gutenberg, which is one of the top…
Tammie Lister: Only a few.
Birgit Pauli-Haack: That will come or that has been in the background or in the other current of all the new features, where’s the extensibility or how can we extend this?
So before we dive into the recent releases, I want to tell you dear listeners all about the two live Q&As that are coming up in July. So next week, we have on July 6, 2023 at 17:00 UTC and I’m not going to convert this to any other time right now. Time zones are the bane of my existence at the moment. So we have the topic, leveraging Gutenberg’s architecture to take plugin development to new levels, and we learn about how Gutenberg components and scripts can be used outside the block editor to revamp a plugins code base.
So if you’re interested to dive in, the next one, two weeks later on July 21st, also at 17:00 UTC, we will hold the next live Q&A with designers and developers of WordPress VIP, and they created a bridge plugin between Figma design themes and the theme JSON file for the classic and block themes. And it’s a fascinating way to keep faithful to the existing design systems and start spinning up new sites that mirror that design system without a whole lot of friction in between us. My co-host will be Joni Halabe from the web team at Georgetown University, also a very interesting live Q&A. I’m really happy that we’re putting it together.
The last one, you have to just subscribe to the newsletter so you get early access to it, newsletter at the Gutenberg Times and should you listen to this episode, I know a lot of people binge listen to it. If you listen to this episode after July 22nd, check out the Gutenberg Times YouTube channel for the recordings of that. We always record them, we have them transcribed, we have a post on the Gutenberg Times with the resources shared and all that. So even if you miss it, but the live Q&A is really interesting because all of a sudden from the demos that are there, there comes these very quick questions from the audience and I really like having that a live show. So that’s that.
What’s Released – WordPress 6.3
We are coming to the what’s released section and we come to what happened last night. So today, we are recording it on Thursday, June 28th and this morning in I think 1:30, WordPress 6.3 beta two was released. And were you up at that time?
Tammie Lister: No, I got up as far as about just hitting 11:00 UK time at night and I could see it wasn’t going to be the 11:00, so I left the amazing people that were doing and I’d kept going that far, and I bowed out and got some sleep because it was the second night running.
Birgit Pauli-Haack: Yeah, there was a second shift coming in from Australia.
Tammie Lister: Which is amazing. That’s part of the global project. We all get to open doors and close doors after each other, leave post-it notes virtually up for each other. There was a lot of that going on for the past two days and I think that’s the important thing. It’s been two days we’ve been working to get this out.
Birgit Pauli-Haack: Yeah, the make blog has one was the delay for one day and then also the explanation why it’s now called beta two instead of beta one.
Tammie Lister: Systems are hard.
Birgit Pauli-Haack: Systems are hard, releases are hard. I have switched my role for this release from doing for three releases, dev notes wrangling to actually be editor triage, co-lead with four other people. And this has been quite an interesting experience because all of a sudden, I’m looking behind the scenes and how timely a lot of PRs are to getting into the beta. And then it’s not only that there’s in the plugin, but you also need to sync the core data, the PHP code with the Gutenberg code and that is another big adventure for the tech leads. And you get to do this, when is it? In September before beta 6.4.
Tammie Lister: Yeah. And I think you never know the unknowns until you know them and then you document, and then you try and that’s the important part of this amazing journey that is these big projects. You can predict most things but it’s always going to be the thing that you don’t predict. Honestly, we are doing incredible. Everyone is doing incredible. We just have to remember humans’ need to sleep sometimes and I think that is the beauty we learn. One of the amazing things we do now, which we didn’t do before is we have the use of the time zones. We use that. We have multiple leads. I think back even a few years ago, we didn’t have that for these roles and by having that, we can take advantage of time zones and lives and different people, but just documenting and writing, I think there’s going to be some like, “Okay, so that could happen.” Okay, now we document this, now we learn this and that’s great.
There’s stuff I now want to learn about. My curious brain is like, “Okay, well this went wrong. Okay, so how do we learn?” And that’s great because our documentation gets better. That’s generally what happens in between releases where people debrief and then take everything that happened in a release and then the next release gets better each time. We rise on the past release each time.
Birgit Pauli-Haack: Right, yeah. As you know, this big project, nobody really knows everything. So the collaborative effort is…
Tammie Lister: And if they claim to, I really think they need to go for a little walk in the countryside and think about themselves because nobody does and that’s amazing. You’ve just got to be very humble and just go, “Okay, on we go.” I just wanted to say shout out to everyone that was working so hard the past 48 hours and then some. You saw some beautiful handovers of patches, people just teleporting in on their phones and doing things and just some amazing open source hearts. You saw a lot of that going on.
Birgit Pauli-Haack: And I saw a lot of also the humbleness stuff. I don’t know, does somebody else is able to help me?
Tammie Lister: I don’t know, but I might know someone who does in their mental Rolodex going through a list of people, and that’s amazing to do. It’s not like I might know, I’m going to struggle with it for a while and then I’m not going to come up with a good solution. That does not help anybody.
Birgit Pauli-Haack: No, no, no. At that moment, you need somebody who knows. But it’s also…
Tammie Lister: It would help otherwise you make it worse. It’s like the I will fix this and make it worse. Nobody needs that at 10:00 at night.
Birgit Pauli-Haack: Yeah. Not on a software that’s used by millions of people.
Tammie Lister: But a beta is a beta. And I think that’s the amazing thing we all have to… Now, let’s test it now let’s poke it and do things and nothing is ever going to be bug free. We always want that, but we do our best every time. I am so excited about how big this changelog is.
Birgit Pauli-Haack: Yeah, we’re getting to that. But I just wanted to do a shout-out for Brian Alexander who’s heading the test team. He has put together some amazing instructions on how you can make really impactful contributions to this open source project and we will share the link in the show notes. So when you go to the test make.webpress.org/test, that’s the first post that will come up is help test WordPress 6.3. There are quite a few features coming in and they all need testing and they all need hitting the real life scenarios. Have plugins that use some of that, themes, just poke it from all the ends and it’s really necessary. And like every beta, it’s beta, but the bugs that we find now in the beta two, three and four, we don’t have to fix later when the release is done. So yes.
What also was released was Gutenberg 16.1 and that’s when 255 PRs merged with this release by 69 contributors and it’s just amazing what all went in there. It’s also understandable because if it went for the last minute, nothing really gets done in life, I found. And everybody wanted to get their work merged, so it will be in the next WordPress release and with the beta this week, it’s the last plugin release for enhancements and new features to come in. After that, it’s all bug fixing. So that made it for a mile long changelog. And Tammie and I will do our best to pick the stars amongst the 255, the bright shining stars and the highlights for you and talk them through. So do you want to hit us off with the first thing or do you have any other comments to add?
Tammie Lister: Wow, the amount. I guess the first one would be the navigation menu sidebar, the renaming, duplication, and deleting of navigation menus from browse mode sidebar. Navigation menu sidebar, the maturity of that in general, it feels such a long adventure the navigation menu has come on and I think that’s also maybe this point is why there was so much as well. It’s not the final-final release, it’s like Photoshop when you name a final-final 01 file or something, but it’s a closure and I think having a navigation block, having things changed, all these things, it’s a closure for a lot of these features. So I think navigation, it feels like quite a closure on some of these things as well.
Birgit Pauli-Haack: And it now made real sense. I think it really needed to gruel it and often and throw out concepts and get new ones there. So there’s navigation and then there is the sidebar menu in the site editor that also has a navigation piece to it.
Tammie Lister: But bringing that functionality means that you then… There’s this weird separation, but it allows that to feel more cohesive and native. That’s the best words I can think of it. I think navigation’s going to take a little while to get a lot of people using because navigation’s over here and all these kinds of things. It’s that maturity of that feature and the dependability of that feature and the work there. I’ve definitely started feeling that it feels more robust to use with these changes.
Birgit Pauli-Haack: Yeah.
Tammie Lister: It’s pretty exciting.
Birgit Pauli-Haack: And I finally feel the same way. I was always a little hesitant to touch the navigation because I knew it wasn’t finished. So I didn’t want…
Tammie Lister: You sneeze near it, it’ll fall over, bless it. And I say that having worked on it myself, but it’s just a really hard problem. Turns out navigation… Linking alone is a hard problem, but navigation is linking plus plus plus. It’s a really difficult problem. If you just write code, it felt easier. But if soon as you add any interface, it’s really difficult.
Birgit Pauli-Haack: And it’s also such a prominent piece of a website that you build, that it really needs to…
Tammie Lister: And people are very bonded to a particular way of using navigation in WordPress as well. So we’ve got to retrain that mindset.
Birgit Pauli-Haack: Yeah, that definitely is true. And so we have the navigation and the sidebar and the site editor as a navigation menu where you can do certain things and from that menu, from that sidebar, you already can rename, duplicate menus, or delete them. You cannot create them. That’s what you do when you create, you add a navigation block to a template part to the header or to the footer and then on the right hand sidebar on the white sidebar, that’s where you assemble your menu or the many menus.
Tammie Lister: I like that consciousness of creating them somewhere else. There there’s so many opinions on separation and workflows. I feel like… This is a complete personal opinion, but making navigation too easy, I think that you end up with too many navigation everywhere. That’s always been one of our problems, that you end up with people drowning in menus. So I think that there’s a balance that there’s a maturity of navigation. I think that’s where the overlap of this.
Birgit Pauli-Haack: Yeah, definitely. And I like that in the site editor left side navigation, you just touch on the overall website, but you always go into the canvas to actually make changes.
Tammie Lister: The best words I can use is assembly there. I don’t know if that’s a good word, but it feels like assembly there, functionality doing here. And then that’s what it feels like. The different mental models that I’m moving in between when I’m doing things and I’m for that, different areas having very distinct different mental models when I’m doing it.
Birgit Pauli-Haack: And I like that too because I can’t have two different thoughts in my head at the same time and be productive.
Tammie Lister: Life’s too short.
Birgit Pauli-Haack: Yeah. So that’s why I like the next item, that the footnotes block is now coming to text blocks and that’s really something that we have all been waiting for a long time. And I know that Ella van Durpe has also tried multiple ways to get this done and I think she has such great ideas that she all pursued them all. And in the GitHub, you can have the history of all the footnotes, but I think this version is really hitting it out of the park. It works well. You put the cursor where you need the footnote, you get it from the menu from the inside menu bar menu dropdown on the block toolbar, and then you say footnote, and then it gets you right into the place where the content of the footnote, you can add that and it does the numbering itself.
So if you say, “Oh, I put a footnote in the middle of a paragraph, but also I need another one on top of it,” it recounts them so automatically. So that’s a really good feature. And it has color controls, but it also follows whatever your paragraph or your link color is. I just see that when you change the background of a paragraph, you get what you always get with links is if you change the text, you also need to change the link color. But that is something that’s the nature of the beast and there is no automation for that. But I’m really happy that this block comes and it will be in 6.3.
Tammie Lister: Footnotes has an adventure for many years. I think footnotes is one of those, to me, it’s a sign of maturity for an editor. Quite a few see it as extra functionality or features. But it really is something that if you are in a particular field or you are particularly using, that you will not use an editor unless it has the footnotes functionality. It’s whether you choose to use or not. There’s no doubt whether you would want, you wouldn’t even have a plugin. It would be base functionality. So I think I am very glad to see it. Also, it’s a really strong indicator of things like collaboration. It sets that. It may not feel like it, but it is. It sets those using that canvas in a little bit of a different way as well. So I’m really pleased to see it.
Birgit Pauli-Haack: Yeah.
Tammie Lister: And that experimenting outside to then bring in, I think is a real good way forward to start seeing the interface as well.
Birgit Pauli-Haack: Yeah, definitely. Definitely. And then you could actually move the footnotes block where all the footnotes are to the end of things or put them a little bit further. So it’s also quite versatile.
Tammie Lister: That’s really important depending on what article you’re writing as well. I do not claim to know any different medical whatever articles, but I’m sure that there are certain rules and regulations around where things go and depending on articles and what order things go. So having that functionality that you can determine yourself is better for everybody.
Birgit Pauli-Haack: Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely, yeah.
Tammie Lister: The next big one.
Birgit Pauli-Haack: Yep, go ahead.
Tammie Lister: I feel like there’s a whole episode here on patterns and I guess the big one here is the naming and language to me is… Again, we talk about maturity, well renaming reusable blocks, rename to my patterns and add option to also add a non-synced pattern. This is big, it’s a small big thing I guess because it’s a big thing, but it’s not a massive feature, is it? But it also is a massive feature. Reusable blocks are quite limited but really quite bonded for some people. So I think that we got to respect that. But patterns to me are what everyone always wanted with reasonable blocks. When everyone describes what they want from a reusable block, it’s a mature functional pattern that has all the things that patterns are getting like syncing, all these things. And that’s what patterns are getting now.
So I don’t know what you feel, but that to me it’s just maturity of patterns, you have blocks, patterns, template parts, templates. It makes sense.
Birgit Pauli-Haack: Oh yeah, yeah. They’re pretty much cut from the same cloth and all had different names and also different models. So you had to get here for template parts, you need to go there for a reusable block and you had a pattern here, but they all had different updates kind of thing. So if you update a reusable block, it updates on all instances. A pattern doesn’t have any updates, so every time you put them into a canvas, they are all disintegrating. They don’t know about itself anymore. But what I like is that you now can create your own patterns and that is something that a lot of people were missing, that you were dependent on the pattern directory or you were dependent on the theme to provide your patterns or some third-party directory where you can copy paste it over, but you are not able to say, “Oh, this is a marvelous pattern. Can I store that on my site?” And now you can.
And it’s the same interface or same workflow that you are accustomed to when you create a reusable block and there’s only one change there… Well, one attribute, it’s called sync this over all the instances, yes or no, it’s a toggle switch. So if you switch it on, you get a reusable block that if you change it, it changes all the instances. And if you switch it not on, it’s a pattern which does not update. But this is also, and you say, “Okay, but I want, when I change the style of my pattern, I want it to be replicated over all the instances.” It’s coming. This is the first step. This is the first step to unify the wording, unify the interface. And then also, you don’t have this duplicate mental model anymore. You find them and you can edit them at the same spaces. It’s called my custom patterns. That’s how you find them in the pattern list. And then in the block when you highlight them, there is manage your patterns. So it’s a great step and it’s one that we have been really all waiting for.
Tammie Lister: And putting my agency hat on, really trying to explain all this language. People, they work in design systems, they work in simple language and been able to sell this easier by simpler language that it behaves more like a design system as they expect. This all is that. You don’t have to then build a system on top because then the system will be easily done within, you don’t then have to bring the system. So I am very excited about this. It is the start. It is something that I would’ve liked a couple of years ago, but we had so much to do. We’ll get there. And I think that is the thing of there’s so much changing to do. Patterns are really getting strong. When they first came out, it felt like, “Oh, you can do patterns.” But they are so powerful. People get patterns way more than blocks as well. If you explain a block, people are like, “You don’t need to make blocks.” And I think we’re going to see less blocks people making and more patterns with this because patterns are just more useful then.
Birgit Pauli-Haack: That’s what I have been seeing as well is also that people say, “Okay, I don’t have to create a custom block just because I want a group of blocks in my site.”
Tammie Lister: As much as I love block variations, I love all these things that you can do because blocks were amazing. I’d like to see less because then it means that patterns are doing what they’re meant to do because that’s what humans see. The interface that we’re having for pattern browsing and all that, we’re getting onto the management stuff that’s also part of this, that is just better as a human. Those human interfaces, once humans are using that, that’s way better than the tiny little pickers that we have for blocks.
Birgit Pauli-Haack: Yeah. But I wanted to go back to what you said, while I would love to have it two years ago, but I think sometimes waiting helps you really to see the big picture, the whole picture. So two years ago, we didn’t have template parts, yeah?
Tammie Lister: Yes.
Birgit Pauli-Haack: Or we didn’t know yet how they’re going to fit in into the block themes and in pattern, we’re just at the beginning, but we didn’t know how to lock them. How to lock certain pieces of it.
Tammie Lister: When I say that, that’s just eagerness and that’s also…
Birgit Pauli-Haack: Yes, impatience. I see it, I want it.
Tammie Lister: Way too many people in the agency just want it tomorrow because honestly, those are the people who are trying to solve it with design systems who are trying to work around the problem today. Absolutely, these toys are amazing. And that then means these bigger systems can start using. They don’t have to build on top or around. They can build a lot more natively and the more native you can build, the easier upgrades, the easier components, everything. And it’s just a better experience for everybody.
Birgit Pauli-Haack: Right, right. Or you see the power now and you say, “Oh, wouldn’t it be great? And then you have to wait.
Tammie Lister: If no one ever has to go through a load of patterns and I’ve actually had to do this, go through someone makes a change in patterns, but this was quite a while ago. If you use patterns and then you had to make a change in patterns at scale, that was hard to do before. Not having to do that, that’s going to be amazing. So getting all the amazing benefits of all these things, but having the amazing benefits of things like reusable blocks, but with these visual benefits that humans have. Yeah, it’s amazing. We have all the toys.
Birgit Pauli-Haack: And there’s one more toy coming, which is now you can get a preview of block themes in your site. We all remember the customizer where you install a theme on your website and then you use the customizer and you were able to preview your site with the theme. And that hasn’t happened yet, but now it’s here for block themes as well. You see where you have all your themes, you see a live preview button and that gets you into a similar interface as the site editor. And then you can navigate your site with the theme that is installed but not activated yet. So you can see how your blocks behave, you see how your posts behave, and in advance you don’t have this what Helen Hou-Sandí always calls the save and pray feature there.
Tammie Lister: What you see might maybe what you get, but possibly not.
Birgit Pauli-Haack: Probably different, yes. And it’s amazing to see this in block themes. You also see all the style variations and how they would change your website and it’s really amazing. And it’s in 16.1 and it will come to 6.3 soon.
Tammie Lister: And moving on to the site editor, the distraction free. We’ve had distraction free, so it’s like ta-da. But having that with the site editor, been able to create and just go get away. I remember… Age, that Dreamweaver full screen mode. And you now got that. The day where you could suddenly do visual in Dreamweaver, we’ve now got that in WordPress. Wow. It’s incredible to think that we can do that and you’ve got that without some of the ickiness. Bless it. Without tables. But we’ve now got that and that means that you can really focus on what you’re creating. And sometimes like if you’re doing some of these three-column query or whatever when you’re trying to do, you do not need those side panels and everything in the way. So distraction free is really, really nice to be able to do that and create.
We talked earlier about modes when you’re doing things that really helps you with that creation mode, there’s a reason why when you are writing, you have those zen modes and that really works for people. Or you have that get away from my desktop all the apps. I don’t know what you feel, but I think this is just a small improvement to life.
Birgit Pauli-Haack: Absolutely.
Tammie Lister: Quality of life improvement.
Birgit Pauli-Haack: Absolutely. And it’s a good one, when you can do an almost one-to-one preview of your site for that particular page, it opens up so much or it takes away so much worry. It’s really a better life there.
Tammie Lister: Know what you’re getting rather than guessing what you’re getting.
Birgit Pauli-Haack: And test this, please test this so much.
Tammie Lister: Yeah. And again, that’s the part of this. A lot of these things, they’re going in and they’ve been tested by the people that are creating them and they’re amazing humans, but they are not the people that are going to be poking it. It’s now up to people that are listening to this, the people that are going to be testing, who are the people that should be poking it and using it. And I think that is exactly what this is about.
Birgit Pauli-Haack: Absolutely, absolutely. And what is now coming back to the site editor is editing templates as well as content. At the beginning of when the site editor was introduced, it was already there, but people got confused. Am I editing a page? Or they were not confused. They didn’t have that concept of a template part like this is just the template that drives all the pages and they made changes, and then were surprised that the changes were duplicated on all the pages. So it was taken out of the editor, and now it comes back with some guidance for the content creator of, “Okay, you can edit that now and when you’re in the template, you get all this whole title kind of thing.” It names the things that are in there. And when you’re on a page, it gives you the page title exactly how you put it in and then you can edit it. But when you go into the places where the template is, it tells you this is a template piece, do you want to edit now? And then gets you out of the editing mode into a template editing mode.
And I think that the guardrails there really help with the mental image as well. This is a template, I don’t want to screw that up. I just want this on my page. I want that content done. And you can do it in the site editor. Do you have to go back to the WP admin? Once in a while when you create pages, yes, yeah. But sometimes you want to edit things and you want to see it with… that’s the good part in this section now when you have the edit the page content as well as the template, is you see the page and it’s all in its context. How will it show up on the site? There is no, “Oh, okay. There is something on the sidebar that’s interfering with my page.” And it’s the same thing that we talked about before where as long as you see the full context of your page, all the worry goes away.
Tammie Lister: I love what you said as well about having something in and then taking it away. I think that’s really, really important because sometimes when something’s completely new, it doesn’t work because it’s new, it’s not because it’s a bad idea and this is showing, it just needed to be delivered in a certain way. And I think not everything, but quite a few things that have been added a little bit recently are that. They are re-adding a slightly different variation once we’ve got things together. So sometimes you’ve got to find the combination of the puzzle to put these pieces in or the order to put them in. And this is exactly one of those, it needed to come in a certain order.
Birgit Pauli-Haack: Yeah. And I had some interesting conversations at WordCamp Europe. I had a lot of conversations at WordCamp Europe, but some of them were really interesting because I think if you’re not a developer, it’s really hard to understand that you have a vision for what people want to do. But unless you start programming and putting it in, you don’t know yet how it’s going, how it’s going to work. So let’s put it with the features in and then see what other people think about it and then reiterate on it.
Tammie Lister: It’s part of the freedom of creating in the open and part of what we’ve learned with this whole project is by creating in a plugin, we get to experiment. I want to use the word play because experiment sometimes feels a little bit harsh, it feels serious, but we get to play and see if this goes here, what did someone feel about it? This goes here. Testing things was really, really hard to do in core and it has been really, really hard. But by having it in this and been able to backtrack quicker, and that has been something that has happened time and time again of, “Oops, nope, let’s try this.” Or, “Okay, well this idea didn’t work this time.” We’ve still got it in the code base. It’s just back now. We haven’t completely lost it.
In core, ideas go and get lost because it’s a big space, sadly. So having that flexibility, I think we are doing it a lot more as a project and having that healthier macro experimentation. But it’s seeing those mature ideas come. I love seeing things that was talked about, like you said footnotes, but things that were said years and years ago and it’s like, “Yay, they finally shipped.”
Birgit Pauli-Haack: Yeah. And it’s not because they couldn’t ship it earlier. It’s also you didn’t know yet how other pieces that needed to fit.
Tammie Lister: It’s like baking a cake. It needs to be the right time and the right ingredients need to be available, and the right people to taste the cake. I don’t know, that metaphor went really weird, but right?
Birgit Pauli-Haack: Well, only chocolate lovers love chocolate cake, right?
Tammie Lister: Yeah. And sometimes you are not delivering chocolate cake, you are delivering a Victorian sponge and to the wrong crowd. I don’t know.
Birgit Pauli-Haack: Those metaphors are really…
Tammie Lister: It’s not working. Backtrack, what’s the next thing?
Birgit Pauli-Haack: Let’s try it again. We all have experiences, but it’s not in WordPress. So creating something really, really new in WordPress with a lot of backwards compatibility promises, it’s really hard.
Tammie Lister: I always describe it as the difference between moving a little rowing boat to moving an ocean liner. One of them big Disney cruises or these giant things and then moving a little rowing boat. It is really easy, right?
Birgit Pauli-Haack: Yeah.
Tammie Lister: It’s not the same.
Birgit Pauli-Haack: Yeah, yeah. But this editing piece, I think it’s really so much better now and I think it meets the vision now. So what’s also in the site editor bar is some template details. You might have already seen that, but now it also respects the settings and there is some language going on as well. Some language changes. You see the home template details, but that only tells you, okay, how many blog posts are on it? So it’s the blog home and not only just the homepage. So if you switch it to a static page, you will see that in the pages and not in the template pages. But it’s really good to have those template details in the site editor on the sidebar, it gives you a little bit more context.
Tammie Lister: With components, I guess one of them to call out is the button has a size prop, which is a small little thing, but it’s maturity of the burn block, how many sites have burned every one of them? And having something like that is really big. It’s going back to one of my favorite topics of design systems. If we are building off core as a basis, you need to have these foundational things as part of it. So I’m really excited to see. Anytime I see that or any of the blocks getting different attributes, I am giddy with excitement about all those things. Basically because it means I can then use them.
Birgit Pauli-Haack: You can use them, you can create styles with them. You can have different variations on the buttons and you don’t have to create a new block for the buttons.
Tammie Lister: Yes.
Birgit Pauli-Haack: Yeah. Another block that got some nice features, an additional feature in there is the list block. It now has a different numbering type for the ordered list. So you could have alphabetical numbering or numbered numbering or Roman lit numbering and then capitals and then small cases. So now you have quite some options in there. I really like that. It’s catching up with other documentation or writing tools where you have that. But yeah, it’s good to have it in there.
Tammie Lister: And image block has as aspect ratio control. For some reason, I wanted to say radio control. That was exciting. I think that’s a whole different thing.
Birgit Pauli-Haack: Multimedia, an image has radio.
Tammie Lister: Which again is maturity, right? You mentioned parity with tools. It is, right? We need to have the best of these tools so that people use them natively. So that’s really what a lot of this is maturity of these tools, I think.
Birgit Pauli-Haack: Yeah. And that was particularly important because you want your patterns when you switch out the images, you have them in a certain aspect ratio and when you switch them out and somebody puts in another image, you want it in the same aspect ratio and not blow up the whole pattern.
Tammie Lister: Could ruin a party, that really can.
Birgit Pauli-Haack: Yeah. I’m scrolling past it, but there is just stop to say that the interactivity API will not be in 6.3. It has been merged for the Gutenberg plugin, but it will only be available… they’re aiming for 6.4, which is not so far away, actually. September is the next beta. So it’s really going forward. There were some questions in the community about the interactivity API. A lot of people are very excited about it.
Tammie Lister: We’re going to have some really nice toys for Christmas.
Birgit Pauli-Haack: And November 8th is I think the release of 6.4. So let’s get those toys wrapped up for Christmas.
Tammie Lister: That’s actually going to be some really interesting testing, I think. Some difference in testing because yes, we’ve done, but how you test some of that stuff is going to be a little bit different, I think.
Birgit Pauli-Haack: Yeah. And we need a lot more examples.
Tammie Lister: That’s where I’m going. How do you push some of that stuff?
Birgit Pauli-Haack: Yeah. And definitely there’s some documentation. I think they started with the documentation now. There were quite a few insights already in the make blog on core. I think two of them, and I can certainly add them to the show notes. So people who are all interested in that and want to help with the rollout, definitely can get a headstart on it, but not in 6.3.
Tammie Lister: The next one, I’m going past so much, this is such a long list. It’s amazing. It is in the design tool section and that’s a sticky position. That’s not a phrase. Try re-enabling non-root sticky position. So actually, I think any improvements to things like this is really nice. The fact that we have this shows maturity of design tools. So I think that’s part of calling this out. Design tools as a whole are a concept that is still relatively new to us, but design tools means again, that people are going to build using it. And so I’m really excited anytime that any of our refinement happens to any of our design tools.
Birgit Pauli-Haack: And I think in 6.2, the sticky position was already introduced for the header and the footer, but it was not for the sidebar because somehow it was really, really hard.
Tammie Lister: Sticky is hard. Sticky is hard to stick.
Birgit Pauli-Haack: You never get it to stick. And it needed to be a root wrapper or root block to make it sticky. You couldn’t do it in a column block where you have a sidebar and make that sticky.
Tammie Lister: Because CSS.
Birgit Pauli-Haack: Because of CSS, yes. Yeah. So there is another attempt to make this work and needs definitely testing.
Tammie Lister: Yes, I was about to say that if anything needs testing, any time you see something listed in design tools, I would point anyone who is building themes or building anything to please test around those things because these are what really you will be building with. Having native sticky positions is much better than having to call on libraries or add things. And again, it means that people who want to build and create in the editor themselves have that capability to create some incredible, powerful, beautiful designs without having lack of access to them. It all sets us up to what amazing things could be done with the default themes, and that’s super exciting, what Christmas is going to bring there with all these tools.
Birgit Pauli-Haack: So the next one is actually for media and we need to set this up a bit. So when you copy paste something from Google or from another website and there’s images in there, when you paste them into your canvas, the image will always go back to the original. So when the original site goes away, especially when you migrate from one domain to the other, the image goes away. And now there was a little button on every image where you could say and if it was allowed from the source site, that you could add that image to your library with a button. But of course when you have 15 images, it’s a little harder to do that. So now in the pre-publish screen, there is a section that suggests that you upload the external images and gives you a button and you can do it all at once. You also can click on the images and see how they show up in the post or in the page. So I think that’s a great addition to…
Tammie Lister: Just what people expect. Again, and I do not belittle it by saying that. It’s more just, it just raises it up. It’s what people expect, it’s what people want. So it’s amazing.
Birgit Pauli-Haack: It really raises the quality of the tools that you use, that it actually helps you also with the little things. Images are important.
Tammie Lister: Quality of life. Really, the release is quality of life and completion, which is a beautiful summer thing.
Birgit Pauli-Haack: And refinement.
Tammie Lister: Yeah. So I think we’re going to talk maybe a little bit later about the command section, but we’re into commands.
Birgit Pauli-Haack: We’re good?
Tammie Lister: Going down the list, there’s two things about the commands and that is add commands to templates, template parts and styles, and to related commands as well. I don’t know if you want to talk about commands right now or later?
Birgit Pauli-Haack: We could. So we have a name now for it.
Tammie Lister: We do.
Birgit Pauli-Haack: In the development, it was always called the command center, but now it’s command palette and it tries to convey that’s the tool when you hit control K in the site editor, it gives you quick access to various commands, context-sensitive. And so you can say go to library or go to templates or go to template parts or delete template parts. All this you can do, and it’s also extensible. So you can create commands for your plugins, you can create commands for your themes as well. But the API is very, very new. So there are commands and with this release, there are commands with template, template parts, styles, how to manage the custom patterns, which custom patterns are the former reusable blocks. Sync patterns. So now you can say to your command palette, manage patterns or you also get UI commands for your post editor. So where you can say, add new post or something like that. So it’s not the center of it because it’s not a mission control palette or something like that. Or dashboard, it’s just you have a thought that you wanted…
Tammie Lister: It’s your friendly helper there and there. And I think what these are doing is giving you examples. As you said, this is the start and it’s new. So by having these there, and this is just to start again, I think it’s worth of saying these are an example that someone could look at and be like, “Oh, that’s how you write one,” as well. So I am super curious to do that myself and be like, “Oh, okay, that’s how you write one. Okay.” And I am really excited to see what people create with this. Now we have decided the name, I was going to call it Bob, but it didn’t catch on.
Birgit Pauli-Haack: I always call him Fred.
Tammie Lister: I call everyone Bob. No idea. Everyone picks a name that they call things repetitively, I think. And now that it has a name, which is amazing. And I think one of the good things is its translatable. And I think that was key in all of it. Personally, as long as it’s translatable, as long as we agree to something, we get it in, things can change. But let’s get it in and iterate. So these are great examples to then copy, rehash, and learn from. So I think 6.4, we’ll probably see more. And then I imagine there’s going to be a flowy of plugins, some nice little iterations and people exploring what it means to have these things as well. So it’s going to be very exciting to see what people create.
Birgit Pauli-Haack: Yeah, I’m really happy about that. I would’ve never thought that my website tool would have these quick commands that I can just call up and then do stuff.
Tammie Lister: So the way that I think of it is a combination of… Because initially, I was Alfred was where my mind went because it’s searchy, I think of it now like Alfred. And if this, then that, and those two things combined is where I go because it is that, but it’s also workflow. So it’s that but in WordPress for me, and I am very excited about extending that and then where people take it, because people always take it in a way that you would never expect it to go. So I think the next year or so, we’re going to see some really exciting things come from that.
Birgit Pauli-Haack: Yeah, I totally agree with that.
Tammie Lister: New toys.
Birgit Pauli-Haack: New toys for everybody when the biggest toy is probably creating those commands and find, “Yeah, oh I can do this. It’s not that hard.”
Tammie Lister: And then even vigilant spaces to be able to create those commands ourselves. That becoming easier and easier I think is something that will happen over time as well.
Birgit Pauli-Haack: Yeah, I totally get it. I want to get into programming so much and lock myself away for two weeks and do all this.
Tammie Lister: You don’t have to lock yourself away for it, but that’s all right.
Birgit Pauli-Haack: Yeah. So I’m scrolling and scrolling and scrolling. I don’t see anything anymore.
Tammie Lister: So much. And I think that’s the thing. If we are going through the bug fixes and the enhancements and there’s just so much, I like the repetitive word flaky because when I see the fix flaky, that means that all the things which flaky is a bug report for, it kind of works and it kind of didn’t. I love that we’re down to that end of polishing, is my reflection on that. So I think that is really, really exciting that there’s so much polishing here.
Birgit Pauli-Haack: Yeah, and I think that was actually the outlook for 6.3, that most of the features get in and then we’re almost already…
Tammie Lister: This is a giant section of those, which I love.
Birgit Pauli-Haack: Are we done? I think we’re done. Oh yeah.
Tammie Lister: Yeah.
Birgit Pauli-Haack: There are a lot of documentation fixes. Code quality fixes, code quality in block library, code quality in site editor. No, this is cool. Yes. Tooling. Yeah, the whole testing thing was kind of, whoa.
Tammie Lister: Yeah.
Birgit Pauli-Haack: That’s what you were talking about.
Tammie Lister: And I think that’s the thing that’s there. It’s probably testing coming in for command as well, but it’s all maturity of that. As I’m scrolling down, I’m seeing improving, improving, improving, improving.
Birgit Pauli-Haack: Yeah. No, I think we made it. Yay.
Tammie Lister: Yay.
WordPress 6.3 Beta
Birgit Pauli-Haack: Yeah. So we want to bring it back to the WordPress 6.3 beta and talk a little bit about what this means plus tickets for 6.3.
Tammie Lister: I think one of the big things to think about is yes, there are things in now, but things that are in are going to have to respond to feedback. So whilst you might think, “Oh, that burden is perfectly placed,” I am really paraphrasing here, “That burden might not be perfectly placed.” So during beaters, you might see that burden moves because that burden needs to be in a better place. And there are a couple of tickets out there at the moment, which one of them particularly has things could be done in a better way. That’s where I’m going with this. So we are going to see that. We are going to see, “Oh dear, this breaks this under this circumstance when we actually tested it under this load or we tested it under this situation.” Because you can test under all the situations you think, but you don’t have that until you are real world testing or you’re testing. And as the betas get towards the higher numbers, we’re on two now. So we’re probably going to go at least four I would say, I don’t know.
Birgit Pauli-Haack: I agree, I agree.
Tammie Lister: I want to be optimistic. But realism kicks in here a little bit. You’re going to see fixes. So people need to bug report. People need to test or poke it, prod it, and use it. If you find something, see something, report something is the biggest thing because if you see something at release candidate, it’s a little bit late. It’s like shouting after the sheep have left the field. But if you say something now, it can be fixed. So if something doesn’t work with the plugin that is the only reason your client’s site works, now’s the reason to say basically.
Birgit Pauli-Haack: Yeah, definitely. And there will be. So I also wanted to caution some of the more eager WordPress news people or that want to grab screenshots and that kind of thing. There might be changes there.
Tammie Lister: Going back to my button moving.
Birgit Pauli-Haack: For instance, one change is from 6.0 to beta or to 16.2, so plugin releases 6.0 to 6.2, which will probably have some of the things that will get into 6.3 WordPress. But there was one menu item in the site editor on the bottom that was called library. And that has been renamed to patterns because that’s what’s in there. It’s the reusable block that are patterns now, template parts that are patterns now, and your custom patterns that are patterns now. And one was thinking about the library part for a long time because also there will be a fonts library, something like that. But then there were quite a few smart people who said, “Well, if I’m looking for fonts, I won’t go to library. I go to my styles and that’s a separate place.”
So while we were using it, it was rethought what would make it a better idea or better metaphor for that. And pattern is something that’s WordPress branded and that a lot of people are really responding to. So library was not, it removes cognitive load when you have to think about, “I need to think of library.” When you see patterns, that’s where you want to go. So that’s just one example. There might be others. So when you do a screenshot for your video, make sure you have the latest beta or the latest…
Tammie Lister: Really, screenshots is release candidate as much as it feels late, it’s not. There’s several weeks and that’s when you’ll find a lot of documentation takes it as well. I’ll working on the about page and we’re going to be doing the graphics around there as much as possible. But honestly, the final-final 01 PSD graphics… I don’t have to deal with PSDs, that’s when you take them because things rightly about translation.
This language though, I think so many of these language refinements happening, whether you agree with it or not, because language is so subjective and everyone has feelings about Bob or Fred, what things should be called, is a sign of maturity of the product, is that we’re working our own language system and we’re saying these things are called this because it makes sense in our ecosystem. So I welcome that we’re finally clarifying some language and not just confusing everybody because it’s always been very confusing. We’re finally settling on some terms and we are then documenting what they are called because one of the problems we’ve always done is called something and then not written it down. So actually doing that is really helpful.
Birgit Pauli-Haack: Yeah. Release candidate is scheduled for the 27th of July, so it’s another four weeks to go. So caution.
Tammie Lister: So you got to let the dust settle, you got to let stuff go. If everything is amazing and unicorns walk and everything, then nothing will change, but something’s going to change because humans in software.
Birgit Pauli-Haack: Yeah, it’s going to change. And computers, right? Computers are involved, all bets are off, right?
Tammie Lister: Yeah. And that’s okay, right?
Birgit Pauli-Haack: Yeah.
Tammie Lister: That’s totally okay. Just if you’re going on holiday, maybe have a friend do your screenshot for your blog post.
Birgit Pauli-Haack: All right. So before we all come to an end, just a reminder, the two live Q&As on July 6th and July 21st. Hit the registration button so we can all see you also on the live show and with some great demos. Before we end this show, do you have anything that you want to… How can people get in touch with you, Tammie?
Tammie Lister: I’m karma Toast on all the things and I’m still around core, I’m around everywhere and I would love to speak to people. I will be at WordCamp U.S. as well if someone else is going. So I’d love to say hi, but reaching out, I’m always welcome.
Birgit Pauli-Haack: Awesome, awesome. Thank you so much for being on the show. And as always, dear listeners, the show notes will be published on gutenbergtimes.com/podcast. This is episode 85, and if you have questions or suggestions or news you want us to cover, send them to firstname.lastname@example.org. That’s email@example.com. So thank you so much Tammie. It has been a great pleasure geeking out with you over Gutenberg.
Tammie Lister: It’s been a pleasure. It’s always great talking to you. Thank you so much for having me.
Birgit Pauli-Haack: Thank you so much, and you all have a good weekend and a good week and I’ll see you all or hear you all in the next two weeks. Take care, bye-bye.