Anne McCarthy and Birgit Pauli-Haack chat about patterns, Gutenberg 16.3 and WordPress 6.3.
- Hallway Hangout: Performance Improvements for WordPress 6.3
- Registering scripts with `async` and `defer` attributes in WordPress 6.3
- The benefits of prioritizing and measuring performance in WordPress 6.2
- Synced Patterns: The Evolution of Reusable Blocks.
Stay in Touch
Birgit Pauli-Haack: Well, hello and welcome to our 87th episode of the Gutenberg Changelog podcast. In today’s episode, we will talk about Gutenberg 16.3 and WordPress 6.3. I’m your host, Birgit Pauli-Haack, curator at the Gutenberg Times and a full-time core contributor for the WordPress open source project. And today, I have the special pleasure of welcoming Anne McCarthy on the podcast with me. Anne is a product manager in Automattic and also a sponsored contributor on the Automattic’s Five for the Future program. I’m thrilled to have you on, Anne, how are you today?
Anne McCarthy: I’m thrilled to be here, so thank you for having me. I’m doing pretty well, I’m talking all about WordPress all day, which is a wonderful day in my book, so.
Birgit Pauli-Haack: In mine too. Yeah, so that’s why we’re good on this podcast together. So, you are just coming from the latest Hallway Hangout with the performance team. I know it’s only a half an hour ago or so, is there anything on the takeaways that you want to share right here with the listeners?
Anne McCarthy: Yeah, so one of the things that stood out to me on the call, and beyond just the performance improvements that will be out of the box when you’re using WordPress, is a resolution to a 14-year-old track ticket, which blew my mind, where WordPress 6.3 will actually introduce support for registering scripts with async and defer attributes. And the reason I bring this up, it’s all part of the script API, is that people have to adopt it to see the impact. So, this is something that’s bundled under performance improvements and something that actually wasn’t on my radar in the same way, but I wanted to call it out for plugin authors because it’s one of those things that we need people to adopt in order to see the benefits.
And there’s also great backwards compatibility. One of the things Felix called out was, let’s say you have a really large plugin and you have your own extensions within that plugin sphere, if those extensions haven’t adopted these changes, it will default to a more conservative approach. Meaning, there’s backwards compatibility, and if they’re… All of your extensions have it, your major plugin has it, and anything dependent on that major plugin that has that script in place and has the defer async attributes in place, will then upgrade automatically to use the new and improved stuff. So, I just wanted to call that out, I think it’s a great thing to have in place and we just need folks to adopt it. So, that was a big takeaway for me, beyond just the many improvements.
And the last thing I’ll say is we did a data deep dive live on the call, looking at graphs and all this nerdy stuff, which was awesome, showing that basically after releases came out, seeing improvements in things like Core Web Vitals and actually in the data, which proves things from the lab. They talk about, “The lab shows this,” so meaning the confined environment versus in the field, so what you actually see in the real world, and what’s being shown in the lab ahead of WordPress releases is being proven in the field on live sites that are being indexed. So, that was really exciting to see. I don’t fully understand every aspect of the data but it was cool to go through with people who do.
Birgit Pauli-Haack: Well, thank you so much for this just-in-time note about the Hallway Hangout. I know your process is that the Hangouts were recorded and you will make a post on the Make Blog in the next few days, where you summarize it and then have all the resources linked up on the post. I also will dig into a little earlier this year, I don’t know if it was April or May, Felix Arntz, from the performance team, also posted a blog post about the changes and how the improvements were with block themes and these kinds of things. But I think there was one on the Make Blog but they were also on his personal blog.
So, I’m going to link that up just to recall that, it was also in the weekend edition but not everybody reads that, or remembers that. I don’t always remember things, but I know it was in there. Yeah, so performance has been a big, big improvement on WordPress, I saw something like 17% with classic themes and about 20% with block themes, right out of the box, if you don’t slow your site down with very old plugins, of course. But that’s another story and outside the scope of this Changelog podcast episode. So, thank you so much. Yeah.
Anne McCarthy: Yeah, thanks for giving us space to talk about that, it’s exciting.
Birgit Pauli-Haack: Yeah. So, I got an email from a listener, thank you so much, an accessibility advocate, and she wanted to know about the best practices to build sites with sidebars on the block themes, and those are read through assistive technology. So, screen readers, when they come to a website, they use the script to content link that comes out automatically with WordPress, but that skip the content also needs a target where to stop.
So, content needs to be tagged with main to actually have that work. If people are creating sites or layouts with column blocks and each column doesn’t have any tag, but one is a sidebar that’s a reusable block, or it’s a template part, it will read through that every single time on every page, if it’s not tagged non-content, or a sidebar, or side, or something like that, or the main content is not tagged. Now, you couldn’t do that with a classic theme from a user interface, but you can do it actually with a group block that has these HTML elements that you can designate your content being either a main or a side. But the most important part is that you wrap whatever sidebar you have into a group block and then select those HTML elements. They’re also not very prominent, they’re in the advanced section.
So, I just wanted to, those who are creating themes through the site editor or helping others to create templates, to be aware of these accessibility ramifications, or to make it known what people who are not visually impaired can see, that that’s repeated content, but the screen readers that help those that are impaired to go through the internet websites need a little help from the content creators or from the template creators. So, I’m sure there will be some more information about that, I just wanted you to be aware, and thank you for the listener to pick up on that and point that out. Accessibility is such an important part of web design and web building, that we need to make sure that if we use just the interfaces that we have those tools in place.
Anne McCarthy: I couldn’t agree more. Thanks for going through that too, it’s always good to learn about this stuff and to make sure that the default implementation ideally, can be done well. And this is where folks can create patterns into the parts to have this set up automatically in their themes with the right stuff in place. So I also encourage blocking authors to think about that.
Birgit Pauli-Haack: Yeah. And I think it’s sometimes really hard on the user documentation to point out the higher ramification. If you just point out this little piece on the sidebar that is a new interface, what is the bigger objective for that?
So, I’m really glad that the listener sent me that email and let me know about that, that’s a good question. So, Anne, you just published a post on the news site, speaking of changes for wordpress.org and it’s titled, Synced Patterns: the Evolution of Reusable Blocks. On the Podcast, we talked a little bit about the upcoming changes, so what is this post all about?
Anne McCarthy: Yeah, so this builds on work that’s done in 6.3, to bring the creation of patterns to the experience, and that’s part of that you can sync or unsync patterns, which basically consolidates the concept of reusable block into the new concept of synced patterns. So this post is just trying to flag the change for people because reusable blocks is a known concept in the WordPress community, and retiring such a known concept deserves a lot of attention. And as part of this, there will be documentation updated, I am keeping an eye on that there, but this is just one of many efforts, including nudges in the interface to help communicate this change to folks. So, just see this as part of a larger effort to make sure that we’re bringing folks along as things evolve. I’m personally really excited because I think compared to the concept of reusable blocks, which sounds almost more technical than it should be, I think patterns is a much more approachable concept for folks to get behind and to use.
So, I’m really excited and I hope it helps surface this more for folks, whenever they’re working with WordPress. But yeah, it’s pretty exciting. So, unseen patterns are essentially what you know and love as patterns today, you can put them in your post or page or template and customize it as you’d like, it’s not synced across the entire system. Sync patterns are just exactly how our usable blocks worked. They’re synced across things, you can have a way to convert to blocks if you want to edit it individually and turn it into an unsynced pattern. But yeah, there’ll be a whole interface to manage all your patterns, if you’re using a block theme, if you’re using a classic theme, we basically just reuse what’s in place for the reusable block screen. So, honestly, it’s a lot of just interface changes for, if you’re using a classic theme and for a block theme it unlocks a lot of functionality in terms of being able to manage all your patterns across themes and plugins and all sorts of stuff.
So, yeah, it’s a huge, huge step forward and a big change, so hopefully this helps get you prepared, and if you have questions or things that you want answered, yeah, I’m @annezazu, Let me know what we’re not thinking about because I’m sure there’s a lot.
Birgit Pauli-Haack: Yeah, and I had some conversations before in the last two months, once I saw that this change is going to come, and I was really excited that finally we have the feature to grade your own patterns in your own site. I think there were quite a few plugins out there that had very high installs and it’s now coming to core. I think the design team and the developers did a great job in just changing the name but leave everything else in place, for those who use reusable block or created reusable block, everything will be familiar, just the names are going to change. The concept itself is not necessarily retired, it’s just going to build into the pattern metaphor more. Because really, the only difference between a pattern and a reusable block was the synchronization over the instances. Yeah, definitely.
Yeah, so we talked about it here at the podcast before and it brings us a leap forward, it also opens up the doors to additional changes. Because what I hear also, and you probably hear it even more, is what’s missing is that if you have a pattern and that’s used around the website, but all of a sudden you want to change styles, you’re not catching every pattern because you need to open up that, switch it out, you have to work around that. And so, partial synced patterns are now possible because we have an interface now, and it’s certainly further down the roadmap to find a way for the canvas to remember this was an unsynced pattern, but it can be partially synced. Because that is certainly missing in between where you don’t want to update content but you want to update the styling here, and the content stays the same that it was there.
So, it’s all a little bit… But bringing it all together is reducing the cognitive load on things and have it all in one metaphor rather than have different ways on doing things. And you’ll find it just the same way you found it before. The icons are the same and the color is the same and the list views… I think you’ll find that the switch over to the new thing from reusable block to sync pattern is relatively… I wanted to say harmless, but smooth. Painless is, I think, the one that I was looking for.
Anne McCarthy: Yes.
What’s Released – WordPress 6.3
Birgit Pauli-Haack: So, that brings us to our section on what’s released. WordPress 6.3 is coming fast, Release Candidate 2 is out, has been out since the beginning of the week, and is ready for testing. The final release is scheduled for August 8th, and that’s less than two weeks to go. So, what’s the latest information about 6.3? Is everything on track? The dev notes have been out, your post is out about the sync patterns, you also published a post about the accessibility improvements and there have been a ton of dev notes also for the performance improvements. Is there anything else that has been new or what are the features that you are most excited about?
Anne McCarthy: Oh man, that’s a great question.
Birgit Pauli-Haack: Can you pick?
Anne McCarthy: Yeah, can I pick? I will say, actually, I’m very excited… I did a YouTube video on this. There’s some hidden features and one of them, that’s not really hidden, but I think it can be taken for granted, it’s really the block theme previews. That has been something, that people have been unable to preview a block theme. So to even try to explore a required setting up a test site required, or just fully activating it without knowing how it might impact your site, and the ability to preview… And the preview uses the site editor, so you’re both getting a sense of what the theme will do, how it might impact your site, what bells and whistles it has, and it allows you to actually dive into the site editor itself and get a feel for it. And I’m just completely excited about that.
I think that will be a huge thing with adoption that will be the unsung hero of this release in my mind. It’s been something that’s been a pain point for a long time and a lot of work went in to make it smooth, and yeah, it’s something I’m very excited to play around with and to see how it impacts things and helps folks step into that world. The only other thing… Thank you for calling out the accessibility improvements as well, so much work has gone into that with a lot of these features and more work remains to be done. But I’m in particular excited about some of the improvements to List View, which I know Alex Stein spent a lot of time doing, and so I want to call that out in particular as something that I’m quite excited about. I think the only other thing on my mind relates to, right now, there is some conversation around footnotes and how footnotes are being stored, and there’s some interesting dialogue there.
I think we’ll end up seeing fixes get in place for it, but it’s just neat how these tiny blocks that are packed full of power are continuing to be iterated on at this point and getting bug fixes. So thank you to everyone who’s testing, because a lot of that has come from testing and feedback. And I know it might seem like, oh, we’re in the RC, things are smooth sailing, but you never know. We’ve had to remove stuff, we had to remove something in 6.2, so we still have time for the final release and we want it to be as polished and bug-free as possible.
So it’s a very high impact time to be testing WordPress 6.3. This is actually my favorite time, because if you find something now, it’s also not great, but if you find something now, you prevent it for millions of people, so I think it’s a really exciting and important time. But there’s nothing, I’m trying to think of anything else in my mind that’s super… Beyond all this pattern stuff and all the other stuff that we’ve been talking about, but the blocking previews really does stand out to me personally, as something as I’m particularly excited about.
Birgit Pauli-Haack: I really like how the style book is happening around the site editor, that you can really see all the… Even if you change something on the style variation and then propagate it, you see how it changes all the blocks, or if it doesn’t change the blocks. So, is the theme preview actually also using the style book? If you go into a preview and then you see the site editor, can you access the style book to see how the…
Anne McCarthy: Yes.
Birgit Pauli-Haack: Yes. Yeah, that’s what I thought.
Anne McCarthy: Yes, you can. Yeah, the entire site editor is using the preview, it’s amazing. The main thing that’s missing right now that some folks have brought up is the ability to schedule and save this draft, those different things. So that is work that needs to be done, that got brought up in the product demo, that needs to be done still, but we’ll get there. I think that’s part of the fun about iterating on this stuff, is like, yeah, yeah, totally, that is part of the roadmap, that’s something we’ll get to.
Birgit Pauli-Haack: I still remember the excitement, when the customers got that feature to schedule updates.
Anne McCarthy: Really?
Birgit Pauli-Haack: Yeah, where people got ready for Christmas changes or for special sales on their website and then they could put it in the customizer and schedule it and then go on vacation or whatever.
Anne McCarthy: Which is very cool.
Birgit Pauli-Haack: Yeah, which is really cool. And it wasn’t so long ago, so that’s why people are still, come from that excitement and find it missing. But yeah, getting the previous in is really big. Yeah, absolutely.
Anne McCarthy: Yeah.
Birgit Pauli-Haack: So…
Anne McCarthy: Now, also…
Birgit Pauli-Haack: Mm-hmm, go ahead.
Anne McCarthy: Revisions is the only other one that just came to mind, as we’re talking about revisions and saving and all that sort of stuff. The visual nature of the star revisions is so cool. Template and template part revisions didn’t make it for 6.3, but I’m hoping to see that in 6.4, and I think when that completion happens, I’m curious to see what kind of confusion might come up around if you have multiple different… I’ve already noticed that, some calls for testing, where people are like, oh, I made a change to the title of this, whatever, and then try to roll back with star revisions, and it’s like, oh no, you actually need do that with template revisions. So, having an intelligent system that works and makes sense, you know where to roll back, but there’s been so much good feedback about how visual and easy and beautiful the star revisions are. So, that’s another hidden feature that I like to talk about.
Birgit Pauli-Haack: Yeah, that’s great. The hidden features of 6.3, with Anne McCarthy. Yeah.
Anne McCarthy: Could be here for two hours if I do that.
Birgit Pauli-Haack: Well, we have an open-ended thing here. Sooner or later I need to go to bed though. So, Anne and I, we are nine hours apart. So, Anne just got up and I’m at the end of the day, so.
So, Gutenberg 16.3, last time I looked it was about 180 PRs…
Anne McCarthy: Ooh.
Birgit Pauli-Haack: …it’s one of the larger Gutenberg releases from 54 contributors. Two of them were first timers, and I think it was a lot of polishing and bug fixes, but there were also a few enhancements that made it into 6.3, and some of them don’t, probably, but let’s talk about them. So, the first one that I see was that you can have more intuitive archive titles for your query title block, there’s quite a few changes around that. Those don’t make it into 6.3 though, but it’s because it’s the first time it’s in there I think. So you can change the titles of your archive pages, remove the archive type, and what else is in there?
Anne McCarthy: I think this is hugely helpful because this is definitely something where we’ve gotten feedback from folks, where it was too generic before, it just showed archive title or whatever. It would not say specifically what you’re looking at, and when you’re creating a new template and you’re a first time user you might delete it, because you don’t know what it is. So knowing what it powers, knowing what it does, it’s a huge step up and I’m quite excited about this.
Birgit Pauli-Haack: Yeah, yeah. And then the whole change the title of your archive pages is such an improvement towards the classic experience, because you always needed a developer to remove something or to change the title and now you can do it by yourself and you can create any kind of different templates with a query block, or the post template block. Yeah. So, yeah, next up is the add, renaming, duplication, and deletion option to patterns. That’s certainly coming into 6.3, patterns now have a dropdown menu, you can assess the three dots and then allow you to rename, duplicate and delete patterns easily. It wasn’t easy to do that before, especially the removal of patterns from your my patterns kind of thing. Yeah, it was a little bit convoluted because it wasn’t through the editor, now you can do it all through the editor. Yeah.
Anne McCarthy: I’ll also note, one of the reasons why this is also so important to get in and why it was backported in my opinion, is that when you are setting… You create a pattern and you set the sync status, so synced or unsynced, you cannot change that status after the fact. So, let’s say you make a mistake, you create an unsync and you’re like, wait, actually, I want this to be synced. Before you’d have to go in and copy/paste, this whole convoluted process, now, with the duplication you can duplicate, and when you duplicate you can basically decide the sync status. So that’s one of the things that came up, was we wanted a way to make it easy to give people control without having the option to change the sync status back and forth because that will create some muddiness.
Let’s say you synced a pattern and then you randomly unsynced it two months later, imagine how that might create some chaos across your site. So, to limit that, we just basically said you cannot change the sync status after it’s created, but we’ll add in options to make it easy to manage those things. And things like, renaming and deleting are also just important basics to have, so yeah, I’m glad to see this in, and I think not being able to set the sync status might cause some confusion, so I’m curious how that lands with 6.3 and how we can integrate it for 6.4.
Birgit Pauli-Haack: Yeah. Yeah, I had some questions that were around that before, but the duplication feature, yeah, one click duplication, it’s pretty much, your work is not wasted, you just can replicate it and move forward with that. Yeah. The next piece is enable focus mode editing patterns. It was available for template parts before the focus modals, but now it’s also available for patterns, and it is then also backport it to 6.3… I’m just going to double check.
Anne McCarthy: I’m nearly positive, yeah.
Birgit Pauli-Haack: Yeah, me too, but…
Anne McCarthy: Potentially not. Let’s see if it works.
Birgit Pauli-Haack: Potentially not, yeah.
Anne McCarthy: Maybe we should consider it. It might be because a new feature, but I’m like… We’re both on the corridor triage team here, it’s like, thoughts on backporting.
Birgit Pauli-Haack: Maybe we should put it on the 6.3 editor task.
Anne McCarthy: Yeah. Yeah, let’s drop it into the triage session we’re doing today. Nice, I love it.
Birgit Pauli-Haack: All right, and the next part is that… Well, it’s the copy, to make sure that reusable is removed from menus and all that, for the reusable block. The next part is the sticky header and pagination for pattern page. That is really cool.
Anne McCarthy: Yeah.
Birgit Pauli-Haack: Yeah.
Anne McCarthy: Yeah. I love seeing that. And that basically takes the patterns section of the block editor and ensures that when you’re scrolling down, unless you have a ton of patterns, that top heading that you can filter with will still appear, and it’s a quality of life improvement and definitely something that, if you have lots of patterns, which a lot of sites do with block themes, it’s pretty critical to be able to switch between and see what you’re actually seeing. So, I was pretty excited to see that in there.
Birgit Pauli-Haack: Yeah. And I like the filter part, that you can just show me the synced patterns, just show me the unsynced patterns, so that’s really cool. The next one is, I wanted to mention it because that’s one of the changes, so the links that go to manage reusable blocks and manage patterns go to different places now. So, they go now to this site editor, where all the other interfaces are, to interact with patterns synced and unsynced patterns. There is that place, the WP admin looking place, still there, but now you can use all the site editor for the editing part. So, I think we will have that quite a bit in the next few releases, that we have a new managed thing, and then we can go back to the old thing, just because it might not be feature parity or so. I think that’s the first place where we can train ourselves with that.
Anne McCarthy: Very cool.
Birgit Pauli-Haack: …particular instances of the text control component, which is really important for a lot of extensibility usage there. There were some changes for the Interactivity API, and that’s only on the Gutenberg plugin. That, of course, every time we have a new thing in WordPress, we need to think about turning it off. What is necessary to turn things off? And so, the same with Interactivity API, it has been merged into 16.2, but not for 6.3, not for the WordPress, it’s coming in 6.4. But even with the Gutenberg plugin enabled, some people still want to turn off the Interactivity API because it interferes with their extensions.
So, there’s now a filter to do this, and there’s also a runtime support to the WP style directive, so you can, on the fly, change the style for some of the Interactivity API entities. So, that’s these two things of Interactivity API. I’m sure there will be, very soon, a little bit more, a higher level, but also a more strategic announcement or strategic documentation about the Interactivity API. I know a few of our coworkers are working on that, to get this out, but with all the documentation it’s always a little bit behind the features there. So, go into the PRs to learn more about it.
Anne McCarthy: Yeah, I’ll note too on that front. I got some really good feedback from someone saying, “Hey, this project’s been hard to keep on top of.” And so that was feedback that’s been brought back to the folks working on that. So, I think, last I can remember, from a conversation, my brain’s a bit mushy in the last couple of weeks, but I think they’re going to try and experiment with using discussion issues as a way to keep track of things, which is a bit of a departure from using overview or tracking issue labels in GitHub, but I think it’s going to be interesting and we can learn from that. But it is, as you said, anytime you add something, we need to think about removing it, and I know the Interactivity API is likely slated for 6.4, so it’s definitely something you can keep on top of and this was a great thing to call out. I could see folks skimming over this and not realizing how important it is. So, it’s a good one to keep in mind.
So, well, from the block library section, there’s one component, the range control, that now has an additional attribute for the default size of 40 pixels. I think it does a few other sizes, but you can now use it if you use it in your own plugin settings pages or your own sidebar items, you can have a different size as a default size managed there. So that’s pretty cool.
Anne McCarthy: My understanding of that one was that it was updating the component to use the 40 pixel size and the design, but I could be wrong about that. I know Rich was working on that. So, I think it’s less having a default set and more having consistency across the settings. It’s a design quality of life. Because right now I think that settings page has been shifted around, but yeah.
Birgit Pauli-Haack: Yeah, that’s what I get from the PR too, but it’s an additional attribute or a different component for the range control, because they need to keep it backwards compatible. So, what goes for the core range controls, the previous attributes and range control sizes are still in there, so it’s practically an enhancement there. But the core view is the new default, 40 pixel thing there.
Anne McCarthy: Yeah.
Birgit Pauli-Haack: That’s what I understood. But I might be wrong, I’ve been wrong before, so.
Anne McCarthy: Same. Same. Been looking at too much stuff anyway.
Birgit Pauli-Haack: Yeah, sometimes you make it up as you go along, right? So, the next item is about the nested inner blocks. There’s a new API, or at least stabilizing existing API for default block, direct insert, and get direct insert block selectors, that were previously experimental, and it was hard to build on top of them. And one of the panelists that were on our past live Q&A, Seth Rubenstein, stabilized those, as a first time contributor, stabilize those APIs. So he can also work on a separate PR, that he shared some code from their Pew Research work on quizzes with the core developers, with core. So, that’s really good that community developers also stabilize some of the APIs so they can continue on their quest of making the plug editor more versatile.
Anne McCarthy: Yeah, I love seeing this, and Seth has been awesome to be driving stuff forward, with really practical use cases, and I think it’s a great example of using and extending Gutenberg and the core editor, and then also contributing back in a way that furthers it and is in line with the goals of this project. So, I think it’s really exciting and cool to see this moving along.
Birgit Pauli-Haack: Yeah. And they want to make some of the quiz code available as plugins, but you’re not supposed to put in plugins in the repo when you have experimental APIs in there. So yeah, that’s where this work also comes in, so it’s really important to make this all work in stable conditions.
The next part is for patterns and alternative grid layout to improve keyboard accessibility. That’s one of the accessibility improvements that you were talking about before.
Anne McCarthy: Yeah, as we’ve talked about just generally adding new features, accessibility does need to keep up and we need to have it accessible for all folks. And so, this just makes a change to using a standard UL, with keyboard tab indexes, to try and improve keyboard accessibility in particular. And I’m nearly positive… Scroll down. Yeah, I was going to say, AFercia who is, that’s the GitHub username, he is sponsored by Yoast, did a great job reviewing this, and to the point that Alex Stein was like, “This looks good to me.” And so, it’s another great example of showing the back and forth between the teams, but I also would love to get to the point where this is done by default and not caught later. So, it’s great to see the collaboration and to see this being done. And I know the accessibility team is always looking for more help, so it’s just great to see the back and forth and it is back forwarded to the release.
Birgit Pauli-Haack: To 6.3, yeah. Yeah. Yeah, I’m really glad to see Andrea coming back to the accessibility team. He did take a break from working on the accessibility team, but I think he found quite a few contributors now really digging into Gutenberg. So he felt a little lonely about three or four years ago, before the pandemic definitely, and so I’m glad he’s contributing back again on the team. And sponsored by Yoast, just to mention that once in a while. Great. The next part, yeah, so there is a fix to apply text color selection to link color if link color isn’t active. That has been a long-standing issue with the block editor, that people who changed the text color on the paragraph didn’t get the same color also for the link color and needed to change that separately.
And some people, because it’s not a default control on the paragraph, just didn’t know about the link color and how to change it, and it really wanted to not make the changes and couldn’t dream up the new design. So, I’m really glad that that is now by default. Well, of course if you want to change the link color you can, but if you just change the text color in a paragraph, it automatically also changes the link color.
Anne McCarthy: And I want to call out, that that was part of an effort on a project board, which is a bit in the weeds, but the UX and Polish project board is a board within the Gutenberg project that is specifically for just super actionable issues, that are typically, quality of life, as the name suggest with Polish. And then user experience, so how can we make it just super intuitive? So, I just want to point that out, is the more you can write really targeted contained requests that are like, this is just a pain in the butt, I run through this a couple of times a week or something like that, it’s a great consideration for the UX and Polish board.
I think there’s been maybe 80 items completed as a part of the UX and Polish board, which is kind of wild. And it’s something that I know a lot of folks keep an eye on, and it’s a great, if you’re a new developer and you want to get started, it’s also a great place to go and look at ways you can improve the project. So, I was excited to see that done as well.
Birgit Pauli-Haack: Yeah. Does it make sense to share the link to the project board in our show notes?
Anne McCarthy: Yeah, let’s do it.
Birgit Pauli-Haack: … so all the developers can grab things on what they’re interested in, and see the progress on it? Or even just test some of the PRs that are available and see if they are doing what they’re supposed to do.
Yeah. So, the next thing is add client-side pagination to the panel list, client-side means in your browser, so you don’t go back to the server to get the next pages of patterns. I think that’s definitely a quality of life improvement. And this also has been ported back.
Anne McCarthy: This is the fun time with Gutenberg releases, where it’s like, what’s backported?
Birgit Pauli-Haack: Yeah.
Anne McCarthy: What’s not? It was cherry-picked for everyone.
Birgit Pauli-Haack: Yeah, it’s synced with the core WordPress. Yeah, it doesn’t work. What’s backported? Yeah. What else? Do you want to talk about the work that’s done with the TinyMCE compatibility and the classic editor? Or the classic block in bigger projects?
Anne McCarthy: Yeah. So, one of the things that’s fun about Gutenberg is there’s actually experiments you can turn on and off. And so right now, from what I’m seeing, is there’s an experiment for TinyMCE removal, basically to help with compatibility with the classic editor plugin, and other plugins that disable the block editor. So, previously an experiment was introduced to help with TinyMCE removal, and so they’re just trying to polish this to make sure that there aren’t any regressions or just weird edge cases, and make sure that it’s using the same filter for classic editor plugin is using.
So, it’s not for a lot of folks who are, Gutenberg change log, who are Gutenberg forward, but I think it is important to consider when we think about broader adoption and folks still using the classic editor, work and thought is still put in there. I know sometimes that feedback bubbles up, but there are efforts underway to ensure that people who do want to disable it, it still works. But yeah, I would encourage folks to also just use blocks. But yeah, I would call this a maintenance task, something that is really to just plug in interoperability and make sure things still work as expected. And so, it’s something that might be not as glamorous and shiny, but it’s still important work to do as part of the wider WordPress ecosystem.
Birgit Pauli-Haack: Yeah. And definitely, because there is this backwards compatibility promise for WordPress, and not only for the classic editor, but also for the classic theme. So, keeping that in mind, when you move forward in a different direction that people are still using the current stuff quite extensively and successfully, so they’re not impaired by any changes that are done. But sometimes these things are strategic and need to have a broader attention span on it and just not that one single feature. Excellent. So, I’m really glad that there is somebody on it. Yeah.
The next thing is mostly just to say that the documentation has been updated for the layout architecture after some of the APIs were stabilized. So, they are now showing up in the documentation and they’re not labeled as private or as experimental. So, that is definitely also a good thing, because a lot of people are a little bit hesitant to use experimental APIs or features.
So, every time you can stabilize them and update the documentation so people know about it, is a good thing, it’s a good day. What else do we find? Oh yeah, there is an interactive template for talking about the Interactivity API.
So, we have this scaffolding tool called Create Block, which speeds up your block development quite a bit when you start out with a new one or with putting additional blocks into a plugin. And now, there is also a template to use the Interactivity API on the next block that you are trying to build, that you’re working on, so you don’t have to include all the Interactivity stuff, for lack of a better technical term. And hook it up to all your other files, so there’s a template there. And it’s available now with a command line command, so that is certainly something for those people that want to dive into the Interactivity API.
Anne McCarthy: And when we make stuff like that easier, it’s so exciting, so great to call out.
Birgit Pauli-Haack: Yeah. Yeah, I think the great block scaffolding tool actually has not gotten enough exposure into the developers, because it was so late when it came out, people tried to build blocks and then gave up quite a bit. But now, every course, every tutorial that comes out of WordPress education or for the developer block uses a great block scaffolding. We hope to get more people building blocks.
Anne McCarthy: Yeah.
Birgit Pauli-Haack: Yeah. So, I think we are through with the change log, that’s what we wanted to point out for 16.3.
What’s in Active Development or Discussed
So, in active development, I think everybody, we talked about, just briefly about the phase three collaboration phase and all the posts that are there, we didn’t talk too much about it because WordPress 6.3 is such a big thing in front of us, the collaboration, we don’t know yet what’s going to be, but everyone’s excited, I think about the admin changes as well as the media library. And then, of course, the real time collaboration and the async collaboration, there’s a lot to come out. So, what are the next steps that we are going to see when people say, okay, some of us are still working on the Polish and UI changes for the site editor, and some of us are going to start and move over to the collaboration?
Anne McCarthy: Yeah, I will say, I don’t anticipate to see any sort of real time collaboration added into 6.4. I think it’s such a short release cycle, so I just want to put that out there. I’m not seeing headwinds about that or momentum in that direction. But I do think that’ll give us lots of time to experiment, and I know Riad posted on Make Core about the realtime architecture, which is totally worth reading. And there’s also a GitHub issue, of course, it is a GitHub issue. But right now, the feedback that I’ve gotten and questions that I’ve gotten, since I run basically the phase two outreach program, the full site outreach program is, it’s, what outreach are we doing? What’s going to happen with that? Are you going to run one for that? There’s a lot of questions bubbling up, of what’s next.
And right now, I will say, the focus remains on 6.3, but I would expect to see a lot of experimentation, a lot of stuff starting up. I have done some outreach to plugin authors, I’ve done related functionality like that. I’ve started talking to folks in a larger to medium to small publishing space and agencies and all that sort of stuff. But I encourage folks to stay tuned and as soon as something is ready, I planned, and I’m sure you planned, to shout it from the rooftops, try and get folks involved and figure out exactly how best to organize stuff. Because I think that is a big question is, these are such related but yet disparate initiatives, and I don’t think there’s necessarily an overarching, here is the next thing we’re doing. I think some folks, some individual contributors, are just kind of trying to explore and pave the path for now and see what we can learn, ahead of a more collective push, once 6.3 is out the door.
But yeah, I expect things to be more experimental in the Gutenberg plugin, by the time 6.4 is released. And then 6.5 is when I am more anxious about what are we going to have in place and how can people help test. And so, right now, I encourage folks to comment on the post that Matias wrote, share your feedback, share your experiences. Are you a writer? Are you a journalist who’s had to work in collaborative situations? Talk about it, write your comments, what do you want to see? What do you like about other tools that have those kinds of features in place? What workflows does your team have?
Yeah, I think there’s a plugin author who commented recently on a workflows post, after we had exchanged some emails, who works on a calendar. So, you have a calendar post coming up and you have workflows related to that. And he took the time to very kindly share his feedback. So, anything you can do there is super helpful, whether it’s your plugin or you’re a writer or you’re an organizational leader who has to manage this kind of stuff.
Birgit Pauli-Haack: Yeah, that’s going to be real interesting. So, any feedback is really helpful in that. I just wanted to go back to what you said, okay, there’s not going to be a whole lot in 6.4 for phase three. I know there’s also quite a few things that are residual from phase two, contributors are aiming to get the funds API and the fund library into core, together with the typography management system. We talked about the Interactivity API, there’s certainly some front fund hydration kind of tools. We’re still waiting for the table of content block to be stabilized, and the time to read block, is something that is definitely on the list. And I’m really excited to see what’s coming as a default theme for 2024. And of course, all the publishing that goes into phase two interfaces and workflows for the site editor. Yeah, the default theme. Yeah.
Anne McCarthy: There’s so much already slated for 6.4.
Birgit Pauli-Haack: Yeah. And then your central…
Anne McCarthy: Provisions and templates and template parts, yeah, we could rattle off a bunch of stuff, let’s leave it.
Birgit Pauli-Haack: And we already know there’s stuff in there, so Beta 1 is September 26th, that’s just eight weeks away. And that’s kind of interesting to see how short of a cycle we are going to have, but we won’t hit US big holidays, like Thanksgiving, it will be out before Thanksgiving, it will be out before Christmas, and nobody goes into a Christmas year-end sale with a changed WordPress. So, I think it’s a good thing for the community, but it’s going to be hard to make it a splashy new feature kind of thing, when you only have eight weeks to develop. And it’s-
Anne McCarthy: It’s tight.
Birgit Pauli-Haack: Yeah. But then Josepha started a wishlist post. We got quite a few comments there, and it’s still open until August 15th. She also made clear that it’s a wishlist, it’s not everything that’s going to be on there. It’s going to come into 6.4, but I think the jury is still out which part will be. If there is already a track ticket or a Gutenberg PR or issue, the chances might be going in, but a global, yeah, this is my wishlist kind of thing, it probably won’t get that attention. So, August 15th, that’s just before the community summit and WordCamp US. We will hopefully have, after WordCamp US, have a roadmap post, like you did for 6.3. Are you planning to doing something like that?
Anne McCarthy: Yes, I am. It is on my to-do list, I think for the week after, maybe August 14th or something like that, to start compiling stuff and figuring out what we can write up. Because yeah, that is an important thing to get out, especially with a shorter release cycle.
Birgit Pauli-Haack: Yeah. And it’s going to be interesting to see, it’s the underrepresented gender lead release. The last one was 5.6 and now we are 6.4, two years later, three years later. So, there are some awesome people on the release team, so I’m really looking forward to working with you and so many other, 40 on the direct release team or on the cohort, so it’s a great group of women/non-binary people working on the release.
So, we are at the end of the show, Anne, it was wonderful to talk to you and you sharing all your knowledge… Not all your knowledge, we would be here another 10 hours.
Anne McCarthy: The highlights.
Birgit Pauli-Haack: The highlights of the most immediate thoughts in the show. It was wonderful to have you, is there anything that you want our listeners to be aware of beyond what we talked about today, that we didn’t touch upon yet?
Anne McCarthy: Oh, gosh. No, I don’t think so. I think the only thing that I’m noodling on is the next call for testing for the outreach program, and how we can get some feedback and get it going for 6.4, and just how 6.3 lands. So, stay tuned for that, if you’re not part of the FSE Outreach Program, it is still kicking, it’s still going over three years on.
Birgit Pauli-Haack: That’s wonderful.
Anne McCarthy: Yeah.
Birgit Pauli-Haack: Yeah. I really love that, how that turned out. And together, more people involved in testing themes, and no code and code people as well. So, is there a chance that you’re going to remove the experiment on that particular channel too?
Anne McCarthy: Oh, gosh. I know, it’s so funny, I think it’s called FSE Outreach Experiment. Yeah, which is funny, because it’s like, how long can the experiment go for? We’re on very scientific terms right now, but yeah, no, we should remove it. I think I just referenced it everywhere, as FSE Outreach Experiment, so I’ve been nervous about getting rid of it.
Birgit Pauli-Haack: Oh, okay. Yeah, I can see it.
Anne McCarthy: And FSE is also an old term… It’s just kind of a weird snapshot in time. But yeah, we’ll see.
Birgit Pauli-Haack: All right, well, it was wonderful to have you. If people want to get in touch with you, would be through the channel FSE Outreach Experiments?
Anne McCarthy: Yeah, that’s probably the easiest. I’m @annezazu on Make Slack, and then I have a site, Nomad.blog. I’m on LinkedIn, but otherwise, not really typically on any social media. So not on X, or whatever they’re calling it, the kids are calling it these days. I don’t know how you even refer to that anymore.
Birgit Pauli-Haack: Yeah, it’s now a Boomers network, right? All right, well, thank you so much for being here, and we are going on holiday, the next recording will be August 25th and we will have Ellen Bauer.
Anne McCarthy: Oh, amazing.
Birgit Pauli-Haack: …lead for design, or co-lead, on the design release team for 6.4. And we’re going to talk about their work on block themes, and of course the next two Gutenberg releases, Gutenberg 16.4 and 16.5. So, stay tuned for the next one. And there’s always, dear listeners, the show notes will be published on gutenbergtimes.com/podcast, and if you have questions as suggestions or news you want us to cover, send them to firstname.lastname@example.org. That’s email@example.com. And that’s it for me, I wish everybody a great summer, and I will be back end of August. Take care.
Anne McCarthy: Amazing. Thank you for having me.
Birgit Pauli-Haack: All right, bye-bye.
Anne McCarthy: Bye.