Birgit Pauli-Haack and Jessica Lyschik discuss the latest default theme, Twenty-Twenty-Four, the latest WordPress release 6.4 and the last two Gutenberg plugin releases.
Special Guest: Jessica Lyschik
- Frontend Developer jessicalyschik.de
- X (former Twitter) @jessicalyschik
- WordCamp Germany
- Default theme: Twenty-Twenty-Four
- WordPress 6.4 “Shirley”
- WordPress 6.4.1
- WordPress 6.4 Introduces Twenty Twenty-Four Theme, Adds Lightbox, Block Hooks, and Improvements Across Design Tools
- Rich Tabor’s Twitter Thread
- WordPress 6.4 Field Guide
Twenty-Twenty-Four: new default theme
- Hashim Warren tweet
- Rae Morey Tweets
- Import Twenty Twenty-Four
- Download theme: https://wordpress.org/themes/twentytwentyfour/
- Blogger demo: https://2024.wordpress.net/index.php/blogger-demo/
- Artist/photographer demo : http://2024.wordpress.net/index.php/photographer-demo/
- Patterns: https://2024.wordpress.net/index.php/patterns/
- What’s new in Gutenberg 16.9? (25 October)
- Gutenberg 16.9 Lets You Rename (Almost) Any Block, Adds Experimental Form and Input Blocks
- What’s new in Gutenberg 17.0? (9 November)
Stay in Touch
Birgit Pauli-Haack: Hello, and welcome to our 92nd episode of the Gutenberg Changelog podcast. In today’s episode, we will talk about WordPress 6.4, the default theme, Gutenberg 16.9, Gutenberg plugin release 17.0. And that’s a lot. So I’m your host Birgit Pauli-Haack, curator at the Gutenberg Times, and a full-time core contributor for the WordPress Open Source Project sponsored by Automattic. And today, I have the pleasure to introduce our listeners to Jessica Lyschik, a core contributor and WordPress 6.4 release team for the default theme together with Maggie Cabrera. So Jessica was also the co-lead organizer of last month’s WordCamp Germany in Gerolstein. Both the building of the default theme and the WordCamp organizing were taking place in the same time space in the last few months. So I’m thrilled that you can make time for the show. Welcome, Jessica. How are you today?
Jessica Lyschik: Hi, Birgit. Thanks for having me. I’m doing great. A bit tired because this week has been quite exhausting, but I’m very much looking forward to today’s episode.
Birgit Pauli-Haack: Yeah. I’m so glad that you’re here and it’s been a while that we said you should come on the podcast, so I’m glad you made it today. Yes, there was a lot of work for the Open Source Project project and…
Jessica Lyschik: Yes, it was.
Birgit Pauli-Haack: … I’m so happy. Congratulations. Welcome to Germany. Have you recovered-
Jessica Lyschik: Thank you.
Birgit Pauli-Haack: … from it all?
Jessica Lyschik: It took a few more days than expected, but I really had to recover from this. There was a huge push in the last few weeks before WordCamp Germany because some things were about to fall apart, but as they always do. But we managed to create a wonderful event and we’ve got very, very good feedback from attendees, sponsors, speakers, literally everyone was super happy to have been in Gerolstein, and that was fantastic. And yes, of course the default theme also took a lot of hours from me. But yeah, I think we did a great job on this and Maggie was fantastic to work with.
Birgit Pauli-Haack: Yeah. And we’re going to talk a lot more about that in just a few moments. But before we head into the releases to listeners, we have a couple of announcements from the project that happened in the last, I don’t know, four weeks since the last episode. So first of all, there’s the State of the Word for those who are new to WordPress, WordPress co-founder Matt Mullenweg shares reflections on the projects’ progress last year, and then what’s in it for next year, and the future.
And it’s also the time where we celebrate the community activities and the software updates. This year it will take place on December 11th, 2023 at 1500 UTC. That’s for our American friends 9:00 AM Eastern, and it’ll be live-streamed from Madrid. Details on how to reserve a ticket for the in-person event, the link to watch the live stream, and information on how to submit the questions for the Q and A portion will be provided later this month. So watch the news section on the WordPress.org website. Of course we have the save the date post link in the show notes. I’m really excited what’s going to happen there. Do you have any comments on that? What do you expect?
Jessica Lyschik: It’s interesting to see that it got moved outside the US. I think it’s the first time it’s not happening in the US and I would be curious to hear why Madrid was chosen because… I’ve never been there before, but I know that it’s in a very interesting city, so we’re really looking forward to that.
Birgit Pauli-Haack: Yeah. Yeah, me too. Yeah, you’re right. It’s the first time outside the US. It’s also the first time… Not the first time outside of WordCamp US. The previous two times 2021 in 2022 were also a separate event, was not tied to WordCamp US, which made WordCamp US a little bit more flexible when it’s going to take place. The State of the Word was always in December, but now the WordCamp US was in October, was in September, now in August. So it was moved a little bit earlier into the year. I’m really looking forward again, as always, to reflect on what the last year brought, because right now I’m just like you, what happened last week is all I can think about and what I’m reflecting on. But yeah, so we get a chance for that with it. December 11th, 1500 UTC.
Josepha Haden Chomphosy published the proposed release dates for 2024. The proposal is actually on the Make Blog. I’d just say it on… Yeah, it’s a little bit hard if you can’t look at it, but maybe you can retain the 6.5 is scheduled to be released March 26. Well, it’s proposed to be released. The release team still needs to chime in there, which makes beta February 13th, beta one. 6.6 is scheduled for mid-July, July 16th with a beta of June 4th. And then 6.7 similar to 6.4 this year with a January release on November 5th and September 24 in beta one. So I’m always looking just one release ahead of time.
And Héctor Prieto also chimed in and said, “Well, the last Gutenberg release shipped in 6.5 will be 17.7. That’s seven more complete Gutenberg cycles until we have Beta 1 in February 13th.” Wow. It sounds so far away, but seven releases is not that far away. If we release every two weeks, we have already released the Gutenberg 17.0. So there’s quite a few things that might get in there. We’ll see what the developer team is coming up with a roadmap for 6.5. I’m sure that Fonts Library will be on the list of wanted features like the last five releases. So Interactivity API will be certainly make an appearance again, and maybe we see some new data views or admin redesigns. What do you think?
Jessica Lyschik: Yeah, that sounds pretty good. I also very looking forward to the font library. Pretty much a bummer. It didn’t get included into 6.4, but it doesn’t make any sense if you push something into the release just to have people complaining about it because it doesn’t work as they expect it to. So if it can be a bit more refined, and I hope this gets to be done by 6.5 because it’s so much of a needed feature to have this management of fonts, especially since we have pushed Google fonts out of the default themes. I was one of the people involved in this for the older themes earlier this year, and of course the last few default themes have already been doing this. It always brings a bit of a problem when you have your own custom fonts or a project requires it, then you have an extra additional work with creating a child theme, making sure it does work there, it gets implemented, and this could solve so many issues and would it make so much easier for every user to just…
Birgit Pauli-Haack: Yeah. No, I hear you. And I think because it’s such an important feature, it needed a few more iterations in the Gutenberg plugin base before it gets into core to get more of the kinks out. And if I recall correctly, but there were still quite a few things happening in development in Beta 1 and Beta 2. Fonts Library got pushed punted in beta two, but that it really makes sense to have a few more test cycles for it.
Jessica Lyschik: Yeah. Maybe some iterations for the replacement of templates that got newly introduced for the default theme because right now it’s very hidden unfortunately, so you have to show people where to go. And if this could be improved over the next version, that would be fantastic because you have such a large sidebar when you open the site editor in browse mode and it would be just perfect if we could implement this replacement feature into the sidebar alongside with all the other settings you can do basically on a template.
Birgit Pauli-Haack: Right. And I think there are already some versions of that in the Gutenberg plugin release in 16 point… So 16.1 was the last release that got in… No, 16.7 was the last release that got into 6.4. But in 16.8 and .9, there were additional functionality built that, the bug fixes would be backported, but some of them didn’t make it into the beta because it was so late, but it’s already in Gutenberg, so we can definitely test it there and refine it there. The template part itself, the concept for the user, what is a template and what is a page still seems to be a confusing piece of it. And I can understand that because a WordPress user, an existing or someone who was using WordPress for the last, I don’t know, 10 or 20 years, never had to deal with it because it was always part of the theme and all of a sudden now that added a complexity. We didn’t make a good way to abstract that complexity away to make it easier to realize what they’re doing.
But I think the site editor is now on the way to help with that with a different view and edit modes for templates and page content, but it’s still one additional hurdle for a content creator to make.
So this brings us to the perfect segue to the community contributions item that I selected was… So in September there was actually a big discussion around the theme submission to the WordPress repository that included a few features that didn’t comply with the guidelines that helped a new user to figure out what to do with a theme. And strictly speaking, those features were definitely in the plugin territory and the discussions made clear that there is a need for better onboarding, but it also made clear that you cannot make exceptions for one theme and then have the other themes. So why him or why her and not me? So it’s clear that there needs to be a discussion about standards, about the way to do this for WordPress, and that has been opened now a couple of weeks ago.
It’s a post on the theme Make Blog called, Discussion: How to handle custom settings screens in block themes. And this definitely needs your input if you’re interested in that, if you make themes, and if you want to find a way to have a standardized way on getting an onboarding sequence, for instance, for your theme into the guidelines of the theme repository, that is definitely a discussion where you could be. It wasn’t clear to me what the next steps would be, but the next one is definitely comment on it and if you have time, the themes team meets every other Tuesday at 1500 UTC in the themes review channel on the Make Slack. I think I need to put some links there in the show notes. I think that’s not easy to retain from a radio podcast. But yeah, so that is definitely where the community needs to give some input, where the contributors need some help to figure things out. Do you have any opinion of that now with a default theme? Maybe we can talk about it a little bit there.
Jessica Lyschik: A lot of opinions to be honest. Yeah, I actually did not know about this post. So just two days before we WordCamp Germany happened, so it totally missed me, but I will definitely go through this later on. But yeah, I can see both sides in this discussion actually. So from a theme author’s perspective, you are limited definitely, and there is, from a user perspective, a huge need for proper onboarding. So there is no standardized system, and every plugin and, in theory, every theme, but every plugin does it on its own.
They often look similar, but everyone does it on its own. And I think we have various APIs in WordPress, and I think an onboarding API would be something for the future that we could consider implementing because then you could say, “Okay. Even if it’s a theme, when you have the standardized API, it would be possible for a theme to like, ‘Hey, just put these settings and here can you change this and upload your logo or whatever that needs to be done for a theme to be set up properly or look good.'” And yeah, that’s pretty much what I would like to see in the future at some point.
Birgit Pauli-Haack: Yeah. The question is does it have to be in the theme or should it be in core? Should it be on the hosting side? I know that there is a product out there by the fine folks at Extendify that has an onboarding sequence that they offer hosting companies to sell their WordPress installations or come with their WordPress installation. I saw some prototypes and those looked really, really well. So the big problem is when you have these features in a plugin or in a theme and the features are plugin territory, what you do is pretty much close down the system that people cannot switch themes without losing content. And that is something that the theme directory really wants to avoid. And so any onboarding sequence or feature would need to make sure that the content that it’s added through that place is in proper places in the database. So when the theme changes that the content is not lost. And that I think is a bigger problem than I think we make it out at the moment.
Jessica Lyschik: Yeah. But then it’s definitely core territory, so it should land in core this onboarding API, whatever you want to call it. But yeah, that’s the point because otherwise when you just say it’s okay, it’s just for plugins, then themes will always come with a companion plugin. And the question is, is that really needed? Then why it should be in core? And no matter if it’s a plugin or a theme, they all can benefit from this kind of onboarding.
Birgit Pauli-Haack: Yeah. And there are these efforts to do a redesign of the WP admin in certain ways. Maybe that brings back that discussion for core contributors to add something like that as well. So I think the discussions are all there. One is again on the Make Theme Block. Yeah, chime in, be part of it, be part of the discussion, and then you may be part of the solution as well. So that’s part of what you might have missed. Jessica and I did while we were celebrating WordPress Germany, I was also on a team retreat for a while and then had four days vacation, and all of a sudden my backlog is insurmountable and I’m going back on it one day at a time.
What’s Released – WordPress 6.4
But we are now there, we are at the section and our episode that what’s released. And this week two says here, but I know it’s three releases that took place. It was WordPress 6.4, and then a day and a half later, WordPress 6.4.1 came out, and then we had Gutenberg 17.0. So let’s talk about WordPress 6.4 first, then we can talk about the default theme that comes with it. And then we cover what’s new in Gutenberg 16.9 and 17.0. And after that you should probably be caught up dear listeners as well on all the WordPress happenings, it was a busy four weeks,
Jessica Lyschik: Definitely.
Birgit Pauli-Haack: WordPress 6.4, it’s called Shirley after the iconic jazz artist, Shirley Horn, was released on November 7th with a quick point release on November 9th to fix a bug with an older version of cURL, which is a command line request tool. And the request tool we have in the… If you are very interested, it’s very highly technical. And if you’re interested, I’ll share the link to the WPTavern article to it. They have the skinny for you. But this release is a combination of an immense effort and passion from over 600 contributors across at least 56 countries. And it included 170 first-time contributors. This is pretty huge, I think it was… Yeah. So 600 contributors is one of the biggest releases. So we talked on this podcast in episode with Joni Halabi, Nadia Maya Ardiani, Tammie Lister, and Ellen Bauer, already on WordPress 6.4. It was in the making for quite a while, shorter than others. But I also will ask today’s co-host, Jessica, the same question. So what features in 6.4 excited you the most and why?
Jessica Lyschik: Well, the default theme, obviously.
Birgit Pauli-Haack: Apart from that.
Jessica Lyschik: … we will get into that later. Apart from that, of course renaming group blocks is something I was looking forward to. It has been so needed in the past for me and I’m very glad it’s finally here. And I can’t wait until this comes to all the other blocks as well because it will make editing so much easier, especially if you have larger sites with lots of groups and lots of content grouped together. That’s one of my highlights. And the lightbox feature, the image lightbox is pretty neat one too. And what else was in…
Birgit Pauli-Haack: No, it’s not.
Jessica Lyschik: I’ve forgotten
Birgit Pauli-Haack: There’s a highlight. So what I also like is that you now, as a user, can categorize your custom patterns. You can not only have a huge list of patterns that you spread all over your website, but you can also put them in categories. I think that’s a major place to be for patterns.
Jessica Lyschik: Yeah. And maybe background images in groups. You said last evening, so yesterday evening, I was presenting changes in 6.4 to the local meetup group, and it was pretty exciting to see how easy it was to just add a background image to a group block and put some contents in it and make it look nice.
Birgit Pauli-Haack: Yeah. I also like that you can now see the thumbnails in the list views of your pictures or the image blocks or the gallery blocks, so that’s pretty cool too. Yeah, the footnote was new in 6.3, but now you have vertical text support, which is the vertical text support is actually pretty much rolled out as well in 6.3, but it got a lot less fragile in 6.4, so that is definitely a good place to be too. So Rich Tabor posted a Twitter thread with 19 different features or highlights from 6.4, which I will definitely share in the show notes so you can follow along. Here’s a little video on it and how to use some of those. Although the font library didn’t make it and neither did two new blocks that were actually on the list, they were punted to 6.5. It’s still really a feature-rich release.
There is a microsite now available. You can explore the features with. Yeah, I can also share some of the other posts from WPTavern. And Carlo Daniele from Kinsta did a great writeup on the features of WordPress 4. So WordPress 6.4 also comes with a few developer relevant changes and I would highly recommend that you check out the WordPress 6.4 field guide to learn about them, especially the block hooks for dynamic blocks where you can add a block to a block automatically with your code. And we talked about this on the episodes before like a like block or a shopping card block or even an additional lightbox feature if you want to do that.
There’s also new admin notice functions, updates to the HTML API. The removal of the attachment pages for new installations is actually something that Joost van den Bergh was really passionate about and is very happy that it finally made it into WordPress 4 because for a SEO, they’re not useful, but they clutter the whole basis of pages on sites in the Google index. So there’s improved caching, autoloading for plugins, and options. So there’s a lot of few more things there, so the field guide is your friend. Is there any of that that excites you more or that you know that you need to explore because you have a real case application for it or so?
Jessica Lyschik: Yeah. I think the block hooks is something definitely to explore because it’s very interesting feature to just hook in as we know it from the normal WordPress hooks just but for blocks. And yeah, one thing that’s really cool is also the removal of that attachment pages. I think I have to check again, if you can do it for existing sites somehow. I think there was something possible. I quickly found it somewhere, but I’ve forgotten it already.
Birgit Pauli-Haack: Yeah. It’s in the dev notes, how you can make that available to existing pages out of the box. It only works for new installations, but you can go back and update your existing sites to…
Jessica Lyschik: Yeah. I think it would be very beneficial for already existing sites as well to have that happen.
Birgit Pauli-Haack: Yeah, absolutely.
Jessica Lyschik: But it’s a great way to introduce it without making too much of an issue when you just remove them with the update instead of as it is now, it’s only for new installations and then you can manually update it to also disable them.
Birgit Pauli-Haack: Yeah. There’s even a WP Options way to do that in the interface. There’s WP admin/WP options where you see all the options files. You can definitely do it from there, but you can also do it code wise.
Yeah. So now let’s talk a bit more. We mentioned it multiple times before the new default in Twenty Twenty-Four. So yeah, you, Jessica, and Margarita (Maggie) Cabrera were the co-leads for the development, and Beatrix Fialho created the first designs, congratulations. It seems that the first feedback was overwhelmingly positive. We saw that coming during development. I don’t know if you saw it, but I saw it.
Jessica Lyschik: Yes, I saw it, and it continued and it still continues. And that is what really makes me happy that Maggie and I did something everyone is excited about. That’s just so cool.
Birgit Pauli-Haack: Yeah. And I just want to do two quotes that I found on Twitter. One is from Hashim Warren, he’s a product manager and worked for Gatsby and WP Engine and also for Apollo. And he said, “Played with a new WordPress Twenty Twenty-Four theme for a few hours. Then quickly switched my side to use it. The first time, I’m using the default WordPress theme on a project I care about. Really great work there.” Yay.
Jessica Lyschik: Yay. That’s cool.
Birgit Pauli-Haack: And Rae Morey, she’s the editor of the, The Repository newsletter tweeted her comments as well and says, “Holy crap, WordPress 6.4 and Twenty Twenty-Four are a match made in heaven. Props to everyone who contributed. Saying goodbye to my page builder.” The updated editing experience is a game changer. Previously I found it so confusing to know where to start when I enabled a block theme. Yesterday, I redesigned my whole site in a day with Twenty Twenty-Four, and here’s the site, it’s therepository.email. The repository is an email that’s supported by GoDaddy. And Rae had just announced that they have the four-year anniversary on the newsletter, and I think it was edition 192 that came out on today. That’s Friday, November 10th. So yes, Rae, great comments there for the team.
Jessica Lyschik: I just opened the site and it looks pretty good.
Birgit Pauli-Haack: Yeah. And as everything in reference, it’s created by a team of contributors and from the props list of the import ticket into core. I counted 83 contributors in total. That’s a massive participation. Must’ve been quite exciting to wrangle all the input, feedback, contributions.
Jessica Lyschik: It was mainly managing actually. So I did a few things on my own, luckily, yay. I could also contribute code. But yeah, I was mainly on the management side on this, but it was so exciting to see that so many people came in and opened issues, open pull requests, and helped out with making this a reality given the very limited time we had actually. And I think that’s not something that a lot of people are aware about, but we had just basically a month, but then we extended it because like, “Okay. It’s just updating patterns so we can do it during better as well.” So hope no one kills me for this, but yeah, otherwise it wouldn’t be in the state that is now. And yeah, it was so great to see.
And I think also what really helps in contributing to the default theme is that it’s made on GitHub as well, just like the Gutenberg project because I can only speak or I can also speak, especially for myself because I find it so hard with Trek and SVN to make fixes or do new stuff in it and in GitHub it’s just so much easier for me even to have this entire process done. And we just set up very few rules and it really went up very well, had great discussion sales too. And again, I’m so happy that so many people contributed, and we also did our best to include everyone in these contributions file because everyone deserves to be in there, even if it’s just opening an issue and saying, “Hey, I got a problem with this,” or, “Is this something we should think about?” Because every discussion is worth it.
Birgit Pauli-Haack: Oh, yeah. Especially bug reports. It’s half the work is already done, somebody found it and nobody else needs to go if you find a fix in time to go through it. So yeah, it’s really valuable time to spend to contribute to that. Yes. And so the theme itself has an outlook for three different use cases. Can you talk a little bit more about that?
Jessica Lyschik: Yeah, sure. So the original idea was… I shared it first time with Maggie when we met at work in Europe just a few days earlier it got announced, the release squad got announced. So I met her there the first time and I shared this idea with her, let’s make a default theme that does not only showcase that you can make a block with WordPress, but you can do any type of website basically. Of course, we could not include any type of website. That would be pretty huge and we would still be developing that. But what are the main very often used cases where WordPress is used as the platform for this website. So of course blogging is one, but business is also a very important one. And I think many websites today getting set up on WordPress are business focused in some way.
And portfolio was also another one to showcase your work, either if you’re a graphic designer or make products of your own physical products, you can also showcase them with these. And it became pretty clear that this was the way to go and I’m glad that it did not get questioned it too much, but that people also saw that it’s an interesting idea to showcase what’s possible with WordPress in these three specific use cases. And once we knew that Bayer was doing the designs for it, we also briefed her with this entire brain child of us, how we would like to see this and how we’d like to see the default theme coming together. And I must say again, she did a fantastic job on this as well, bringing this to life and also the style variations, giving a bit of variety in what could colors of fonts basically look like in a setup of the patterns that we already have.
Birgit Pauli-Haack: So one of the big features that I think made people very successful at the first round of trying to customize their website is that it uses full-page patterns. So when you create a service page, you get your services in there, you get a header graphic, you get a footer graphic, and all that. So I think that particular feature was something that was available before but not long before, maybe 6.2, but it wasn’t showcased by anyone that much. So having that in the default theme definitely makes it really good available for everybody.
Jessica Lyschik: Yeah. It just lowers the bar for the average user to like, “Oh, hey, I can just switch out this template with the other one I prefer or I need for my website on this.” And I think that’s something… Because previously you would have to delete all the blocks that you had on the site and recreate them on their own and you have to find the patterns that you would use and how could you arrange them. And with Twenty Twenty-Four, you get pre-built templates you can already use or just use and adjust to your own needs. And I think this is what’s helping people a lot compared to Twenty Twenty-Three, which was pretty stripped down basically.
Birgit Pauli-Haack: Yeah. So for our listeners, I have a few links for you. One is the blogger demo, and the artist/photography demo, and of course the main site, demo site. And then also a link to the patterns and of course the download link if you don’t have that yet. Yeah, so try them out, I think it’s a great move forward. I think the Gutenberg Times will always also will migrate to a block theme, probably the default theme. I have started the process and then backed away again because I need to have a few quiet moments, haven’t had that yet to think through some of the features that we need because we need the podcast template and we need the podcast archive template and the plugins don’t provide that yet, so we figure that one out and a lot of other things, mainly having the time.
Jessica Lyschik: That would be a cool project to do it in public and have people following around maybe.
Birgit Pauli-Haack: Yeah. Yeah, I’m trying. I’m probably teaming up with Justin Tadlock who’s a theme wiz to help me out with that. So I actually finished that project because most of the time, some of the project I just start see what I can do and then, okay. Yeah. Now I know how this works and then I lose interest. But this one I would need to have to finish and it will be the first redesign since, I think, 2020. So three years or four years then. All right. So is there anything else that you want people to know about the defaulting?
Jessica Lyschik: Go test it out, have a look at it, play with it. I would be super interested in any feedback, positive or constructive. Negative, maybe not, but constructive. That’s why I said it because we can always learn for future themes. What does work well or what does not work not so well because I’ve already seen a bit of feedback on people implementing it. For example, Matt for Matt Report had already done a video on this. I only saw the first bit of it so far and it was very interesting to see what he struggled with actually that I wasn’t so much aware that was would be a problem. And that’s definitely something you can always…
Birgit Pauli-Haack: Do you have an example?
Jessica Lyschik: … look back at his feedback. Sorry?
Birgit Pauli-Haack: Do you have an example of what he struggled with?
Jessica Lyschik: Actually it’s when he updated on this mattreport.com website and he had a static site configured as his front page, so the homepage, and then had this lock subsite as on the slash block. And when you have this set up, what happens is Twenty Twenty-Four brings the template you have you see on the front page when you have not set up that it brings the entire template in, which can be confusing for people because there’s all this content they never edit before but it’s in the template. So that’s something I wasn’t aware of that even in this case I thought it would be overwritten already, but of course now that I saw it’s definitely clear what happens.
Birgit Pauli-Haack: Do you think it’s a bug?
Jessica Lyschik: That’s a good question. If it’s a bug or a feature, depending from which side you’re looking at it. But he had to remove all the contents to just simply show query block with the latest posts on the website. But this is not something particularly the default theme can fix. Of course you could remove all that extra patterns from there, but it’s also something we have to send upstream to the Gutenberg repository to say, “Folks, please look at this. It’s okay, it works somehow, but we need a way to fix it.” Or a very common thing is people edit their templates, switch the theme, and then their content is gone. It’s not gone but it’s in the template so it’s not there in the next template. And these custom user changes are also something that needs to be considered for the future because the more we work with block themes, the more we see where we still have some issues we need to fix.
Birgit Pauli-Haack: Those issues were there before, but they were abstracted away because it was the theme developers thing, but the user never was confronted with it because the theme took care of it with an if statement and all that, and it tapping into the settings and then because you don’t have these if statements in the template somehow all of a sudden it’s a little bit disjointed there. Yeah, I can see that. Yeah. All right. Okay, good. Yeah, I had the same problem when I switched my… I have a personal technology blog where I just keep track of things that I learned, that I need to look up three months from now, and I probably will have forgotten how I did this. And that was one thing that I had a blog front page, but I needed to remove the stuff from the default theme. Yeah, that’s true. Didn’t remember that, but now that you mentioned it.
All right. So we are done with 6.4 for now and the default theme. Thank you so much about letting us look behind the scenes there.
We are coming now to the last two Gutenberg releases. Let’s start with Gutenberg 16.9 that was released on October 25th and Justin Tadlock was the release candidate and he shared all the information. Of course in his release post it entailed 168 PRs from 60 contributors and one of them was new. So as a new feature or what came in, and I wanted to highlight, is that you mentioned it for 6.4 was to enable the renaming of group blocks in 6.4. With 16.9 in Gutenberg you can rename almost all the blocks. So the custom names are stored in metadata in the block markup and meaning they can also be used for panon and templates, and that makes it so much more, I don’t know, less ambiguous for users when they look at the blocks that are in the templates or on their site. So that’s a great feature.
Jessica Lyschik: I mean, my workaround right now is to use the anchor feature for this. It works but it creates anchors. Yeah, it’s not the best way, but if it’s coming to 6.5, that’s so great.
Birgit Pauli-Haack: Yeah. And because it’s in 6.9 it will be in 6.5 unless somebody has additional bugs that they find there during the beta version.
Jessica Lyschik: Then we have to fix it before beta one.
Birgit Pauli-Haack: Then we have to fix. Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. The next item is block specific commands as contextual suggestions. So 6.2 came with a command palette… Or 6.3, I forgot. 6.3 I think came with a new command palette where you do control K and then you get a search bar and then you can ask for certain things like add a post or open the patterns. And now there are block specific commands that are suggested contextually. So when you’re in a block it shows do you want to transform it or something like that.
So it gets more like, I like that this software now becomes a little bit more contextual and you don’t have to know which menu item on which screen in which level you find something to switch on or off or you have to do three clicks to switch on the top toolbar and now you can just have the command bar, switch on top toolbar and it doesn’t. I don’t know if that command already exists, but I will find out. It’s almost like a shortcut. So these little things are a little bit on the edge of value, a palette command or just “Why don’t you just get a keyboard shortcut?” It’s the other thing.
Jessica Lyschik: It makes it more keyboard friendly. So if you’re used to or if you prefer to work with the keyboard, it makes things so much easier because otherwise you have to always use the mouse to get to that contextual menu to select to copy or duplicate something or add before and after. And if you have these commands in the palette, you can just hit command K or control K and just use your hands on the keyboard instead of using your hand on the mouse. And I think that can be definitely beneficial for people who prefer to work on the keyboard only or prefer to work on the keyboard.
Birgit Pauli-Haack: And it also speeds up your publishing process when you only have, I don’t know, six sets of commands that you punch in into the command palette instead of clicking around with a mouse. Yeah, absolutely. I wonder if that’s on the roadmap for ISO 7.0 WordPress like having a programming, I as a user can Daisy Chain commands into a workflow? I don’t know if that’s going to be possible or it’s even thought about it.
Jessica Lyschik: Oh, like Apple shortcuts.
Birgit Pauli-Haack: Yeah. Kind of Apple shortcuts. Or what was the other one? Alfred on Mac. There are quite a few. Even GitHub has workflows where you can just Daisy Chain some of the commands, but yeah, maybe we get a plugin for that. How about that? That’s definitely plugin territory I think. All right. The next feature is for developers, there is a new component and it adds the tabs. That’s a composable tab panel which was before, but it’s a tab panel version two. So you can build out interfaces that use tab labels and tab content better with components that are… It’s now available, you can test them out.
The documentation seems to be already in there on the story book, not the style book, the story book for the developers to figure out how these tabs work. And there’s also a type button for the Vanilla button element is now available so you don’t have to make it up. What else? Oh, yes. Patterns got some new management features and it’s a nice addition with duplicate pattern command. They’re all for the command palette, rename the command, rename the pattern, rename delete options for pattern categories in the site editor. There are new media related categories for the patterns. So there’s quite a few changes in there to make this all a little bit more comprehensive as a management tool to create patterns and to make them available to certain content production people. Any comment, any ideas, any thoughts?
Jessica Lyschik: Sounds pretty good. I have to test this out. I haven’t seen this. So again this is… But that’s pretty interesting to have these renaming features also now via the command palette because that’s something also I appreciate to have these pattern categories now that you can also create on your own and make it your own basically. That’s pretty cool.
Birgit Pauli-Haack: Yeah. And also add them to the theme and help the user to find things better. For developers, definitely something that they have been asking for quite a bit regarding extensibility of the block editor. There is now a new slot to put information or interfaces into the plugin post excerpt slot, and that means that in the post excerpt place where not only there’s the excerpt but there’s also other things in there. You now can, per plugin, add additional sections there. So that’s specific for the plugin for the post excerpt space there. That’s in the sidebar when you want to… The document settings, for the post itself, we also see featured image.
There’s also one for the published slot for the pre-published slot, and there are quite a few other slot fills that you can use as a plugin developer, but we need more, I guess. And this one is definitely one that a lot of people ask for. In this design tools there are two changes. One is that the measurement 16.10 and 10.16 options were removed from the aspect ratio drop down and they figure that it wouldn’t take too much harm to do that because it’s too close to the 6.9. And I think that’s pretty much the justification for it.
Jessica Lyschik: Yeah. To have less options and it’s not too overwhelming because the change from 16 to 10 to 16 to 9 is not that huge. For example, when you have four to three or three to two, that’s a big of a bigger difference than if you would have just a little bit of more on one side.
Birgit Pauli-Haack: Yeah. And then the other one is that you can now add CSS level 4 viewpoint relative units in the theme.json setting spacing units. And that brings us closer to bridge the gap between the big philosophies, intrinsic design, but I want my 15 media viewpoints crowd to… And intrinsic design does not solve all the viewport problems or mobile problems. So this definitely brings us closer to having giving theme developers and designers a little bit more options.
Jessica Lyschik: I haven’t seen them yet, but they look very interesting. So much to catch up.
Birgit Pauli-Haack: Yeah. Come as a guest to the Gutenberg Changelog and you know what you missed.
Jessica Lyschik: Yeah. You learn more than you think what you have missed in the past four weeks and beyond probably.
Birgit Pauli-Haack: Yeah. And there is a new API with 16.9 is that you can retrieve the pagination totals with the get entity records call. So get entity records function is a call to a query call to get the entities, be it pages, posts, post types metas, all that kind of thing. And now it also comes with a total so you can build pagination or use it some other way. That’s certainly for the developers quite interesting, which you are. So I hope it interests you.
Jessica Lyschik: Definitely. That’s very much things I can look into. As I said, I have to catch up.
Birgit Pauli-Haack: Yeah. And the team was really… Although there was a slump in October kind of, and we talk about it a little bit in the 17, but there’s definitely a lot’s happening, there’s some momentum going with a lot of different directions. We are skipping over all the bug fixes that we saw in that change log and some other minor enhancements and drop right into the experiments because when you take a look at the new experiments page of the Gutenberg plugin, you see quite a few listed.
And the most interesting for me and probably other people in WordPress are the new data views. Those are prototypes for the admin redesign project on how to display the lists of posts, the list of pages, post types, and whatever plugin would need things to be listed. And in this Gutenberg version, you now can see the grid layout of those pages and how it looks when list contains a featured image or controls for the actions to switch the layoffs and also to have some additional actions in there. So it’s quite an interesting study to go in and look at the experiments. Of course everything is experimental, meaning, nothing lasts, nothing is final.
Jessica Lyschik: Things will break.
Birgit Pauli-Haack: … things will break. And if you have ideas or want to comment on some of the features, GitHub is definitely your friend there. Comment on the current PRs or the PRs that are not merged yet or create new issues to discuss additional things, what you might need, what you think is missing because this is one of the few pages in admin that almost every plugin extends or needs and getting into the discussion. As soon as possible, make sure that voices are heard and listened to because sometimes there is this complaint that, well, we weren’t asked or we weren’t listened to or we didn’t know that was going on. And the discussions were designed, decisions were made were actually three years ago, like the block theme in 2022 or even in 2019. In 2019 we were already seeing prototypes of block themes and there were some, Gutenberg live Q and As where we talked about block themes, but only now in 6.2, .3 they came and went to WordPress 5.8, and then we’re always iterated on until now 6.4.
But the other three years of it were missed by a lot of people that might have at least follow up on the discussion and see why decisions were made. So this is the place to get in on the new redesign. Another experimental feature there is basic form input blocks and to build out basic forms. Also very, very experimental and just a prototype. But if you enable those experiments you can see it in action and try it out and see how that works out, and if you can get to that. So that is the idea to bring a form building to core, at least the basic part. So you don’t need yet another plugin to do that, but it also helps standardized, it also aims for a standardized blocks that you can then enhance in plugins that plugins developers can enhance for their products, but can always be built on a standardized way of forming the input, doing the processing, and then what comes after processing to have that a unified API for that.
Jessica Lyschik: Yeah. And I think this can only be beneficial for the future. So if everyone speaks the same language, you can make adjustments… you get the basics and you do not have to reinvent the wheel. You get the basics and then, from that point on, you can iterate what to your specific needs or to that project specific needs for example. And I think that’s a pretty cool feature.
Birgit Pauli-Haack: It is, especially for an Open Source Project. When you find that all of a sudden hundreds of people are maintaining the basis of your code and you only need to really handle the things that you, as a plugin developer, care about, that makes it a value added feature for you base your business on, but your basis is actually covered, and it’s good for all the whole ecosystem to have some then standardized way of doing things. That’s also why pretty much the block editor needed to be in core right away to have other people build on top of it to see if the other page builders can re-ramp their system to build on top of something because page builders closed the system down, didn’t they?
Jessica Lyschik: Yeah. They did.
Birgit Pauli-Haack: You couldn’t change your site over to a different theme that wouldn’t support that page builder. So you were pretty much locked in into that particular way of doing things. And that’s never a good system for an Open Source Project that says open source in the name. Just to go back to that history of why wasn’t it a plugin?
There’s a few documentation things that I wanted to point out. There’s also initial documentation for the AWs, so if you want to experiment with them, you can definitely follow the documentation on that. But there’s also a way, the documentation was updated for the appearance tools in the theme.json to include using background images for blocks that you can find now. And so when you have a theme, especially classic themes that enable appearance tools to have a set of design tools available to the block editor, you can switch it on and off for the background image as well. So I think that was Gutenberg 16.9. Is there anything that stood out for you apart from what we talked about?
Jessica Lyschik: No. I think you pretty much picked the really cool ones. I mean, of course there’s so much going on. Just have a look at these blog posts. Everything is listed there and I think they’re super helpful to have an overview. And even if you do not get everything right away, when you come to a specific issue in developing for a theme or for a plugin, it is super helpful to have these handy so you can look up that version and you have a focused bird’s eye view. I know that sounds weird, but it is like that. And you can just see if anything in that version actually breaks whatever you’re working on or if there was a breaking change that makes things appear different than it was before. So they’re super helpful.
Birgit Pauli-Haack: It reminds me also to make a pitch for a series that will come out this week in its 9th or 10th edition. That’s the what’s new for developers’ monthly post on the WordPress developer blog where Justin Tadlock and I, we put together a list of things that are just new for theme developers for plugin developers and then some highlight things where even if they’re interface, user interface, or end user capabilities, sometimes a developer needs to know that that’s there so they can include it into their features and products. And then there is also a section on what’s new unlearn and the links to the developer hours. You mentioned that you were last week at the developer hours with Justin Tadlock, and Nick Diego, and with Maggie, and talking about the default theme. Those links are in that what’s new for developers once monthly post as well.
And the developer blog is available on developer.wordpress.org/news. So keep that in mind. It’s a good blog to subscribe to and has a wonderful RSS feed. And that was the pitch for the developer blog.
Though next up, very short, relatively short, the Gutenberg 17.0 release, Héctor Prieto was a release lead and it supports many small fixes and developers also made progress on the data views experiment that we just talked about. So with the two plugin releases, there’s definitely some headwind there.
So the link control for the menu, there were new icons added to it, the blog icon for the block homepage and the home icon for the front page for the link control in the navigation block as much as I see it. And then the block theme preview, you also can see the loading state. So I don’t know if nobody really made a big deal out of it, but WordPress 6.3 came with a block theme preview in the admin.
So you were looking for a new theme and if there’s a block theme, you could actually grade in the site editor, you can see a preview of the theme, you can see your content in the themes’ makeup. And I really enjoyed doing that with quite a lot of themes that were in the repository. Now this feature has gotten a new embellishment was that you now could actually activate the theme from the preview and now you see how the loading state works when it’s activated. So it goes from preview to actually, “Oh, this is now my theme and I can stay in the editor and make all the changes that I need to do in my templates or in my content and all that.” So it’s pretty neat, the block theme or preview.
Jessica Lyschik: Yeah. Sounds pretty nice.
Birgit Pauli-Haack: I don’t think a lot of people have used it yet. I don’t see people talking about it. I don’t know.
Jessica Lyschik: I mean, it’s a hidden feature, I guess, maybe then that’s why people are not aware of it. It’s like so often you come across something and you did not know that this thing existed.
Birgit Pauli-Haack: Look at that. Yeah, and I think, I guess, people don’t… I don’t know if that feature… There was before in the customizer where you could preview a classic theme, and I don’t know how many people used it before that we’re looking for it and we’re disappointed that they couldn’t do this with a block theme because it didn’t have that feature and now do it. I guess we need more adaptation of block themes to actually for people to use it more. The 7.0 also brings in the components, a new ariakit-based dropdown menu component that can be used in plugins and in your blocks if you need to. And it’s more accessible. And our kit is a small footprint, really built out kit for area labels and accessibility support for developers to make it less. You don’t, as a developer, have to know a lot about accessibility to still be accessible with that tool. So quite a few components will use that ariakit as well. And the developers are in the progress to migrate some of the components over to actually use it as well.
But this is a completely new build component, the dropdown menu. There were new suggested commands for editing with a pattern similar to 16.9 as we dotted. And then there is one thing, ensure that term description block is registered in core that I think, actually, was that back ported to the version yet? I think it’s for 16.4. It was found in beta and yes, it made it actually into 6.4 that you can use the term description block that was available in Gutenberg also in your templates in 6.4 for your theme. That was an interesting addition. Either it was forgotten or nobody thought about it, but it definitely made it and it’s helping so much more. So what does it do? If you have a category page, archive page, you can actually add the description that you put into your interface for the category into the template and design it and have all the design tools for it. Am I right with that?
Jessica Lyschik: Yeah, I think so. I guess, probably just got forgotten or, anyone who worked on this, never had a use case for this and someone just popped up saying, “Hey, why is this not available?” And it finally made its way. I wasn’t aware that it was put into 6.4 already. But yeah, good to hear.
Birgit Pauli-Haack: The 6.4 just came out, so it made it into the release candidate three I think. Cool, cool, cool. I guess we weren’t done with 6.4.
Jessica Lyschik: You were never done with developing software, unfortunately.
Birgit Pauli-Haack: No. Yeah. That’s a Japanese beauty philosophy or design philosophy. It’s never done. It’s nothing permanent and it’s not perfect. Those are the three… that pretty much tells me, “Yeah, that’s the web.” You are always fiddling with something, and sometimes the websites go away, and you’re never done with things, and it’s never perfect.
Jessica Lyschik: No, that’s pretty much true.
Birgit Pauli-Haack: Yeah. It’s my approach to web development now. I don’t have a lot of expectations. I take it like the weather.
So I think that was it for the show. I think we talked quite a bit about things. Thank you so much for being on the show and talking with me through 6.4, the default theme and the plugin. Is there anything that you want people to know or how can people get in contact with you that you didn’t get to talk about before?
Jessica Lyschik: Yeah. How to get in touch with me is relatively easy. I’m on Twitter or X as it is now under my name Jessica Lyschik. If you have Jessica Lys, then you can find me definitely. I am Jessica on the Mac Slack, WordPress Slack, you can find me too. And yeah, pretty much on every social network. I will probably not check them all, but Twitter and Slack is the best way to get in touch with me, definitely. And, yeah.
Birgit Pauli-Haack: Awesome.
Jessica Lyschik: Maybe one thing I probably didn’t say in the beginning is I just started a new job last week, so I’m now with a team of Greg.
Birgit Pauli-Haack: Oh, congratulations.
Jessica Lyschik: Yeah. Thank you. And yeah, that has been on top of everything else, so that’s why I am a bit out of date on so many things, but I’m catching up and got a ton of new information, like what’s going on there, what they’re going to do with the product. And it’s really interesting and super fantastic team, really great people and I’m very looking forward to bring in my knowledge to their knowledge and let’s make some fancy things.
Birgit Pauli-Haack: Yeah. And I saw there were also a big sponsor for WordCamp Germany. And Sandra Kurze, she was also a speaker. So they’re all quite active in the WordPress community. Yeah, I met a few of them at WordCamp in Porto actually 2022. And since then they have been be more and more active in the community. So I’m glad that they hired you. Yeah, congratulations.
Jessica Lyschik: Yeah. Thanks.
Birgit Pauli-Haack: … have some input from you and some contributions there. Yeah. All right. Well, we’re coming to an end and before I end the show, I want to remind everyone, as always, the show notes will be published on gutenbergtimes.com/podcast, and this is episode 92. And if you have questions or suggestions or news you want to include, send them to firstname.lastname@example.org. That’s email@example.com. Thank you everyone, and I’m glad we are back in talking to you. And thank you for listening, and goodbye.
Jessica Lyschik: Bye.