What a week this was! It was probably the biggest release for the project. Yes, even bigger than WordPress 5.0. Now all areas of a website can be handled by blocks.
I am awed by the massive accomplishments of all the contributors working on a major WordPress release that affects hundreds of million websites. I find these numbers mind-boggling:
- 1900+ pull request merged for WordPress 5.9
- by over 600 contributors
- One hundred eighty of them contributed for the first time.
- before WordPress 5.9 was released, WordPress 5.8 was downloaded more than 107 million times,
- Today, four days after the release, WordPress 5.9 was downloaded already 12 million times.
- 87.6% of all WordPress sites are now on version 5.0 or higher
- 63.8% of all WordPress sites are on versions 5.7 and higher.
The transition to blocks for plugins and themes will take a few years for various reasons. The side editor and all Full-site editing capabilities are just the beginning. It’s important to give feedback from your experience, so the team can iterate and improve fast.
Nothing is perfect, especially not a release with so many code changes and contributors working on it. No amount of testing can surface everything. With so many configurations, settings, codebases and hosting offerings, not all the edge cases get caught. The release team is already preparing for a 5.9.1 version and is working fast to fix the bugs already reported, and those that didn’t make it into the release after code freeze.
And with that note, have a wonderful weekend ahead, hopefully away from the screens.
The Gutenberg Developer Hours event series is now scheduled. The first event will take place on February 8th, 2022 at 11 am ET / 16:00 UTC with the panelist Tammie Lister, Nick Diego and Fabian Kägy. This event is geared towards developers to get their questions answered, discuss block development or get help with a bug. Register via the WordPress Social Learning Meetup.com space. Looking forward to talking to you then!
Release Week WordPress open-source Project
To catch-up on what’s new in WordPress 5.9, full-side editing and Block themes topics, the separate reading list has all the information you need. The End User documentation, DevNotes, and also a few curated Block themes you can use to get acquainted with the new features.
Sarah Gooding covered the release for the WPTavern: WordPress 5.9 “Josephine” Released, Introduces Full Site Editing and New Twenty Twenty-Two Default Theme
For folks curious about the impact of the Customizer, Anne McCarthy published this video on YouTube: All you need to know about the Customizer
- If your current theme uses the Customizer, the Customizer will remain as is.
- If you switch to a block theme, which is a theme that supports full site editing features, the Site Editor will replace the Customizer.
- If you are using a block theme and you install a plugin that requires the Customizer (like WooCommerce), it will automatically return as a menu item under Appearance. This will happen without you or the plugin author needing to do anything.
- While the menu item is hidden, you can always access it directly with
🎙️ New episode: Gutenberg Changelog #59 – Gutenberg 12.4, Developer Hours, Extensibility of the Block Editor and more with co-hosts Grzegorz Ziolkowski and Birgit Pauli-Haack. Special guest: Fabian Kägy
Blocks, Blocks, Blocks. They are everywhere.
In his post Making the web better. With blocks!, Joel Spolsky, author and creator of many things, like Stack Overflow, Trello, or Glitch, announced Block Protocol as a new standard for sharing blocks. He wrote:”This kind of “insert block” user interface concept is showing up in almost every blogging tool, web editor, note-taking app, and content management system. People like it and it makes sense.” and he continues “Our hope is that this will make life much easier for app developers to support a huge variety of block types. At the same time, anyone can develop a block once and have it work in any blog platform, note-taking app, or content management system.”
In her article, Block Protocol Project Aims to Create Universal Block System, May Collaborate with Gutenberg, Sarah Gooding, puts this new initiative into larger context. She cites two examples, Drupal Gutenberg and Laraberg, where the block-editor is used outside of WordPress. She also dived deeper into the Block Protocol.
The day after the WordPress 5.9 release, Matias Ventura, the architect of Gutenberg, posted the Preliminary roadmap for 6.0 for the Gutenberg project. Ventura lists, by area the new features and refinements the team will be working on.
Justin Tadlock recounts the post in his article: Looking Ahead to WordPress 6.0: The Early Roadmap
What is it that you want to see in WordPress 6.0 for the block editor? Share in the comments on either post.
Gutenberg for content creators and site builders
Eric Karkovack explored Scenarios Where the WordPress Gutenberg Block Editor Replaces Custom Code. “Developers may not need to fire up that code editor quite as often these days. Slowly but surely, the Gutenberg block editor is changing how we go about website customization. The result is an increasingly code-free experience.” Karkovack wrote.
Ganga Kafle published a comprehensive guide on What is WordPress Full Site Editing & How to Use it? It covers all features, and discussed the advantage, how to use it and showcases the best block themes. It ends with a discussion FSE vs Page builders.
45 is the current number of Block Themes, ready for Full-Site Editing in the WordPress repository. The newest one is the WordPress new default theme Twenty-Twenty-Two designed by Kjell Riegstad and Jeff Ong.
Stewart is also a fairly new theme by Automattic. It is very opinionated and probably the only one that sports a left sidebar.
UXL Theme shop added another new Block Theme Framboise, offering style variations of Alara theme. Justin Tadlock took a closer look and shared his review in this article UXL Themes Releases Framboise, a Colorful Child Theme Variation of Alara and introduced us to the developer of the themes Andrew Starr. Tadlock also noticed, “Framboise does not add its own set of block patterns. Instead, they all live in the parent, Alara. The same is true of Ceres and Zelia, the other two child themes. ” and concluded: “This is one of the most fascinating aspects of child theming with blocks. ”
Chris Coyier, founder of CSS-Tricks, elaborated in his post: 4 Quality Options for a Table of Contents Block in WordPress on what to look for when you search a Table of content solutions, checks each block plugin against these requirements.
Aurooba Ahmed published her SuperList block in the WordPress repository. Use it to nest blocks inside list items, a feature many content creators have been looking for the core List block. You could also use the SuperList Block to create simple grid layouts, like a properly responsive pricing table, or a wrapping icon list. Ahmed wrote: “It aims to provide you with as much flexibility as possible, so you can harness it to create the content structure and layout you like.” Dennis Snell started working on InnerBlocks for the Core List block.
Nick Diego published the Block Pattern Exlorer plugin in the WordPress repo. The difference to the just released Pattern Explored in 5.9 is that it includes the ability to preview patterns at different sizes (mobile, tablet, and desktop) and displays patterns individually or in a grid view. Diego also experiments with category and types for better grouping in the modal. The Block Pattern Explorer plugin is a safe space to explore different ways to built in explorer can be enhanced.
Building Block Themes for Full Site Editing
Daisy Olsen and Ryan Welcher continued their Video Series “Creating a Block Based Theme” Part 2 is now available on YouTube. They covered:
- Created a header.html and footer.html template parts
- Discovered an issue with the Navigation block that has already been fixed
- Defined a custom gradient in theme.json
Eric Karkovack wrote an essay and explored What Does WordPress Full Site Editing Mean for Freelancers? Karkocack started with “When we start digging into new features, there’s always a concern for any immediate impacts. But whatever comes from Full Site Editing will happen gradually.”
Justin Tadlock already looked ahead to next week’s Gutenberg plugin version 12.5, now available as release candidate and found Global Style Variations, “Skins” for themes, Have Landed in Gutenberg. He explained “a global style variation is user-selectable skin for their currently active theme.” and called it his most-wanted component for Gutenberg. “From a theme developer’s viewpoint, they would drop custom
stylename.json files under a
/styles folder in their themes” he wrote. The Create a Block Theme documentation page already has more details for theme developers.
Caroline Nymark created a Block Theme Generator with three levels of Starter Theme. You can create an Empty theme with 6 templates (Index, single, page, archive, 404, and search), a theme.json file and not patterns or block styles.
Then you also could create a Basic Theme, that has an additional custom template, and Header & footer template parts. It also creates examples for block patterns, selectable style variations, Block styles for specific blocks and HTML forms elements. You’ll find a more elaborated configuration via the Theme.json file in the downloadable Zip file.
The Advanced Theme adds a Category template and additional post and page templates to the packages, accompanied by six block patterns, and examples for using Google Fonts, example variations to core blocks and unregisters styles and blocks patterns. Its theme.json is also quite opinionated with elaborate configuration for various blocks, and offers 8 gradients, 3 duotones.
If you want to take a deep dive into Block theme development, this is the tool for you to get started and learn from one of the leading full-side editing experts.
Justin Tadlock recounts his journey as a theme developer from Classic to block themes in his post If This Is Modern WordPress Theme Development, Sign Me Up. He cherishes, the “No build process, no php composer, no node_module folder” approach to just build a WordPress Theme.
Tammie Lister express similar enthusiasm when she phrased: “Let Themes be Themes again” during our Live Q & A Theme.json for Theme Authors or Getting started building WordPress Themes for Full-site editing.
WordPress Social Learning Events (and Meetups)
February 2, 2022, 12 pm (noon) ET / 15:00 UTC
Ride Along: How To Switch From a Classic To Block Theme with Sarah Snow
February 4, 2022 1 pm ET / 18:00 UTC
Zero to Block Theme Series #3: theme.json Continued – Styles with Daisy Olsen and Sarah Snow
February 4, 2022, 3 pm ET / 20:00 UTC
Beginner’s Guide to Full Site Editing with Roxy Kohilakis via WordPress Social Learning Spaces
February 7, 2022, 12pm (noon) ET / 17:00 UTC
Taking Control Over the Editor for Client Builds with Fabian Kägy via WordPress Social Learning Spaces
February 8th, 2022 11 am / 16:00 UTC
Developer Hours with Birgit Pauli-Haack and expert panel via WordPress Social Learning Spaces
February 9th, 2022 5pm ET / 22:00 UTC
Using Block Patterns with Wes Theron via WordPress Social Learning Spaces
February 11, 2022 – 3 pm ET / 20:00 UTC
Breaking it Down: Blocks, Patterns, And Templates with Full Site Editing with Roxy Kohilakis via WordPress Social Learning Spaces
February 14, 2022 – 4 pm ET / 21:00 UTC
Exploring Theme Blocks with Wes Theron via WordPress Social Learning Spaces