Navigation block exclusion from WP 5.4

After plenty of great discussions about the Navigation block recently, the Gutenberg Team, including Dev Lead @jorgefilipecosta and me ( I’m the Design Lead), has decided not to include it in the WordPress 5.4 release.

We’ve been sharing this decision with the Release Squad for 5.4 and among many seasoned contributors to get a perspective on how everyone felt about this. The general consensus: people understand why the Gutenberg Team has made this call, and they support the decision.

Navigation block

Historical context

The Navigation block was a priority project for 2019. It was also planned for the WordPress 5.4 release. So we absolutely did not make this decision lightly. Ultimately, we recognize that although the block itself is ready to merge into Core, the Gutenberg Team believes this move is premature.

Why?

As I said, the Navigation block is usable right now. But we don’t think it’s useful yet – at least not until it has an intuitive place to live.

It’s hard to imagine cases where users would want to add a Navigation block to the post or page content. It’s much more likely that a given user would want to add a Navigation block to Header or Footer block areas – maybe even a Sidebar. However, that functionality in Gutenberg just isn’t ready.

Now, let me add this: if a user does want a set of links in a page, the new Buttons block in WordPress 5.4 can probably meet that need.

Buttons block

As I look back at the WordPress Project’s to-do list for 2019, the Navigation block didn’t exist in a vacuum. There was also the matter of Themes registering content areas which is still in progress as we speak. Both of those should co-exist and be released together. To include the Navigation block without a proper home isn’t really useful for users, and it doesn’t seem to justify a feature mention in the 5.4 release.

Going forward

Our next steps include adding a few more features to the block:

  • Creating a new page from within the block (19775).
  • Creating a Navigation block based on existing menu structures (18869).
  • Indicating “current” menu items visually (20076).

So that’s what’s happening with the Navigation Block and WordPress 5.4.

I want to ask you, personally, to join us in Core and in the Gutenberg Team discussions and give us your thoughts. Please review this block, to help further testing around it.

I’ll be picking up usability testing for this block again soon, and I’m looking forward to hearing from you how we can improve it.

And don’t forget to install the Gutenberg plugin to test the Navigation block in near-real-world conditions. With your feedback, we can make this block a great success.

#5-4, #gutenberg