Full Site Editing and Themes: where things are

In my Big Picture Goals post, I mentioned that our top focus for 2021 will be merging Full Site Editing (FSE) into CoreCore Core is the set of software required to run WordPress. The Core Development Team builds WordPress.. This goal includes a v1 for FSE in Core that shows a plausible promise, components (like the widgetWidget A WordPress Widget is a small block that performs a specific function. You can add these widgets in sidebars also known as widget-ready areas on your web page. WordPress widgets were originally created to provide a simple and easy-to-use way of giving design and structure control of the WordPress theme to the user. and navigation editors) that help bridge the gap to FSE, and blockBlock Block is the abstract term used to describe units of markup that, composed together, form the content or layout of a webpage using the WordPress editor. The idea combines concepts of what in the past may have achieved with shortcodes, custom HTML, and embed discovery into a single consistent API and user experience.-based themes that really showcase how blocks can lower the barrier to entry for WordPress users at all skill levels.

What you should know about the milestones

In the main ticket for FSE, @matveb defined six milestones, which should be seen as simultaneous projects. Beneath each project is a sentence or two that shares the basic expected function and a link to issues with more granular tasks that go into it. The lists of granular tasks get updated based on the feedback received through all the current testing channels.

Knitting each project together creates a vision of the minimum viable productMinimum Viable Product "A minimum viable product (MVP) is a product with just enough features to satisfy early customers, and to provide feedback for future product development." - WikiPedia (MVPMinimum Viable Product "A minimum viable product (MVP) is a product with just enough features to satisfy early customers, and to provide feedback for future product development." - WikiPedia) for FSE. Together they outline an architecture that allows the expression of a full theme using blocks and an editor capable of customizing that theme. The MVP should make it possible to build a version of the Twenty Twenty-One theme, using only blocks, without any coding knowledge.

What you should know about the challenges

One of the biggest challenges is that all these projects are interdependent and require integration, so constant adjustment is needed. When we learn something in one project, it may be necessary to update and adjust plans for other projects. All feedback that is shared helps keep the plan on FSE current.

Another challenge is around the UXUX User experience, which we all can agree is a key element. Finding the edge of a plausible promise takes continuous checks and validation with user testing at all levels. I am certain that the UX we ship will change based on the broad user feedback that always comes in after major releases, and I am also certain that this is a good thing.

A challenge that has been raised from theme authors is how to help developers turn a current theme into a block based theme. I don’t think that this challenge will be solved before FSE is available to our users, which is why there are two projects (widgets and navigation editors, and their customizerCustomizer Tool built into WordPress core that hooks into most modern themes. You can use it to preview and modify many of your site’s appearance settings. integration) that target existing themes. Every project in the Phase 2 Milestones list also includes work that benefits classic themes and block themes without needing any migrationMigration Moving the code, database and media files for a website site from one server to another. Most typically done when changing hosting companies..

What you should know about the timeline

April 2021 for a prototype in the GutenbergGutenberg The Gutenberg project is the new Editor Interface for WordPress. The editor improves the process and experience of creating new content, making writing rich content much simpler. It uses ‘blocks’ to add richness rather than shortcodes, custom HTML etc. https://wordpress.org/gutenberg/ pluginPlugin A plugin is a piece of software containing a group of functions that can be added to a WordPress website. They can extend functionality or add new features to your WordPress websites. WordPress plugins are written in the PHP programming language and integrate seamlessly with WordPress. These can be free in the WordPress.org Plugin Directory https://wordpress.org/plugins/ or can be cost-based plugin from a third-party is aggressive, but also very attainable. Since most of our user feedback happens after major WordPress releases (not major plugin releases), it’s important to get things in front of users sooner rather than later. 

The timeline does not imply a wholesale merge into Core of something not yet ready. When you build software in the open, for all to see and use and learn from, you have to expect that your users will point out the pain points. In my observation, when we build something that needs to be usable for ~40% of the web, we won’t catch all those pain points through our contributors alone.

What you can do