Help Test the Widgets Editor for WordPress 5.8

Remember the 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 Widgets Editor? In case you missed it, this new feature had both a previous call for testing and a merge proposal ahead of WordPress 5.6. After months of hard work, it’s back and better than ever! For a quick refresher, the block based Widgets Editor is an upgrade to 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. areas provided by WordPress through themes, that enables users to add blocks right next to widgets to their headers, footers, sidebars and other widget areas.

Help test this feature

This is a call for testing for the new block based Widgets Editor. Please report your findings on GithubGitHub GitHub is a website that offers online implementation of git repositories that can can easily be shared, copied and modified by other developers. Public repositories are free to host, private repositories require a paid subscription. GitHub introduced the concept of the ‘pull request’ where code changes done in branches by contributors can be reviewed and discussed before being merged be the repository owner. https://github.com/ in the Gutenberg repository as issues or in the comments below. If you have triagetriage The act of evaluating and sorting bug reports, in order to decide priority, severity, and other factors. access, labeling any issue with [Feature] Widgets Screen or [Feature] Widgets Customizer,  depending on the issue, would be very helpful. Alternatively, you can simply include “[Widgets Screen]” in the title to help those who can set the labels appropriately. Check out the instructions below for more detailed information.

What’s new?

The most important addition since the last call for testing is that the 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. now supports editing blocks and widgets in widget areas with live preview. Compared to the first iteration of this project, where the widget areas in the Customizer were read only, now you can add widgets and blocks with live preview, scheduling and sharing right from the Customizer.

The main benefit of upgrading the widgets functionality to blocks comes from the ability to directly edit widgets using the familiar block interaction that you use when editing a page or post on your site.  Being able to use blocks opens up tons of new creative possibilities, from no-code mini layouts to tapping into the vast library of coreCore Core is the set of software required to run WordPress. The Core Development Team builds WordPress. and 3rd party blocks to create content. 

For developers, unlocking blocks in widget areas also offers a core path to upgrade widgets to blocks and get ready for the future. With more aspects of content creation and management moving to blocks, including the upcoming block based theme format, this also helps bring consistency to the user experience. 

Is it ready?

This is currently betaBeta A pre-release of software that is given out to a large group of users to trial under real conditions. Beta versions have gone through alpha testing in-house and are generally fairly close in look, feel and function to the final product; however, design changes often occur as part of the process. software and it has a host of known bugs. But it is also intended to be merged into core for the 1st beta of WordPress 5.8. As a merge candidate the goal of the testing is not to discover a bugbug A bug is an error or unexpected result. Performance improvements, code optimization, and are considered enhancements, not defects. After feature freeze, only bugs are dealt with, with regressions (adverse changes from the previous version) being the highest priority. free feature, but to observe if there are blockers for merging. During WordPress 5.8 beta releases, the bug list will be prioritized ahead of the release candidaterelease candidate One of the final stages in the version release cycle, this version signals the potential to be a final release to the public. Also see alpha (beta)..

What to test:

Please keep in mind that it’s recommended that you test this feature on a development siteDevelopment Site You can keep a copy of your live site in a separate environment. Maintaining a development site is a good practice that can let you make any changes and test them without affecting the live/production environment. rather than a production siteProduction Site A production site is a live site online meant to be viewed by your visitors, as opposed to a site that is staged for development or testing.. For information about how to set up a development site, please refer to the Setting Up a Development Environment documentation.

You can install the WordPress 5.8 Beta 1 in two ways:

  • Install and activate the WordPress Beta Tester 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 (select the “Bleeding edgebleeding edge The latest revision of the software, generally in development and often unstable. Also known as trunk.” channel and “Beta/RC Only” stream).
  • Direct download the beta version here (zip).

For users:

Migrating from classic widgets

  1. Be on the latest version of WordPress (5.7.1)
  2. Go to Appearance > Themes
  3. Go to Plugins > Add new
    • Install and activate a plugin that provides widgets
  4. Go to Appearance > Widgets
    • Add some core widgets. For example, Search or Recent Posts.
    • Add some 3rd party widgets (aka widgets provided by a plugin)
  5. Go to Plugins > Add new
    • Install and activate the latest version of 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/ plugin
  6. Go to Gutenberg > Experiments
    • Check “Enable Widgets screen in Customizer”
  7. Go to Appearance > Widgets
    • Are all the widgets you added there?
    • Can you customize their settings?
    • Can you drag and drop widgets to different places?
  8. Go to Appearance > Customize > Widgets
    • Are all the widgets you added there?
    • Can you customize their settings?

Adding blocks next to widgets

  1. Be on the latest version of WordPress (5.7.1)
  2. Go to Appearance > Themes
    • Install and activate a theme that has support for sidebars
  3. Go to Appearance > Widgets
    • Add some core widgets.  For example, Search or Recent Posts.
  4. Go to Plugins > Add new
    • Install and activate the latest version of the Gutenberg plugin
  5. Go to Gutenberg > Experiments
    • Check “Enable Widgets screen in Customizer”
  6. Go to Appearance > Widgets
    • Click the inserter plus button in the top bar
    • Add some blocks
      • Do they work?
    • Save
      • Are they published on the front end next to the widgets?
  7. Go to Appearance > Customize > Widgets
    • Click the inserter plus button in the top bar
    • Add some blocks
      • Do they work?
    • Edit some of the block contents
      • Does the preview update accordingly?
    • Edit some of the classic widget’s contents
      • Does the preview update accordingly?
    • Publish
      • Are they published on the front end next to the widgets?

Opting out of the new widgets screen

  1. Be on the latest version of WordPress (5.7.1)
  2. Go to Plugins > Add new
  3. Go to Appearance > Widgets
    • Is the classic interface present?
  4. Go to Appearance > Customize > Widgets
    • Is the classic interface present?

What to notice:

  • Did it crash?
  • If it worked, did the editor perform as expected?
  • Was it intuitive for you to add blocks and third party widgets (ie from other plugins)?
  • Were you able to properly customize widgets as you wanted? 
  • Did it work using Keyboard only?
  • Did it work using a screen reader?

For developers:

Make sure to go through the general “How to” documentation available in the Gutenberg codebase for specific instructions. 

Test upgrading classic widgets to blocks.

  • The new block based widget editor introduces a new filterFilter Filters are one of the two types of Hooks https://codex.wordpress.org/Plugin_API/Hooks. They provide a way for functions to modify data of other functions. They are the counterpart to Actions. Unlike Actions, filters are meant to work in an isolated manner, and should never have side effects such as affecting global variables and output. `widgets_to_exclude_from_legacy_widget_block`. It is used to hide widgets that have block equivalents.
  • We now have a documented way to upgrade widgets to blocks via block transforms.The transform may be added to the legacy widget via typical block extending. This in turn enables users to migrate widgets they already have configured to new block equivalents  provided by plugins.

Test enabling and disabling theme support

  • Test widget areas provided by themes, particularly “dynamic” sidebars, which appear depending on other factors.

Test 3rd party widgets compatibility.

  • The most common case is for widgets that work in the Customizer but not in the stand alone widgets editor. Previously, developers opted to present the widget UXUX User experience differently in the widgets screen compared to the Customizer. However, the best practices are preserved in the Customizer.
  • We’re having an audit of extension points and how well supported they are. Please add missing things that you may find.

Considerations around Opt-in vs Opt-out

Because there is not enough data and stories, a decision has not yet been made on whether the block based Widgets Editor will be opt-out by default or an option for each theme to opt into. Currently, we’re providing the following options for opting out:

  • The Classic Widgets plugin which allows users to easily opt out of the new blocks in widget areas feature and see the classic widget editor only.
  • The `widgets-block-editor` theme supports which allows theme authors to opt out of supporting blocks in widget areas. This also reverts WordPress adminadmin (and super admin) to the classic widget editor.
  • The `gutenberg_use_widgets_block_editor` filter which allows administrators to opt out of supporting blocks in widget areas in cases where this is required. Like the two above, this also reverts WordPress admin to the classic widget editor.

A recent discussion in the Core Editor chat is a good summary on why we’re opting out via a plugin for users. Briefly, it seems to be the cleanest and least prone to maintenance requirements mode possible, versus settings in other plugins or user settings.

This is a difficult decision to make since supporting blocks in widget areas is an important part of the roadmap of WordPress and it will eventually be the default experience. Today, it’s important to determine the impact and significance of the current work on backwards compatibility.

Thank you!

Thank you for helping with testing the new Widgets Editor! Since it is one of the major focuses of WordPress 5.8 any help in this early stage is immensely valuable as it will help determine how viable it is for merging.

Later updates

Monday, May 17th – updated the instruction steps for the user section and added a step to enable the Customizer widgets block editor. This is essential to test the most important addition, adding blocks to widget areas using the Customizer.

Monday, June 14th – updated the instruction steps with newer recommended versions for testing (WordPress 5.8 Beta 1 and Gutenberg Plugin 10.8). Thanks to all the testers and all the feedback below. It was instrumental in advancing the state of the editor, and it’s now better than ever.

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