What’s next in Gutenberg? Site Editing status check (Late July-August 2021)

WordPress 5.8 is already here, an exciting release marked by the inclusion of many Full Site Editing features that have been big-picture focuses in recent times. Because of this important achievement, in contrast to normal monthly updates, this post seeks to review the status of Full Site Editing and summarize the next high-level focuses within 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/ Phase 2.


Full Site Editing is the lighthouse goal for phase 2 of Gutenberg. As such, it’s good to remember it is a collection of projects that allow site editing with blocks, bringing powerful capabilities for a smooth editing experience.

WordPress 5.8 includes some of these Full Site Editing projects and features; while some of them will continue as ongoing focuses for subsequent Gutenberg releases (⚒️), others can be considered stable and enter a maintenance phase (✅)

Without further ado, let’s look at the current status of the milestones that have guided Full Site Editing work in the last months and the updated scope for Site Editing.

Site Editing Infrastructure and UIUI User interface

The Site Editing Infrastructure and UI provide foundational work for the rest of FSE projects, mainly in the Site/Template Editor, Template parts, and the numerous APIs that support work around Full Site Editing.

The first two iterations of the site editor milestone introduced editing 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. themes and all their template files. The ongoing third one offers the possibility of creating custom block templates in classic themes and is available in WordPress 5.8 for those themes that opt-in to the site editing experience. Work will continue to finalize the Site Editor naming and placement: the current Site Editor as we know it in the 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 may evolve for better navigation flows and interactions.

Thanks to feedback from different FSE Outreach Program testing rounds, the next focus for site experience and tooling improvement include:

Overview Issues: ✅ Part 1, ✅ Part 2, ⚒️ Part 3

Global Styles

Global Styles comprises two major areas that fall underneath the global styles umbrella: centralized theme configuration and an interface for manipulating visual aspects of blocks globally.

Theme configuration absorbs things like declaring color palettes, presets, different supports and settings, and toggle on or off the available block design tools (typography, colors, dimensions, etc.). All of this can be managed through the theme.jsonJSON JSON, or JavaScript Object Notation, is a minimal, readable format for structuring data. It is used primarily to transmit data between a server and web application, as an alternative to XML. configuration file and is one of the key features available in WordPress 5.8. After a few iterations and open testing, this feature is considered stable and moved to a maintenance phase.

The other major part of global styles is the user interface to make edits to blocks globally. With theme.json in place, the next release cycle will have the Global Styles UI as one of its main focuses, allowing users to tweak the theme easily. Color handling will be an important focus, not only to better theme switch but also to seamlessly integrate color palettes with patterns.

⚒️ Global Styles Overview Issue

Theme Blocks

To support the theme building needs outside of the template and template parts infrastructure, there was a need to create many new blocks centered around theme functions. WordPress 5.8 brings several of these blocks, from Site Title, Site Tagline, and Site Logo that allow users to configure site settings with blocks, to the post-related blocks such as Post Title and Post Date, to be used inside a Query LoopLoop The Loop is PHP code used by WordPress to display posts. Using The Loop, WordPress processes each post to be displayed on the current page, and formats it according to how it matches specified criteria within The Loop tags. Any HTML or PHP code in the Loop will be processed on each post. https://codex.wordpress.org/The_Loop. to display post data.

Although new theme blocks may be added as the need arises and the existing ones will receive incremental upgrades, the basics of this milestone are complete.

Theme blocks Overview Issue

Query Loop Block

Among the theme blocks, the Query Loop Block has been a significant area of the site editing focus in the past months, deserving its own milestone. Taking some of the block APIAPI An API or Application Programming Interface is a software intermediary that allows programs to interact with each other and share data in limited, clearly defined ways. infrastructures to the limit, such a powerful block has proven challenging to expose at a user level. As a result of the feedback collected in the FSE Outreach Program, the block has been renamed to clear confusion, and usability enhancements have been implemented before launching it in WordPress 5.8.

With the Query Loop foundations in place, the next iterations will seek to ease the user interactions and flows, even more, thanks to two fundamental Gutenberg tools – block patterns and block variations. The former will continue to help set the inner block structure and content. In contrast, the latter will present the powerful Query Loop’s features in the form of preconfigured blocks and consolidate similar blocks to use the Query Loop Block as their underlying mechanism.

Query Loop Block Overview Issue

Navigation Block

Along with the Query Loop Block, the Navigation Block is another theme block that stands out as a project in its own right. This block has seen great improvements in the last few months, from improved overlays to responsive menus. New blocks are available as well, such as the Home Link block. Shortly, we will see the Navigation block house whole new kinds of blocks thanks to the recent frontend markup adjustments that allow blocks other than links in an accessible way.

Because of its key role in building rich theme blocks, the Navigation Block will be one primary focus during the next WordPress release cycle. Apart from more blocks being available inside the Navigation Block, customization options – such as configuring dropdown behavior or adding fullscreen variants – are an area that seeks improvement. These customizations should be design-driven due to the multiple layouts nested navigation menus can have.

⚒️ Navigation Block Tracking Issue

Site Editing Gradual adoption

Full Site Editing represents a new paradigm in site and theme building in the well-established WordPress ecosystem, and as such, providing the right tools is key to gradual adoption. Tools like the Widgets Editor and Navigation Editor bring block editing capabilities to traditional features that can’t take full advantage of their native block counterpart implementation.

WordPress 5.8 brings the power of blocks to both the Block Widgets Editor and 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.. Users will be able to add blocks in 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, add widgets and blocks with live preview, and schedule and share directly from the Customizer.

Because blocks can now be added to widget areas, developers are encouraged to phase out their widgets in favor of blocks, which are more intuitive and can be used in more places. Developers can allow users to easily migrate a Legacy Widget block containing a specific widget to a block or multiple blocks. 

On the other hand, the Navigation Editor has also seen its share of iterative improvements in the last months. Together with the Navigation Block, it will remain an ongoing focus for the next WordPress release cycle.

Widgets Editor Tracking Issue

⚒️ Navigation Editor Tracking Issue

Smoothing block interactions

As mentioned with regards to Query and Navigation blocks, the complexity of the editor increases as site editing capabilities are introduced with advanced block structures and customization options. This highlights the need to expand our APIs and interactions — which are well suited for simple block structures — to better support container blocks.

To address some of this, the List View introduced in Gutenberg 10.7, and WordPress 5.8 aims to help navigate these advanced structures more efficiently and should continue evolving further in the future. Internally, the List View is powered by a component available in the post editor List View and advanced blocks like Navigation; all features and blocks having a list of blocks will benefit from the improvements made to this component.

Another challenging editing experience with the increased number of container and inner blocks is adjusting parent block settings when editing a child block.  Users often need to switch between different child and parent blocks to change settings like layout or positioning. In turn, it is necessary to explore Toolbar absorption mechanisms that allow parent blocks to expose their toolbar on their children.

Patterns everywhere

At this stage, it is no secret that block patterns represent considerable potential for users to add many blocks with different preset layouts and settings easily. By using patterns, users don’t need to individually add blocks to achieve rich representations in headers, columns, or Query blocks, as patterns act as a jumpstart blueprint that can be tweaked and adjusted to the user’s needs. 

An example of the improved interaction block patterns is demonstrated by the Query block, which allows users to select block patterns in its placeholder state. This is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of the ways patterns can leverage the editing experience, and as such, efforts will continue improving pattern insertion capabilities.

Thanks to the recently released Block Pattern Directory, patterns can be copied and pasted into the block editor; upcoming Gutenberg iterations will connect and retrieve patterns from this directory, allowing users to choose from huge amounts of beautiful patterns without leaving the editor. Both to ease navigating the big number of patterns users will be able to choose from and accommodate increased pattern complexity and richness, such as in Query or HeaderHeader The header of your site is typically the first thing people will experience. The masthead or header art located across the top of your page is part of the look and feel of your website. It can influence a visitor’s opinion about your content and you/ your organization’s brand. It may also look different on different screen sizes. patterns, revisiting the pattern insertion UI will be an ongoing focus in the months to come.

 ⚒️ Pattern Insertion Tracking Issue

Design Tools

Several design tools are needed to ​​ensure a wide range of exquisitely crafted patterns can support powerful settings and rich block customizations. These encompass all tools related to the appearance of blocks and range from colors, typography, alignments, and positioning to filters like duotone, cropping, and background media and will need to integrate seamlessly with theme.json mechanics.

Going further, controls like font size, even if exposed as single values to users in the UI, are built behind the scenes to accommodate different viewport ranges. Apart from providing access to the underlying mechanisms through theme.json, responsive-previewing and device-specific editing will be necessary to support this.

To support the ever-increasing number of tools, the sidebarSidebar A sidebar in WordPress is referred to a widget-ready area used by WordPress themes to display information that is not a part of the main content. It is not always a vertical column on the side. It can be a horizontal rectangle below or above the content area, footer, header, or any where in the theme., while secondary in some regards to the block canvas and toolbar, will need to accommodate many of these tools, whereas the Component System will provide a shared design language between all these controls.

⚒️ Design Tools Overview Issue


How to follow along with Gutenberg

Here’s an overview of different ways to keep up with Gutenberg and the Full Site Editing project. There is also an index page of Gutenberg development-related posts and an updated Site Editing overview issue that breaks down the upcoming work into more concrete next steps.

Ways to Get Involved

While the above items are our focuses, don’t forget that you can always help with triage, testing issues, good first issues, and reviewing PRs. In particular, if you’re interested in helping with triagetriage The act of evaluating and sorting bug reports, in order to decide priority, severity, and other factors. but don’t know where to start, there’s a course on Learn WordPress for how to do triage on GitHub! Check it out and join us.

Hearing your feedback is crucial to drive upcoming priorities and iterate on our work, so you are more than welcome to join our Full Site Editing Outreach Program!

If there’s anything we can do to make contributing easier, let us know in the comments or #core-editor chats. While we can’t promise to fix everything, we’d appreciate being aware of any blockers.


Props to @javiarce for creating the images, and to @cbringmann and @mcsf for reviewing the post.

#core-editor #gutenberg-next #gutenberg #full-site-editing