Roadmap to 6.3

WordPress 6.3 is set to be released on August 8th, 2023, bringing a cohesive site editing experience thanks to expanded functionality, richer interfaces, and a dedicated focus on polish. This culmination of work will usher in the Phase 2 finale of Gutenberg

This release aims to make it easier for users to edit pages, manage navigation, and adjust styles all directly in the Site Editor. It also seeks to provide detailed, relevant information when exploring different parts of the site, such as showing the number of posts per page when viewing relevant blogblog (versus network, site) templates. In addition to these improvements, the release is anticipated to include convenient access to revisionsRevisions The WordPress revisions system stores a record of each saved draft or published update. The revision system allows you to see what changes were made in each revision by dragging a slider (or using the Next/Previous buttons). The display indicates what has changed in each revision. across post types (templates, template parts) and styles, the ability to preview 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, a command tool to speed up workflows, new curated patterns, font management options, and a few new blocks. The following sections will break down the main focus areas, including aspects of the broader CoreCore Core is the set of software required to run WordPress. The Core Development Team builds WordPress. work that contribute to the overall WordPress experience.

Here’s a design prototype from @saxonfletcher that brings together some of those pieces to offer some inspiration and excitement: 

For a more detailed look at the work below, please refer to this overview issue for Phase 2 priorities (main tasks tracked here), the Phase 2 board (main tasks alongside broader potential high priority work), and the 6.3 Design board tasks.

As always, what’s shared here is being actively pursued, but doesn’t necessarily mean each will make it into the final release of WordPress 6.3.

Polishing the Site Editor

The Site Editor has come a long way from a handful of templates to edit with a limited set of blocks in WordPress 5.9 to a full suite of template options, a plethora of blocks to design with, and powerful, evolving tools. 

This release brings cohesion and a more complete experience with the addition of content editing to the Site Editor alongside a strong distinction between templates and content. To support this work, revamped interfaces and pathways provide an intuitive way to edit and create what you want without leaving the Site Editor. At the same, the introduction of a command center tool helps one quickly jump to specific pages, templates, or template parts as inspiration strikes.

What follows are the high level projects bringing this to fruition:

To enable more folks to explore the world of Block themes, theme previewing now works within the Site Editor itself, unlocking the ability to preview Block themes and introducing folks to the new Site Editor experience early on.

Video showing an early look at the command center tool.

Iterating on blocks

The Navigation block continues to evolve with a focus on iterating on link control, offering a more nuanced display of menus in the Site Editor, and improving the quickly create draft pages. The wp:pattern block has some early technical changes underway to supercharge it, including explorations to allow for a synced state, possibly laying the groundwork for unifying concepts like template parts and reusable blocks. Alongside these main focuses, a few new blocks are being considered (Footnotes, Details, Table of Contents) and work is underway to add aspect ratio controls to image related blocks. 

An image of both part of the block settings for a new Details block and a representation of what that block looks like in the editor interface on a purple background.

Expanding patterns

The power of patterns persist with more curated default patterns to look forward to along with deeper integration in high impact parts of the creation experience. There’s also an early effort underway to add the ability to create and save patterns, similar to the current reusable block experience. 

Add a page flow showing a pattern centric experience with the option to start with patterns or start blank.
Design for a creation flow for new pages that emphasizes patterns.

Stabilizing usability and prioritizing refinement

With the addition of new features, scaled interfaces, and new pathways, smaller pain points have begun to emerge across the creation experience. To stabilize and polish the experience, a separate board was created to capture these actionable items for developers to quickly solve. Outside of these smaller items, additional larger initiatives are also underway: 

Design of a library section of the Site Editor showing both template parts and various categories of patterns.
Design imagining how a “library” management section might look.

Enhancing design tools

Compared to prior releases, design tooling updates have focused less on adding brand new features and more on simplifying experiences, from managing fonts, or building on current functionality, like CSSCSS Cascading Style Sheets. for style variations and sticky positioning iteration. 

Video showing an early look at the Styles section and the ability to use the Style Book within it.

Leveling up APIs

To power much of the areas of work for this release, various APIs needed a dedicated focus to upgrade what was possible technically. 

Addressing PHPPHP The web scripting language in which WordPress is primarily architected. WordPress requires PHP 5.6.20 or higher items (8.x compatibility) 

Alongside an overarching 6.3 specific issue outlining what’s needed, there are also the following PHP version specific issues:

Focusing on performance

At a high level, the following areas are under active iteration:

Outside of these areas, general performance improvements continue, including an improvement for TTFB targeting get_block_templates already showing strong signs of success, alongside a fix for WordPress’s asset handling to only enqueue registered assets once. Expect more to come ahead of the release.

General 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. fixes and enhancements 

In TracTrac An open source project by Edgewall Software that serves as a bug tracker and project management tool for WordPress., there are already 80+ tickets closed across various components and focuses. It’s still very early in the release cycle so expect that number to grow, along with the impact on overall experience of using WordPress.

Thank you to @desrosj @matveb @saxonfletcher @priethor @richtabor @flixos90 for reviewing and helping with this post. If anything was missed, please leave a note in the comments.

#6-3, #release-roadmap