Data Views Update – June 2024

With the last few releases of WordPress, the glimmers of phase 3 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. roadmap are starting to shine through, namely in the form of the new powerful Data Views. While exciting to see a glimpse of what’s to come, it’s also causing an understandable increase in questions – What can we use today? What should we use based on each use case? What work is coming up next? This post seeks to provide answers at a high level view of these questions, along with some general context as to what’s being done and why. It’s pulled from a wide range of conversations including advancing the site editor index views, Roadmap to 6.6, and more. This is and shall continue to be an evolving conversation.


What problems are Data Views trying to solve?

The current WP List Tables lack the flexibility required for more complex websites and are not suited for the technological demands of phase 3, which emphasizes collaboration workflows like saving and sharing specific views. Data Views aims to revolutionize these views by providing enhanced functionality, including alternative display options, extensive customization capabilities, and robust extension points.

What are Data Views? 

Data Views refers to an improved and reusable UIUI User interface for different screens in WordPress that deal with collections of things whether that’s templates, patterns, posts, media, and more. Currently, those views are known as WP List Tables and Data Views seeks to replace those over time. It’s being built with extensibility in mind and is a big part of phase 3, specifically the Adminadmin (and super admin) Redesign efforts. This new UI will also power other long term future parts of phase 3 work, including workflow improvements for assigning folks to review posts or creating custom views to streamline processes. Currently, the Data Views are isolated just to the Site Editor and an initial version was released in 6.5 with a broader iteration underway for 6.6.

Below is a video showing the current WP List Tables in comparison to the new Data Views, showing both shared functionality and some of what the Data Views can offer that WP List Tables can’t, like different layouts, exposing more fields, and offering previews:

Why is the work being approached this way?

This work is intentionally being done first in the Site Editor with private APIs to allow for quick iteration and a more narrow impact than starting in the broader wp-admin landscape. The following principles are in mind as this work is underway:

  • Iteratively, with each step bringing meaningful improvements.
  • Stay subject to feedback from the broader community.
  • Stay backwards compatible.
  • Focus on accessibilityAccessibility Accessibility (commonly shortened to a11y) refers to the design of products, devices, services, or environments for people with disabilities. The concept of accessible design ensures both “direct access” (i.e. unassisted) and “indirect access” meaning compatibility with a person’s assistive technology (for example, computer screen readers). (
  • Built with extensibility in mind from the start. 
  • Best in class user experience. 

Ultimately, whatever is shipped publicly will need to be maintained and it’s important to avoid disruptive changes while these efforts are in an iterative stage.  

What’s happening for WordPress 6.6?

For WordPress 6.6, set to launch in July, the release includes work to bring the various management pages forward in the Site Editor (manage all templates, manage all template parts, manage all pages) so those options are immediately seen when visiting the respective sections, reducing the number of steps to access important information. For pages, a new side by side layout will be introduced so one can see both a list of all pages and a preview of the currently selected page. For patterns, template part management will be removed and integrated into the current overall patterns section. Interspersed within all of these larger changes are smaller enhancements in functionality and feel, including details normalization that will eventually scale up into a bulk editing tool.

What’s coming up after WordPress 6.6?

A major priority is extensibility APIs so plugins in the future can begin altering and extending these pages, inevitably resulting in more feedback. Currently, an initial API has been bootstrapped to allow third-party developers to register and unregister post type actions with broader, high level plans outlined.

Outside of that, there are explorations underway to bring the new list views, as an opt-in experiment 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 Plugin Directory or can be cost-based plugin from a third-party, to the Posts listing and the Media library. These are intentionally being done as experiments for now to see what might be viable for a future release and will take the form of contained Site Editor-like instances. At the same time, a Data Views Forms effort is underway that’s meant to allow for bulk editing first and, in the future, to be a framework to generate forms and details panels.

Re-imagined WordPress Media Library showing an organized sidebar with categories, file types, and tags on the left with a list of all media files in the frame.

A design that imagines a Data Views powered Media Library experience

Can we use Data Views?

TLDR: This work is in an evolving middle stage where feedback is needed but what’s being done isn’t fully formed to implement wholesale. 

Extensibility has been a key piece of this work baked into all of these efforts from the very beginning. However, in order to move quickly to build on new parts of Data Views and avoid breaking changes, these APIs are currently Gutenberg plugin-only APIs. At the same time, it’s important to get extender feedback to shape the work being done. 

For now, folks can bundle the Data Views styles into a plugin. You can even copy/paste these frames in the design library for quick mockups. Currently, the @wordpress/dataviews package is public already, meaning you can install it, use it from npm, and bundle it in your own scripts. What remains private is that it’s not exposed as a WP global, which means future breaking changes are possible but you’ll be able to upgrade the package at your own pace if you bundle it. There are also no extensibility APIs for the CoreCore Core is the set of software required to run WordPress. The Core Development Team builds WordPress. provided data-views yet for WordPress 6.6 (Templates, pages, patterns) which means you can’t alter these pages yet from a WordPress plugin. As mentioned above, an initial API has been bootstrapped to allow third-party developers to register and unregister post type actions with broader, high level plans outlined for furthering extensibility. 

For those who can adopt this work, please do and report back around the edges you find so we can iterate. For some, you may need to wait until it’s fully formed. The answer depends on what you’re trying to do and on what timescale. As always though, going as native as possible as soon as possible is beneficial both to ensure what’s being built works for your use case and to prevent the future work that will be needed to adopt what’s built. 

In the future, you can imagine a more customizable interface all within the same current navigation structure rather than a wp-admin like interface. Folks can pick and choose which plugin interfaces to pin and use, rearrange navigation items, and experience a similar flow and presentation no matter where they go. We aren’t there yet but we’re on a path in that direction:

View of an imagined WordPress interface with a sidebar showing various options to select between and a preview of the site in question.

Where can I follow along and provide feedback?

Feedback is wanted and needed! Here are a few ways to follow along, depending on the level you want:

To share feedback and ask questions, check currently open issues to leave a comment or open a new GitHub issue in the Gutenberg repo. This post is simply to share an update and the best place to get involved in a discussion is in GitHubGitHub GitHub is a website that offers online implementation of git repositories that 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. If you have clarifying questions about the post itself, you’re welcome to ask them.

Thank you to @fabiankaegy @jorbin @youknowriad @joemcgill @mikachan for reviewing and collaborating on this post. Thank you to @joen for creating the video used.

#gutenberg, #phase-3, #plugins