Roadmap to 6.5

WordPress 6.5 is set to be released on March 26th, 2024. This release brings greater design control and optionality, more robust 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. capabilities with new APIs, access to current block theme functionality for classic themes, and the start of the new adminadmin (and super admin) redesign. More specifically, these significant features include the Font Library for easy global font management, support for Appearance Tools in Classic Themes for more expansive design options, and more robust 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 the editing experience (including revisions for template parts and templates). New APIs like Interactivity, Custom Fields, and Block Binding expand block capabilities and underpin features like partial sync patterns, and PHPPHP The web scripting language in which WordPress is primarily architected. WordPress requires PHP 5.6.20 or higher compatibility work ensures alignment with PHP versions. Rollback for 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 and theme updates enhances safety, and 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 address various components for an improved user experience. The first taste of the admin redesign as part of phase 3 efforts are planned for this release in an iterative and contained way by bringing a new experience to the template, template part, and pattern lists within the Site Editor.

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 6.5.

For a more detailed look at the work related to the block editor, please refer to the 6.5 board.

Design tools

Font Library

The Font Library makes it easy for anyone to install, remove, and activate fonts across your site. It’s available globally, independent of the theme activated, similar to the Media Library. Any installed font, whether installed by a user or a theme, can then be selected across the editing experience.

Follow this tracking issue for more information.

Syncing specific blocks and attributes of patterns

Building upon synced patterns, pattern overrides (previously called partial sync patterns) would allow users to ensure a synced layout and style across patterns while allowing each instance of the pattern to have customized content. This allows for consistency in design across different pieces of content. For instance, consider a testimonial pattern in a grid. With the enhanced feature, someone can insert this testimonial pattern into multiple posts, ensuring that the layout and styling components, such as the overall design of the recipe card, remain consistent across instances. Meanwhile, the content, such as Name, Image, and Role, would be local to each instance allowing for individual customization. Additionally, folks would then be able to revisit and modify the design of the overall testimonial pattern without affecting the content in existing instances. Of note, this work will need to align with the following Custom Fields API and Block Binding API

Follow this tracking issue for more information.

Section Specific 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. and Colorways

Taking the high level styling system with features like style variations, section specific theme.json offers more granular control for defined parts of your site using that same underlying system. This is a broad set of work and, for 6.5, the aim is to bring color variations to group blocks via the idea of Colorways. Colorways is a subset of section-specific theme.json, with styling elements only. This option would only be available for Group blocks for 6.5 in a code only way except for a minor UIUI User interface to select. These styles would apply curated color, typography, border styles etc along with styles for elements (links, buttons etc). For now, the most common use case is a theme author creating them for a theme to provide a predefined set of colors that have been preselected based on appropriate contrast, aesthetics, and more. In the future, work is being explored to allow users to create them in the Styles interface. 

Follow this tracking issue for more information. 

Adoption pathways

Support for Appearance Tools in Classic Themes

Adding support for Appearance Tools opens a world of design options that, up until this point, have been only available with Block Themes, or themes using theme.json. For example, adding a simple border to a Group block requires support for Appearance Tools. Work is underway to allow Classic Themes to add support for most of these tools safely, without breakage, unlocking more design options for more sites in a big way.

Follow this tracking issue for more information.

Paving the way for improved Pattern management in Classic Themes

Thanks to some internal code changes, the path is being set for a future release to enable Classic Themes access to the new Patterns experience that the Site Editor provides. Separately, a link for Appearance > Patterns is going to be added for Classic Themes to make Patterns more readily accessible and visible as a feature. This will link to the current patterns experience already in Classic Themes.

Follow this tracking issue for more information.

Foundational experience

New data views for templates, template parts, and patterns in the Site Editor

This work kicks off aspects of the Admin Redesign effort in an iterative and contained way by bringing a new experience to the template, template part, and pattern lists within the Site Editor. The following features are planned:

  • Ability to display a table with specific fields, pagination and quick actions.
  • Toggling fields and sorting and filtering data by field.
  • UI for selecting entries and performing bulk actions.
  • Support for different layouts, like classic table, grid view (including gallery), with the option to display a side-by-side preview.
  • Support for saving and toggling between “views”, which are specific configurations of layouts, field visibility, etc.

This feature-rich experience provides immediate value both to the Site Editor and begins to lay the groundwork for future work related to Phase 3, including efforts around Workflows and Media Library.

Follow this tracking issue for more information.

Robust revisions

Revisions help create confidence when writing and creating, knowing your changes are always safely stored. For WordPress 6.5, templates and template parts will now display revisions, alongside broader upgrades to style revisions with plans for side by side comparisons, pagination, more detailed descriptions, and more.

Follow this tracking issue for more information.

Customize the Navigation block mobile overlay

6.5 seeks to move the needle with responsive controls by adding the ability to fully customize what your overlay menu will look like. The navigation overlay is the name for the menu that’s shown when you set and open a mobile menu. Having full control over this mobile menu would allow you to customize the colors, spacing, and blocks offering the option for a distinct menu experience across devices.

Follow this tracking issue for more information.

New APIs

Interactivity 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.

The Interactivity API aims to be a standard way to allow developers to add interactivity to the frontend of their blocks, like hearting a post or adding to cart without page loads. A standard makes it easier for developers to create rich, interactive user experiences, from simple cases like counters or popups to more complex features like instant page navigation, instant search, or carts and checkouts. After testing the API on specific coreCore Core is the set of software required to run WordPress. The Core Development Team builds WordPress. provided blocks for months 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/ plugin and, more recently, in core with WordPress 6.4, there are a few remaining tasks to expose the API for extenders: “store refactoring” based on feedback from early adopters, server-side directive processing that covers SEO requirements and optimizes initial renders, and adding support for ES Modules and import maps. Each of these are projects in their own right and will need to be evaluated for the release. 

Follow this tracking issue for more information.

Custom Fields API

This feature aims to create a simple way of connecting block attributes and Custom fields/metadata. Because this is such a broad undertaking, a scaled back version is planned for 6.5 that would accomplish the following:

  1. Connect block attributes and custom fields without a UI. 
  2. Include a basic UI to create these bindings where the API can read the metadata value
  3. Add the possibility to edit the value of the metaMeta Meta is a term that refers to the inside workings of a group. For us, this is the team that works on internal WordPress sites like WordCamp Central and Make WordPress. field directly through the editing experience.
  4. Add support for more core blocks based on importance and relevancy. 

Follow this tracking issue for more information.

Block binding API 

This API aims to connect block attributes to values, obtained from different sources, that might vary depending on the context. For example, a value like post_author that changes depending on the current post. This will expand the capabilities of existing blocks without the need to create new ones, which will empower theme developers and site owners. For example, having a heading block with the content of the Post Author without needing a new Post Author block. For 6.5, the work for this API will mainly be focused on serving other pieces of the roadmap, namely Custom Fields and Partial Sync Patterns. 

Follow this tracking issue for more information.

PHP compatibility work 

Several compatibility fixes are scheduled to ship with 6.5, with work underway to improve compatibility with PHP 8.0, 8.1, and 8.2.

Since the adoption of a tiered PHP 8+ compatibility plan, each release brings the opportunity to update official PHP compatibility information for the new, as well as previous, versions of WordPress. Using current data from each PHP 8.x version’s usage metrics and open compatibility issues, exceptions will be cleared or added, and updates applied to the version chart. Significant exceptions might also warrant a dedicated Make/Core post with additional details.

The official release of PHP 8.3 in late November means that site operators and hosting companies will want to know if WordPress 6.5 is compatible with the latest PHP. Technical exceptions called out on the PHP compatibility page do not provide many users a clear answer to this question. Barring any major issues with running 6.5 on PHP 8.3, it may be helpful to publish an official compatibility notice on WordPress/News (see this example clarifying WordPress 6.4 compatibility on PHP 8.1 and 8.2).

Rollback for plugin and theme updates for automatic updates

Building on prior efforts released in WordPress 6.3, rollbacks for automatic updates to plugins is underway. Specifically, this means that checks will be added to ensure that an updated plugin does not cause a PHP fatal error when the plugin is active during an auto-update.. If it does, this error is captured and the previously installed version is restored, along with an email sent to the site admin.

Follow this trac ticket for more information.

Plugin dependencies

Currently, any plugin that requires another plugin (i.e., a dependency) is on its own to make sure admins install the dependency since the plugin won’t work without it. To ease that process for everyone involved, work has been underway to create a consistent method to handle dependencies and provide a clear pathway for folks to know the relationship and take proper action while installing these kinds of plugins. Namely, the current approach prevents activation of a dependent plugin if its dependences are not installed and activated. If dependences suddenly become unavailable (such as if a dependency’s directory is manually deleted), the dependent plugin is automatically deactivated. To learn more about this effort, please review the Feature Project: Plugin Dependencies post.

Follow this trac ticket for more information.

Continued performance improvements

While performance is a constant focus and each new feature must be reviewed for performance impact, a few priority projects are on the performance team’s list to address for 6.5:

  • Revised translation loader to make localized sites more performant.
  • Enhance performance of (block) templates, template parts, and patterns with selective caching.

Outside of these larger initiatives, typing performance is receiving a specific focus with major improvements expected.

Bug fixes and UXUX User experience iterations

In TracTrac An open source project by Edgewall Software that serves as a bug tracker and project management tool for WordPress., there are already 41 tickets closed and 9 set for early across various components and focuses. It’s still early in the cycle so expect these efforts to continue. Additionally, various main tools and features of the editing experience have planned iterations like List View, background image support for the Group block, revisiting template vs content editing modes, expanding and refining block renaming, aligning page edit features in Site Editor and Post Editor, and adding a box shadow component

Raising the minimum version of MySQLMySQL MySQL is a relational database management system. A database is a structured collection of data where content, configuration and other options are stored. https://www.mysql.com/.

MySQL 5.0 was initially made generally available in 2005 and reached its end of life (EOL) in January of 2012, making it unsupported and insecure for over 12 years. This is extremely old and this requirement is being raised. In WordPress 6.5, the minimum required version of MySQL will be raised from 5.0 to 5.5.5. 

Read this post for more information.

Thank you to @richtabor @ironprogrammer @afragen @priethor @saxonafletcher for their help with this post.

Changelog

  • Jan 23rd 2024: updated the improved pattern experience section to clarify what’s being added for 6.5

#6-5, #release-roadmap

Roadmap to 6.4

WordPress 6.4 is set to be released on November 7, 2023 and is being led by an underrepresented gender release squad. This release brings a sharp focus to enhancing items across the WordPress experience, from the details of writing a new post to managing patterns across your site. Amongst these efforts, new features aim to be added, like font management and a new default theme, and gaps filled in current functionality, like more tooling to go further with designs. Initial explorations for phase 3 will continue 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, and any early wins will be added alongside the foundational work already planned in this major releasemajor release A release, identified by the first two numbers (3.6), which is the focus of a full release cycle and feature development. WordPress uses decimaling count for major release versions, so 2.8, 2.9, 3.0, and 3.1 are sequential and comparable in scope.. An additional post will be shared covering the various additional wish list items that didn’t make it into this post to provide an update with possible next steps. 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 6.4. Approximately, 5 Gutenberg releases are planned for inclusion in 6.4.

For a more detailed look at the work related to 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. editor, please refer to this overview issue for ongoing work and the 6.4 board.

Introducing new functionality

Font Library 

The Font Library aims to make it easy for anyone to install and use fonts across the site, with the added goal of extension points for plugins. The Font Library will be available globally, independently of the theme activated, similar to the Media Library. Efforts can be followed in this tracking issue

Fonts Library section open with various font options listed to choose from.

Font Face

The Font Face works alongside the Font Library, handling the server-side @font-face styles generation and printing. Efforts can be followed in this tracking issue.

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. for templates and template parts

Building on the effort to add revisions to Styles, revisions for templates and template parts will complete the editing experience allowing for the ability to roll back any change made anywhere. Efforts can be followed in this trac issue.

New blocks

Three new blocks are being considered for 6.4 with relevant 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. https://github.com/ issues: 

Below is a visual showing the Time to Read block in use: 

Block editor open with the List View visible showing and highlighting the Post Time to Read block.

Image lightbox 

Lightbox functionality is being explored as an option to toggle on for individual image blocks to start. Efforts can be followed in this tracking issue.

Block settings open for the image block showing a new section called "Behaviors", listing lightbox as an option.

Auto-insert blocks 

To better accommodate more intuitive experiences, the ability to auto-insert a block into context specific sections is being explored. For example, imagine upon installing a plugin, an option appears when editing your navigation to enable a log in and out option automatically. The outcome of this work is likely to take the form of a new block inspector panel for now until the experience can be further refined. Efforts can be followed in this tracking issue.

Post formats in block themes

WordPress has supported post formats since 3.1 and, while block themes align with post formats in various ways, there are a number of enhancements to center and take advantage of the post format including: 

  • Handling of title less posts in the 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. and in templates. 
  • Starting with a pattern in a new post flow. 
  • Improving the specific formatting of the post content block in the query loop..

Efforts and discussions can be followed in this issue.

Advancing current features and experiences

Writing experience

Writing in WordPress, whether a latest post or new page, needs to be seamless and enjoyable–the tooling should aid creativity rather than get in the way. Blocks with all of their variations, design tools, and transforms should make you feel empowered to create what you want. This release contains a dedicated focus to ensure this remains the case. Efforts can be followed in this tracking issue for writing specific issues, in this tracking issue for link control improvements, and in these additional efforts to capture toolbars for a few specific situations (List Items, Quotes, Navigation items).

Interfaces and tools

The tools available continue to be improved to make creating a site or writing a post more streamlined with the following focus areas: 

Below is the latest design iteration for the Command Palette:

Command palette open with various commands listed to choose from.

Site editing

Outside of the various sub items that make up all of site editing, like the Navigation block or Global Styles, the following specific refinements and enhancements are a focus for this cycle to improve the broader experience:

Efforts can be followed in this tracking issue. Below is an early look at what it might look like to switch between templates in Pages in the Site Editor: 

Prototype showing the ability to switch between templates when editing a page in the Site Editor with a modal visual shown in an open state.

Design tools 

To enable more complex designs, various design tooling related enhancements and additional functionality is being explored. These efforts range from block specific changes, like adding support for background images to the Group block, to larger efforts, like extending 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. to provide spacing size presets: 

Efforts can be followed in this tracking issue. Below is an early design exploration of the box shadow component:

Various box shadow implementations including no shadow, preset shadow, and custom shadow views with different UI ideas.

Global styles (Styles, Style Book, and more)

Global styles is both a system and an interface for managing styling across your site, from individual changes to a block to sweeping changes across an entire site. This current effort continues to evolve along the same lines and across a broad range of items, from more technical updates in theme.json to more UI centered work around the Style book tool. To continue to broaden the possibilities with the built-in style system and to make it as easy as possible to use, the following work is planned:

Efforts can be followed in this tracking issue. Below is an early design exploration of adding the ability to focus on individual block types in the Style book:

View of the Style book open to an individual block with an isolated view from other blocks.

Patterns

After introducing the ability to create patterns directly in the editing experience, more advanced features and various quality of life improvements are planned for 6.4, including the following: 

As a stretch goal, partially synced patterns are being explored, allowing for the layout and styling components to be locked while part of the content can be updated independently. 

Efforts can be followed in this project board. Below is a demonstration of how adding pattern categories might look:

Pattern creation flow showing the create pattern modal with a categories field where one can add different options.

Navigation creation and management

As with every release since WordPress 5.9, the Navigation block and navigation management continues to have a specific focus to make it more robust and useful, including when it comes to various responsive needs: 

Query Loop block

To better enable more complex queries and bring more options for displaying posts, the following items are being worked on:

This work will likely evolve based on the needs of Twenty Twenty-Four. 

Footnotes

Introduced in WordPress 6.3, the Footnotes block continues to evolve with more design tooling available and custom post typeCustom Post Type WordPress can hold and display many different types of content. A single item of such a content is generally called a post, although post is also a specific post type. Custom Post Types gives your site the ability to have templated posts, to simplify the concept. compatibility work: 

Below is an example of a Footnotes block using additional block supports:

Block editor opened and selecting a footnotes block with the block settings open showing various block settings in place (border, padding, link color).

Twenty Twenty-Four

The Twenty Twenty-Four default theme will launch alongside 6.4, bringing with it a unique take on the power of using the latest and greatest from WordPress. It brings together the complete experience, bringing everything from block themes together. Expect designs to be shared as work progress and join #core-themes-projects to learn more.

Performance

The Performance team and broader contributors will be focusing on the following:

Rollback for plugin and theme updates for automatic updates

Building on prior efforts released in WordPress 6.3, rollbacks for automatic updates to plugins and themes is underway.. Specifically,  this means that checks will be added to ensure that an updated plugin does not cause a PHPPHP The web scripting language in which WordPress is primarily architected. WordPress requires PHP 5.6.20 or higher fatal error when activated. If it does, this error is captured and the previously installed version is restored, along with an email sent to the site adminadmin (and super admin). Efforts can be followed in this trac ticket.

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 38 tickets closed and 8 set for early across various components and focuses. It’s still early in the cycle so expect these efforts to continue. 

Early, foundational Phase 3 Work

While initial phase 3 plans have been shared, only a very limited and iterative set of work is being explored for 6.4 including the following:

Expect broader phase 3 work to continue in the Gutenberg plugin without inclusion in Core for 6.4.

Thank you to @sereedmedia @priethor @hellofromtonya @cbringmann @francina @clarkeemily @karmatosed @siobhyb @oandregal @flixos90 @mikachan for contributing in various ways to the creation of this post and to the Design Team for the various design assets pulled from GitHub issues and Gutenberg release posts.

#6-4, #release-roadmap

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

Roadmap to 6.2

WordPress 6.2 is set to be released on March 28th with an exciting list of features to look forward to. The main focus of this release is refinement and ease, with significant improvements in the site editing experience. This includes a revamped approach to navigating between templates and template parts, an additional way to manage menus with the navigation 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., and the ability to import widgets to block themes. As always, the base block experience is also improved with various features like a new distraction free writing mode and a scaled block settings experience. 

The result is the start of wrapping on Phase 2 of the Gutenberg roadmap, marked in part by the planned removal of the beta label from the Site Editor. With a strong foundation with this release, sights will be set on breaking ground on Phase 3 more concretely alongside continual improvements for the now broadened site experience. 

What follows are the key sections of work, including items from the broader CoreCore Core is the set of software required to run WordPress. The Core Development Team builds WordPress. side of work. 

Elevating the block editing experience

The Site Editor experience has been transformed into one that centers the entire structure of your site starting with your homepage. Rather than being dropped into a single template, various features come together to both ease navigating across your site and add necessary friction to take the actions you want. Alongside this broader shift, you can: 

  • Use a reimagined Site Editor experience with Browse mode (36667). 
  • See template parts and reusable blocks at a glance with added colorization (32163).
  • Write without distraction with a new editing mode designed to do just that (41740). 
  • Add Media from your Media Library directly from the Inserter (44918). 
  • Pull images in from Openverse in the Inserter with the option to disable (46222). 
  • Note an updated Block Settings icon that paves the way for future changes (46851). 
  • Migrate widgets to block themes (39270).
  • Access the list view and document information all from one panel (44788).

Video of distraction free mode:

Video showing an early look at the reimagined site editor experience:

Refining and expanding block capabilities

Individual blocks, particularly the Navigation block, continue to expand in capabilities and experience while the overall block settings have been iterated upon with more complex blocks in mind with a split between Styles and Settings tabs. 

  • Enjoy an additional way to edit the Navigation block with a new list view baked into the block settings 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.
  • Restrict the ability to edit the content on the Navigation block’s inner blocks (links and submenus) to further curate the experience (44739).
  • Rely on various fallbacks for the Navigation block out of the box (45976) (46286).
  • Customize blocks with a new split Styles and Settings to better scale with the growing set of design tools (40204).
  • Use the new “Sticky” block position option in the inspector to ensure a block at the root level remains on screen regardless of where someone scrolls (46142).
  • Set the width of blocks within a Row block (44467).
  • Choose a row or stacked layout right from the Group block setup state (43433). 
  • Surface aspect-ratio tool for custom image dimensions (38990). 
  • Add/remove captions for various blocks (Audio, Video, Image) directly from the block toolbar.  
Three images of the split settings as part of the navigation block on an orange background.

Building with patterns

Patterns continue to be an integral paradigm to empower everyone. A redesign of the Inserter offers an easier way to pick and choose between patterns, including newly bundled 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. & Footer options. Developers and Site Builders who provide patterns for clients can expand where patterns can be used with an option to register patterns specifically for templates. The result of advancing patterns allows you to: 

  • Find patterns with greater ease thanks to a redesign of the Pattern Inserter (41379) along with improved categorization (44501). 
  • Switch between Header and Footer patterns bundled into Core (46017).  
  • Register patterns for specific template types, limiting where the patterns appear. For example, an Error 404 pattern would only make sense when used with the 404 template (45814).
  • Pick from a growing collection of 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. patterns from the block itself (44140), with an improved setup state (47366). 

Video of the redesign of the Pattern Inserter featuring the new footer patterns

Designing with WordPress

With the strong styling foundation provided by 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. and the Styles Engine, new functionality is slated for inclusion to unlock more styling possibilities and to make it easier than ever to design what you want within the Site Editor. 

  • Design blocks globally with the new Style Book that allows you to see all blocks on your site as you style them (44420). 
  • Use an inline preview of blocks when working with Styles to better understand the impact of changes (42919). 
  • See a broader view of your template when selecting a style variation (44987).
  • Apply local changes from a single block globally across your entire site, with a new “Apply globally” control within the Advanced block settings (44361, 46965). 
  • Copy and paste block styles to create consistent designs faster than ever (44418). 
  • Add custom CSSCSS Cascading Style Sheets. for your entire site (30142), or individual blocks (44412). 
  • Edit block style variations from Styles (46343).
  • Add the ability to set minimum fluid font size in theme.json for fluid typography (45536). 
  • Add shadow preset support with theme.json (46813).

Video of the Stylebook

Read more about style related options coming to 6.2 in the Strengthening style options post.

Moving performance forward

Work continues to iterate on performance improvements for theme.json thanks in part to using object cache. A hallway hangout is set for February 13th, 2023 to discuss the cluster of improvements going into this release for anyone keen to hear more details. To get involved with performance work, join the performance meetings and the #core-performance channel.

Iterating on PHPPHP The web scripting language in which WordPress is primarily architected. WordPress requires PHP 5.6.20 or higher 8.2/8.x items

Work has mainly revolved around the following items:

To get involved with this work, please review the overarching tracking issue, the current open issues, and join #core-php.

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 110+ tickets closed. Taken together, these bug fixes and enhancements continue to further the overall experience of using WordPress. 

Thank you to @desrosj @hellofromtonya @matveb for input on this post and @kellychoffman @richtabor @priethor for helping edit it.

#release-roadmap

Roadmap to 6.1

It’s time to look ahead at the main areas of work for WordPress 6.1. The tune of the release will be to refine the experiences introduced in 5.9 and 6.0, weave the various flows into more coherent and fulfilling experiences for users, maintainers, and extenders, and close some gaps in functionality as we start to look towards 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. https://wordpress.org/gutenberg/ roadmap.

Keeping this concise so people can expand through the main Phase 2 project overview.

Template Editor →

Introduce the ability to browse, visualize, and edit the structure of the site. Provide more clarity between global elements (templates, template parts, styles) with the aim of unifying the template editor and the post editor experiences.

There’s a subset of work here around improving the navigation block →

Building With Patterns →

We should be better prepared to fully unlock the potential of patterns as outlined in “Building with Patterns”, which was put together a bit late in the 6.0 cycle. Allow patterns to be a central piece of the creative experience, including tailoring them for custom post types, 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. types, improving the locked down experience, manage saved patterns, etc.

Global Styles →

Blocks & Design Tools →

Continue to make progress on the global styles interface while improving the support for restrictions, privileges, and curated presets. Allow managing webfonts, implement responsive typography, and expand the toolset available to blocks with an eye towards consistency, reliability, and delight.

Themes & Gradual Adoption

There are also several issues around the ability to adopt features like template parts gradually on existing themes, as well as the possibility of getting broader access to 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. editing. It’s also important to continue to look towards theme switching flows and how to best make use of the new possibilities of styles and templates.

#6-1, #gutenberg, #release-roadmap

Preliminary Roadmap for 6.0 (Gutenberg Phase 2)

Yesterday, WordPress 5.9 Joséphine was released with the help of hundreds of contributors and achieving a big milestone for WordPress. It’s now time to start thinking about next steps and the general scope for 6.0. As before, this is meant to be a high level overview of the different areas of focus, not an exhaustive list.

The overall aim is to consolidate and expand the set of customization tools introduced in 5.9 for creating themes with blocks, with a special focus towards usability and refinement. This new release could be considered a conceptual wrap for 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. This doesn’t mean the customization phase would be concluded with it, but that its main features would have been established.

Editor

The introduction of the site editor marked a big milestone but also just a first step in the journey. There are various limitations that need to be lifted and features that didn’t make the cut that need to be revisited. We are also going to be learning a tremendous amount from users now that the initial work is out in the world to be experienced.

  • Refine the information architecture and template browsing experience. There’s work to be done to better organize the experience of interacting with the site editor, global styles, templates, and navigation as a whole. (36667)
  • Improve template creation (aiming at never showing disconcerting empty states) and allow the easy creation of more specific templates (i.e: category-$slug). The selection of new templates is artificially constrained right now in the interface. Opening that up should better express the power of the site editor as a web creation tool. (37407)
  • Expose site structure as “navigation” outside the navigation 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.. This is an important aspect to not limit site navigation editing exclusively to the site canvas, which for many reasons can be initially hidden from view. (36667)
  • Introduce browse mode to be able to conveniently follow links to different parts of the site. Conversely, the template editor that spawns when editing posts or pages also needs to establish better flows with the site editor. There’s a larger theme of connecting pages and templates to be explored. (23328)
  • Embrace style alternates driven by 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. variations. This was teased in various videos around the new default theme and should be fully unveiled and presented in 6.0. One of the parallel goals is to create a few distinct variations of TT2 made just with styles. (35619)
  • Improve post settings design and organization. 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. has gone without many updates for a while and could use improvements in clarity and design.
  • Complete the scope of global styles. Introduce easy export & import; support for 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.; etc. (27941
  • Remove coupling of templates to specific themes. This is crucial for properly embracing the power of block templates. Switching themes should not cause the disappearance of your modified templates. This is also fundamental for offering more granular combinations instead of complete theme swaps, the ability to add new set of templates (relevant for plugins that introduce new templates), or changing individual parts of a site. (See also.)
  • Explore more advanced drafting and scheduling for the site editor. Some of this work is meant to happen more in depth during Phase 3, which will include more focus on editorial flows, but there’s still some paving steps to implement. (29575, 29388, 31456)
  • There should also be some room for some minor back to basics around the coreCore Core is the set of software required to run WordPress. The Core Development Team builds WordPress. writing experience and further improvements to performance and usability. Areas to keep an eye on are the reliability of undo/redo, keyboard interactions, multi-selection, etc.

Patterns

It’s also time to expand the usability of patterns as a main ingredient when it comes to building pages and sites, now that most of the infrastructure has been established.

  • Prioritize pattern insertion on template building. This is a proposal to make patterns more central to the experience of creating theme templates and pages. (31153)
  • Simplify registration of patterns for themes. This might take the shape of a patterns folder with file headers that are automatically registered. All in all, it should be super easy for themes to provide a collection of patterns or to specify starter content as patterns. (36751)
  • Introduce page patterns for page creation. This has been on the horizon for a while and we should have enough building blocks to tackle it properly. It’s also an occasion to improve upon and align with the new “explore” modal that connects with the patterns directory.
  • Use patterns as possible transforms for offering “layout” options. Inserting new patterns is just a start, but often you want to change existing content or shapes into new ones. Patterns have some of those mechanisms but they need to be better presented and embraced. (27575)

Blocks

  • Finalize scope of navigation block and its overlay rendering. The navigation block introduced in 5.9 contains a whole world of customization and opportunities that needs to continue to expand and improve. In addition to the block itself, several flows need to be refined around transporting and initializing block menu data.
  • Introduce various new blocks to power the display of comments on themes. (34994, 38107)
  • Allow the featured imageFeatured image A featured image is the main image used on your blog archive page and is pulled when the post or page is shared on social media. The image can be used to display in widget areas on your site or in a summary list of posts. to be an attribute of other blocks (like Cover, Media & Text, etc) to expand what designs can be achieved.
  • Allow Quotes and Lists to have child blocks. Some of the current limitations of the writing experience arise from this constraint. (25892)
  • Improve the Table block. There’s a good design direction to finally implement. (32400)
  • Explore the viability of inline tokens. This has come up repeatedly in the context of rendering dynamic strings (such as current date) in rich text blocks.
  • Migrate default block styles into proper style attributes. Continue the work put into global styles by making all systems understand each other.
  • Pick up the work done for a Table of Contents block.

Design Tools (33447)

A lot of progress was made in 5.9 around consolidating the set of design tools and introducing new ones to address major gaps in the experience and providing block authors with simpler ways to register them. For 6.0 there’d be a concerted effort around tightening consistency, introducing more responsive capabilities, and expanding the Supports & Elements 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.. Another important goal is to continue to make it easier for third-party blocks to adopt these tools.

  • Layout:
    • Address confusions and shortcomings of layout features (including mindbenders like “inherit layout”). (28356)
    • Explore more convenient direct manipulation for height and width (alignment distribution) of blocks.
    • Incorporate more definitive responsive handling (min/max containers) into the current flex-based tools. (34641)
  • Typography:
    • Introduce responsive fonts with good defaults. (33543)
    • Add a Web Fonts API connected with global styles. (37140)
    • Explore paragraphs with indents and justification with hyphenation as global styles settings.
  • Elements:
    • Introduce support for customizing block Captions.
    • Investigate hover / focus effects and related problems.

Gradual Adoption

Full block themes are at the avant-garde of the WordPress evolution, but work continues to happen to improve how all themes can interact with blocks and make use of the new tools gradually and at their own pace.

  • Continue to adopt theme.json configuration for non-block themes as it aims to simplify and consolidate support for block properties and their capabilities.
  • With the “focused template part” editor established there are new opportunities for non-block themes to start incorporating specific areas for blocks using the site editor interface in a more gradual way, when ready to do so. (37943)
  • Utilize what we have implemented for the navigation block and site structure as the interface to eventually replace the navigation screen.
  • Explore the flows for creating some dynamic templates with blocks (for example, just the archive), similar to the custom page templates support in classic themes.

Please, help define the work to be done by joining the conversations listed in the issues above or giving feedback!

#6-0, #gutenberg, #gutenberg-next, #release-roadmap