FSE Program Exploration: Help with the future of Block Theme Switching

With the advent of 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 in the WordPress ecosystem, new possibilities are on the horizon, from easier theme development for developers and designers to easier site creation for users. Rather than just examining the value of block themes in isolation though, it’s important to expand to think about what can be done across different block themes. For example, imagine a world where one could seamlessly take product review patterns from one theme, styling from another, and product display templates from an eCommerce focused theme to create a store. Or imagine being able to switch themes while retaining your favorite palette of colors and typography. Regardless, it’s imperative that the experience is reliable, intuitive, and expansive pushing beyond what’s been possible in the past. 

As a result, the focus of this exploration is on thinking from this longer term, “wishful thinking” perspective first by guiding you through a very basic theme switching process and then by asking each of you to creatively think about what you’d like to see happen. Since this is not quite a call for testing due to the lack of flows, focus less on finding bugs (although they are still welcomed) and more on thinking through things you wish would happen or would like to occur. The aim is to gather useful insights that will help inform how we design this experience. 

Note: this is intentionally just focusing on block theme switching only for now rather than, for example, switching from classic to block. 

Explore what’s currently possible 

The steps below are meant to be high level with the aim to have you set up initial block theme related items that you might want to keep upon switching themes. It’s not required to run through these steps for the sake of this test since many of the flows are not yet built. 

If you don’t have time to create quick content, feel free to import this demo content (open the link and select “Download) created especially for this test via the WordPress importer under Tools >  Import. You can also follow this lesson for how to use demo content.

  1. Set up a test site. Do not use a production/live site. You can follow these instructions to set up a local installLocal Install A local install of WordPress is a way to create a staging environment by installing a LAMP or LEMP stack on your local computer. or use a tool like this to set up a development site
  2. Install and activate the latest version of Gutenberg
  3. Install and activate a block theme from the options listed in the theme directory
  4. Create a custom template under Appearance > Templates > Add New. 
  5. Create a custom template part under Appearance > Template Parts > Add New. 
  6. Open the Site Editor and, using the Global Styles UIUI UI is an acronym for User Interface - the layout of the page the user interacts with. Think ‘how are they doing that’ and less about what they are doing., select a few custom block styles and overall default styles. Save all changes. 
  7. Head to Appearance > Themes and switch themes. 
  8. Review the Site Editor, Templates, and Template parts. 

Bonus: Try importing and exporting content from a current site you have to a test site to make the test feel more real and applicable, even if the site is not using a block theme. From there, switch to any theme, block or not. This is purely to get you in the headspace of thinking more about what you’d like to retain even if this is focused specifically on block themes. 

Describe what you’d like to see

Comment below after reflecting on the following questions. Remember to share what you’d like to see ideally rather than focusing on what’s currently in place. Answer one, answer all, answer none! These are merely to get you thinking in the right framework rather than boxes to check: 

  • What would you want to be able to do when switching themes?
  • What parts of a block theme would you expect to be able to keep when switching themes? 
  • What sort of confirmation prompts would you want to see? 
  • Share a time when you switched themes and something unexpected happened.
  • When you switch themes on your site, can you share your routine?
  • If you wanted to switch to a new theme today, where do you go or which places would you expect to be able to do this?
  • What are some reasons you have had for wanting to switch to a new theme?
  • Anything else? Think big!

Please share feedback by September 29th, 2021

As always, thank you for participating in this exercise. If anything is blocking you from doing so, just say so either in #fse-outreach-experiment, in the comments of this post, or over DM in slackSlack Slack is a Collaborative Group Chat Platform https://slack.com/. The WordPress community has its own Slack Channel at https://make.wordpress.org/chat/. to @annezazu (that’s me!). Keep in mind that not everything shared here will be implemented by the nature of this exploration but know that your ideas will ultimately help shape what is possible going forward. 

Thank you to @poena @kellychoffman @priethor @daisyo for reviewing!

#block-themes, #fse-exploration, #fse-outreach-program, #full-site-editing