Hallway Hangout: On 6.1, 6.2, and block themes (Nov 2nd)

This is a summary of a Hallway Hangout that was wrangled in the #fse-outreach-experiment channel as part of the FSE Outreach Program. Thank you to everyone who joined in!


Jeff Ong, Ellen Bauer, Nick Diego, and Edwin Cromley 

Video Recording:


We covered a wide variety of topics: the outreach program’s future, updates for the 6.1 release, aspects of phase 2 to wrap up, the current experience of developing and maintaining 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 more.

What will happen to the outreach program now that 6.1 is out?

The outreach program is continuing as is! When it comes time to wind it down, it will be heavily communicated and, ideally, continued in some form or another. As with “gradual adoption” of FSE features, expect a more gradual phasing out.

Various updates around 6.1

We chatted through some of the key feedback coming in with 6.1 released last week. This was shared publicly in the release leads channel prior to the call.

Managing updates for block themes

The discussion around 6.1 feedback led to a conversation about managing updates for block themes. In particular, there were some layout changes that needed to be managed. Keeping up with these changes for each release can lead to a feeling of “Why did we build these themes already?!” when there’s so much to keep on top of with each release. It still is taking a lot of work with each release.

@bph the idea was brought up to have a compressed set of links to follow based on audience perhaps for the Developer blog, inspired by Rich Tabor’s twitter roundup. We discussed how there were also 2x the number of dev notes for this release compared to 5.9 and 6.0.

In general, there seems to be a cycle of finding a solution to work around current limitations > the gap getting filled in coreCore Core is the set of software required to run WordPress. The Core Development Team builds WordPress. > needing to update > cycle repeats. There are questions around when this process will get less intense.


Questions around themeshaper came up with folks wanting to see more there and reminiscing on the kinds of posts that were shared previously as being quite illuminating. Speaking personally, I’m now trying to share more directly in Core when posting but it is an “outlet” that would be great to see revived.

Pixl theme discussion 

After Matt tweeted about the Pixl theme, this led to questions around: “Is this the direction we’re heading in? Is it meant to be super simple block theme? Am I overcomplicating it somehow?” We talked about how it was likely just a note about a cool, quirky theme and that ultimately block themes are for all cases (or will be in the future as functionality grows). The goal is to do everything, from very simple to very high level. Nick shared that he’s, “Taking a lot of block themes and throwing them away. I took what was available and took it to the next level, like custom classes or custom code, that block themes couldn’t do at that time. Now, I’m stripping it out and refreshing it with a much simpler architecture.” Ellen is doing the same and it’s a lot of work. From there, you have to consider propagating updates. While this is a big part of being an early adopter, it’s still worth noting and it becomes intimidating to step into eCommerce considering.

Stability for maintenance & stability for UXUX UX is an acronym for User Experience - the way the user uses the UI. Think ‘what they are doing’ and less about how they do it. of block themes

We talked about how there’s a split when talking about stability: stability of block themes in terms of less maintenance and stability of the UX for end users of block themes. We discussed how patterns are a big deal for UX in general and shared some examples of using starter patterns, with Nick sharing a great resource he wrote.

Latest Phase 2 Update

We went through the latest phase 2 overview issue update, talking at a high level about what’s to come and how work is progressing. This included a lot of discussion around the ability to save, import, and export variations. Feedback was given that style variations are often ignored for clients and that it would be more useful to be able to copy style variations/copying block styles. At the same time, being able to import/export your own branding via style variations would also be wildly helpful.

What about removing the beta label?

We ended by talking about the betaBeta A pre-release of software that is given out to a large group of users to trial under real conditions. Beta versions have gone through alpha testing in-house and are generally fairly close in look, feel and function to the final product; however, design changes often occur as part of the process. label, how it’s likely slated for 6.2, how another update will need to be done to ensure the issue is up to date, and how the label itself might change away from just “editor”.