WordPress News – WP 4.9.1 and State of the Word 2017

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WordPress 4.9.1 Released

Mostly a security and maintenance release (point releases are normally bug and security fixes).

Fixes page template issue:

4.9 introduced an error whereby users would discover that page templates wouldn’t appear in the Template drop down when editing a page.

See more at: WP Tavern

Gutenberg 1.8 Released, includes block templates for custom post types

Block Templates – allows developers to specify where to display custom fields when defining custom post types

Improved design of tool menu – include a space for where plugin extensions will appear in future

Ability to filter by block type – so developers will be able to specify which block types a custom post type can use

Better UI features – Including improve colour picker, contrast checker and tooltips.

State of the Word 2017

Matt Mullenweg, original developer of WordPress, has delivered his annual State of the Word address at the US WordCamp.

To see the entire speech here:

Key takeaways:

Note these are just my scribbled notes from the video, not a verbatim account. Please see the video for the exact exchanges. – Ben Attenborough

Tide project

Tide aims to clean up plugin directory. Runs tests against the plugin directory – allows user to see status of tests.

Gives devs info on how to improve plugins and fix bugs – lets user know which plugins have issues

Links to GitHub so people can automatically raise issues and help fix them.

There’s a slack channel for tide

Growth Council

Will discuss ways WP can grow.

HTTPS

36% of WP sites are over https more than double last year.

This year’s focuses

This year there has been a focus of customisation:

  • Improvements for adding images, videos, audio and text to sidebars (widget areas- could also be header, footer or within the body)
  • New dashboard widget for meet ups – attendances have gone up 30% on average since this was introduced.
  • Drafting and scheduling for customiser.
  • Syntax highlighting to css and code editors
  • No default theme this year.
  • WP-CLI has become an official WordPress project

Gutenberg

Gutenberg is longest running feature development WP has ever had, now more than 11 months, 18 iterations

It’s an effort to simplify everything that goes on in the editor – short codes, widgets, menus and random stuff in TinyMCE into the concept of a block.

Gutenberg expected to be ready by April.

Mission to democratise publishing

Classic editor plugin.

If you think April is too soon to start using Gutenberg, install the Classic Editor Plugin now – will make sure that old editor will continue to be used.

Next step: Gutenberg-based site optimisation

Blocks to lay out the whole site.

Next year’s focuses

Gutenberg Editing

Gutenberg Customisations

Gutenberg Theme

Q&A (See 1:02.00 in video)

Note these are just my scribbled notes of the Q and A, not a verbatim account. Please see the video for the exact exchanges. – Ben Attenborough

Q: Question about page builders and is Gutenberg unfair to creators of page builder plugins as it will replace their functionality

MM: Lots of different page builder plugins, which shows how much demand there is for page building functionality

But problem is it is hard for plugins to work with page builders because each builder works differently. If Gutenberg presents a standard way for building posts and pages it makes it much easier for plugin developers to build applications that work in the expected way.

Will create opportunities for devs.

Q: Fields API – Will it be necessary to continue to have a fields API

MM: Gutenberg will cover a lot of bases for fields, but not everything so a fields API will still be necessary.

Question about WYSIWYG

MM: Will be editing on dashboard not literally on front end. But it will be a lot closer to a true WYSIWYG experience.

Q: Could we get a split community where some people will be on classic mode and some on Gutenberg. How will we get beyond these two worlds?

MM: You really do need to develop for Gutenberg and I’m okay if you drop support for Classic.

Q: Concern that users may find Gutenberg harder to use.

MM: We are building for people new to publishing and websites

Structure will be more intuitive. Ever have an image which is right aligned and you try to move it and move it inside a link and it’s a bit of a mess? Gutenberg is trying to fix that.

Q: If I’m creating sites for clients, I’m putting onus on users to design. What would be great is if I can add certain blocks to a CPT and say that’s it.

MM: Yes, it will be possible to lock down which block types a user will have access to.

Q: Front end responsive issue. There are circumstances where things have to change on different screens. So if the user specifies a 80px font size for a heading, it is not going to be 80px on a mobile phone. How are you going to control this?

MM: We are going to err on the side of letting people do stuff. Including being able to mess it up, but allow themes and plugins to bring in the guard rails a lot more.

Q: Concerned about changes Gutenberg will force on to customers.

MM: Today there is an opt-in plugin. New plugin will give a specific opt out. Trying to provide a gradual ramp. Trying to learn from Gutenberg because going to make big changes in the future.

Q: Are you concerned about React?

MM: Think that React is the future and can fork from the GPL version of React if future React version introduce bad things.

Cross compiling from other language possible.

My thoughts

Gutenberg is happening, and although there will be ways to continue with the old TinyMCE editor it is clearly the direction of travel.

At 1:10.55 Matt gets a question about the danger of “two worlds” one where people use Gutenberg and one where people use classic. Matt responds by saying that over time users will expect everything to work with Gutenberg and demand for classic will fall away.

It was interesting to me that Matt Mullenweg actually says “at some point” he will be fine with plugin developers dropping support for the pre-Gutenberg world (See around  1:14.00). Once plugin start dropping support for classic, people are going to have to either stay still or move ahead under Gutenberg.

It certainly feels like Gutenberg is the future and developers and users will not be able to ignore it, or at least not for long.

Furthermore it seems that the Gutenberg philosophy of using content “blocks” will also be extended into designing pages. It looks like a page building system, like ones such as Beaver Builder, will eventually be part of WordPress core. What will this mean for existing sites built with a page builder system? Will they need to be redesigned using the Gutenberg builder?

This will be controversial, but I’m optimistic that eventually this will be a good thing for users, as it will give them more access to design their own pages and posts without having to code. Hopefully it will also be good news for developers, as they will be able to build sites which give users more customisation options without having to introduce a slew of plugins or custom code.

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