Full Site Editing and the Future of Theme Development

February 13, 2021 00:19:20
Full Site Editing and the Future of Theme Development
WP Review
Full Site Editing and the Future of Theme Development
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Hosted By

Joe Casabona

Show Notes

The biggest question for many is with Full Site Editing, what does the future of theme development look like? Will there still be a market for premium themes? How will it work? We'll explore all of that in this final episode for WordPress: Year in Review 2020.

Thanks to Nexcess and GoDaddy Pro for Sponsoring this series!

Show Notes

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Episode Transcript

Hey, everybody. And welcome to this, what is the last episode at least for now of the WordPress Year in Review podcast. I’ve had a blast making this show over the last few months and I’ve had a blast making the entire series with the videos, and the writing, and all that. So, I want to thank those of you who pledged to the CrowdFunding campaign. And I want to thank Nexcess and GoDaddy Pro for being the sponsors of this series. And, all of you taken together, you have made this series possible. I want to end this podcast series. And again, it might be temporary, you know, if there’s a call for, you know, more WordPress news or WordPress takes. If I do the series again at the end of the year, you know, it’ll come back. So stay subscribed. It’ll be on its own feed, definitely in the next, in the coming year. So let me know right in. Email me, [[email protected]] or fill out the contact form at [wpyearinreview.com]. And let me know if you’ve enjoyed this series, and you want to hear more of it and any feedback you have. But for today’s episode, I want to end with something I am pretty excited about. I did a kind of a first look video, a first impressions video for this series, and I want to expand on it a little more. It is Full Site Editing phase two of Gutenberg of the Gutenberg project is a major part of it is Full Site Editing. Meaning that the Block Editor will extend from more than just the content editor, and you’ll be able to use blocks anywhere on the site. And so, I want to talk a little bit about that, my thoughts, and what it could look like for the future of theme development in WordPress. I made my bones in the WordPress space as a theme developer. So, you know, it’s really interesting to me to kind of see how this might affect things. So at the State of the Word, we got a preview of Full Site Editing or FSE, I’ll probably say Full Site Editing throughout the rest of this episode. You can see a demo at the 21ish minute mark of the State of the Word. I’ll link the video in the show notes over at [wpreview.io], but it was some of my takeaways. Then there was some really great info here. Everything is editable, the header, the footer, the widget areas, and all of them can be accessed with the Block Editor. There’s also a new query loop block that helps you make query level modifications, and even reorder how information from the loop is displayed. You can modify theme templates. This is a big one. You can, for example, customize the 404 page without actually diving into 404.PHP. The site editor engine keeps track of all modifications so you can see what’s changed. And you can make global changes to fonts, colors, and more. So the functionality is currently available In the Gutenberg plugin. I think you have to have like 9.8.1 or 9.9.2 or higher. And you also need to have a theme that supports Full Site Editing. There’s a version of 2021 called TT1 Blocks that does that, that supports Full Site Editing. There’s another theme called Empty Theme that supports Full Site Editing. And so I thought the demo was the best part of the State of the Word. And then when I did my own demo, I got really excited to see certain things like template parts that you could easily modify, like a header or a footer. I love that you can modify the 404 page and other page templates. It seems like you might also be able to create templates. ut, in my demo, I was unsuccessful in doing that. And so, but I think that overall, this is going to be a really big important thing for WordPress and really exciting. So the biggest question for many is with Full Site Editing, “What does the future of theme development look like?” According to [make.wordPress.org], there are three major areas for Full Site Editing to consider. Template manipulation. This will enable users to make changes to templates using blocks. As I’ve said, for example, instead of recoding 404.PHP, I’ll be able to use the Block Editor to add or remove content to my 404 page. And I was able to do that successfully in my demo. I was able to add like the query block, right, to show like, “Oh. Maybe you want to try one of these posts instead and add a funny graphic and things like that. Add a little personality to my 404 page.” Next up, the second major area is block patterns. Users will have starting points for content with core and theme-provided block patterns which were introduced in 5.5 and expanded upon in 5.6. This will require less coding and CSS to make even more flexible content. And there is the idea of reusable blocks, but those are more global blocks. So there’s a little bit of a workaround if you want to like use that as a template. But block patterns are much more suited for that. And then the third major area of Full Site Editing is global style. This will allow users to change site-wide colors, fonts, and more. We’ve seen this to some extent in the customizer, especially with themes like Astra and Kadence, which I think the Kadence theme, I think does this really well. But Full Site Editing brings this functionality outside the customizer and into the Block Editor. So what exactly does this mean for developers? Does it mean that will completely eliminate the need for anything but a blank default theme? Not at all. I don’t think so. And I will tell you more about that after a word from our sponsors. This episode in this entire series is brought to you by GoDaddy Pro. Now GoDaddy Pro has two great offerings to talk about here. They offer a robust suite of free tools to web developers and designers to help them, to help you save time managing all of your clients and sites. With GoDaddy Pro, you can easily shop for your client, monitor your client’s websites, and manage all of their WordPress websites in one place. Exclusive time-saving tools let you bulk update WordPress core plugins and themes on multiple sites with one click, as well as automate WordPress backups, cloning, migrations, and so much more. Get real-time, performance, security, and uptime monitoring across all of your client websites. Members also receive a 30% discount on new qualifying products. When you pair GoDaddy Pro with qualified WordPress and eCommerce hosting plans, the benefits are even greater by including access to all premium features at no additional cost. And now, they offer a WooCommerce hosting option too. They combined their secure hosting platform and partnered with WooCommerce. The world’s leading eCommerce platform built on WordPress to offer you GoDaddy WordPress eCommerce hosting. Included in your plan is over $1,000 worth of premium WooCommerce extensions to get your clients selling with an online store that truly reflects their unique brand. So for a limited time, they’re offering you, the listener three months of GoDaddy WordPress eCommerce hosting for only $1. You can take advantage of that deal over at [wpreview.io/godaddy]. That’s [wpreview.io/godaddy]. Three months for $1. That is about as low risk as you could possibly get, especially for such valuable hosting. So definitely check it out. And thanks to GoDaddy Pro for their support of this podcast and the entire WordPress Year in Review project. This episode is brought to you by Nexcess. You count on having a WordPress or WooCommerce site That’s predictably fast, secure, available, and affordable. But finding everything you need from one provider can be tough. At Nexcess, they’ve got you covered. For more than 20 years, they’ve invested time and resources into developing and integrating exclusive that make WordPress run better automatically. How do they do it? By including special features like no cost auto-scaling when traffic spikes, automatic plugin updates with visual comparison technology to skip updates that would break your sites, and cloud accelerator technology that makes even the most dynamic sites run faster. Add that to their automatic backups, proprietary CDN, integrated iThemes, security pro, and free migrations, and you won’t have to look further for the platform that does it all. They pride themselves on delivering the kind of support you need whenever you need it. Hands-on elevated 24/7, 365 services. Their support team is made up of people who have been in the trenches and review and support thousands of stores like yours. I recently moved my WooCommerce site to their managed platform. And I have been the beneficiary of everything I just talked about earlier. From the special features to the incredible support team that helped me migrate from my old host, I couldn’t be happier being on Nexcess. They know we’re working hard to grow our businesses and they’re our proven partner to help us get there site by site, side by side. Other platforms say it, but they do it. Their managed WordPress and Managed WooCommerce are predictably awesome solutions. Because, at Nexcess, better is built in. You can learn more at [wpreview.io/nexcess]0 That’s [wpreview.io/nexcess]. So I left you on a bit of a cliffhanger there. Will this mean big changes? Will this eliminate the need for theme developers? No. No. I don’t think so. Here’s the thing about most users? We are not designers and yes, I’m including myself in this. I’m a front-end developer, and I know how to code. But it takes me a lot of effort to make things look what I think is really nice. But objectively, it probably doesn’t look super nice. And making a website isn’t like making a burrito where you’re given the ingredients and you just throw whatever you want in there. Building a website, it’s a lot, like building a house. Users know what they want and can acquire the materials, but that doesn’t mean that they can build a house, especially one that’s up to all of the zoning, codes, and things like that. So just because users have the ability to do Full Site Editing now with certain themes, it doesn’t mean they’ll be able to build nice houses or nice websites. What Full Site Editing does mean is what theme developers, what they will provide will change. So it means that what theme developers provide will change. Instead of offering lots of templates to customize different pages, thousands of lines of CSS to style every edge case, and ham-fisted methods to give users the content they want to have, they can provide more of a framework for creating a great site. You build a handful of templates that users can then manipulate with blocks. You create lots of block patterns to help users build different kinds of content wherever they want. And you provide good global styles. As a designer, you still have the knowledge of good color schemes, font pairing, and visual rhythm. That’s not something that a user can learn overnight by virtue of having a full site editor. You can spend a lot more time on those things as the designer, instead of building in a suite of features that makes your theme more customizable. In fact, I believe we’re about to see a theme of Renaissance. We don’t need fully loaded themes anymore. We need themes with solid foundations to enable users to make the best websites that they can. And yes, maybe we’ll see some people trying to add additions to their house when they don’t need to, or they’re going to look ugly. But for the most part, we’ll have people who are given a great house that they’re going to decorate very well. I’m really excited to see that. So if we think about a couple of examples, there are a few ones that we can look to right now. Twenty Twenty One is one of them. The default theme traditionally is tasked with setting a good example for how themes should be developed. That’s even more important now as theme development is transforming. Another good example is the folks over at StudioPress. Since Gutenberg was announced, they’ve been working to make their themes block-friendly. And I think they’re doing a great job. Carrie Dils has some fantastic insights into Genesis and Full Site Editing over at her website. I will link to that in the show notes over at [wpreview.io]. We’re also seeing Full Site Editing make it into themes at this time as 2020 came to a close at the beginning of 2021 here. One intriguing example is the Empty Theme which generates a theme that supports Full Site Editing. And now as I recorded this, or as I wrote this, I should say, it was thought that 5.7 would be the first version of core to have Full Site Editing supported. However, that changed a little bit because of some of the complexities and edge cases behind Full Site Editing. And so Josepha Haden wrote up a good roadmap update where she specifically mentions Full Site Editing. So, the big picture, and I’ll link to this post again in the show notes, but, for Full Site Editing is to bring in the Gutenberg plugin subsequently WordPress core, the ability to edit all elements of a site using Gutenberg blocks. This will include all-in-progress features designed to help existing users transition to Gutenberg as well. Scope, timeline, MVP in the plugin by April 2021 version one in core by WordPress 5.8. So it gets bumped back one major version. 5.8 is scheduled for June of 2021. 5.7 is scheduled for March of 2021. So Full Site Editing is getting bumped back. And honestly, I think that this is an excellent call by the core team. We saw what happened when Gutenberg rolled out too quickly. It got a lot of flack, and there are still people who don’t want to adopt it because of those initial first impressions. I think Full Site Editing needs to make a fantastic first impression. And while I tried it out and I was really happy with it, I’m a little bit more forgiving because I know it’s a Beta and I know we’re in the middle of the development process. But, I’m again, I just think that this is really, I think that this is a great call by the core team. And I look forward to continuing testing and providing feedback to them as I use it. And I create more videos for it and things like that. So that is where we stand on Full Site Editing. If you want to see my demo, you can head over to my YouTube channel or read more in the State of the Word and things like that. All of that will be in the show notes over at [wpreview.io]. Thanks so much for listening. If you’ve enjoyed this series, let me know by filling out the form over at [wpreview.io] or by leaving us a rating and review on iTunes. I’d really appreciate that because that does help the overall show. And it lets me know that people are enjoying it. Thanks so much to the series sponsors, GoDaddy Pro and Nexcess. And of course, thanks to everybody who pledged during the CrowdFunding campaign. This series was made possible. Thanks to listeners like you. I, again, if you need anything, you can find it all over at [wpreview.io]. And until we meet again. Get out there, and build something.

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