Big News for Themes, Full Site Editing, and WordCamp US is Back!

Episode 21 July 29, 2021 00:28:03
Big News for Themes, Full Site Editing, and WordCamp US is Back!
WP Review
Big News for Themes, Full Site Editing, and WordCamp US is Back!
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Hosted By

Joe Casabona

Show Notes

WordPress 5.8 is out and I've been playing around with Full Site Editing a lot! In fact, this episode is pretty theme-heavy. News about block patterns, the direction of the theme directory, and more. 

Sponsored by: GoDaddy Pro

Show Notes

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Episode Transcript

Welcome to WP Review. A show that provides analysis on what's happening in the WordPress space and what it means for users and business owners in the ecosystem. I'll also tell you about helpful tools to build better WordPress websites, upcoming events, and more. This podcast is brought to you by GoDaddy Pro. My name is Joe Casabona. Now, let's get into the review. So first off, I will be talking a lot today about WordPress 5.8 and Full Site Editing. I do have a video over on my YouTube channel going over what's new in 5.8. And I just wrapped recording on a major update to my Using The Block Editor course. And I'm rolling out a brand new course called Mastering Full Site Editing. Those two courses should be available within the next couple of weeks, and there'll be available to members first. So if you want to get a jump on these brand new courses, you can head over to [creatorcourses.com/join] and you can become a member at the monthly, quarterly, or annual level. And make sure to use the code WPREVIEW, all one word for 20% off, forever. That's a forever deal. So, again, [creatorcourses.com/join]. Use the code WPREVIEW for 20% off and you will get access to using the block editor course and the master full site editing course. As well as all the other great courses in the content I offer over there. Okay. Now, let's really get into the review. First up, top stories. There are a few, I think most of the stories I have today are coming from WP Tavern. So I'll try to do them in some sort of reasonable order. And the first is initial patterns for the patterns directory launched. I'm really excited about this because one of my patterns made it into the initial launch for the pattern directory, and people have started. So, really excited. I hope…It's a podcast subscription box. Shout out to Mel Choyce for helping me with the design of that cause I'm good at putting the right things where they should be, but I'm not good at making them look pretty. The patterns directory is officially launched. Now, eventually, it will make its way into WordPress core wherein in the patterns area you'll be able to search for a pattern and the results will be pulled from the patterns directory much like what you do with themes and plugins. But we are not quite there yet. They were working out, they, the WordPress open-source team were working out some bugs and things like that. And so it's not quite ready for the core. But I would expect it to make it into core before 5.9. That's just a gut feeling I had. And when it does, I think it'll just be absolutely fantastic. I'm really excited because block patterns are a really easy way to create this reusable sort of template for your WordPress site. And the more accessible these block patterns are, the better. So, keep an eye out for that. In the meantime, you can go to [wordpress.org/patterns] and copy a pattern. There's a copy button. It gets copied to your clipboard. You paste it into the block editor and the block pattern shows up there for you to edit. You could make that a reusable block, but just keep in mind that with reusable blocks, unless you then convert them again to regular blocks, if you change it once, it changes everywhere. But I think I liked that as big news. A launch just a couple of days, maybe just a day after the release of 5.8. This post, our meeting is actually from today. So, you know, I think it went live. And then they waited a couple of days to make sure that everything was working, and they announced it today. So that's the block patterns directory. You can find it over at [wordpress.org/patterns]. Next up is I think a really good story from WP Tavern called Theme Creation Will Be Easier, but we are not there yet. Basically, since full site editing came into a much clearer view when it wasn't just kind of the name of a phase, I've been thinking about the ramifications of what this means for theme developers. Right. I made my bones as a theme developer, basically in the WordPress space. That was my bread and butter. Most of my work was taking PSDs and converting them into WordPress themes. And my first book was about exactly that. It was called building WordPress themes from scratch. And the publisher provided me with a PSD, a Photoshop file, and I sliced it up, and I turned it into a WordPress theme. So I've been thinking a lot about that. I know that there are people who think that this is going to be the death of theme developers. But I think it's quite the contrary to that. And I'll elaborate on this more in the main segment about full site editing. But, you know, I think there's a really good quote from Tammie Lister here, “The way that themes have evolved within WordPress has made creating them easier.” That feels like a bold statement, but it's true. And it's absolutely true. As Justin goes on to say, it's not a stretch to say that many would be asking for the secret sauce recipe of easy theme creation. And on the one hand, as Justin points out here, right? It could be complex. Right. Cause there's like a ton of APIs, and there's like composer files sometimes. And it's definitely not as easy as it was from a development standpoint when I was doing it, when I first started, I should say. But with the theme .json file and full site editing, I think the job of theme developers is going to change dramatically and for the better, because they won't need to cram in all of these features. They won't need to come up with weird hacks to make certain things work. They can do the guideposts, right? They can pick the right fonts and do all the good padding and letter spacing and all of these typography things that most people find impossible. They can pick good color schemes and color palettes. They can set the padding in the margins the right way. And then they can include block patterns and let full site editing take care of the rest. I think that's going to be a really good thing. And that's what I covered in my WordCamp Santa Clarita talk, you know, what theme developers can and should think about? I think the better the tools for making software, like themes and websites, the more time we can spend on solving the right problems, like making sure our websites are accessible, making sure our websites load quickly even on bad internet connections. And making sure we have well-designed usable sites. So, I think this is a really good article. Everything I'm talking about here will be linked in the show notes over at [wpreview.io] of course. And the last big story I want to mention here is extremely interesting to me. The next phase is also from the Tavern. The Next Phase of the WordPress Theme Review Overhaul: Open meeting and Calls for Feedback. So the [wordpress.org] themes team announced an open discussion and date for a zoom meeting with theme authors. The team is proposing a new set of guidelines that reduces and simplifies what is currently in place. I think this is a very good thing. We've talked about, I've talked about this on a Post Status podcast and with various other people about how we need, I think we need something better than what currently exists. So Matt Mullenweg mentioned this in the Post Status Slack as reported by WP Tavern. The [.org] theme directory is particularly bad when you compare it to any half-decent commercial theme marketing page, or the designs available on other site building services or theme forests directories. The [.org] theme directory rules and update mechanism have driven out creative contributions. It's largely crowded out by upsell motivated contributions. And he's absolutely right. I think that there are too many rules. Look at what happened to Astra last year. They also, knowingly broke the rules, but they're the first non-default theme to make it to a million active installs or maybe a million installs, maybe it wasn't active installs. And without these upsell mechanisms, they have no way to support that side of their business. So they included affiliate links, which again, that's against the rules and I can see why it would be against the rules. But if there were better rules in place, maybe we would not see upsell motivated contributions. Right? If we could, let's say, in the support area, direct people to premium support or have a marketplace for themes and plugins to sell directly on wordpress.org. I know there are complexities to that but WooCommerce is doing it. There are probably organizational hurdles because the WordPress foundation is an international nonprofit organization technically. But, you know, I think that some, obviously something's got to give, right. Matt has recognized it. The WordPress themes team has recognized it. And they're calling for feedback. And actually those comments, and the discussion has happened. So by the next episode, in two weeks, I will report back on, you know, what went on during that discussion once all the feedback is publicized and collated. But I think that this is going to be a very good thing. A really good time to be a theme developer I think because the tools are getting much better to create good themes. And now the [.org] theme directory rules are changing presumably for the better. So we'll see what happens. I'm really excited. So those are the top stories for today. Let's take a quick break with a word from our sponsor. Our sponsor is GoDaddy Pro. I'd like you to know about GoDaddy Pro. GoDaddy Pro is an experience tailored specifically to the needs of web designers and developers and helps them more efficiently manage their work and deliver results for their clients. Combining website, client, and project management, GoDaddy Pro is an integrated solution made by and for web professionals. Whether you're new to web design or looking to grow your business, you'll find the tools, products, guidance, and support to help you deliver results for clients. At the heart of GoDaddy Pro is the hub. From one intuitive dashboard, the hub seamlessly brings your sites, clients, and projects together. I can't stress this enough. Everybody I've talked to about the hub of things, It's the bee's knees thinks it's so incredible. So what is the hub let you do? Well, it lets you manage and monitor all of your client's WordPress sites from a single place. No more juggling multiple client passwords. With one click, perform bulk updates, backups, and security checks, no matter where your clients' sites are hosted. So that means you can use whatever hosts your client prefers, whatever hosts do you prefer. And with the GoDaddy Pro hub, you can update them from everywhere. You will save time and free up your day. And I think that's super important. Right? A couple of weeks ago, there was a WooCommerce security vulnerability. What if you using the hub, we're just able to quickly do the security checks, make the backup, because that was a forced update and you can make sure everything was good to go in a matter of minutes, instead of a matter of hours. Integrated project management makes it easier to keep track of your client communications, and deliver projects on time. Electronically signed, notarized, and store documents. What a great feature that I think is really proof that it's kind of buy-in for web professionals. Because finding the right contract electronic signing tool is tough. You can create visual timelines to break down projects into smaller tasks to stay on track and on time. Access all of your client accounts with a single sign-on through their tailored shopping experience where you can buy products that help clients grow their business like powerful e-commerce stores using WooCommerce. You can always reach dedicated knowledgeable customer support 24/7. And on top of all that, you'll find a thriving community of web designers and developers who share advice, insights, and learning opportunities. GoDaddy Pro is free to join. Head over to [go.me/wpreview] to get started. That's [go.me/wp review]. All right. Now let's get on with the main segment of the show which is all about WordPress 5.8, and specifically, full site editing thoughts. I just spent about a week or so, recording the updates to my courses, multiple courses, and a new course, really. And so, I got to kind of dive in and use full site editing, and explore it to the fullest as it exists in the Gutenberg plugin. And I'm really excited about what you will be able to do with full site editing. The template parts are super cool. I was able to quickly and easily make a two-column layout using a sidebar template part. I suspect in a future iteration of full site editing, you'll be able to register sidebars because you can already register headers and footers, which is neat. It lets you make micro-sites right. Cause if you have a theme with a blank, a totally blank canvas, you can have a custom header and a custom footer for specific categories. Right? This gives you the ability to customize templates in a way that you only used to be able to do with code. And it does, you know, you do have to understand the WordPress template hierarchy a little bit, or at least that gives you an edge. Right. So, you know, you need to understand kind of what a singular template is and what template parts are. So I'm just kind of writing down an idea here for understanding theme development for Full Site Editing. It just kind of dawned on me right now that it's probably super helpful. But I'm really excited about what, as a theme developer myself, what I'll be able to do without having to write. And then again, I can focus on some better uses of my time, right? That's why we have reusable software. That's why we have, that's why we use open-source software because that gives us a jump on focusing on solving the harder problems. Now, that said, it is very buggy in recording one of my videos. I realized that the space key didn't work and I haven't explored it further. I'm not sure if it's a full site editor thing or if it's a TT1 blocks thing. Cause that's the theme I was using. Maybe it's a Chrome thing. But in the midst of recording that video, I got my editor will hear just how very frustrated I am or was, and how much he'll have to edit out. And so I had to figure out a way around that. So it's really buggy. It's definitely not ready for prime time yet. And there are a few reasons for that. First, I couldn't get global styles working in TT1 blocks. I don't know if that's just because I had 2021 enabled and used that before enabling TT1 blocks. I don't know if it’s some bug where the theme .Json file is overriding the global styles in the site editor. But that's a pretty big feature that isn't currently working as I tried it. I'm going to try other full site editing-enabled themes. Maybe it's a TT1 blocks thing like I said. But, the fact that I couldn't get that to work in a video where I'm trying to use just the default staff is problematic. There are also issues with consistent padding margins and widths. In the normal block editor, you can say you want something to be full width or wide width, or, you know, some sort of content with you can do that with headers and footers. You can't do that with any other blocks in the block editor right now in the site editor rather. And so I created a two-column layout, and then I basically had to add like 56-60 pixels of padding to the left on the left column, and to the right on the right column so that everything wasn't slamming up against the sides. And again, this is, I reiterate this in the course a lot. This is a highly experimental feature. They say it's noted everywhere. And most people at this point are not going to be using it. This is essentially a developer Beta. And I created this course now because I wanted to get a jump on how it works and how it evolves. And I want to show people how it works and how it's evolving in the course. So it's definitely not ready for prime time, but it is super powerful. I can't stress that enough. You can, I mean, I'm just thinking of situations with something like WP Landing Kit which is a plugin that does in the WordPress dashboard, domain mapping. And so with that and full site editing, I can create full microsites in a single WordPress installation. Thanks to full site editing. I can modify these templates and posts, and do things that I was trying to do with the post editor block, or the post listing block recently, which was very frustrating to me. So the full site editor is so good. The concept is good. The execution so far is going really well. I love what the team is doing right now to make sure they're getting enough feedback and testing. And the features that are in 5.8 right now work well. The query block or the query loop block that's in there right now, the Blocks in widget areas work pretty well. I would love to see a way to just have kind of like a big blank widget area so that I can add like columns or rows. But, you know, that's just kind of me thinking out loud about the page templates, right? So modifying the page templates in the kind of strips down the site editor that we have in 5.8 works really well. We do that in the block editor course, we use the site template editor to create a cool-looking page for our concept site. So I am, my overall thoughts, I'm really excited about this. I have been since I first demoed it, it's super powerful already. It is still very much Beta software. So it's still buggy. It's not ready for prime time. But, If you start using it today, make sure to provide feedback because this is the time where we, you know, early adopters can have a strong influence on the direction of full site editing. So definitely check it out. I'll have a link in the show notes to the full site editing page area. And there's also, if you want to get involved in Slack, the makeWordPress Slack, there's a whole channel dedicated to that FSE outreach experiment. And so again, I'm really happy with the way things are going there. Super excited. All right. Let's wrap things up with some recommendations. First, I would have included this in the new section, but it seems like a good recommendation for an event. WordPress WordCamp US is back. Last year, you might recall the whole Genesis of this project happened because of the announcement that due to online events and zoom fatigue, and just everything that was going on, Wordcamp US was canceled both in-person and online. But this year, WordCamp US is back. It's online. It's on October 1st, and they're shaking things up a bit. So they're going to do their best to give us the best online experience ever. And it's free. So in the next month, we'll have a call for speakers, call for sponsors, volunteers, lots of opportunities. That's over at [uswordcamp.org]. October 1st, WordCamp US is back. I will certainly be attending. I'm going to apply to speak. I always apply to speak. So, I'm excited to have that back. Another thing. A tool, if you will, is that I was just made aware of yesterday is FrostWP. It's not out yet. It's a block-based theme for designers, developers, and businesses of all sizes made by the venerable, Brian Gardner. He, of course, was involved with the Founder of StudioPress. And it looks great. I think it's probably going to handle all of the things. I think it's probably going to apply all of the things that I've been talking about. Not that I'm saying Brian Gardner used to listen to me about theme design cause he doesn't. But I think that what I feel will make a successful theme Is what we will find here. So you can check that out at [frostwp.com]. Sign up to get early access, and you can test that out too. And again, Brian Gardner looks like fantastic work. I'm excited to try it out. Alrighty. That's it for the review. Thanks so much for listening. Thanks to GoDaddy Pro for sponsoring. To get even more WordPress insights, to subscribe to the show, head over to [wpreview.io]. You can find all the show notes and all the links I've mentioned there. If you liked this episode, share it with a friend and be like, “Hey, you do WordPress stuff. Try and listen to this show.” And then of course, if you want to get the earliest possible access to Gutenberg, my Gutenberg course Using The Block editor, and the full site editing course, Master Full Site Editing, you can sign up to become a member over at [creatorcourses/join] and be sure to use the code WPREVIEW at checkout for 20% off, for life. As long as you're a member, that discount will apply. Okay. Until next time. I'm Joe Casabona, and I'll see you out there.

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