Automattic launches Quadrat, a block-based podcasting WordPress theme – WP Tavern

A few weeks ago, Automattic published Quadrat on the theme directory. This is now the company’s fourth block theme. Like its predecessors, it is a child of Blockbase, a project that forms the basis for the work of the Automattic thematic team.

After spending a few months delving deeply into the world of block themes, I was starting to feel a bit exhausted. When I wasn’t sleeping, eating, or doing gardening in my free time, I was building or exploring one project or another. Soon everything had become a blur. I knew I needed a little break, and I haven’t touched any themes in a few weeks since, at least not outside of work.

However, Quadrat appealed to the theme developer in me. Not sure if this was the calming color palette or just seeing the work professional designers put into it, but it provided a way for me to relax in the world of the block theme.

Outside of Anariel Design’s work with Naledi and Clove, most of the block themes felt more like proofs of concept or starting points. Quadrat can now be added to the list of those with a certain personality.

It doesn’t push any particular boundaries, but it’s a well-designed blogging and podcasting theme. Most of the time, I’m just a fan of the color palette – sometimes you just need something other than black, white, and gray to get yourself out of a funk.

One of the other reasons I followed the Quadrat theme work was because it was the first header pattern showcase I had seen. Kjell Reigstad explained what this system would look like in June.

The goal is to include the templates shown in the video in the WordPress core, so that they are not currently included in the theme. However, there is still an open ticket for header templates in Quadrat.

The only real issue I have encountered with the theme is with fully aligned blocks in content. There is an overflow issue in version 1.1.1 that creates a horizontal scroll bar.

Horizontal scroll bar when using a full width block with the Quadrat theme.
The horizontal scroll bar appears with a full-width cover block.

Quadrat includes nine custom models. The focus is mostly on podcasting, but some are versatile enough for other use cases, such as “Media and Text with Button”:

Illustration in the left column and Heading and Button blocks on the right in a template built with the Media & Text block in the WordPress editor.
Media and text with button pattern.

The development team missed out on a top-notch opportunity with their podcast-related models. Instead of integrating into a podcasting solution, these are simple static blocks of the WordPress core.

For example, the Latest Episodes template is a two-column layout that has Image, Title, and Paragraph blocks. This is acceptable as a basic model for users without a podcasting plugin. However, this can be practically unnecessary for those who have one activated. Or, it creates unnecessary work because users have to manually update their page content every time they post a new episode.

Two column layout with image, header and descriptive text of the podcasting episodes.
Block model of the last episodes

Given Automattic’s recent bet on Castos as part of a $ 756,000 pre-seed fundraiser, it would make sense to integrate with the podcasting company’s plugin, Seriously Simple Podcasting (SSP).

If the dev team wanted to take the Latest Episodes template to the next level, they would create it with the Query Loop block and display the plugin’s latest podcast episodes. For users without SSP installed, simply revert to the current model. Or, offer both. Right now, it’s little more than a feast for the eyes and not as useful as it could be for real use cases.

I often talk about the need for theme authors to elevate their game. Not only would such an integration be beneficial for podcasters, it would also showcase the power and flexibility of the block system.

All this to say: if you are going to create a podcasting theme, build a podcast theme. Quadrat seems to be one of them. However, when you take a look behind the curtain, this is just a well-designed blog theme. He has the potential to be so much more.

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