Major push to full site editing, plus a new default theme – WP Tavern

WordPress 5.9 is starting to take shape as Josepha Haden Chomphosy released a planning summary late last week with a tentative timeline and scope. This will be the last major release of the year, which Haden Chomphosy said will require “a slightly larger release team,” given the proposed scope.

Team leaders have yet to be named, with the exception of Matt Mullenweg as Publishing Manager, Haden Chomphosy as Marketing Manager and Jonathan Bossenger who has been invited to become a Technical Writer under a little experience of the publication cycle 5.9. Bossenger said this new role has been created “so that the technical details of the new versions are translated into accessible and actionable information for the other teams of contributors. The rest of the team will be named as features are confirmed in the release.

“The main objective for 2021 is to obtain the complete edition of the site for all WordPress usersHaden Chomphosy stated as a preface to the scope of work described for 5.9. These include the following block and site editing features that Matias Ventura previously identified as already underway at Gutenberg:

  • Blocks + Intrinsic Web Design
  • Navigation menus
  • Interface for theme.json
  • Refine edit flows for block themes
  • New default theme
  • Additional design tools

A few other elements are being considered for the roadmap but might not be ready on time. These include:

  • Pattern insertion + creation
  • Unzip / Flip Failsafes
  • PHPUnit tests
  • Improved compatibility with PHP 8.0 and 8.1

The proposed schedule sets the feature launch / non-launch date for October 12, with Beta 1 arriving on November 16, and general release on December 14.

While this timeline looks ambitious for the features on offer, work on many of these efforts has already been underway for months via the Gutenberg plugin. The continuous work that takes place alongside the core of the plugin has many advantages, but also introduces some complexity into the release process.

A common complaint recorded during the 5.8 retrospective was that backporting PHP changes from the Gutenberg plugin to the WordPress core was a significant issue for contributors.

“The current structure of the Gutenberg plugin makes it very difficult to locate the necessary changes to the WordPress core with the associated JavaScript logic,” said Greg Ziółkowski. “Before anything else, we should make more transparent in the plugin what is already in the WordPress core, what is ready to be backported and what is still an experiment.” Ziółkowski opened a ticket to discuss how contributors can make backporting a more semi-automated process.

Meanwhile, 5.8.1 RC 1 is on the bridge with 41 bug fixes for the kernel and 20 bug fixes for the block editor. The minor version is expected to land this week.

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