WordPress 6.1 will focus on full site editing improvements, next phase of collaboration and multilingual features planned for 2023-2025 – WP Tavern
Gutenberg’s lead architect, Matías Ventura, has identified the experience enhancements introduced in versions 5.9 and 6.0 as a primary focus for the upcoming 6.1 release. He released the 6.1 roadmap ahead of the closing session of WordCamp Europe in Porto, where he was to join Matt Mullenweg and Josepha Haden Chomphosy for a demo. Ventura couldn’t come but he tweeted a thread with video demos of some exciting interface updates that Gutenberg contributors are working on.
One of the main goals is to make site navigation smoother with a new “browse mode” that will allow site editors to zoom in and out while working.
Patterns are another major focus that Ventura identified as “central to the creative experience.” Contributors are working to make building easier with templates, with plans to improve the discovery and insertion process. WordPress 6.1 will bring better support for working with templates in custom post types, block types, and a more intuitive experience for locking templates and managing saved templates.
Contributors are also exploring a new overhead view and other ideas to make it easier to interact with models as sections of a page, as Ventura demonstrated in his thread.
Ventura said another goal of WordPress 6.1 is to improve the Global Styles interface with better support for restrictions, privileges, and curated presets. Design tools will also be updated to support responsive typography and enable web font management.
“The tone of the release will be to refine the experiences introduced in 5.9 and 6.0, weave the different streams into more cohesive and fulfilling experiences for users, maintainers and extenders, and fill in some feature gaps as we begin to move toward Phase 3 of the Gutenberg Roadmap,” Ventura said.
Beyond WordPress 6.1: Collaborative Phase 3 will precede Multilingual Phase 4 to establish the base architecture
Matt Mullenweg and Josepha Haden Chomphosy answered several questions regarding WordPress’ long-term roadmap during their WordCamp Europe Q&A session. (Video from the livestream is embedded below.)
The core WordPress contributors plan to close out the customization phase before starting the collaboration phase in 2023. During the Q&A session, one of the polyglot contributors asked why WordPress is waiting for phase 4 to start working on the kernel’s multilingual features.
“Part of the reason we don’t want to define data now and work on functionality later is that we’ve learned every time that it’s hard to build the architecture of something without building the user experience. “, said Mullwenweg. “When we try to do one without the other, for example with the REST API, we entered the REST API before fully using it ourselves. When we started using the REST API with Gutenberg we found a bunch of shortcomings, I would feel especially bad if those shortcomings meant that the plugins had been building on the wrong architecture for a few years.
Mullenweg also explained why he thinks it’s important to prioritize Phase 3, which he referred to as “workflow”, before multilingual features:
Phase 3 is the workflow. This is basically where we’re going to integrate real-time co-editing into WordPress, much like Google docs or whatever. When you log in to edit a page or your sites or a template or something, if someone else is there at the same time, you will be able to see them move. Of course, we want to make sure that we have built-in version control like we do for posts and pages, in as many parts of WP as possible, so if someone makes a mistake or changes to the site, you will be able to ride it comes back easily, which I think is really essential to give people confidence.
He stressed the importance of establishing the collaboration architecture before introducing multilingual support into the core.
“I think the workflows around multilingual are important,” Mullenweg said. “So where is the content created canonically, how do changes pass from one language to another, maybe even bi-directionally, depending on who edits the site, and how does that affect the rest of the templates – things that are outside of the post and the content of the page.”
He also noted that the many third-party multilingual solutions that already exist will experience a transition period as the kernel integrates these features.
“I expect that, as has happened with page builders, once there is something in the core, they will either have a data migration path or integrate with the base that we put in the core,” Mullenweg said. “But I would like to set expectations that this is probably more of a 2024 or 2025 initiative for WordPress. And we want these other phases to be done really well first. Why do we have to go in order? We can’t do so many things at once.
When the person who asked the question pressed why an emergency working group couldn’t start now, Mullenweg encouraged any contributors willing to put their work into a plugin. He referenced Gutenberg, which started as a plugin and was tested for years before integrating it into the core.
I would say that when we look at phase 4, the first thing we are going to look at is how all the plugins do it. Maybe one of these plugins could even become the basis for what goes into the core. It’s okay if the plugins take different architectural approaches, because we want to see the pros and cons. Remember that people use WordPress with millions and millions of posts and pages, sometimes tens of millions. We want it to evolve, we want it to perform, we want it to be accessible. Take everything that people know and trust in WordPress. and bring it to this feature.
Mullenweg said he thinks multilingual is “probably one of the most complex things we put into the core, even more so than the blocks”. The reason behind this is that blocks took what WordPress did before and gave it a new interface on top of HTML.
“Multilingual takes everything inside of WordPress – tags, categories, pages, templates, and makes it multifactorial, so it’s like a factorial amount of complexity on top of what’s currently more of a one-to-one relationship,” he said. “If you have any ideas on how to do this, get involved with one of the existing plugins or start your own.”