WordPress News Roundup: What’s In Store with WordPress 5.9

With the much anticipated release of WordPress 5.9 just around the corner (it’s been pushed back to January 25, 2022), we thought we’d devote this edition of our WordPress News Roundup to the new release, what the changes mean, and how we got here.

Full Site Editing makes all aspects of a WordPress site customizable with minimal coding skills. Areas of a WordPress site that were once the domain of templates will now be editable from within WordPress. Site editing plugins like Elementor already provide this capability. Hopefully, by rolling full site editing functionality into the core, we will see improvements in page speed and plugin code bloat.

Native full site editing in WordPress

5.0 introduced block editing, but it was mainly contained to posts and pages. 5.9 brings all of that to the rest of WordPress in the form of block themes which control page layout and design. Block themes are defined in HTML and blocks, not PHP.

Block themes are not replacing traditional themes. “WordPress is still WordPress. You’ll still be able to use normal themes,” Marcus Kazmierczak of Automattic told WP Tavern. “Nothing is going to break if you’re not using a block theme.”

5.8 introduced the theme.json file, which is a global styles file written in a readable Javascript format called json. With 5.9, you can edit global styles via the Global Styles Interface. This intefrace will allow users to make sitewide changes to design elements like typography, colors and spacing at once.

“I know designers are going to say, ‘Whoa, I don’t want [users] to change things; users normally don’t have a good feel for design,’ and that’s mostly true,” says Birgit Pauli-Haack, a Developer Advocate for WordPress, addressing concerns that these tools give users the ability to blow stuff up. “But there are now also really good controls that a theme developer can apply to help users with those choices.”

Two more nice updates on the way with 5.9.

Navigation block – gives us the ability to create responsive menus without having to spend too much time fussing over it. Getting complex navigation right in WordPress has long taken an inordinate amount of time, so this is a welcome core feature.

Gallery block – the gallery block will be comprised of single image blocks, which gives us all of the image editing features in the gallery block. You can now assign an individual link to each image. This is an important update that gives designers much needed control over image galleries.

That’s all for now. Check back with us on the flipside for another update on how all of this is playing out. As always, we’re happy to assist if anyone needs help setting up or customizing their WordPress site.

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