24 Nov 2020

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WPTavern: WordPress 5.7 Wish List: Save Block Editor Settings Per User

WordPress 5.6 development is winding down as we begin to close out the beta testing round, inching toward the final release on December 8. That means it is time to think about what WordPress 5.7 will look like. This is one of my favorite times of the WordPress development cycle because I get to see what others want to be added to the core platform. I also get to share a feature request of my own.

Francesca Marano opened the discussion on the Make Core blog. She asks that people link to a specific ticket, which can be from WordPress Trac or the Gutenberg repository.

One consideration for everyone's wish list is that 2021 will potentially see four major WordPress releases rather than the typical three. WordPress 5.7 is tentatively scheduled to land on March 9, 2021. The team has scheduled future releases in three-month intervals. While the dates are not written in stone, it could mean each release's feature set might need to be scaled back to some small degree.

Most features that land in WordPress 5.7 will be items that are already under development. Enhancements like block-based widgets and nav menus that were punted from the 5.6 release should land early and be ready for a full three months of testing. The development team will also focus heavily on pushing an early/beta version of the site editor into core WordPress.

There is still room for other things to land, and now is the time for everyone to make their case for their pet feature.

Unlike past wish-list discussions, I am going to take a step back and control myself. Instead of asking for one of those big-ticket items that I know is unlikely to happen - hello, completed post type API and homepage post type selection -, I will simply ask for something more practical.

In WordPress 5.7, I want the block inspector tabs and some block option defaults to remain the same each time I write a new post.

One of my biggest pet-peeves is with the image block in particular. Each time I add an image, I first close the Styles tab in the sidebar. I do not use it often, so it is not important enough to always be open. Then, I must switch the Image Size setting to Full Size from its default Large. I typically format my images for display before uploading and simply want to use the image at the size I uploaded. These are small things, but they break my workflow. As a daily writer, it has become a nuisance over time.

Configuring image block settings.

These should be per-user settings. Each user's workflow is different, so WordPress likely needs to handle this as user metadata or a similar method.

I was unable to track down an open ticket for saving the tab state. There are over 2,600 currently-open issues. Maybe I did not nail down the right search terminology. Or, it may be a non-issue for other users.

However, there is a two-year-old ticket for remembering the last image size used. I was happy to find like-minded peers who share my frustration in this case. There is also a more recent ticket about storing the default image size on a per-user basis. The feedback in the tickets shows a clear and present need for WordPress to fix this problem.

A representative of Feast Design Co. noted in the first ticket, "Every time somebody inserts an image they have to change the image size. This seems small but at 10 seconds per image x 5 images per post x 2 posts per week x 52 weeks per year, this is 86 minutes per year." I believe I can manage it in a little less than 10 seconds per image, but it stills knocks me out of my flow each time. It is a seemingly trivial issue, but the time wastage adds up for those who add many images to posts throughout the year.

What is on your wish list for WordPress 5.7?

24 Nov 2020 9:43pm GMT

23 Nov 2020

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WPTavern: Genesis Block Theme Beta, StudioPress Pursuing a Block-First Future

On November 11, StudioPress announced an open beta for its Genesis Block Theme. This is a pivotal moment, or at least one moment in a series of significant moments, for adoption of the block editor. Feel free to call me on this in a year or two if it does not pan out.

The original Genesis theme is the foundational tool that 1,000s of developers use to build many 1,000s more websites across the web. Over the past decade, StudioPress has remained one of the top-tier commercial WordPress theme companies, and it has done so on the back of its Genesis product. It has also remained an important part of the company's offering since WP Engine acquired it in 2018.

While WP Engine and StudioPress have bet big on the block editor with products like Genesis Blocks, the Genesis Block Theme will be a game-changer when it launches as a finished product, likely sometime next year.

This is not necessarily because StudioPress will offer a better product than what many others are creating. It is about one of the largest theme development companies shifting toward a block-first approach. Others will fall in line. Or be left behind.

WP Engine and StudioPress have done this slowly and strategically, thoughtfully transitioning their user base into the block world. With WP Engine's acquisition of Atomic Blocks (now Genesis Blocks) and bringing on the Block Lab team earlier this year, the company is setting itself up to continue pushing what developers and users can do with WordPress's block system. The Genesis Block Theme is the next step in what I am assuming is a long list of product ideas the company is pursuing.

Using the Genesis Blocks plugin with the Genesis Block Theme beta.

Typical Genesis-based child themes, at least those directly sold by the StudioPress team, have always catered to those who prefer a more minimalist-get-out-of-the-user's-way approach to design. Many of them should make an easy transition to the block editor. Add a few style adjustments here, make a few tweaks there, and, you have a theme that is fully capable of handling the block editor. It is a testament to the company's design chops when it does not really matter what WordPress is doing under the hood. The theme designs hold up regardless.

Times are changing, however. The StudioPress team is looking at WordPress 5.7, which is expected to land in the spring of 2021, and getting ready to handle the launch of the WordPress site editor.

David Vogelpohl, the VP of Growth for WP Engine, left specific instructions on how to test the Genesis Block Theme beta in the announcement. One of the key items in that list is to skip modifying the theme directly or using the customizer settings. The goal is to identify pain points when approaching site design via blocks. It is good to start shifting how the Genesis user base approaches building sites in general.

He also asks testers to install the Genesis Blocks plugin. It is a library of various blocks, sections, and layouts for building block-based content. This will help both developers and users become more accustomed to the shift in building with the company's key product.

Vogelpohl teased a "Genesis X" project in May that would focus on pushing the boundaries of the block editor and, eventually, full-site editing. Deciding against launching a separate product, the team has been pushing features from this project into Genesis Blocks. Three weeks ago, StudioPress launched its new Collections feature, which was born from Genesis X.

"You can think of Collections like a theme's block-based demo content, but available on-demand as you build out content vs. only during one-click-theme-setup features within the framework today," said Vogelpohl.

The Slate Collection from the Genesis Blocks plugin.

Collections are essentially categorized page sections or entire layouts that share a similar design aesthetic. Genesis Blocks currently has one Collection titled Slate available for free. In practice, a user can already build out nearly an entire site with just this single Collection. This seems to be the direction that Genesis and its line of products are heading. Everything is pretty much plug-and-play. Select a few layouts for various pages. Click a few buttons. Customize the content. And, voilĂ  - a turnkey system for building websites.

StudioPress must wait for the site editor to land in WordPress 5.7 before it can handle everything. Site headers, footers, and sidebars still require customization outside of the block editor.

Right now, the Genesis Block Theme beta is nothing out of the ordinary. It is essentially a base theme that allows the accompanying Genesis Blocks plugin to shine. It will also allow the development team to test ideas based on user feedback in the coming weeks and months. Vogelpohl said they will eventually tackle full-site editing based on what they learn from the beta run's feedback.

23 Nov 2020 10:11pm GMT

20 Nov 2020

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BuddyPress: BuddyPress 7.0.0 Release Candidate

Hi BuddyPress community members!

The first release candidate for BuddyPress 7.0.0 is ready for a last round of testing!

This is an important milestone as we progress toward the BuddyPress 7.0.0 final release date. "Release Candidate" means that we think the new version is ready for release, but with more than 200,000 active installs, hundreds of BuddyPress plugins, thousands of WordPress themes, and many possible specific WordPress configurations it's possible we missed one or more details.

BuddyPress 7.0.0 is slated for release on December 9th, 2020. Do you want to help us get there? Here's how you can:

  1. This release candidate also marks the string freeze point of the 7.0.0 release schedule, so if you you speak a language other than English, please help us translate BuddyPress into many languages!
  2. You are a BuddyPress Plugin and/or Theme developer? You should test your code against BuddyPress 7.0.0. If you find compatibility problems, please report a ticket on our Trac environment.
  3. You are using BuddyPress and can easily set up a staging environment? Please use our Beta Tester plugin or directly install the Release Candidate on your staging site to make sure everything works as expected for you. If not: tell us what's wrong on Slack or reply to this specific support topic with a detailed explanation of your trouble.
  4. You are a WordPress news writer? We'd love you to share this post with your readers: the more testers, the better!

It's always best to anticipate than having a bad surprise after updating the plugin from your WordPress Dashboard: get involved!

What to expect from BuddyPress 7.0.0

First, note that BP 7.0.0 will require at least version 4.9 of WordPress. Then, read an overview of its top features in the post we published to announce the first beta of 7.0.0. If you would like more detail, you can read our 7.0.0 developer notes.

Thanks in advance for your contributions!

20 Nov 2020 10:15pm GMT