What are the technical issues to be met to launch a major update like version 6.0 scheduled for May 24?
Like the previous major version 5.9 and the future version 6.1, WordPress 6.0 will mainly contain improvements concerning the Gutenberg project. One of the major technical challenges therefore consists in merging the developments carried out on this project into the core of the CMS. Indeed, the Gutenberg project is developed in the form of an extension which, with a new version every 15 days on average, evolves much faster than the CMS itself.
Apart from Gutenberg, there are the “regular” tickets which concern the natural evolution of the core of the CMS. For WP 6.0, there are over 95 new features and improvements so far, as well as over 130 bug fixes.
These technical changes must also be documented, which takes a lot of work, even though the creation of technical documentation for WordPress today is largely generated automatically from the CMS code. Not to mention all the documentation for users, in all the languages supported by WordPress.
What will be the new and strong points of WordPress 6.0 for administrators and site owners?
WordPress 6.0 will greatly improve the writing experience in the Block Editor. We can cite in particular the fact that it will be possible to copy/paste textual content straddling several blocks, the addition of new filtering options in the “Query loop” block, which makes it possible to cross-sell content within a page. We can also better manage the internal and external margins of the blocks, the borders, the vertical and horizontal alignments, for more elaborate layouts, with more ease.
This version will be the occasion to launch the new functionality of locking the content of one or more blocks, which is particularly useful for reusable blocks. This also allows you to lock the layout of the blocks of a page, to prevent them from being moved, deleted or modified. These enhancements can be very useful for creating partially editable layouts or page templates.
It should also be noted that the “list view” mode, with which you can very quickly and easily view the block architecture of a publication, has been completely redesigned, for better ergonomics. This is very advantageous for editors insofar as the architecture of the page is visualized at a glance, which makes it possible to ensure the correct use of the hierarchy of titles (essential for SEO and accessibility), but also directly to drag and drop their blocks from one place to another.
Many improvements have also been made to the Full Site Editing project and to “block themes”, these fully customizable WordPress themes in the editor.
Finally, we can also note another issue that was significant for WordPress 6.0: performance. They have been greatly improved thanks to the mobilization of part of the CMS ecosystem, which powers 43% of the web. These include contributors from major companies in the WordPress community, such as Google, Yoast, the XWP agency, but also other players such as the multilingual management extension editor Polylang, or even my agency Whodunit.
When you know what the digital carbon footprint represents, every tenth of a second saved is worth taking! In addition, this performance improvement will provide a better experience for site administrators and visitors alike.
WordPress 6.0 is to consolidate Phase 2 of Project Gutenberg. Can you explain to us what it consists of and what will be the role of this update?
Phase 1 of Project Gutenberg aimed to build the Block Editor, a new content editing experience that aimed to establish itself as the best possible experience for editing content on the web.
With Phase 2, the goal is to use this block editor to administer your entire site, not just inside the content area of each page or post. Basically, the idea is to be able to make each area of your site manageable, from the header to the footer, including the navigation, without forgetting the possibility of creating specific page templates like your search results page. , 404 page, item listing page, etc. This is what we call Full Site Editing .Also to be read
Will Gutenberg Phase 2 be considered complete once version 6.0 rolls out? What is the planned roadmap next?
In the web, I don’t know if we can really say that a development is officially “finished” one day. Version 6.1 of WordPress will still be devoted to this famous phase 2, but there will inevitably still be many iterations on phases 1 and 2 of the Gutenberg project, for several years. In the end, these first two phases of the project will never be considered finished. On the other hand, at the beginning of 2023, we plan to engage in phases 3 and 4.
Phase 3 will be dedicated to collaborative editing. This may seem a bit gimmicky, because it’s not necessarily a daily need for editors, but you have to look wider. As a reminder, the Gutenberg project aims to offer a standard for the content editing experience on the web. Collaborative editing corresponds to what the Gutenberg editor lacks in order to be used on web editing applications, such as Google Docs and others. With this phase 3, the publisher will undoubtedly leave WordPress to try to prove itself everywhere on the web.
Phase 4 will be devoted to the native integration of multilingual management, a project repeatedly rejected by the WordPress Core team.
The current update, WordPress 5.9, officially launched Full Site Editing (FSE) last January. Where are we in its adoption and what will be the next steps?
On adoption, honestly, we’re still in the infancy. The adoption of Gutenberg, and therefore phase 1, lasted three years:
- 2019: entry of the publisher into the ecosystem, iterations on the technical base of the publisher, first experiments with extensions allowing to extend its functionalities, first experiments with agencies.
- 2020: consolidation, stabilization and sustainability of the publisher’s technical base, this is where it really became technically mature.
- 2021: complete adoption of the editor at all levels of use: extensions, themes, agencies, freelancers, without forgetting of course the end users.
With the ESF, we can consider that we are starting a new cycle of experimentation-stabilization-adoption. It remains to be seen whether it will also last 3 years. I think that, based on the experience of phase 1, the community will undoubtedly accelerate its adaptation process, and this new adoption cycle will probably last less time. We must not forget that the arrival of the publisher was a real revolution in 2018-2019, and that it had shaken up a lot of habits that had been ingrained for years!
What are WordPress’ big goals for 2022?
Phase 2 of Gutenberg, namely Full Site Editing , is THE big goal for 2022. But there are also plenty of goals, which are more or less related. We launched the block compositions library , which is very much related to the evolution of Gutenberg. There’s the Openverse project , which just went live in beta and aims to deliver a giant library of royalty-free media (a sort of open-source equivalent of Unsplash or the like).
We also have plenty of other projects that are a little more confidential. For example, on the WordPress security team side, we are considering stopping support for some very old versions of the CMS, prior to WordPress 4.0 – be aware that today when we ship a security update , this covers all versions of WordPress, up to version 3.7, which makes more than 20 versions of WP to be released each time! We will probably talk about it later in the year, because there will inevitably be many debates around this decision 🙂.
And then, we must not forget the resumption of physical events after 2 years of videoconferences… The community is currently working on the organization of WordCamp Europe, which will bring together more than 3,000 people from all over the world, in Porto next June.
In 2023, WordPress will celebrate its 20th anniversary. What can we expect ? And what are the CMS’s longer-term ambitions?
For the 20th anniversary celebrations of WordPress, I can’t say anything 🤐… But what is certain is that we are preparing a great moment to celebrate the success of this very beautiful free and open source software project. More than a software, WordPress is above all a community!
WordPress would be nothing without this community of people developing themes and extensions, translating the CMS into all the languages of the world, producing documentation and training for people who are new to using WordPress…
For ambitions, I think it’s safe to say that WordPress can probably aim to power over 50% of the web in the next few years or more… We’ll see!