Gutenberg 11.0 Includes Over 70 Bug Fixes, Continues To Improve With WordPress 5.8 In Just Two Weeks – WP Tavern

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Gutenberg 11.0 landed yesterday with a stack of changes. The development team has evolved rapidly, and it shows.

For a two-week cycle, version 11.0 includes an insane number of bugfixes. Contributors have crushed over 70 in this version alone. This appears to be in the works for WordPress 5.8, which is expected to land on July 20. The next Block-based Widgets screen had the lion’s share of bugs. However, there were almost two dozen in the block library, many of these issues with new blocks related to the theme.

The downside of such a massive release is that there are too many features and not enough time to cover them all. I’ll pick some of my favorites, but feel free to dive into the release notes for a full picture.

Theme and template editing mode changes

One of the main full site editing features making its way to WordPress 5.8 will be disabled by default for most users. In a rare move from the main project, the template editor will be activated, at least for users with classic themes. It is opt-out for block themes.

As I wrote last month, until users got into actual block themes, the template editor is “a sort of OK but pretty amazing landing page builder.”

Model editing is really as good as the weakest link in the system. This will almost always be the theme for the next few months. Since the Template Editor is a new feature that directly attempts to override the front-end output, it will always clash with many themes that were never designed with this in mind. The opt-in approach is probably not the best route to mass adoption, but it is in the best interests of the user experience.

Enabling it also allows theme authors to make template editing a smooth experience. Gutenberg 11.0 introduces a new defaultBlockTemplate editor setting. Theme authors can create the default blocks that users start with when creating a new template.

From a custom default block template.

Ideally, this default template should include some basic layout components, such as a header, footer, and post / page content. However, themers are free to add their own touch.

For more information on creating default block templates, theme authors should read Carolina Nymark, Theme Team Representative, Presentation of WordPress 5.8 Theme Features.

Media & Text Block: Drag & Drop Media Replacement

Media & Text block in the WordPress editor.  Screenshot of the user dragging a replacement media item into the media column.
Drag a new media file into the Media & Text block.

Users have long been able to drag and drop an initial image or video into the Media & Text block. However, they couldn’t replace it using the same method. Gutenberg 11.0 creates a new “drop zone” on the media column, which makes it easier to switch media to something new.

The functionality already exists with the Cover and Image blocks, so this change updates Media & Text. We probably should have had this feature months ago, but the fix has been left in limbo pending a code review.

Accessibility: the category drop-down list has a label

Screenshot of the Archives and Categories blocks.  The first shows a label to everyone.  The latter only shows the label to screen readers.
Label difference between the Archives and Categories blocks.

The development team added a new “Categories” tag when the Categories block is displayed as a drop-down list. This is a welcome improvement to help those who use screen readers navigate the page better.

The problem with this change is the lack of consistency. In Gutenberg 10.8, the team removed the .screen-reader-text class for the label of the Archives block, making it appear on the screen for all users. These types of inconsistencies that seem insignificant at first glance tend to pile up, creating code overload for long-term theme designers as they try to resolve them.

I would prefer both labels to be marked as screen reader text. Regardless of the default, the two must match. Then add an option for the end user to decide if they want to display the label the same way the search form handles it.

The return of postal courses

Open Devtools browser feature, showing post classes for WordPress Post Template block.
Post classes appear for the Post Template block.

For theme designers who need it, Gutenberg 11.0 is bringing back postage courses. If you’re wondering where the publishing classes have gone, you might not be alone. In the world of blocks, they are not as necessary as they used to be. Traditionally, WordPress theme authors have used these classes to dynamically change the output of a post based on contexts like type, format, category, etc.

When the Post Template block (formerly named Query Loop) was introduced, there was a noticeable lack of the traditional classes attached to the wrapper for individual posts. This latest update brings them back.

In the future, block themes will likely rely less and less on these classes. With much of the design configuration shifting to theme.json files and user-controlled options, it’s probably time to say goodbye to one of the main features of theme design over the past decade. However, it’s a comfort to know he’s there when needed.

Decimals allowed in spacing controls

For those who are particularly concerned about getting their headroom and padding fair on the right, they can finally rejoice. Spacing controls now allow decimal values, not just whole numbers.

In previous versions of the plugin, a value such as 1.5 would be rounded to 2. When used with rem and em units, such rounding created a 50% difference between the expected and actual spacing.

I am happy with this one. This is a fix for one of the tickets I opened (hurray to contribute!). However, I cannot take the credit for fixing the problem. This honor goes to thematic team representative Ari Stathopoulos.


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