March 2021 Newsletter

Background

As has become usual, there have been a number of minor releases in the wake of version 5.6 which was released back in December, 2020. They typically comprise bug and security fixes. There were two releases on this occasion: 5.6.1 (February 3rd, 2021) and 5.6.2 (February 22nd, 2021).

Version 5.7 of WordPress was released on March 9th, 2021. See the Release Notice for full details. The WordPress 5.7 Field Guide provides more technical information if you are interested.

WordPress 5.7

This release concentrates principally on polishing the block editor. There is still no sign of the promised navigation block (menus) or of block-based widgets. It seems to me that they will form part and parcel of Full Site Editing when that appears.

Other changes include: improvements to import / export; the ability to send a reset password link to a contributor to your site; two security-related additions; plus a range of updates which are aimed at developers of WordPress.

Full Site Editing (FSE)

FSE is the principal focus of phase two of the WordPress Gutenberg project.

Put very succinctly, the idea behind FSE is to provide the ability to visually customise the theme, as well as the content, rather than use the Customiser. This includes the likes of headers, menus, footers and sidebars.

However, FSE will only work with block-based themes. What are they, you might ask? Block-based themes are composed of block templates. This is all part of the move to the situation where everything in WordPress will be stored in blocks. Block-based themes are very new, and there are currently very few of them around at this time. An article in WPTavern on February 24th, 2021 indicated that there were only four in the WordPress.org theme directory at that time, and they are all described as experimental.

When will FSE appear? In WordPress 5.8, they say. As an old IT cynic, I think that towards the end of 2021 is a more likely date for the initial version.

What will FSE mean to you? Unless block-based versions of existing themes are produced, which I doubt, it should not affect you at all, assuming that you stay with your existing theme. But we shall have to wait and see.

FSE may be a brave new world, but it seems to me that it will take quite some time for it to become widely used within the WordPress ecosystem.