Finally, WordPress 5.9 is Here

The much waited WordPress 5.9 named as “Josephine” with Full Site Editing (FSE) features is landed yesterday after some technical delay. Because I have been playing with it since its beta-1 release, I was familiar with its interface for a while.

I updated this site to WordPress 5.9 immediately this morning and nothing broke. Because this sites is powered a classic theme, I still have same access to “appearance” items (Themes, Customize, Widgets, Menu, Header & Background). I have Gutenberg plugin activated which allows me to write my post content with block editor.

Highlights of FSE Features in 5.9

The FSE is one of the controversial features added into the core, as most WordPress agencies, developers don’t like to have most admin features to their customers, at the same time DIY users like to have more control.

For many years, non-technical WordPress users were told to stay away from the Theme Editor menu and were warned that changes made there could make their sites inoperable. A new era in WordPress theme editing has dawned with the debut of the new template editor. It allows users to manipulate templates (home, single post, etc) and template parts (headers, footers, etc) with a visual interface.

WP Tavern

The important highlights of WordPress 5.9 release, as described in release news are summarized below:

  • Full Site Editing Features (FSE): While using block themes, the FSE features are right in the WordPress Admin allowing users to customize their sites with different colors, typography, and layouts, as well provide option to customize blocks appearances.
  • Twenty Twenty-Two Default Block Theme: This is the first default block theme in the WordPress history and showcases the full potential of FSE features “so the layout of every page can be completely customized, making it a truly multipurpose theme”.
  • Navigation Block: “Blocks come to site navigation, the heart of user experience. The new Navigation block gives you the power to choose: an always-on responsive menu or one that adapts to your user’s screen size. And your choices are remembered! In 5.9, the block saves menus as custom post types, which get saved to the database.”
  • Power of Patterns: The WordPress pattern library allows users to browse patterns and add new patterns to their site to add functionality and appearance by allowing options to edit them to suit a site.
  • Improved Gallery Block: Now each images in a gallery block can be styled differently, and allows change in the layout with drag-and-drop options.
  • Theme.json for Child Theme: In 5.9, theme.json supports child themes. That means your users can build a child theme right in the WordPress Admin, without writing a single line of code.

More detail on these new feature is described in this WordPress 5.9 field guide document.

WordPress 6.0 Roadmap

Planning for the next WordPress 6.0 has already began. Gutenberg developer lead Matias Ventura has a preliminary roadmap for WordPress 6.0, dubbed as phase 2 of the multi-year Gutenberg project development.

The overall aim is to consolidate and expand the set of customization tools introduced in 5.9 for creating themes with blocks, with a special focus towards usability and refinement. This new release could be considered a conceptual wrap for Gutenberg: Phase 2. This doesn’t mean the customization phase would be concluded with it, but that its main features would have been established.

Matias Ventura in Preliminary Roadmap for 6.0

More details outlines of works in site editor, Patterns, Blocks, and design tools that are expected to ship with 6.0 release around late May 2022 can be found here.

Now that it has finally landed on WordPress core, we have to wait and see how larger WordPress users and agency developers would respond to it!