Getting the Most From Your Full Site Editing Builds
Welcome to Press This, the WordPress community podcast from WMR. Here host David Vogelpohl sits down with guests from around the community to talk about the biggest issues facing WordPress developers. The following is a transcription of the original recording.
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David Vogelpohl: Hello everyone and welcome to Press This the WordPress community podcasts on WMR. This is your host, David Vogelpohl, I support the WordPress community through my role at WP Engine, and I love to bring the best of the community to you hear every week on press this as a reminder, you can find me on Twitter @wpdavidv, or you can subscribe to press this on iTunes, iHeartRadio, Spotify, or download the latest episodes at wmr.fm. But now under our interview for today, we’re going to be talking about getting the most from your full site editing builds with the upcoming WordPress 6.0. And joining us for that conversation. Is WordPress, WordPress 6.0 Editor Triage Release lead. Mr. Nick Diego from WP Engine. Nick welcome to Press This.
Nick Diego: Thanks so much for having me.
DV: That title was quite a mouthful I should have like said it out loud before redrafted it up there but I think it works I like it. I know a lot of people we’ve done you know various amount of block editor episodes you know some full block editor and Gutenberg started to be introduced into the WordPress ecosystem. For those listening. What Nick is going to cover today are really his thoughts around what full site editing is bringing to WordPress like what what positive or even negative parts is agree how your development team can start to think about your FSE build strategy. So how am I going to build FSH, DNS and why and when and when and how do I get started? And then of course what to expect in WordPress 6.2 I’m really excited to talk about these things. Nick, I think I thought I would like be done with block editor interviews like six months after the block editor was was released, but I think I was wrong. What do you what do you think?
ND: I think so I think we’re going to be with it for quite some time.
DV: Nice nice. I just wonder if the community will ever like move to like call it the block editor instead of Gutenberg but at least in the in the core sense but really excited to talk to you today. It’s let me start, Nick by asking you the same question. I asked everybody now, can you tell me your WordPress origin story? When was the first time you used WordPress?
ND: Yeah, so I actually started back in around 2012. Funny enough, I started with the Genesis framework. I guess it was my introduction to WordPress. I started building plugins. A lot of my first plugins were actually Genesis plugins. And I did it as a part time hobby I worked in I was director of marketing in the hospitality industry. And it was a hobby up until about last year in June when I finally left the hospitality industry after around a decade and I took on WordPress full time and here we are today.
DV: What was it what were you doing on that first WordPress project and what were you working on part time as a hobby using plugins and separate were you doing client work or like did you get jumped straight into like products that other people would use? Like? I’m like I’m missing a piece of that story.
ND: Yeah, so mainly plugins. My first plugin was so in Genesis, there was the featured page widget. And so I built a more advanced version of that and it’s still going strong out there in the world. So I really focused on plugins I liked
DV: where you already a developer or did you learn development and jump straight into Plugins?
ND: I learned development all from WordPress all my development chops come from learning, hacking on WordPress and building plugins.
DV: I think I’ve interviewed anyone who jumped so far into the deep end so fast that did not already have a development background. You have to be the first like tuner 40 episodes.
ND: Oh, wow. Well, at the end I was one thing I found about WordPress is this the community was so accessible. There was so much documentation around Genesis, and it was just a great entry point for somebody who is like curious about it. But again, like you said didn’t know anything that had no background in development. And yeah, it was fun.
DV: Fun. So you joined WP Engine is this past within the past year. Can you tell us what you do there?
ND: Yeah, so I am on the Developer Relations Team alongside Brian Gardner and we focus on WordPress specifically, there’s another side of our team that focuses on headless in the house product by WP Engine. And we’re really you know, focused on new things in WordPress, like full site editing, why I’m here today and trying to educate the community on how to use these new tools and try to teach people what this means for them why it’s a positive thing even though there’s some road bumps along the way. But yeah, educating the community and teaching people how to use this stuff.
DV: Awesome, awesome. Well, we’re in the right place because we definitely need some community learning here today. Looking forward to hearing some of your insights particularly as the editor triage, release, Lean thinking about six out I think that gives you some really interesting insights as well. So let me ask you more of a question kind of down into the topic here. What is false identity and what are the core features of it that were released in 5.9? Just recognizing you know, some people listening might not be fully up to speed.
ND: Yeah, absolutely. So I think we can actually take it all the way back to WordPress 5.0, which was debuted I believe, at the end of 2018. When we saw the block editor Gutenberg is, some people still call it I’ll try and get everybody to be calling it the block editor or just simply the editor after this podcast here, but that’s when we were introduced to blocks. But the idea behind full site editing is that the blocks that we know and love will soon be everywhere in your website. Every piece of your website will be a block which makes it editable within the interface within the WordPress editor interface. So full site editing was formally introduced in WordPress 5.9 earlier this year in January, and it’s FSE isn’t a singular thing. It’s actually a collection of features that allow you to edit your full site. So that can include things like the dedicated site editor, which allows you to edit templates and template parts of your theme. It also includes a global styles, which allows you to change the styles, colors and typography of your entire site, but it also includes dedicated blocks for things that we didn’t have before in traditional WordPress. Things like the site logo block, the post excerpt block, the query Loop block, you know, things that like if we have theme developers listening to this, you’re probably familiar with WordPress blue, and writing that in template files. Now we have a block for that as part of this full site editing initiative. So pipeline I was official debut a full site editing, but it’s really just the beginning. There’s a lot of functionality that has yet to be built or polished up that will be coming in future releases and I’m particularly excited about WordPress six point out which will be coming in May which will have a lot of those enhancements as well.
DV: So obviously, I’m a content editor. I’m like yeah, I can edit more things without having to know the weird spots of WordPress to go edit my navigation or something right as an editor. My life is getting better but what about for WordPress? themers? Like, obviously there’s a lot of agencies out there that are making custom themes for clients or just even teams within a brand. Do you think full site editing is a good thing for gamers? And if so why?
ND: That’s a loaded question. So I think that full site editing is a massive departure from traditional WordPress theming. So we think we need to say that straight out that it is a completely different experience and that we’re going to need to kind of adjust to how we approach clients when talking about a site that supports full site living. Now there’s a lot because full site editing is still being iterated on and there’s still a lot of work to be done. There are some features that folks in our agency folks might be looking for, such as being able to lock down certain components of the UI that aren’t quite there yet. One really exciting feature coming in 6.0 is the ability to walk blocks directly in the interface, which is cool because you could create a layout for your client locked down the block so they could still edit the content, but they couldn’t move them. You know, they couldn’t mess up their layout, but they could still edit the content. And you’d be able to provide a you know, a well designed experience for your client, but also limiting their ability to just mess up the design that you created for them. So I know there’s a lot of features, you know, the ability to lock down certain settings whether it’s you know, you don’t want people to be adding custom colors. or changing typography of your carefully branded theme that you provide to your users.
DV: So it sounds like what you’re saying is that, you know, this makes sense that FSC might not yet have capabilities that theme providers are used to creating and so now may or may not be the right time for a particular theme creator should I say? But, you know, just kind of curious more from like the high level kind of imagining it as if we had, you know, those capabilities today and we weren’t waiting on 6.0 or whatever. I just think the whole kind of notion around FSE means versus like the traditional way of creating a WordPress theme. I feel like the paradigm shift is so great. I’m just curious if if you feel like where it’s going is a good thing for the most even if we’re not here today, and I’m really curious about that, but we’re gonna take our first break, we’ll be right back. Time to plug into a commercial break. Stay tuned for more press this in just a moment. Everyone welcome back to Press This the WordPress community podcast WMR we’re in the middle of our interview around getting the most from your full site editing builds with Nick Diego from WP Engine Nick right before the break you were kind of explaining how, you know FSE and 5.9 may not have all of the capabilities that a traditional WordPress theme creator might be used to using in their themes like locking down different elements within the content and so on and so forth. But like imagining that we were kind of had this feature parity, if you will with the past. I’m just curious if you think that the shift that paradigm for even just fundamentally how themes are created and the efficacy context, is a step in a positive step in the right direction or is this kind of getting away from what a word customer would actually want to do?
ND: So it’s a great question I think the WordPress theme or have two years ago, three years ago, four years ago, is going to be very different from a WordPress theme or say next year once we can imagine forecast in the future that will say editing is more stable a year from now. I think that if you look back at themes of the past, you know, you picked a theme you liked the aesthetic. You went in as a user you went in you edited your content, but a lot of the design was very rigid and structured around whatever the theme designer created. And I think that that’s nice from a theme designer because you’re providing a curated experience for the end user. But we can see that in the community in the internet community. There is a strong desire for users to want to be able to edit more you see it with our page builders, is even things like Squarespace and Wix. And so I think that WordPress Core needed to come up with a solution that gave users more control over how their website looks and feels. I think that kind of goes back to the whole democratizing publishing ethos behind WordPress. And so when I think that this change is gonna really require Demers specifically to kind of change the way and change their approach to theming for WordPress, I think at the end of the day, it’s going to be a great thing for users. With the end of the day we’re building sites for users. It’s just we need to work through the nuances of how to if you need to control certain things, you’re able to do that. If you need to lock down certain things, you’re able to do that. And then there’s a lot of polish that’s needed. You know, things like the navigation block still needs a decent amount of work. There’s just elements of the interface that obviously this thing still being developed. But I’m hopeful that in a year from now we’ll have a really solid experience with from which to build upon.
DV: So it sounds like hearing you talk and you don’t need necessarily as like, oh my goodness, we’re losing X capability or Wi Fi capability with MSC. But more it’s really to hear you talk it’s its central purpose is to make it easier for the content creator to create meaningful content. It’s just that some theme creators may not be ready for that or may not want to maybe take on the additional work to get those editors styles in place or whatever else they have to do on the backend to accommodate that. Is that fair to say you’re thinking?
ND: Yes, but I also want to give some credit to the themes as well. I think that there’s a lot more education and around full site editing that needs to be created. One of my other roles is I’m a contributor on the training team, where we teach people how to build stuff, how to use a full site editing. I think there’s a lot of like, more education that needs to be done on how to build themes with full site editing and how to use these tools to their fullest potential. And I do want to put one caveat is that you don’t have to use full site editing full site editing is enabled by block based themes. You know, in the future, we can imagine that most themes will be block based, but you don’t if you’re not ready to adopt this new technology you absolutely do not have to. So I just want to stress that like there’s this fear that you’re being forced to start building SSE themes. You’re welcome to and I encourage everybody to explore and try it out and build their first block based theme. But it’s not something that needs to be done immediately. But again, the more people that try it and provide feedback, there’s a serious issue like not being able to do X, Y or Z, communicating that to the team. I’ll put myself out there, let me know. And we’ll pass that on to the team because we want to make sure that this new technology is usable as much for the users as it is for people make a living off building WordPress products. Whether that’s themes or plugins or whatever it might be.
DV: So if a team is like and I get the I mean, I’m sure it was six oh, and like the after the Six Day release period in May that that’s maybe when more teams will start thinking more seriously about adopting it things like salmon agency like the client bill. But let’s say that they’re thinking like okay, I think I’m ready now like, you know, summers coming up at some maybe some time to learn, what do you what is your recommendation? What’s the best way for dev teams to get started with their FSE journey?
DV: I was gonna say have you heard Rob stencils come in. I had him on this podcast and he said this another context where he’s like, the easy stuff is getting easier and the hard stuff is getting harder. And I think like theme that JSON such a great example of that because it feels to me that the creation is more approachable and FSE than it was in the past.
ND: 100% And I think that that that that quote from Rob is spot on. I think that you know, to build a theme now. It needs very little PHP, basically some HTML. And one of the things that we’re exporting and exploring and developer relations, you can basically build your entire theme within the site editor. It is designing within the site editor and then export those files and blah, blah. Yeah, the theme does a lot of exciting things around theme development. And I do want to stress the fact that because the barrier to entry to theme development is going to get lower and lower and lower. It’s exciting because it may bring in some users who don’t have a strong coding background, but maybe our designers you know, maybe they were limited by not having the coding expertise to design the theme. Now they should be able to do that in a much easier fashion.
DV: So what about all those people that are dumping like tons of functionality in their themes from the past like the FSC kind of paradigm changes that think people are going to miss that?
ND: I think that that is where plugins come in.
DV: They were supposed to come in before they’re like, Well, this is just people just kind of pursuing the meaning the wrong way, I guess and FSE kind of fixes that in a way.
ND: I think it makes it a bit more of a clean experience. We’re all that extra functionality lives in plugins, but I will say that we haven’t seen big ecosystem around the block editor and FSC for extensions. You know, if you look think about like the widget screen in classic WordPress how many plugins and extensions were built for widgets? You know, I think that there will be eventually I’m hoping the same type of ecosystem built around FSE. So a lot of this function at core will only ever include so much functionality, there’s going to be functionality that core won’t include and that’s where the ecosystem of plugins and extensions can can provide for that.
DV: And I think this is a business opportunity. Like we saw this with custom post types and custom meta fields like WooCommerce came out right after that a bunch of other plugins taking advantage of the new capabilities. I feel like there’s another gold rush in WordPress products that is yet to be realized with block editor and FSE.
ND: I think 100% 100% stand behind that comment. And I encourage everyone to learn how to build the block. There’s a million blocks that can be built need to be built. And there’s a lot of opportunity there.
DV: What about 6.0 What are the major like, kind of Banner features that are going to come in six 7k What are you most looking forward to there?
ND: So this is not going to be very flashy, but my biggest excitement around six point now is that it standardizes a lot of functionality across blocks. So simple things that you may have. Like why doesn’t this block has this feature, but the similar block doesn’t have this feature. Things like margin and padding. There’s a bit more of a standardization across blocks a lot more polish. I like to look at 5.9 is like the initial launch of FSE and then 6.0 Was that kind of follow up with some additional polish that kind of makes everything a little bit nicer to use a little bit more standardized. The other banner thing going back to the locking mechanism that’s a big component of what’s going to be included in 6.0, which I think will be great for agencies and whatnot to use and then finally, this is a little thing that I just find so magical. If you’re familiar with the cover block, it allows you to add like a background image and some text on top of it. But one of the things that it could never do is pull in the featured image of your post and which is to create like banners like at the top of the page or something you want to show that featured image and it’s a little thing but now the cover block will support the featured image which I think is awesome. So it’s a little little things like that that just make the experience a full site editing that much more delightful
DV: which will because it feels obviously a lot less like feature impactful than five obviously with the big paradigm shift in general with the block editor. That’s really interesting to hear this kind of Boehner features for you want to dig a little bit deeper here, but we’re gonna take our last break and we’ll be right back. Time to plug into a commercial break. Stay tuned for more press this in just a moment. Welcome back to press this WordPress community podcast on WMR. This is your host David Vogelpohl. I’m interviewing Nick Diego on the dev rel team at WP Engine about getting the most from your full site editing builds. Right before the break. Nick, you were telling us a little bit about the standout features for six oh that were high on your list. And you talked about features today and the standardization which I thought was cool locking down blocks which is like a number one request from day one I’m getting buried and then pulling in the featured image but again, pretty wide release compared
ND: Yeah, and I think that that’s there’s a lot going on under the hood that were improved. I think it was something like 400 bug fixes and six point out there’s a lot of work that was done to standardize the interface and make it just more delightful to work with. Another thing you know again, these are these little tiny things but when you put them all together make a much better experience. Simple things like adding being able to add margin to group blocks and adding spacing control to columns. You know, these are little things that like when you put them if you list them out, they seem very minor. But once you combine them all it’s 6.0 is gonna make the block editing experience, especially the site editor, way more enjoyable than 5.9 And I think that it’s the time when I really encourage folks to start exploring, building your first full site editing theme if you haven’t already. A lot of those little nitty nitpicky things that may have been missing in 5.9 will now be included in 6.0. And now’s the time to really start exploring this new technology around theme development.
DV: See, I feel like if you were to Well looks like back to October can’t remember the year 18 now and Varrick was released and somebody said okay, we’re like a month and a half of its release. Should I start playing with it? I would probably tell that that just wait for five oh, to be released. This will be probably way different from today to that. But I feel like five minutes so I wonder if like the paradigm is that great and people should wait for me or if they should just go ahead and jump right in. What are your thoughts on that?
ND: No, I definitely think that people can jump right in I think I just have a speaking from a personal perspective. I have a bit of a problem when features are presented as you know. It’s amazing. Go try it. It’s everything you could ever want, right? There’s a lot of things that still need work in full site editing. And I just want to be cognizant of that when someone goes in and tries 5.9 and runs into things that they might find not polished are not 100% The if you’re going to explore it now because May is a bit far away. Use the Gutenberg plugin because the Gutenberg plugin is where all that future development for FSCS tech taking place. I will be candid and say that I have trouble running WordPress without the Gutenberg plugin. There’s just so many new features that are included in that plugin that I just can’t live without now that I’ve grown accustomed to them. So yes, don’t you don’t need to wait until 6.0 to start exploring. This stuff. But I do encourage you to use that Gutenberg plugin because it will have all the features that will be coming with six point out. But usually you don’t want to run the Gutenberg plugin on a client site. It’s more of a development plugin. So maybe start exploring now start building now but I would feel comfortable building simple client sites the summer on FSC provided you’re not doing something incredibly complicated. That would need a ton of custom work.
DV: so you’ve got the 2022 theme. The Gutenberg plugin is part of yours kind of stack for learning here with FSC anything else you want to call out here? While we wrap it up?
ND: Yeah, I want to do a shameful plug. So we were WP Engine developer relations. We are also building an experimental team called frost building now alongside Brian Gardner, and it’s experimental. It’s available on GitHub. But that’s also a fantastic resource if you want to see what we’re working on how we’re building with FSC. We’re learning along the way just like everyone else. And we’re basically doing a release every week based on how much how new changes in WordPress. So that’s a great spot and you can always ping Brian or I on Twitter with questions or whatever it might be. But again, the 2022 theme, I encourage you to check out frost as well. And then learn that wordpress.org is a fantastic resource for all the learning resources. And I’m also personally doing weekly social learning sessions. You know live hangouts where we can spend an hour talking about a specific talk topic related to full site editing.
DV: Awesome. Well really appreciate you coming on and talking us through all day. Nick, this was great.
ND: Thank you so much. It was fun. Sweet.
DV: Well if you’d like to learn more about what Nick is up to, you can visit WPengine.com or frostwp.com are next promising I think date or I’m sorry weekly updates based on how WordPress is evolving but check out what they’re working on over across wp.com Thanks everyone for listening to press this the WordPress community podcast I’m WMR again. This is your host David Vogelpohl. I support the WordPress community through my role at WP Engine. And I love to bring the best of the community to you here every week on Press This.