Welcome to the third installment of the monthly roundup for WordPress extenders. This series tries hard to cut through all the clutter and bring you only the most important enhancements, fixes, and other updates you need to build on top of WordPress.
WordPress 6.2 launched on March 29, 2023, featuring a smoother site editing experience and lots of new ways to make your content visually fresh but still on-brand.
Much of this post covers features that are only available in Gutenberg 15.5 or WordPress trunk. So, make sure you are testing with the most up-to-date releases available.
Table of contents
Starter template patterns
Gutenberg 14.9 introduced the initial template types support for the Patterns API—the foundation of what will over time become a multi-release project. Gutenberg 15.2 introduced a baseline UI for the template-creation process; since then, you’ve been able to start from a fallback template or a blank slate.
Now, with the release of Gutenberg 15.5, those two concepts work together. When you register a pattern for a specific template type, it will show up in the start modal anytime you add a new template from the Site Editor.
Grid layout type
Gutenberg 15.5 also added a new grid layout feature that you can opt into for custom blocks. Still in the early stages of development, it includes only one option, for defining the minimum column width, but over the next several Gutenberg releases, you can expect more to come.
That means now is the time for you to begin testing it and sending in your early feedback (and your suggestions!). The core Group block currently has experimental support, which you activate via the Gutenberg > Experiments page in the WordPress admin.
Time to Read block
Gutenberg 15.3 introduced the Time to Read block. Its whole purpose is to show an estimate of how long in minutes it should take your readers to finish a post, but it does not support an hourly format for long-form posts. Recent updates have added spacing and typography design tools to the block.
Gutenberg phase 3: Collaboration
The Gutenberg project has four phases:
- Easier Editing: Building post content with blocks
- Customization: Full site editing, patterns, block theming
- Collaboration: Updated methods for collaboratively authoring content
- Multilingual: Implementation of multilingual sites
The last several major releases have focused on Phase 2: Customization, and WordPress 6.3 will mark the end of that phase. That does not mean the end of new customization features in future releases. But, it does mean focus will shift to the next phase.
In March, Matías Ventura announced early concepts around Phase 3: Collaboration. The ideas in Phase 3 will center on collaborative editing, publishing flows, revisions, admin design, and more.
Plugins and tools
Interactivity API proposal
This API is not officially a part of WordPress or Gutenberg at this point, but you should start getting acquainted with the concepts laid out in the proposal.
Text columns typography support
Gutenberg now has text columns support in typography. You can start supporting columns in custom blocks that feature Rich Text. (Handy for breaking up long lines of text in posts!)
At the moment, no core blocks support it, so this is primarily a plugin feature. But, there are tickets that are intended to bring it to the Paragraph and Post Excerpt blocks, freeing you to build a wider variety of theme designs in the future.
Custom units for FontSizePicker component
Since Gutenberg 15.4, you can pass an array of units to custom implementations of the
FontSizePicker component. The eventual goal for this enhancement is to let you control the available units in theme projects, but the core Typography panel doesn’t yet support the feature.
Prop to remove bottom margin for FormTokenField component
There is an ongoing project to remove the default bottom margin on components. That overhaul lets you use them more flexibly, in more contexts, more easily. The
FormTokenField is the latest component to receive the opt-in
New data parameter when deprecating blocks
A third parameter named
data is now available via the
isEligible() check for block deprecations. This update gives you more data to determine whether an instance of a block is the deprecated version.
Originally slated for WordPress 6.2, the
wp_ajax_save_attachment hook was removed from core. Its ticket has been reopened for more discussion on whether the hook is necessary.
The documentation for working with the panels in the Document sidebar has been updated to show you how to access, toggle, and remove panels programmatically.
Cover block updates
The Cover block now supports the core layout feature. At the moment, that support is limited to the flow layout. But, this change lays the groundwork for other layout types, like flex and grid, to join flow soon.
While layout support should not interfere with default uses of the Cover block, you will want to test this change against the way your themes use the Cover block.
The block also has text color support. So, now you can define a single text color on the Cover block itself, which will trickle down to nested blocks.
theme.json support for :link and :any-link
Now, you can define styles for the
:any-link pseudo-selectors in
theme.json. This update lets you customize links in any state.
Extra layout wrapper classes
A recent change added compound classes to layout wrappers. For example, a Group block with a flex layout now has the
.wp-block-group-is-layout-flex class as well as
.is-layout-flex. This extra class handles layout support for containers with nested structures, like the Cover block.
The extra class should not impact your existing theme designs, but it does bring new classes you can target with block-specific customizations.
Post Modified Date block variation
Gutenberg 15.5 introduced a Post Modified Date variation for the Post Date block. As its name implies, now you can show when a post was last modified instead of or alongside the date it was published—great for technical information that updates over time.
A recent bug fix makes sure the Post Featured Image block has the correct aspect ratio when the image is wrapped in a link.
Noteworthy user-centric changes
The following items may not directly affect what you build as a developer. But, they do change how users might interact with their active theme—and potentially how you support your own users, customers, or clients.
- The 16:10 aspect ratio was removed for the Post Featured Image block.
- The Media & Text block now defaults to the
- Users can now customize the
<caption>element through the Styles interface, so they can overrule the theme’s default caption design.
Events and resources
Two new resources have landed in the Learn WordPress site in the past month:
- Course: Converting a Shortcode to a Block
- Tutorial: How to use the WordPress Style Book with your block theme
Developer Blog articles
The WordPress Developer Blog is now officially out of beta, and three new articles were published over the past month:
- Quick and easy local WordPress development with wp-env
- Everything you need to know about spacing in block themes
- Block theme templates: the easy way to build an elegant grid of posts