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In addition to this episode’s small list of big things, Josepha Haden Chomphosy reviews the upcoming 5.9 WordPress release and its Full Site Editing features.

Have a question you’d like answered? You can submit them to wp********@wo*******.org, either written or as a voice recording.


Editor: Dustin HartzlerLogo: Beatriz FialhoProduction: Chloé BringmannSong: Fearless First by Kevin MacLeod


WordPress 5.9 Planning 

5.9 Target Features

Gallery Block Refactor Dev Notes

The Cathedral and the Bazaar, 19 Lessons of Open Source

WordPress Translation Day

WordCamp US 2021

Letters to an open source contributor, by Andrea Middleton


Josepha Haden Chomphosy  00:10

Hello, everyone, and welcome to the WordPress Briefing. The podcast where you can catch quick explanations of the ideas behind the WordPress open source project, some insight into the community that supports it, and get a small list of big things coming up in the next two weeks. I’m your host, Joseph Haden Chomphosy. Here we go.

Josepha Haden Chomphosy  00:40

Today I’m going to take you through a quick look at the final WordPress release of 2021. It will be WordPress 5.9. And there will be a ton of things in it, including a fresh new default theme. And there are a few things that you need to know about it right now. The target release date is December 14, 2021, which means some of our milestones happen around Thanksgiving in the US. And a few significant commercial dates globally, days, like Giving Tuesday and Black Friday, etc. I’ll include a link to the post with all the target dates in the show notes so that you can plan with those in mind. And also in the show notes. I’ll include a link to Matías Ventura’s post that includes the target features for the release. When you look at that post, you’ll notice that you can sort of group things into two big buckets. The two buckets that I grouped them into are themes plus tools, and also better tools. 

Josepha Haden Chomphosy  01:31

So bucket number one themes and all their tools. Three things were important for me as I was reading through them. Number one is that there is a default theme. As of the time of this recording, I’ve seen the early concepts for the theme, and I love them. Hopefully, by the time this podcast is published, the post that showcases the look and feel will also be up on If it is, I’ll include a link in the show notes to make it easy for everyone to reference. 

Josepha Haden Chomphosy  02:04

The second thing is block themes in general. So WordPress 5.8 brought to core WordPress a lot of the infrastructure needed to create block themes. And in this release in WordPress 5.9, much of that infrastructure will be made available for folks who don’t always feel comfortable working in the code. That’s mostly UX and UI changes. So user experience and user interface changes are based on user feedback that we’ve gathered over the last six to eight months. But it also will include the long-awaited navigation block. 

Josepha Haden Chomphosy  02:37

The third thing that shows up for me in this first bucket, in the themes and all their tools bucket, is the UX and interface for theme.json. The user interface that we’re making available for theme.json is a major step forward in this project has been referred to as global styles for a few years. And it kind of is what it sounds like on the box, a way for users to tap into that powerful management tool that we have built through theme.JSON. 

Josepha Haden Chomphosy  03:09

Bucket number two, which I am calling publicly “tools for days.” But also, I refer to it as design tools, block tools, and pattern tools. I had this whole vision of a Wizard of Oz, “lions and tigers and bears. Oh my!” moment, but I couldn’t make it work. So “design tools and block tools and pattern tools Hoorah!” That’s as close as we’re getting. So that’s my first big number two bucket for you. 

Josepha Haden Chomphosy  03:37

For most of these tools, the best way to describe it is quality of life improvements, lots of streamlining of what’s there, lots of building what’s not. But there’s one that’s substantial and worth digging into a bit more. And that’s the gallery block refactor. The dev note for this already exists. Like before we had the planning round-up post, the dev note was created. And so I will put a link to that in the show notes. But the headline is that this refactor will make the creation and maintenance of image blocks and the gallery block work the same way. If you are a theme or plugin developer, head on over to the dev notes that I have linked below and take some time to get familiar with it. 

Josepha Haden Chomphosy  04:20

And then the final thing, which has a bunch of small things in it, but will make a huge impact for all of our users overall, is that we’re working on more intuitive and responsive tools on blocks. That has come up frequently in our user testing again over the last six to eight months. And we are going to chip away at that long list of needs that we have in those particular toolsets. And that’s it. So that’s a really big broad look at what we’re trying to get into the final release of the year.

Josepha Haden Chomphosy  04:58

I  know that when I say like this is our hoped for stuff. This is our best guess at the moment. Sometimes it can feel like we should know that already — I should know already what’s going into the release. And on the one hand, yes, I believe in this list of things that we’re going to put into the release, I think they’re going to be good. But I always refer to it as like the hoped-for things, the things that are on the roadmap, our best targets, because I know that I don’t ever want to ship something that is going to be a worse experience for users. And so I always like to save the space to be able to remove a feature or remove an enhancement, a little bit closer to the time of the release, just to make sure that what we are offering is the best that we can offer. However, as it says right there in the 19 learnings of open source, “if there’s a bug, there’s a job,” right? There’s a lot of tolerance in open source software for shipping, slightly imperfect work. And that’s good. When we ship software that’s a little bit imperfect, it makes it clear how everyone can participate, how everyone could participate, if they could find this WordPress community that supports the CMS. 

Josepha Haden Chomphosy  06:20

If you’ve never participated in a release and are interested in learning how it goes, you can always follow along on And of course, we do a lot of our meetings in the making WordPress, community Slack, which you can find at if you are not already in that particular instance.

Josepha Haden Chomphosy  06:49

That brings us now to our small list of big things. I have three things on my list for you. The first one is WP Translation day slash month. For folks who’ve been following along for a bit, you probably noticed that Translation Day has been going on all month long all of September so that we can have small individual local events and bring people into the process of translating WordPress and making WordPress more usable for more people, especially when they don’t necessarily speak English as their first language. It’s a wonderful event. There’s been Translation Day at the end of September for years. And this Translation Month is working its way up to that Translation Day; I will leave a link to the event page in the notes below. And I really encourage you to drop by.

Josepha Haden Chomphosy  07:38

The second thing is that WordCamp US is coming up on October 1. It is going to be a virtual event, as so many of our events are right now. Tickets are open. The schedule just got published last week. And so we have a good concept of who is talking about what while we’re there. I suggest you wander over to the schedule. Take a look at anything that might be inspirational to you or anyone who looks like they’re answering questions that you’ve had as you have been trying to build your WordPress business. 

Josepha Haden Chomphosy  08:08

And then the third thing on my smallest of big things. Some of you may already be aware that Andrea Middleton has left the WordPress project. She has been an absolute fixture in the WordPress open source project for the last ten years. And while we will all miss her terribly, her work has been so influential and so foundational that we actually won’t really feel much like she’s gone. We will see the evidence of her work in everything she does and everything she has done while we build a better and more inclusive WordPress after her. 

Josepha Haden Chomphosy  08:47

As a final love letter to the community, she published a series of things that she learned about contributing to open source and especially how to contribute to WordPress as an open source project. I’m going to link those in the show notes as well. For anyone who has worked with Andrea for a long time, when you read it, it will just remind you of her voice and will be like a nice warm, comforting hug as she heads on to her next endeavors. And for folks who have never worked with her before. It’s still really excellent information that I think translates into all areas of our work, especially right now as people are moving to distributed work and remote work a bit more. Now I encourage everyone to at least give one or two of them a read. 

Josepha Haden Chomphosy  09:38

That, my friends, is your small list of big things. Thank you for tuning in today for the WordPress Briefing. I’m your host, Josepha Haden Chomphosy, and I’ll see you again in a couple of weeks.