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Gutenberg 9.8 Released, What’s DevKinsta, Blank Canvas Theme Is Out ๐Ÿ—ž๏ธ February 2021 WordPress News w/ CodeinWP

📆  This is the February 2021 edition of “This Month in WordPress with CodeinWP.” 

Hey, everyone! We hope this year has been going great for you all so far. We’re back with a new edition of the WordPress news to let you know how the first month of the year went for WordPress.

In this edition, we’re going to talk about Gutenberg ver. 9.8, a new local WordPress development tool, a new theme by Automattic to focus on single-page sites, and Jetpack’s new approach to interacting with customers. Enjoy!

February 2021 WordPress News with CodeinWP

Gutenberg 9.8 Brings Rounded Borders To the Group Block and Moves the Site Editor Canvas Into an Inline Frame

Gutenberg 9.8 was launched last month with some minor UI improvements, border-radius support for the group block, the site editor being moved into an iframe element, new APIs, and over two dozen bug fixes!

As for the UI improvements, the Spacer Block now has a semi-transparent background instead of a light gray background. This makes it easier for users to show and make size changes to what’s in the background of this block.

Beyond that, the block switcher now shows the variation icons in the editing toolbar, which builds on the enhancements of block variations in Gutenberg 9.7. This feature allows you to create multiple variations of the same block.

Site editor canvas iframe’d

The canvas area of the site editor now renders into an iframe. This means that you can avoid an admin CSS bleed and simply use a theme stylesheet for a site without any adjustments. Here are the benefits of moving the canvas into an iframe according to the WordPress core committer Ella van Durpe:

  • There would be no admin CSS bleed at all. This is something we’ve been struggling with since the beginning.
  • There would be no need to simulate media queries, which is arguably technically more difficult than using an iframe.
  • Relative units like (r)em and vw/vh just work.
  • For a full site, a theme stylesheet can be just dropped in the editor without any adjustment. I think this is important as it makes the life of theme authors much easier.
  • It’s possible to have one selection per window, so one in the admin and one in the content. This is useful for e.g. the link UI where the selection in the content can be kept while the selection is also in an input element (for the URL). Maybe be useful in other cases.
Ella van Durpe

If this approach proves stable, then the same changes can also be made to the Post Editor.

Full-site editing no longer creates auto drafts

The auto drafts of block templates and template parts based directly on the files of full-site editing (FSE) themes have been removed in hopes to stabilize a fundamental part of FSE.

The border-radius support for the group block editor has also been added as Gutenberg’s experimental feature. Now the user will be able to see an option to set the border-radius in the block inspector.

February 2021 WordPress News: Gutenberg 9.8

Introducing DevKinsta, the Free Local WordPress Development Tool (for Everyone)

Kinsta, a popular managed WordPress host, launched DevKinsta, an interesting-looking free local WordPress development tool.

DevKinsta allows you to spin up a local WordPress site with Nginx, MariaDB, and more with a single click. It comes with Adminer for database management, SMTP support, an email inbox to test outgoing emails, and multisite support. If you’re hosting at Kinsta, you can also push your local site to Kinsta staging with just a few clicks.

DevKinsta also supports HTTPS testing and allows developers to enable wp_debug with just a click.

It comes with the following features:

  • One-click WordPress site creation
  • PHP 7.x and 8.0 support
  • Local email management
  • Built-in database manager
  • Seamless integration with MyKinsta
  • A community of WordPress experts

While comparing DevKinsta with Local by Flywheel, Tom Zsomborgi (Chief Business Officer of Kinsta) said:

In our case, Docker is an important part here. Local doesn’t use virtualization in the background. Local has to install every piece of the environment to the host machine (NGINX, apache, different PHP versions, etc.). DevKinsta encapsulates these technologies into containers. Containers do make things easier for maintaining different applications without interrupting the host OS or installing many of the dependencies that are not required. We pretty much don’t touch the host OS, but have Docker as our main dependency to run the applications on their own environments.

Tom Zsomborgi
February 2021 WordPress News: DevKinsta

You may also be interested in:

Automattic Launches the Blank Canvas WordPress Theme for Building Single-Page Websites

Automattic launched its Blank Canvas theme which is optimized for single-page sites on Blank Canvas is a perfect name for this theme as it comes with no header, navigation menus, or widgets. All you get is a blank page with a footer message. It comes with six block patterns to help you in designing your page:

  • About Me
  • Links
  • Invitation
  • Split Screen
  • Card
  • Email Signup

The theme will also be available for the self-hosted WordPress users but with only four block patterns. Card and Email Signup will not be available in this version. With the Blank Canvas theme, Automattic is trying to see if WordPress is able to power the single page sites. In the words of Kjell Reigstad, the lead developer on the theme:

We’ve been working on block patterns a lot lately, and it became clear that many of the single-page websites we come across daily — collections of links, newsletter signups, etc. — are basically just simple block patterns sitting on an otherwise blank page. That being the case, it seemed like WordPress should be able to power these sorts of single-page sites pretty easily. Blank Canvas is an attempt to try that out.

Kjell Reigstad

Jetpack Launches Customer Research Project to Improve the Plugin and Reduce User Frustration

Jetpack has launched a new customer research panel that will collect feedback in advance of launching new features. Jetpack will allocate one day every month to talk with customers on a 45-minute long Zoom call to talk about proposed product changes and preview some new designs. They are offering a $25 Amazon gift card as a token of appreciation for a customer’s time.

This new strategic move can be helpful in avoiding frustration and miscommunication around Jetpack and also in easing the friction between Automattic and the WordPress community.

When you have a team continually connecting with their customers, you find that they start to become internal ambassadors for the users, helping to weave the user’s voice into product and design conversations throughout the entire product design process.

Yvonne Doll, Automattic UX/Product Designer

If you’re a Jetpack customer and want to help the team, visit Jetpack Research Blog and sign up to participate.

Great Articles From Around The Web

That sums up our February 2021 WordPress news roundup. Anything we missed?

Don’t forget to join our crash course on speeding up your WordPress site. Learn more below:


Layout and presentation by Karol K.

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