We've got a lot of ground to cover with this month's status report, so let's dig in.
First, I'd like to briefly touch on Gutenberg. We're monitoring WordPress' progress and will have something to share specifically related to this in the next couple weeks. Our products will always be kept compatible with the latest versions of WordPress and from our initial testing we are not seeing any conflicts, however there is some nuance with respect to how WordPress is changing the editing experience in WordPress core, so we'd like to do a deeper dive in a separate post about what that means with respect to our products. Put simply, you have nothing to worry about.
On the update front, we just completed the Pro 2.2, X 6.2, and Cornerstone 3.2 cycle. The highlight of this cycle was inline editing, and you can learn more about it here.
Feature Request Cycle
Up next, we are working on a feature request cycle that includes several popular requests from customers.
A quick note on feature requests. Every time a feature request is submitted in our forum, we add it to an internal issue tracker. This allows us to gain visibility on frequently requested features in addition to helping the development team prioritize certain requests as we plan through our own product timeline.
At present, we have over 40 items on the Pro 2.3, X 6.3, and Cornerstone 3.3 cycle, and I wanted to share just a few of the bigger ones with you today. We are shooting for a customer beta to begin by the end of August.
- Movable Workspace – Want the header builder workspace to be vertical? Want the content builder workspace to be horizontal? Want to resize the workspace to accommodate your screen or workflow? As of the next update you'll be able to do all this and more!
- Dark Mode – We're excited to also introduce a dark mode that will provide some more aesthetic choices for your working environment. Some studies have shown that darker backgrounds help reduce eye strain, so whether it's to help your eyes or provide more contrast, Dark Mode gives you options (kind of like Red Bull gives you wings).
- Undo – Due to how data is handled in our products, we've had to do some pretty serious under the hood modifications to bring this feature to life, but we are very excited to announce an undo feature will be debuting in the next cycle. We all know what it's like to make a mistake and not be able to correct it. With Undo you'll be able to retrieve from a history of changes bringing more stability to your workflow and process.
Last month, I mentioned two larger release cycles, and I'd like to give you a bit of a heads up on them as they are substantial. These will be after the Pro 2.3, X 6.3, and Cornerstone 3.3 cycle referenced above.
Typically we don't announce more then one cycle in the future, however since this upcoming feature request cycle won't include two of the biggest feature requests, I wanted to provide some context as to why that was and when they are coming.
Layout Builder Cycle
If we've heard it once, we've heard it a million times. You need more customization options for layouts, blogs, and index pages (archive and category pages, etc). And we agree!
While we've known how we want to tackle this for some time, we simply couldn't do so until certain features had been finalized. Thankfully these features are now in place, so here is just a sample of what this builder will allow you to do.
- Create your own blog layouts and assign them to your blog index, archives and single post views.
- Use the existing Elements you're familiar with along with some new Elements specifically crafted for blogs and index pages.
- Use a new Posts Element that will let you customize how your queried posts are displayed (think Classic Recent Posts but with V2 design options).
- Directive Parsing will allow you to pull through contextual details into the fields of your Elements. For example, create a headline Element that populates with the current page title or an image Element that uses the featured image. You'll also have access to WooCommerce cart information allowing you to display the cart total or item count as part of the cart icon. This concept will be used heavily throughout the Layout Builder.
In addition, this builder will seamlessly integrate with our family of other builders bringing a new standard for native WordPress customization that is lean, optimized, and built for the future.
Global Options Reboot & Grid Cycle
Immediately following the Layout Builder Cycle, we will transition to another significant feature we have had our eye on for a while. This update will streamline global theme options in addition to updating our grid to the CSS3 layout spec.
A little backstory on global options. In the current form of our themes, many of the options are spread out across four Stacks. At launch in 2013, we envisioned these as both design and functionality “silos” that would give you multiple unique designs within one theme framework.
This had many great advantages, however one of the immediate requests we started to receive was people wanting to mix and match certain design and functionality from one Stack to another. It was a reasonable request from a customer's point of view, however the architecture to that point prevented us from making that sort of a change.
Going forward, instead of choosing a Stack then being “siloed” into that Stack's world, choosing a Stack will be more akin to choosing an Element Preset but for global options. For example, the “Renew” Stack will be a pre-configuration of the new global theme options which you can use as a starting point for your design. Further reinforcing this approach, we are looking to tie in actual Element Presets with this action so you can literally change the design of everything from global theme options to individual Element styles with the click of a button.
Since global theme options will be flatter and more versatile, this will not only strengthen the Stack concept (in a way you could think of a Stack as a style kit or design demo), it will introduce many new ways for you to create, build, and share unique designs in X and Pro. The Template Manger will be even more handy in this world as you'll be able to get as microscopically specific as you want with regards to how you design both global and on-page assets. Add to that the power of the CSS3 grid spec, and you'll be in for a real treat!
Realistically, these three cycles will take us through the next several months as we will also be launching the new Themeco site this fall! There will no doubt be additional updates, features, and tweaks along the way but this at least gives you a good handle on where the primary focus will be developmentally. These will be very exciting and dynamic cycles as they continue to bring together a powerful set of tools for building sites in WordPress, all backed by the best support team in the industry!
Our feature request cycle is on track to begin beta testing towards the end of August, so you can expect to hear an update later this month when it is ready to go.
We hope you are as excited about these updates as we are! This is an exciting time in the history of Themeco and we remain very grateful for both the trust you place in our team and the continued partnership.
Wishing you a lovely month ahead!