Today marks a major milestone in the history of Genesis and in the evolution of how Genesis will continue to help you build better WordPress sites faster. We’re proud to announce that WP Engine has launched a brand new and optional product for building with WordPress which embraces the WordPress block editor (Gutenberg) called “Genesis Pro”.
Genesis Pro has been released first as an add-on for WP Engine customers and will be launched on StudioPress later this year. This new and optional product in the Genesis universe will not affect existing Genesis customers and does not require that your site be hosted on WP Engine in order to use.
In this post, I discuss how Genesis is evolving to address major changes in WordPress #Core, what Genesis Pro is, why we decided to launch Genesis Pro as an add-on on WP Engine first, what this means for existing StudioPress customers (nothing), and why this step is so important to the future of Genesis.
The way WordPress themes are built is drastically changing
As you may have seen, “Full Site Editing” (FSE) is launching in WordPress #Core in late 2020 and will bring big changes and new capabilities for themes and site creators.
To be clear though, even after Full Site Editing is launched, you will still be able to use your old WordPress themes and take your time to adopt the new way.
“Full Site Editing” is a feature set that brings the block editor (Gutenberg) to all parts of a WordPress website and will give WordPress even more power than it has today. In today’s world, the block editor is only for editing content in the body of a post or page, but as soon as December 2020 (current estimated launch date), site admins will be able to use the block editor to create and edit content in the header (navigation), sidebar, and footer.
Coupled with this change in how blocks are used is also a major change in how themes are built. In today’s world, themes use a file structure of PHP template files where a theme creator will create template files for various parts of a website. You may be familiar with these files as header.php, footer.php, post.php, single.php, and so on. The new FSE structure will instead use Global Styles and something called “Block Template Files” which are basically a way to control universal styles for blocks and “block patterns” (collection of blocks) on your website.
Additionally, the new block template files are mainly HTML/CSS files with very little PHP. This means that as you create themes, you would not be able to use most PHP functions in the theme itself.
You can read more about Full Site Editing in #Core on WordPress.org, but the major theme here is that blocks will play a bigger role than ever in WordPress, and Genesis must evolve to continue to deliver value to you and to create new ways to deliver value using these new capabilities in WordPress #Core.
How will Genesis change to address Full Site Editing in #Core?
Since the acquisition of Genesis by WP Engine, we’ve vastly increased the number of engineers and product managers dedicated to the Genesis suite of products. For example, in June 2018 (time of the acquisition) there were four people partially dedicated to engineering and product management for Genesis-related products. As of the time of this blog post, we now have 15 people dedicated to these efforts. This represents over four times the amount of R&D resources!
With all of these new people, the Genesis engineering team has been hard at work building the future of Genesis in a Full Site Editing world.
Much of these efforts have been focused on an experimental plugin version of Genesis code-named “Genesis X” which will be available to you at no additional charge when released. The goal of the Genesis X project is to preserve the value Genesis delivers today and to lead in delivering capabilities that make it easier for you to win in a block-first world.
In addition to analogs for Genesis features in Genesis X, some of the new features we’re experimenting with include easier ways for you to access premium blocks, create custom blocks, manage blocks across your sites, easily switch styles on your site, and manage collections of blocks in more elegant ways than ever before.
We’ve been blessed to have a great group of partners including agencies, freelancers, brands, and 3rd party premium Genesis theme providers join us in testing Genesis X, and we’re excited for the feedback we’ve received and the progress we’re making so far. This group of alpha testers also includes the Genesis Shapers as well as all the 3rd party theme developers who have themes in the StudioPress marketplace and are working to help make sure the themes you know and love are prepared for the future.
We are committed to helping the Genesis community continue to lead in WordPress, and to help you continue to create unique and powerful digital experiences with Genesis.
In the coming months, we’ll be announcing open betas so you can test these new capabilities and help us shape the future of Genesis with Full Site Editing in WordPress #Core.
What is Genesis Pro and why is this a step toward the future?
At its core, Genesis Pro helps you build better sites faster with WordPress. Just like with Genesis, the product goals of Genesis Pro is to allow you to build a site you’re proud of with as little effort as possible. Genesis Pro is an optional product in the Genesis universe and is NOT required to run Genesis or any Genesis child themes.
For the initial launch of Genesis Pro on both WP Engine and StudioPress, you will be able to leverage advanced block capabilities including the ability to access premium blocks, customize beautiful block-based page layouts and sections, and the ability to set user permissions on blocks so content creators only have access to blocks that set them up for the best chance of success. All of these features are designed to make it easier than ever for you to complete your next project. Anyone purchasing Genesis Pro when it’s released on StudioPress, will also get access to and support for Genesis and all WP Engine (StudioPress) made themes! As a reminder, you can use Genesis Pro on any website you manage not just on sites hosted on WP Engine, and Genesis Pro is not needed in order to keep using Genesis the framework.
Check out how quickly you can build amazing experiences with Genesis Pro in this demo video:
While we’re excited about these capabilities, this is by no means the end of the story for Genesis Pro. We also plan on delivering even more capabilities around managing blocks, creating custom blocks, and leading with Full Site Editing in WordPress in the near future.
Genesis Pro can currently be purchased as an add-on for WP Engine platform customers for $30 per month for unlimited websites, and will be available directly on the StudioPress website later this year. If you’re not a WP Engine customer, and would like to consider the platform, you can use coupon code “GENPRO” for 4 months off when signing up for a WP Engine annual Startup, Growth, or Scale plan. Use this link to have the coupon code automatically applied at checkout.
Why did you launch Genesis Pro on WP Engine first? What about StudioPress customers?
One of the more common responses after the acquisition of Genesis by WP Engine in 2018 was something along the lines of “Don’t make Genesis so that it only works on WP Engine!”. We heard this feedback loud and clear and are committed to making sure Genesis the framework, upcoming Genesis X, and even Genesis Pro work on the platform of your choice.
Considering this commitment, you might be wondering why we launched Genesis Pro on WP Engine before making it available on StudioPress.
The short answer here is that this approach allowed us to launch Genesis Pro faster (including on StudioPress) and in a way that is scalable for the future. The current StudioPress purchasing system was first built 7 years ago at a time when the Genesis community was much smaller. Over the years and especially since the acquisition by WP Engine, the community has grown larger than ever. Over 250K people have purchased themes through the StudioPress website representing a community managing 600K websites which rely on these underlying systems.
As we looked at the needed scale in these systems for the future, it became clear that our current technology stack would not be sufficient to support the future growth of the Genesis community. We were able to find a path using WP Engine’s purchase and provisioning systems which are already at scale and already prepared for massive growth to support the WP Engine family of products now and into the future.
The first step in this process was adding Genesis Pro as an add-on within these purchasing systems. While the result of this first step is launching Genesis Pro as an add-on for WP Engine hosting customers first, this allowed an incremental path to launching Genesis Pro on StudioPress even faster and in a way that ensures stability and scale.
What does this mean for my existing ProPlus, Genesis, & theme purchases?
Nothing. Your existing benefits and entitlements will not be affected by this new and optional product in the Genesis universe. Existing theme packages you may have purchased from StudioPress in the past will NOT be affected at all.
How do I learn more about / buy Genesis Pro?
As previously mentioned, Genesis Pro is available for purchase as an add-on for WP Engine customers today and will be available on StudioPress later this year. Existing WP Engine customers can buy Genesis Pro in their WP Engine portal. If you’d like to become a WP Engine customer and also benefit from Genesis Pro, we’ve secured a special coupon for 4 months off annual Startup / Growth / Scale accounts at WP Engine. Use the coupon code “GENPRO” to get the discount or visit the WP Engine website using this link to have the coupon code automatically applied at signup.
Remember you’ll be able to use Genesis Pro no matter where your site is hosted, Genesis Pro is not required in order to keep using the Genesis framework, and Genesis Pro will be available for direct purchase from the StudioPress website later this year.
We’re excited to deliver value in these new and exciting ways as well as continuing to expand on the value you get from Genesis today. We understand that Genesis likely plays a big role in your professional life or how you manage your website, and we’re committed to helping the Genesis community not just survive the evolution of WordPress, but to lead.
We look forward to taking that journey with you and continuing to help you build better WordPress sites faster with Genesis.