This Genesis Shapers meeting was moderated by WP Engine’s own Nick Cernis, and the major focus for the month was the arrival of full site block editing into the Genesis Framework, which we anticipate will occur in the coming months.
Before we dive into the details of the meeting, here are recaps from the previous Shapers events, if you’d like to catch up:
With that, here’s the Genesis Shapers meeting recap:
As mentioned above, this meeting included a major focus on blocks, both within Genesis in general, but also regarding the use of custom Atomic Blocks in the Genesis-built Navigation Pro theme, among other things.
As a reminder, the Genesis Shapers are a global, hand-selected, and diverse group of people representing companies from across the community who share a representative voice for the strategic direction of Genesis, which is combined with the feedback we receive directly from customers across social channels, and through Genesis WP on Slack.
The Genesis Shapers as of the date of this meeting, included Bill Erickson, Carrie Dils, David Decker, Gary Jones, Jennifer Bourn, Jon Brown, Jonathan Jeter, Lauren Gaige, Lee Anthony, Mike Hemberger, Nahuai Badiola, Remkus de Vries, Robin Cornett, Anita Carter, Sridhar Katakam, Ryan Murray, and Nick Croft.
The meeting’s moderator, Nick Cernis, kicked things off with a warm welcome for the other Nick —Nick Croft, who is the latest Shaper to join the group.
First, a warm welcome to our newest Shapers member, Nick Croft! Nick is Senior Developer at Reaktiv Studios, author of “Genesis Explained” and we think he might also be Batman. Welcome, Nick!
From there, Nick—Cernis—dove into the first question of the meeting:
What are your thoughts or questions related to our switch to 1 year of support on new Genesis and StudioPress / marketplace theme packages?
Nahuai Badiola was the first to respond, saying, “I think that it’s fair (especially because the updates are still covered) and more sustainable on time.”
Remkus de Vries replied even more emphatically, saying, “Long overdue.”
Ryan Murray echoed both responses, saying, “I think it strengthens the project over time.”
Nick Croft added, “Yes, I support 100%. Wish it could have been fully carried through before.”
Robin Cornett replied as well, saying, “I think it makes sense, but if someone wants support after the year, is there a way to buy in (or whatever you want to call it)?
Nick Cernis replied, “Right now, no. Most users don’t request support after the 1st year in our experience. We’re working on a few options for those that do, though.”
To which Robin replied, “I think it’s been ages since I’ve requested support through the site–just know that as updates come out, sometimes issues do as well.”
After a few more responses, Nick posed the second question to the group:
Navigation Pro uses custom Atomic Blocks sections and layouts. If you’ve had a chance to play with these, what did you think? Would you like to see this extended to other themes in the marketplace?
Nick Croft replied first, saying, “I started playing with this for updating my site. I like it in general. Set up was easy. The only issue I saw was someone ran into problems because the file was much larger than usual due to import files.
Nick Cernis replied, “We’d like to import some of these in the future from a remote server to reduce the zip size.”
To which Nick Croft replied, “I think that is a great plan.”
After a few other responses, Nick Croft added, “BTW, there are a lot of things I love about Atomic Blocks but it’s also missing some things. Ghostkit adds some cool features that I like. I end up running both libraries, which isn’t my favorite thing ever but I can turn off things in Ghostkit I’m not using, so that helps. Just putting this out there because it would be cool to just use Atomic Blocks.”
Nick Cernis replied, “Thanks for the feedback, Nick. And please feel free to file those features as requests against the Atomic Blocks repo if you haven’t yet.”
Ryan Murray added to the thread, “I’ve been using https://wpstackable.com/ pro—Its style method is customizations are worth taking a look at as well.
To which Nahuai Badiola replied, “I still miss the CPT Grid block in AB. The one for posts and pages is great.”
Nahuai Badiola also added, “It extends the editor features, no new blocks. Just to clarify, I was talking about this: https://es.wordpress.org/plugins/block-options/”
Nick Croft added a bit more, saying, “A little of both. For example, I’ve been using Animate on Scroll a lot for some quick and subtle animations. I think there might be a couple of blocks too, but I love layouts in Atomic Blocks. It makes it easy to get something started quickly.”
To which Nick Cernis replied, “So, one reason we used sections and layouts in Navigation Pro was because we think there’s great potential to carry this to other themes. Imagine a consistent library of sections and layouts. You could compose pages from any of those.”
Nick Croft replied, “I think this is one of my favorite features in Atomic Blocks and a great plan moving forward.”
After a bit more discussion on the topic, Nick posed the next question:
How else would you like to see Gutenberg capabilities and Genesis more closely integrated?
Robin Cornett responded first, saying, “I think if a theme adds custom color support, it should be a broader color palette—not just two primary/secondary colors. My vote would be to include text, white, and at least a gray as well.”
Replying to Robin, Lee Anthony said, “Agree with this, for example, have 12 default colors and merge them with the custom child theme colors.”
I chimed in as well, asking the group, “I’m curious if you all think Genesis should help with things like creating blocks or block layouts?”
To which Lauren Gaige replied, “I think there needs to be more blocks for the current widgets. I also think there needs to be a content/sidebar etc block!”
In response, Nick Croft said, “I think this is brilliant. Being able to set widgets per page or use the default sidebar is something people want to do all the time.”
Remkus de Vries also added, “From a developer’s perspective, Genesis is already very flexible, but it’d be wonderful if creating content in a Genesis powered theme could be equally as powerful. Blocks and block layouts help in this.”
Robin Cornett replied, “Isn’t that the point of Atomic Blocks, though?
In response, Jon Brown said, “Yes but Atomic Blocks doesn’t have 1:1 parity with the widgets we’ve grown to love and rely on.”
Remkus responded, “Indeed, and that should really be aligned.”
After a little more discussion on the topic, Nick asked the group the next question:
Full site block editing looks to arrive in 2020. This will drastically change how themes are built. How should we support the community in adopting these changes?
Nahuai Badiola responded first, saying, “Communicating the direction of the new way of creating (child) themes with Genesis, whenever there is a «stable proposal» about it. On the other hand, letting us play and giving feedback with betas, as Nick suggested in the last Shapers meeting.”
Robin Cornett added, “I think that one thing to keep in mind is that changes are coming somewhat faster than what users are moving. Users who’ve built sites in the past 2-3 years will likely want to stay with the workflow they learned. If WP completely changes how themes are done, then we’re looking at working with multiple workflows (kind of like we are now with just the block editor v. the classic, like for post meta, as an example), one for “old” users and one for new.
Nick Croft replied, “Ultimately there are 2 basic groups. 1) developers/diy/people who want to or feel they need to get into the code. 2) End users who want things to work. The first group needs to be onboarded to understand how things will work and be able to do what they need to do with no significant increase in their level of effort. I think that means training in the form of blog posts, videos, and conferences. The second group needs to be assured their existing site won’t break. That means lots of testing by folks in the first group and some hand-holding.”
Mike Hemberger responded, “From what I’m seeing in block-based theme experimentation, a huge aspect of what Genesis could do is add more structure. Define consistent block areas, a more focused API to manipulate the blocks and block areas, and (hugely) handle the markup better.. so it’s more structured and not divitis.”
After a few replies to Mike, Nick Cernis asked the group, ”Do you think that saying, ‘theme developers can set the default experience, but bad design choices a user makes after that point are up to them, and they should be free to design their site as they wish.’ is fair? Or should we impose our design choices on users and offer a way to lock things down?”
Nick Croft replied first, saying, ”IMO, it should default to a more locked down experience but be possible to change that easily. Either an option or adding a line of code. People need to be allowed to make bad choices, especially end users, but they should be informed before making the choice.”
In response, Ryan Murray said, “I rarely work with a client that wants anything exactly how it was purchased.” To which Nick replied, “I never work with a client that wants things how they are purchased, but I also want to provide structure so they don’t shoot themselves in the foot later.”
After more discussion on this point, the Shapers meeting wrapped up.
Thanks for reading our recap of the Genesis Shapers meeting. I’m looking forward to all of the changes outlined above and seeing them come to fruition. As you may have noticed, there are tough decisions to be made and strong opinions amongst the group, which tells me we’ve assembled the right team to focus on all of these issues and the future of the Genesis Framework at large. Stay tuned—2020 is going to be a fantastic year for Genesis and WordPress!