Anne McCarthy on WordPress 5.9

Post Status Excerpt (No. 39) — WordPress 5.9: Delays, the Customizer, and Contributing

“Too many things were interrelated and we didn’t have enough people who were looking across…” —Anne McCarthy

In this episode of Post Status Excerpt, David has an informative chat with Anne McCarthy. Anne is a Developer Relations Wrangler for Automattic and (among other things) has been responsible for many of the recent videos showcasing the features of Full Site Editing and WordPress 5.9. David and Anne talk about what decisions led to the delay of WordPress 5.9, her start with Automattic, COVID’s effect on core contributions, and how polished Full Site Editing might be by the end of January 2022.

Also: David asks Anne what the future of the WordPress Customizer will be in a world of Full Site Editing.

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David Bisset: I didn’t go to the state of the word, obviously, w it was, it would take too much time away from me, tweeting fun, little memes and remarks. So I decided to stay home and it hurt your

Anne McCarthy: Twitter

David Bisset: game. Yeah. Twitter didn’t ban me. So, you know, I must be on the good list. But yeah, it was, I thought it was you.

Did you did you watch it?

Anne McCarthy: I did watch it, but I will admit that I was helping with the slides that day. So what I did actually watch, I was pretty fried by the time I actually watched it.

David Bisset: How did you help with the slides?

Anne McCarthy: Just from afar. There were some demos that needed some voiceovers and designers had done two wonderful demos, but there was just no con like voiceover to explain what was actually happening.

So I jumped in to do some of those and just kind of fill filling gaps with the

David Bisset: bar.

I knew that voice sounded familiar.I mean, not every voice cause I’m like, wow, you must have had a lot of cigarettes that day for that for that voice. But no I forget his name, but we, there was a voice that I remember for one of the [00:02:00] demos that previously did, like a whole bunch of WordPress demos and he has an accent and I can’t think of his name right now, but I will later…

Anne McCarthy: Oh, you’re probably thinking Michael Peck.

David Bisset: Yes, that’s probably

Anne McCarthy: yes, he did the 5.9 voiceover demo. And that’s actually like, I don’t know if you’ve seen a YouTube video, but there’s a awesome YouTube video. That group has worked on. A WordPress YouTube channel. And he did the voice over for that. And it’s like a really cool kind of throwback to the early days where he would do release videos and he like knocked it out of the park.

Pretty sure.

David Bisset: What does he do besides does all he do is voiceovers. What does he do?

Anne McCarthy: No, he works for automatic. Now. He’s mainly focused, I think on a combination of probably. Brand and design stuff or a So

we got them on loan.

David Bisset: I said, he must have, you must have been in some virtual cafeteria, regular cafeteria back then in the here.

And you’re like, oh, that voice, I must have that voice.

Anne McCarthy: It’s very impressive. I have a friend who has a really good radio voice. I’m always really [00:03:00] jealous. I want him to record my voicemail at some point.

David Bisset: Oh yes. Anybody with an accident? I wanted to be good. I want it on mine. My parents said I always had a great face and voice for books.

So let’s talk about, let’s actually talk a little bit, the videos. How did the I know you’re involved in them now. I, you seem to be in the. We’re going to have our IC a video. Most of the time, outside of the state of the word, it looks like you, that you are pushing them. Are you primarily the one that makes those.

Anne McCarthy: Yeah, for the YouTube videos. I have some on my personal channel that I do, I did help with the 5.9 video, mainly from a logistics wrangling, like figuring out script actually did an initial voiceover that got nixed and be like, Michael police come in here. I was very sick and Michael very graciously hopped it at the last minute, but mainly I just kind of help out in terms of.

Coming up with ideas. So sometimes with learn WordPress folks, I’ll also share some like review what they’re working on, but a lot of the YouTube videos on my channel are [00:04:00] just things that I find interesting or that I anticipate with the next release. We just need to get some content out there and I’m fortunate to be so.

So the project that I can share things early and from there I can then send them to folks who actually have real followings and be like, Hey, I know you’re probably going to create content, but the navigation block, here’s like a rundown of all the features. Here’s how I’m presenting it, like do your thing.

So it actually started that way where I was just creating content as a way to actually demonstrate something for other people to kind of just. Get the word out about something new that was coming and it was easier to communicate, especially from afar using videos. I had no aspiration. It helps a lot.

Yeah. And I have zero aspirations to be like a YouTuber. I just like, I don’t think I’m, you know, have the equipment or the ability to be very good at it. Like some folks are in the WordPress community, but it is fun. It’s cool. I guess to have it’s very visual.

It’s very visual. I know a lot of people really appreciate the, like, just give me the heads up [00:05:00] in two to three minutes.

Cause I remember when I think after Gutenberg was launched, we really appreciated those two or three minute demos that was at Marcus did during the state of the words or during presentations at work camp us or something like that, where you sat down in two minutes or three minutes when you got basically.

All you needed to know. And it was, there was a wow factor there. They, you know, they look at time and space by doing this. I think that’s a very good idea and I hope you continue. Yeah, I plan to, so

yeah, I appreciate that because I’ve got a lot of encouragement from Paul AC and Nathan Wrigley, and they were both like, you should do it, but you’d be fine.

And I was like, I don’t know, like, I don’t think I have the time or I don’t think it’s like saying that I would be very good at. And I’ve gotten good feedback where people are kind of like what you’re saying was like, I need to see the visual and also. Who is so close to the project on a day-to-day basis.

It’s like, give me the little details. Like, I don’t want to just see it at a high level. Give me the like bells and [00:06:00] whistles. So it’s kind of a, it’s a cool, neat way to connect with folks too. I’ve gotten this just this week. I had like three or four people reach out and my contact form, like, Hey, I watched your video about this.

Like, can you help me with facts?

David Bisset: Oh great, I’m a support person now! Yeah. Now. But it’s, you know, in the beginning was so easy to see the mess because there were massive changes or adjustments happening to Gutenberg, but, and there still are, but now things are being tweaked and being refined. And over a post status, Courtney produces like every week she produced.

So this is the list of things that are happening in core. And of course, a lot of it’s Gutenberg related. Yeah. And, you know, share, feel free to share with me your thoughts on this is it. I think it’s becoming a little bit harder now to gauge a lot, unless it’s a big headline feature and full site editing.

We can get into that unless it’s a headlined feature that you’ve been hearing about. I think, you know, when I do the summaries and do the post for post status and what little time I have to review the text, which is in a [00:07:00] document. It’s kind of hard to visualize a lot of that.

And therefore it’s kind of hard for anyone outside of maybe two or three dozen people to really communicate and train, you know, translate that excitement to other people or to show how much progress is being made. Because you read a bullet list and it’s, you don’t know, you don’t know how much work is happening behind those bullet lists for starters.

And then, you know, something could do something very cool visually, but if it’s just on a bullet list on, the public not gonna see that.

Anne McCarthy: Yeah, no, I think you’re right about that. And that’s one of the things I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but in the last year or so the designs and like the visuals that had come with the what’s new in Gutenberg posts have definitely been upgraded because of that exact problem is it’s like, show me the value, show me how it actually connects, how it makes my life easier.

And there’s also a series of posts. I do the core editor improvement posts. Yeah, that also seeks to even highlight that more. And it started out as like highlighting individual things. And recently I’ve [00:08:00] actually had to switch to not have to, but it actually makes sense to switch to like a collection of improvement.

So I have a post right now that I’m working on with a couple of folks. On like performance at 5.9. So let’s talk about the performance enhancements. Let’s run through it in one place so you can see it. Yeah.

David Bisset: You’ve given me a topic to talk to you about. Thank you. But to some somebody’s credit though, and I think when they do the Gutenberg plugin, Release posts.

They do offer him graphics and they’ve gotten better with videos. I just wish everything was an animated GIF so I could share it. That’s a lot easier. Thank you very much. So those existed, but like, I think for what you’re doing and for some of the things that I think flying under the radar, you know, that, you know, not again, not the headline features.

I think the there’s nothing. Then a short video. Yeah.

Anne McCarthy: And the connecting the dots. Like I started that connecting the dots series, just kind of on a whim because I found something that I was like, you can do this. If you combine these different tools, you can then do this crazy thing. Like I think [00:09:00] that’s also, I actually, that’s the series I’m probably most excited about.

Like, it’s fun to do these headline, like explore navigation blockers from 5.9 or the query look like that. Those are fun videos to do, but the connecting the dots. It feels more exciting. Like I’m like, gosh, yes, get this major feature in your head. But then also like, let’s talk about like the weird things you can do and the cool things you can do when you actually combine these things.

Cause that’s, what’s really powerful is it’s not like cool. We added dimension controls to this thing, but like what does this actually allow me to do? Okay. This.

David Bisset: Practical application right? Yes. Cause those are the videos I’d like to show off from the meetup groups. And a lot of times meet up organizers, just say, this is cool.

And then the media bargain meet up organizers. If they’re good meetup organizers say, and this is how it could apply to you person, that’s running an agency out of there out of a phone booth or whatever it is you do. Let’s transition from weird to WordPress 5.9, because you could say something [00:10:00] happened a little bit weird on that.

Oh yeah. It’s supposed to be out or right around this time of rigidly, right? I think it was before the holidays. Yeah. You mean the same date as the state of the word? Really? Yeah. I didn’t put those dots. Yeah. That, that, that would yeah, that’s a coincidence. So it didn’t happen.

Can you tell me a little bit about what happened and what was involved in making the decision? No spoilers, but to push that into charity.

Anne McCarthy: Yeah, it’s a really tough decision. And I’ll preface this by saying I wrote a post that on why I voted to delay it. So I won’t go into hyper detail cause there’s a lot of detail on that post that I try to make it very practical.

Here’s how you can enact a lot of videos and like images being like, this is why. But yeah, this is my first time on a really squad too. So I don’t have the historical knowledge that other folks bring to the table, but from my point of view and from my experience. Which program, which really is where I’m coming from too many things were interrelated.

And then we didn’t [00:11:00] have enough people. Who were looking across basically is the long and short of it. So, you know, 2022 is relying on you know, certain things get in place with styles, but at the same time, those working on styles aren’t necessarily solely focused on 2022. So like, it was kind of, there was a weird tension there of bringing a lot of unrelated things together,

David Bisset: ultimately, I’m sorry, was it like the sunny from Philadelphia meme where the chart is. I think it’s Charlie, he’s looking at the board behind him and then the oldest red strings going everywhere. And he’s trying to explain something was a kind of like that a

Anne McCarthy: little bit. Yeah. There is a little element of that, but almost imagine. That if you were to remove one of the strings, like that feature wouldn’t make as much sense anymore.

So remember how we were just talking about connecting the dots and how things working together is actually where the value like hyper value goes. That’s what basically was going on, where it was like, if we ship these things independently, we could in theory, remove some of the stuff. But it’s going to be, it’s just the value kind of isn’t as exponential when they’re all together.

And I was [00:12:00] looking at the issues. I test it every day, like, especially leading up to release for 5.8, 5.9. I’ve been testing every single day in this stuff all the time. And a lot of it was refinements. It was like, there were a couple of things that, some big decisions. So one I can tell. There was stuff around the navigation block, how to reuse it across Wakim’s.

So originally there was a thing called navigation areas that was a new block that got reverted. That was I think, the right call. And then there the browsing. So when I talk about browsing, it’s like, how do you navigate between your homepage, your templates and your template, parts and styles? Like what does that system look like from an information architecture perspective?

And there was a weird combination of. Technical constraints that came up as well as like design, so design and the technical constraints. We’re kind of dancing with each other. And at a certain point, it just got to a place where. Fortunately like a middle ground could be found. And I think the solution they have right now is excellent.

Originally that, that seemed to be not viable. So kind of by having the delay, we’ve [00:13:00] had like a better solution, I think, than what was originally in place. That’s been tested a lot with the outreach program, so it’s a lot of it. Yeah.

David Bisset: Am I correct in understanding you that you were the one who initially brought something up?

Anne McCarthy: I was not necessarily, there was a team.

David Bisset: Yeah, everybody started getting the idea around the same time. Maybe.

Anne McCarthy: Yeah, it was one of those where I think enough people kind of paused and like, I can tell you leading up to the release. I was like, okay, are we really feeling good about this? Like, I had some moments, but I also wasn’t like confident and being the person to say like, we can’t ship this, we can’t ship this.

Like, I’m definitely not one of those decision makers, but I mean, I’m filing, I was filing tons of issues and getting, and with the outreach program, obviously, like I’m seeing the complaints, I’m writing a summary post. So like I knew what the pain points were. And then at a certain point, it becomes a decision for the designers.

Like what design direction do we want to go in? And that’s kind of where we landed, where it was just like a last minute kind [00:14:00] of Too much to figure out. And a lot of it’s like little things too. So I’m talking about these big decisions. If there were a lot of small things that need to be sorted out that thankfully were more refinements.

And so I felt really comfortable delaying and voting to delay because of that, because I was like, the value will be exponential. If we can ship these altogether, everything I’m seeing right now can be figured out like at first. And I think this is where the confusion really started. There was this like long list and it was all seen as blockers.

So originally there was like this get hub issue that Someone did there. I think it was Rob who’s, the corridor tech lead, who has been doing an excellent job. All the lease lead folks have been doing amazing work and he wrote all the issues out and gathered all of them that people were flagging.

But they were seeing all his blockers and that wasn’t the case. Really from that list, there were like a subset of blockers that were truly like, we need to delay this. And that’s part of the chaos of, you know, working remotely. Yes.

David Bisset: You had a translated into a sound. It would be mostly that. So yeah, I would imagine the [00:15:00] holidays.

It didn’t help that the fact that we have this, let’s be honest, the last two weeks of the year or the last week of the year, the first week in the new year, however you want to slice it really for me, three weeks, really, or two and a half at best, but sometimes three weeks for everybody to get.

Even if they’re staying home, even if they’re not traveling, it’s your brain is kind of in a reset mode. Yeah. Like I need, listen, I may not be leaving my house, but I’m taking a vacation, so you’re not talking to me. Regardless if you celebrate any of the holidays or not, there’s enough mass people taking time off visiting family, or just staying at home or away from computers that I would imagine productivity would’ve hit a dive there and, or you didn’t want to, nobody would want it have taken the chance.

You know, we don’t want to make Matt Mullenweg into Scrooge because he’s to he’s the lead. Right. He’s the lead. Right. So that would be, yeah, that I’m correctly associating the[00:16:00] fictional character with the appropriate reference. Thank you. Case. I get an email later. So when is a WordPress 5.9 coming up?

Anne McCarthy: It’s going to be released January 25th. And as you were saying, like originally the beta was only pushed by two weeks, but then we had to add extra time because of the end of the year period and beginning of the year. I mean, it’s just a chaotic time. And I think that is also the right call. I don’t think it’ll hyper disrupt any other releases.

I think there’s a ton of stuff for 6.02. It’s not like, oh, by delaying, we’re going to have a really light 6.0 release. I think it’s gonna be. How’s that going to change as

David Bisset: well? Is that going to be a little bit compressed then in the first part of the year, you think, or is different people working on different things?

Anne McCarthy: Yeah, I think at a certain point it might compress it a bit, meaning like there might be a release in like March or something like that, but they actually didn’t release the schedule for 6.0 yet. So I’m not really sure how that’s going to impact. Things I will say part of the discussion that’s come up amongst score contributors when I’ve checked in with a lot of them, when this was going on to make sure everyone was doing okay.

And a lot of them were like, man, this is when I wish [00:17:00] we had more releases. Like I wish we could have this like more of a release cadence where it’s more frequent. So we’re not like needing to do with delay. Cause like the options were not fun, but that’s the constraints of the current system. And, you know, ideally in a future world, it isn’t as Yeah.

Each release. You can kind of say like, it’s okay. We can ship this because we have another release coming in a month rather than like three months.

David Bisset: Yeah. Is that possible though? I mean, is that possible at least where we stand right now, because we just talked about how. And like how integrated are, how one piece is related to this.

And, you know, you know, maybe this is just one of those junctures in the four stages of Gutenberg or whatever timeline you want to pick where yes, it all is intersecting together. Cause it’s full site editing. I mean, it’s the words are in there. It’s full side. Right. And then maybe down the road with when he gets to collaboration and translation, maybe things will go a bit easier, but regardless it’s like.

I know there’s so many, there’s so many ways you can look at it. I hear about a lot of time in other technology groups, in terms of first, you have people say, well, why [00:18:00] don’t you just release every month? It’s no worries. Any automatic updates. It’s fine. And then that happens. And then you say, why are we getting so many updates?

I have to keep updating.

Yeah. Which, which, you know, is another subject in of itself because in theory, You shouldn’t have update fatigue, if you have automatic updates turned on and you know, that’s another thing too. You know, in some situations that’s not possible. So you’re going to have people, whether it’s a real problem or something that someone projects into their mind, like some sort of ghost but it’s still a legitimate thing to deal with.

So I see. So yeah, you have this, you it’s a bunch of. All not the code, but the responsibilities and the dependencies is a bunch of, you know, a bunch of well cooked, fine high quality spaghetti.

Anne McCarthy: And yeah, it would be really tricky to do. Like, I don’t necessarily think that’s like a viable thing right now, or I don’t, I can’t speak to it in the future, but I do [00:19:00] think it is a result of, you know, the circumstances that we’re in.

Like we’re all impacted by the same constraints. And I think that’s one of the things where. You know, for example, there are, I don’t think it was fully scoped out even like, what would a dependency plan look like where it’s like, or contingency plan? Sorry, look like where if let’s say we had to remove some of these things, would we, excuse for example, we could do things like remove browsing entirely, which is one of the things that was, I think, shipped at some point.

We’re instead you have, you know, your appearance menu, you have templates, simpler parts, the editor styles. And so you have no sort of browsing in the sidebar. You could also like say, you know what, the navigation block isn’t ready or counting it to another release. You could also say like, you know what, you can’t actually create new templates.

You can only just view the ones that come with your theme. Like there’s a lot of ways that could have been pulled back. But thankfully what shipping is very comprehensive. Like I think that’s the good thing with this delays also.

David Bisset: I don’t think anybody’s looking at it going on, man.[00:20:00]

Anne McCarthy: Yeah. And I mean, I also think the good news is ultimately these features that we’re talking about, which get a lot of attention are going to impact a small subset of people. Like this is not going to be five point where all of a sudden it takes over your site and you have to use it like this is it.

It’s very much. So in line with the gradual adoption, where if you want to use these features, you have to literally hyper opt-in. You have to switch your theme. You have to like seek it out. Like it’s very much something that. That also gave me confidence where it’s like, I know these like full siting and all the collection features that go along with that.

You get a lot of attention. But even if you upgrade, you’re not switching to full site editing, you’re still gonna get a ton of value in this release. And that, that to me is what’s really exciting is it’s almost like, because this is a smaller subset. The features are more high impact exponentially when they’re working together.

I think it was just the right call, but I’m really excited to see people get their hands on 5.9. And speaking of police health tests, the Tesco lead, I’m like, please help test. It’d be a huge help.

David Bisset: We’ll get through testing in a second, because I [00:21:00] do want to, I do want to get, like, if you had the opportunity.

To make it to make a pitch for you. You did mention 5.0 though. When that first came out, I think there was a there’s a number of people that, and you know, that the circumstances behind that you know, around the state of the word time, everybody was busy or give Ghana was one of those. I think it wasn’t November.

So, I mean, it was approaching a holiday season or something or something like that, but it was, I would be, I don’t know, a lot of people said it was around rough around the edges. I’m not going to argue with him about that when it came out but over time that the improvements on it have been, I think in my opinion, pretty good.

Pretty, pretty tremendous. In fact, do you think and you may, I think you touched on this already, but do you think with a full site editing, we’re going to see not what 5.0 is. Cause I think you just said that, but do you feel comfortable with the level of Polish that will be out at the end of January?

Anne McCarthy: Oh,

that’s a great question. There’s a lot of nuance here, so it depends [00:22:00] upon someone’s skill level. If you were brand new WordPress user, I would, I’d say very beta. So like, I think it’s literally going to ship with a beta warning. So in terms of, is it hyper polished? I would call it functional kind of empowering.

But I wouldn’t necessarily be like, oh, it’s delightful. And you can, it’s completely intuitive. Like I think, and I say this partially because especially if someone, maybe if someone was new, they might actually have an easier time, because there’s a lot of concepts built within full that are really hard to grasp.

For those of us who’ve been in WordPress for a long time. Things

David Bisset: Can they get those videos in there? That would probably help.

Anne McCarthy: Yeah, no, I think that’s part of, so I actually am also helping with the user support docs for this release. So I’m co testing it and then helping with the user docs. And that’s one of the things that’s really difficult to communicate simply.

So like, how do you explain to someone, what template parts are. And how do you explain when to use them? So, like one of the, I just opened an issue for this yesterday, but it’s like, we probably need to explain the difference [00:23:00] between template parts, reusable, blocks and patterns. And when do you use each? So I probably need to write a doc on that.

So there’s a lot to be explained there in a way that’s very simple so that people can make good decisions. And right now their, what is being shifted doesn’t necessarily have guardrails to nudge someone in the right direction. If that makes sense. So you’d have to have some level of knowledge in order to write.

Put it together, but do I think it’s a polished V1 for someone who likes to tinker? Definitely. Like, I, for sure think that’s the case. The only I can tell you my major sticking point, which is driving me nuts right now is right now. Are you familiar with the template editing mode?

I launched.

I’ve played with it.

Yes. Yeah. So right now let’s say I have a block theme activated and I’m using 5.98. I can go in and I’m using a theme with template mode. I can go in and I can like add a new post. And then under the posts kind of sidebar, I can select and create any template. And from there I can have a fresh new template that I can then assign to the post.

However, if I’m in [00:24:00] the site editor and I’m navigating through the templates, I cannot create a new generic template. And there’s an issue open for this. I can create an archive when I complete a search warrant. I create a new front page one, but there’s not a. I want to create a new template and I want to sign this poster page or this category to it.

So there’s a lot like that basic infrastructure you can, it’s a workflow thing. So it’s like in one place, you can do this thing, but in the other place that feels more intuitive. You can’t. And then on top of that, obviously for this release, some stuff is constrained. So this was one of the decisions that had to be made.

So you can’t have. If you wanted a category to use a specific template, you’d have to actually add it to your blocking files rather than like being able to do it in the interface. So the good news is it’ll ship, but then there’s some really common. Possibly common use cases where people are going to be like, oh, but I want to do this.

And that’s where I think 6.0 6.1, like these future releases will continue to deliver on the promise to pull siding. And I think right now what is in place is really powerful. And I think it’ll [00:25:00] actually jumpstart. People’s excitement into everything that you can do. But there are just some. I don’t know.

I think Justin Tadlock had a good description where he’s like, it works, but then as you’re getting involved in it, there’s like some common things that you’re not yet able to do. And I’m like, yeah, that’s very true. Like there are some things that I can imagine. I’m like, I would love on my personal site to have a specific template for.

All my posts that are tagged with WordPress resources so that I could just send people there and I could have a different header. I could have a different contact form, like have a completely different experience with that. I think it’d be really cool.

David Bisset: But you know, I was like, it sounds like something in the old days before Gutenberg, that would be like a WordPress plugin.

You would have to find

Anne McCarthy: correct.

David Bisset: Which in the defense of Gutenberg, in terms of that, I mean, You know, you’re, it seems like a lot of the, you know, a lot of the major work being done, but also some things that are being done in Gutenberg. Like duotone, for example, maybe it’s the one that jumps out at me. It’s like, [00:26:00] like before it was just, you had to go find a plugin for that.

I mean, you’re you and birds taking off. Lots of cool and interesting things that were before with maybe with, or with maybe with a page builder, with an add on with a page builder or just a plugin that those were just like little thrills that you would just find in the plugin stuff, getting Berg’s incorporating this in the course.

So Gutenberg, I mean, it’s not just a, it’s not just the blocks anymore. You’re incorporating all these like, you know, fun stuff that like, maybe. Not even the majority of people might even use some time, unless there’s a big, duotone a fan group out there. In other words,

Anne McCarthy: the only thing that I think is cool is that you can add it on theme level.

I think that’s part of it. It is very much a design tool in that sense. And I think that. To me where I’ve seen it really come to life is when I’ve seen some theme authors. I think some automatic female author is released. It’s skate park is a theme, but it has like do a twin filters baked in. So like, if you change the [00:27:00] background of your theme, the images were also like a doc, the duo tone.

David Bisset: Oh no. My F my life is a French film to atone anyway. So I’m full of that. Did you happen to hear. I think when it comes to block themes, Matt said something about wanting 3000 a year or so. Was he exaggerating there a little bit? I

Anne McCarthy: think he’s serious. And like, I also, this sounds wild, but I think it is very much so, like he actually thought it was interesting that he said it in that way, because how do I explain this?

Like, You could take one block theme, like let’s take 20, 22. For example, the announcement post showed this and any announcement posts, it shows like four or five different style theme Jason files and switching between them. And it looks like a completely different theme. And I think that’s where it’s like, you could literally take the base of one theme with the same patterns, all that sort of stuff, and create.

20 different theme, Jason files to switch [00:28:00] between and have a complete different experience. And to me, that’s, what’s really cool. And then once you start integrating with the pattern directory even more, I think that unlocks some really cool stuff. So when he says that, I’m like, yeah, I understand what he’s saying, but I actually, I think that’s a way to connect with like the.

FIM world that we have come to know to last however many years. Yeah. But I think the future with block themes, things are going to be wildly different. I think rich table were asked a question about, you know, could there be a directory for different style? And I’m like, yes, like that to me, I think is a really cool model and there’s work being done to enable.

And json switching within a block theme,

David Bisset: so definitely would make it competitive with you know, like, like a Wix or Squarespace in terms of like you could have, this is a completely customizable experience. Speaking of customizable, I do have a question for you. When it comes to the full site editing, what happens to the customizer?

There’s numerous people that use that there’s people that use that and granted they use that for their theme settings and maybe. And [00:29:00] for other things, and in addition to the normal customization, so what’s going to happen to the customizer?.

Anne McCarthy: Yeah. So this is actually something that I’m so glad you’re asking me this, because this is a thing I’ve seen, brought up a ton.

I’ve gotten, especially in the span of like, it felt like two weeks, I was getting a ping, like every other day being like customizer. And I’m like,

David Bisset: I know like a bot on Twitter about the customizer, but I’ve figured that ask you.

Anne McCarthy: So basically the customizer, if a plugin or theme happens to look into it the customizer will be available to actually it’ll direct you to it.

So it’s not like it’s going away forever. Is it removed from the menu item? Yes. If you’re using a block theme, you will not see it unless you are using a plugin that somehow hooks into the

David Bisset: customizer, but you have to switch to a block theme and then at the official

Anne McCarthy: blocking the lose, the customizer only superior.

Correct. And it would only disappear if you don’t have a plugin that happens to look into

David Bisset: it as well. Right. I’m sure somebody will come up with that in a few seconds, but

Okay. Then I, you know, initially [00:30:00] here, I mean, I’ve, haven’t had my coffee yet, but it sounds like to me, that makes sense where in terms of, you know, you’re not going to need it. You may not need it. Now, if anybody has anything in there, there’s probably something developers that have put something in there that shouldn’t be in there then, you know, get out, get it out of there.

But okay. That answers that question pretty well, because it makes sense. With a block theme on there shouldn’t be anything in the customizer left.

Anne McCarthy: There is a universal theme. I don’t know if you’ve heard about universal themes, but they’re also a combination. So there’s like, let’s see there’s black beans hybrid themes, universal themes, and classic themes is like theme paradigm.

We’re about to enter and blockings are like fully built in with full siting. Like you’re not, you know, using the customized or anything

David Bisset: like that. You don’t need the, you don’t need the additional CSS. The one thing that sticks out in my mind is the additional CSS thing in the in the customizer and you and I both know.

That if I don’t usually use that, I use, I, I add the CSS some other way. It’s usually through a plugin or through the style sheet, in the theme [00:31:00] or something like that, whatever. That’s the only thing that kind of concerns me a little bit, because I’ve seen people put CSS in there that relate even to plugin, not even the theme directly, because that’s just one place that they’re able to put CSS.

They know it they’ve seen it, or some webpage told them to put it there, that they don’t have to like dig into any code to, they can just put the additional CSS. In fact, it wouldn’t surprise me if some WordPress plugin support people have told people, oh, in order to resolve this issue with our. You just need a CSS tweak with your theme going here.

But again, you’re saying that it’s still going to be there unless they switched to a block theme. So the only danger there is if you switch to a block theme, but if you’re somehow using the plugin, is that, does that, it’s just hiding it. It’s not removing it.

Anne McCarthy: It’s just hiding it. It’s not removing it. So

David Bisset: sorry.

I had to work that out. Yeah,

Anne McCarthy: no I totally understand. Cause I used to work on Jetpack a lot and that was one of the things. It has an additional CSS part of it. So I understand what you’re describing. [00:32:00] Yeah, it’s very, I also want to advocate actually for universal themes, because if someone is like, I’m curious about this world, but I don’t want to jump in universal themes are basically designed so that you can use blocking functionality, but then also the customizer.

So it basically bridges. Which is why it’s called universal

David Bisset: either that or the movie company bought you the rights.

Anne McCarthy: Did you not hear about the new acquisition?

David Bisset: I was going to go to the theme park in Orlando and see all the new Gutenberg blocks, right? The ride, the Gutenberg ride. Oh my God.

Anne McCarthy: You say that.

But I did. I was getting beer the other day at a store and there was a thing called gluten berg. Which is a form of gluten-free beer. And I was like, oh my God. And I was off work. So I was like, am I tripping right now? Like, what is happening, dude, bird everywhere.

David Bisset: I made a slip on Twitter, I think yesterday morning.

And I said something about like, I’m having a state of the word hangover, a hashtag Gutenberg. And I left it in there and I just said, Gutenberg is just you [00:33:00] trying to contribute to the project, but you haven’t figured out yet how to be sustainable. So you’re, and you’re not above begging. So, you know?

Yeah. So I left Gutenberg and I left good Megan, there let’s talk about at least two more things before I leave you to. Fantastic video editing work here. One thing is about testing. What is the number one way? What’s the number one? What’s number one thing you advocate regarding testing. And you’re going to give me symbol links to put in the show notes for this.

So we’re not going to worry about that, but how does that work and what do what’s the qualifications and what are you looking. In terms of testing.

Anne McCarthy: It’s a great, so like the beta posts on, I’m going to drag people to the beta posts on your research backslash news, because there’s actually a link under like a testing instructions to a post that I did that gets very detailed.

So if you just are comfortable testing, go for it. If you’re someone who needs more instruction or. Exactly. Like what to test, how to test. I have a post that’s it’s titled help test 5.9 features, and it [00:34:00] goes step by step through the different features with like a brief description of what they are, how to find.

And as well as like, if you want to get even more detailed steps, a lot of them link out to calls for testing that were done through the outreach program. So you can even get like a step-by-step description of what needs to be done. But yeah, right now, if you can, I highly recommend testing both 5.9 in terms of, without a block.

But then also take the 2022 thing first, then it is a very cool expansive team.

David Bisset: Hey, Matt gave us the bird on Tuesday and my wife looked at me like I was, should report it to the. Yeah, but it’s in, that’s also another, that’s another complication layer too. It’s not just the five nine release. It’s it’s the new default WordPress theme. It looks fantastic. It is the, it looks fantastic.

I’m more excited. I can’t remember the last time I’ve been more excited about like a default theme coming up because it really looks like it’s using the art state of the edge [00:35:00] stuff, plus, you know, the birds well, good. Well, thanks for you. Share those links with me. I’ll make sure to add them.

I make them in there. So here’s one thing that’s been. I was scratching my noggin the other day and trying to figure out the best way to describe this. So I’ve been told by multiple sources that thanks to COVID thanks to the lack of in-person work camps. The contributions contributors have been, they’ve been low for the past 16, 18 months, two years, something like that.

And then. Do you think that first of all, do you think that’s true? And if so of it’s true. Do you think it’s, is it impacted the project because Matt, I guess I’m just gonna finish my sentence and let you speak at the end, because I don’t know when to shut up, but I did see, I saw Matt slides on Tuesday.

He did highlight. I mean, there are lots of circles in the slides, right. And then there was lots of new contributors. Yes. Circles. I work in [00:36:00] shapes. But there were, and there were lots of new contributors to that. We don’t know what they worked on. I mean, new contributors, that’s awesome in there.

And there was definitely a lot of circles on there, but do you think that COVID has had an impact on the contributions or contributors over the past two years?

Anne McCarthy: I mean, yes, both. And I will say, I think it’s like a. Multi-directional so I think it’s everything from, for example, the outreach program, I’ve given out 70 badges for a test contribution, which is probably more than has been given in a long time, you know?

So it’s like, in some ways we’ve had more contributors, probably in some spaces and have brought in. And I’ve had the chance to work with folks who have gone out into their local communities or held things online with their local communities to help people test and explore that. So there’s like, it’s both right.

Like I think in some cases it really burns some people out. I think it burned a lot of folks out were just dealing with like trying to survive day to day. You’re probably not going to want to jump into open source and contribute. [00:37:00] But at the same time, I think suddenly the community had to become a lot more accessible.

So actually I started this role in April of 2020, so right when things were really like in the U S it was. Getting really serious, like in lockdown, all this sort of stuff. So it’s been very interesting. I, when I first started the job was told like, oh yeah, one of the first things we’d probably do is send you around a bunch of word camps and word cancer, where people get onboarded and like all this sort of stuff.

And I was like, okay, well that’s not an option. So what are we going to do about this?

David Bisset: Yeah.

Anne McCarthy: And this is where we’re all kind of delusional about like, oh, maybe this will pass. And so it’s been very interesting and like, I can tell you speaking personally, a very anecdotally I have spoken at probably 10 or 11.

Events, maybe more in the last year I do not like public speaking. If I had to go up on stage and do it, it would be way less successful for me. Like it causes way too much anxiety. And then on top of that, like, you know, I just gave the word camp Taiwan recorded or camp Taiwan keynote at [00:38:00] like one 30 in the morning of my time where like, normally I would have to travel to Taiwan.

I would have to, you know, be jet lagged pregnant. There were a couple of days early, like all this sort of stuff. And then it. Being able to connect with brand new contributors and brand new folks has become way easier. And so I think that’s like one of the things that makes me really excited is like, you can travel the world from your apartment.

So I often and just see what people were talking about. And we’ll just jump in. Either a 5% or 50% meetup

David Bisset: group. Oh, I love her. I love virtual stuff. I talked to my kids. That’s how I talked to my kids all the time. My kids still live with me, a side note. So do you, so,

Anne McCarthy: yes, I do think it’s also caused a decrease.

I think there’s an over-reliance on On people who are sponsored contributors. And I think, but I think it also, at the same time, new pathways have been built. So I’m both encouraged that like new pathways are being built. New folks are being brought in and things like the photo directory, the pattern directory even blockchains are way easier to build.

[00:39:00] I think we’re going to see an influx of more folks coming in.

David Bisset: Yeah.

The onboarding process. Right? I would imagine. Yeah, like you said, it’s harder for any individuals with present condition. So I, you know, companies like, like, and Matt was showing those, the other bubble slide where there was automatic.

I imagine there’s like you said, you were doing one thing now you’re doing another, it sounds like there’s automatic made some adjustments there to. I’m not putting words in your mouth, but if it wouldn’t surprise me, if some companies made some adjustments to compensate for the fact that, you know, there is less of certain kinds of contributors out there just because of oral conditions.

And we just finished. I don’t know if you’ve been following this log for. She fought with J or something.

Anne McCarthy: Log4jI.

David Bisset: Mean, everybody’s talking about it. I mean, nobody’s rewriting my software yet. Thank goodness. I’m unpopular now. And it’s an advantage but I mean, there, you have, like, I think two people, one [00:40:00] person working on that and the guy had a side job too, and now everybody’s kind of relying on it and you know, that makes you sit back and watch.

Well, a lot of people rely on WordPress. Obviously things are going to slip through the cracks, but overall it’s nice to have, even if there was a major world event and this has been a major world event, then I think things from a feature standpoint, from a bug standing standpoint, it could, I guess it depends on your experience.

You can either say it’s been fantastic that it’s managed to be as uninterrupted as it has been over the last two years. Or you can just say, Hey, it could have been worse. It, you know, WordPress runs 43% and the train has to keep moving. The show must go on. And some adjustments, I guess, have to be made.

I’m looking, I do want to see more independent or at least other companies enter into that bubble space. Just like Matt had. I mean, at one point it was a bubble’s commercial, but I mean, you know, that second slide with just more independent bubbles on it. So it sounds it’s, but it sounds like for [00:41:00] me talking with you here, that of all the challenges that’s happened, both ones that I think everybody could imagine in some of the ones that you’re not telling me, because we don’t want to get into the weeds on it.

It sounds like, from stability-wise I th the decision. To bump it. I think it was only a little bit controversial for a moment. At least from the outside. I can’t speak within the inside of a group. I imagine there was a lot of talk and maybe there was some tradition or precedent there, but obviously that would have didn’t sound like that lasted very long if there was any, and it was only controversial out here, like, you know, weirdo land where I live, you know, there was news, but it was.

Okay, fine. You’re bumping it from December. I think I’d rather have that been bumped. And so it sounds like,

Anne McCarthy: And that was part of why I wrote the post to be honest, because I was like, man, this is going to be so confusing and people who aren’t just like knee deep in this, like it’s going to be seen in a light.

That’s like really hard to parse. And so that was really part of my aim and writing [00:42:00] like, Hey, this is why I voted. And this is the details. If you really want to know Of course, Matt, I don’t know if you saw Matt’s comment where it’s like, this is the actually information I want. Like that’s a different post that Matt. Like, I can’t, I don’t want to write it.

David Bisset: Let me do my work. Cool.

Anne McCarthy: I know I got that comment on Sunday and I was like, oh, okay, cool. Like I, where do I need to write out a post about this? I was like no. We have to do a retro for the release. Like, this is a really good, but he’s right. I was like, oh man, I should have included some stuff about like, here’s what I think we can do going forward.

You know, it was chaotic. I wrote it, I think, within a week of the decision. And it was doing it on top of other stuff. So

David Bisset: yeah, next time it’s a long story, but next time I have to get you to get him to say banana milkshake and the state of the word I have. If you don’t know what it is, I’ll try to put a link in the show notes, but anyway.

Yeah. But th the thing about the bingo card is we put some obvious ones there, and then we put some less obvious ones. Like there’s like, like NFT. He said NFT. Okay. How about metaverse? You said metaverse.. Okay. Now it’s like, everybody’s doing bingo. Bingo, and going, oh, crap. I could have made [00:43:00] this harder, except everybody has a one random generated word.

It’s like I was saying to myself, what’s the antifree square. It’s what’s on a bingo card. What’s one thing he would never say. And then everybody says, well, we can’t get bingo. And he says banana milkshake. And I’m like, all right, people put on your big person pants. And we’re going to see if we can get someone there.

But anyway, besides that way, we’ll edit this all out. It’s boring. but anyway, and what you do, but. To end on a good to end on a very good note here, because I’m talking to you and you do very good things. So this is going to be very, it’d be very you’re very much appreciated in. And even if the resources, even if the testing, you know, is, you know, we could always use more testing.

We can always use more contributors. I think the job that you’re doing, the videos is doing two things really well, everything that you do, it’s not just the videos, but the videos, just making things a lot easier to consume. Especially in this Tik TOK world we live in don’t do tick. I didn’t say the tick-tock


Anne McCarthy: I mean,

David Bisset: here, my kids don’t either [00:44:00] I’m that I’m not going there, but two it’s also about the transparency for something like this, I think because it wasn’t such of a talking point, partly was because you and the team were so transparent. And the minute that we read, the minute I read the report, I’m like, yeah, this sounds like the way you’re presenting it.

A it’s a, no, it sounds like a no-brainer and B we can wait another month. I can wait another month.,

Anne McCarthy: I really credit folks like Tonja and Mary and Rob. And like, there’s a lot of folks who made that transparency. This is tough decisions, Jonathan to Rogers. Who’s not even on release squad was like giving advice about timing.

Like it really was a team effort to operate in that way. And I loved seeing the liveliness of the 5.9 release leads channel, and it folks are curious about how our release works. And you can literally watch us talk. And there is no back channel. Like it’s like, I have a question I’m going to that channel.

David Bisset: Yeah. I need that. I need kind of that for my, from my marriage. Cause it’d be nice to have some texts. You didn’t say that will [00:45:00] let me do a little search here. And where are you going to your mother’s? Okay. I’ll catch you later. All right. So, and tell us where we can find you on the web and where people can reach out to you, especially if they have questions.

Anne McCarthy: I’m at an Zazu and an E Z a Z U on we’re personal work slack. And then I have a block like I’m very I know shocking nomad dot block.

David Bisset: Make sure to throw that into the show notes or give that to me and I’ll put in the show. Yeah. Yeah,

Anne McCarthy: I will. And like, I honestly am not, you can find me on LinkedIn, but I’m off of Instagram. I activate and deactivate quite frequently. It’s the one that I seem to be, I do too, but that’s in

David Bisset: real life, but yes.

I know you’re not on Twitter and you’re sometimes on Instagram. That’s why I wanted to get a few links for you because I’m in post out a slack and there’s posts at a slack there’s WordPress slack. Thank you very much for sitting down and talk to me about this. I think

Anne McCarthy: thanks for the opportunity.

There’s so much, I feel like we could talk about, which is always such a great feeling is it’s like, gosh, I could just talk for hours about these different things, because I think so much about them and you [00:46:00] really hit everything that I want to talk about. So it’s awesome.

David Bisset: Yeah. Why didn’t I have this skill when I was young and single, I have no idea.

That gives me food for thought later, but anyway, I really appreciate it. And I will I’ll definitely be checking out the betas for 5.9. We can’t wait for January.

Anne McCarthy: Awesome.

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