WordPress announced that the Widgets Screen part of the WordPress 5.6 release will be pushed back to version 5.7. This comes after WordPress chose to drop the navigation screen to focus on the widget screen feature.
WordPress 5.6 is the last big release for 2020, booked for December 2020.
While this appears to be an huge setback to lose two important feature, there is a much greater feature packed into 5.6 and this change makes it more likely to be included.
WordPress Widgets is a significant piece of WordPress. The widget block was so significant for WordPress 5.6 that the developers chose toward the beginning of October 2020 to eliminate the navigational editing screen from WordPress 5.6 in order to devote more focus on getting the widgets screen finished.
With less than two months until the release of WordPress 5.6, it was chosen to eliminate the widgets screen from the next release and push it back to WordPress 5.7.
WordPress 5.7 is presently scheduled to be released on March 2021, so this gives the WordPress team around five additional months to prepare the widget screen ready for publishers.
The WordPress declaration refered to the highlights features lack of readiness for the choice to eliminate it from the 5.6 version of WordPress:
“At the current stage of this project a bulk of that work is done, but more focused testing revealed notable concerns for overall usability (including customizer interactions, some confusions between block & legacy widgets, and UX disparities between the old and new screens).”
Remarks by the WordPress development network showed that the widgets screen is not so good and will require a ton of consideration before it can make it into the WordPress core.
One lead developer called it a subpar experience:
“…the subpar experience of the separate widgets screen. It also is very jarring to visit the customizer after having added blocks to widget areas because of the way blocks are displayed and handled in that context, and users should be able to flow between whatever works for them freely, not be forced into one or the other without benefit to them.
So, when we come back to this again, let’s keep sight of what it means to keep users feeling secure that they can get their site looking the way they want with WordPress, and not like they are having to work around what we’ve given them.”
Another lead developer expressed relief that the widgets screen was being pushed back.
“I breath a sigh of relief, because the new widget screen needs a lot more testing out in the wild before it becomes the new default widget screen in core. We need to get it working properly with the user interface, user flow and functions testing it in the Gutenberg plugin.”
A third lead developer commented on the “quirky” user experience of the widgets block and agreed that further time was needed:
“It’s true, we, as users, want *everything* to be WYSIWYG as much as possible. The Customizer’s “instant preview” kind of helps, but still feels quirky and hacky (and is far from being WYSIWYG).”
What was set to be an exciting release featuring a new widget screen and a navigation block editor is further diminished by the loss of both features.
Fortunately this opens up the WordPress team to focus on making WordPress 5.6 viable with the PHP 8 which is presently scheduled for discharge on November 26, 2020.
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Read the Official WordPress Announcement