Morteza Heidarpour Morteza Heidarpour

Blocked-Based Version of Twenty Twenty-One Nearing Readiness for the Theme Directory

Blocked-Based Version of Twenty Twenty-One Nearing Readiness for the Theme Directory

Screenshot of a page built with the TT1 Blocks theme.

Twenty Twenty-One Blocks, now renamed to TT1 Blocks, is inching its way toward the WordPress theme directory. Kjell Reigstad mentioned the prospect in this week’s block-based themes meeting. Contributors to the theme, which is part of the Theme Experiments project, have pushed some much-needed code updates to the repository.

TT1 Blocks is the block-based version of the Twenty Twenty-One theme. Its goal is to provide a version of the original theme that works with Full Site Editing (FSE), currently only available through the Gutenberg plugin.

FSE needs more testers. And, testers need themes that will enable the site editor in Gutenberg. Currently, there are only two WordPress themes, Q and Block-Based Bosco, in the directory that support the site editor. Armando should join them shortly. If a user attempts to find one via the FSE filter, they will get no results, as pointed out by Gary Taylor in a recent comment. This seems to be an oversight by the theme authors and should be corrected.

With most block-based themes relegated to a few GitHub repositories, it does not bode well if no one can find themes to test the most important set of features coming to WordPress in 2021. Users should be able to easily install an FSE-ready theme today.

“It has been brought up that it may be easier for people to test and contribute to full site editing if Twenty Twenty-One blocks was available in the WordPress theme directory,” wrote Themes Team representative Carolina Nymark in a ticket about renaming TT1 Blocks.

TT1 Blocks is something that feels more official. While third-party block-based themes are needed, the officialness of something from core contributors gives more users a sense of trust. Plus, it would be easy for someone with .ORG administrator privileges to stick it to the top of the theme directory’s featured page to get more eyes on it. Doing this with a third-party theme would unleash a hoard of developers who want the same treatment for their themes.

The prospect of the theme coming to the directory is something the WordPress project needs.

The volunteers who have been chipping away at this TT1 Blocks have turned a bare-bones theme into something closer to the original Twenty Twenty-One. There are still some leaps remaining to get it to where it needs to be. Much is this rests in the Gutenberg development team’s hands. There are currently over a dozen blockers identified by the Theme Experiments project that need to be resolved in the Gutenberg plugin first.

Viewing a single post template in the WordPress site editor while using the TT1 Blocks theme.
Single post in the site editor with TT1 Blocks

There are multiple open tickets on the project board for theme developers who are looking for a way to contribute. This is an opportunity to learn more about block-based themes and pay it forward.

At the moment, I am not-so-patiently awaiting the release of TT1 Blocks to the theme directory.

There are days when I wonder if there is a final destination, some light at the end of this never-ending tunnel that leads to block-based themes being the norm. I get overexcited about each new project. I quickly test pull requests and updates on the handful of repositories I am watching, hoping for a glimpse of something spectacular.

Part of this excitement is because I designed and developed WordPress themes for around 15 years in some form or fashion. Today, I am no longer in the design and development game. I must live vicariously through the people who are putting untold hours into this grand experiment. I get to tell their stories, which has its own rewards.

I also know that this sort of development is a slog. Everyone has big ideas, but the real world calls for slow, steady, and dedicated work. Often it is thankless.

When I saw the mere mention of TT1 Blocks potentially coming to the theme directory, it added a bit of spark to an otherwise rough few days. I wanted to end this particular week with something hopeful. And, testing out the latest work those volunteers have put into TT1 Blocks has done just that.

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