November update

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Twenty Twenty-One

My days have been fully dedicated to the next default theme Twenty Twenty-One. Managing issues and pull requests, testing, solving problems and participating in discussions and meetings.

Beta 3 of the WordPress 5.6 release cycle is tomorrow, and focus will be on bringing back the dark mode functionality to Twenty Twenty-One so that we have time to test it and receive feedback.

If you would like to see the dark mode feature in the theme, please leave a comment on this post:

If you have a moment to test the dark mode and give us feedback, positive or negative, that would be immensely helpful!

Twenty Twenty-One Blocks

The development of the full site editing version of Twenty Twenty-One has started.

Justin Tadlock wrote an article about the theme on WP Tavern, and for that article, I had a confession to make. I have not even had the time to test run the theme.

I have promised myself to do it as soon as I finish posting this update.

I am still very excited about full site editing, but between working on Twenty Twenty-One and having a few sick days, there has not been enough hours.

I have been open with that I have not been able to create new course material in the extent and with the speed that I had planned.

I am still dedicated to trying to ease the transition to full site editing. And to highlight the importance of theme authors becoming involved in the development.

We are now in November, and there are still so many unanswered questions. But I am hoping that is because I do not have the full context right now. And I am hoping that all the different pieces will fall in place when put together. If I can help improve the documentation for full site editing and try to encourage a more open communication about the future of themes, I will continue to try to do that.

For the course site, the plan right now is not to charge for the course material starting in January 2021. There is not enough content to validate charging for it.

I have also had problems with using LearnDash for the course format, because of the many accessibility issues. After the release of WordPress 5.6, I am going to need to reconsider the format for the content of the website.

All the feels

In March 2020, when it was announced that WordPress 5.6 would have an all women release squad, I knew I wanted to volunteer for it. I was not sure at what capacity, but I knew it would be a great opportunity to learn.

At the end of April, Covid-19 turned life around for me as for many others and I did not have a safe work environment to return to.
While I was taking steps to create a new career, trying to learn how to become a remote WordPress freelancer, -having a small earning some months, and no income other months, I was asked if I wanted to be the development lead for the default theme that was going to be included in 5.6.

I said yes, with the reservation that I was unemployed and knowing that I would not be able to turn down payed jobs at the same time was a concern for me.

Being part of the release squad and working on the default theme is a great honor for me.

I love creating themes, and I love and appreciate being a part of the WordPress community and the themes team.

And I believe that the time and effort I spend on the release is also an investment in myself. That it is a learning experience that will help me grow and help me with future career decisions.

As WordPress 5.5 was close to being released, I was fully set on working on the default theme full time for the period that was needed, because the truth is, it had not been easy for me to find theme related gigs.

I am not great at expressing this.
Almost four weeks ago, Francesca Marano who works at Yoast whispered me on the WordPress slack. About an hour and a half later, I had a sponsorship to work on WordPress core and the default theme for the rest of the year.

And it’s a big deal. If I wanted to swear here I would say it’s a big fucking deal.

I am grateful and humbled. It helps me tremendously to know that I don’t have to worry about finances for these month. I don’t have to worry about making time for other short term projects, instead I am able to focus on the theme.

But even more so that people believe in me and what I am capable of, -that my contributions have been worth it and are encouraged.

You might think that in the long run, 3 months doesn’t matter.

It matters.

I am grateful and a bit overwhelmed of being able to be part of a team at Yoast for this time. After going from working at a government agency with thousands of employees, to not having any colleges at all; being part of a team again feels good.
It is making me reconsider what my options are, whether I want to be a lone freelancer or what I will do next.

I am also learning and finding new insights about what Yoast does for the WordPress eco system and beyond that. I have been impressed to see the reach and impact of their work and I am thankful for it.

It also makes me feel naive, and again, humble, because I know that I have so much to learn.

Twenty Twenty-One…

When the default theme squad was put together we were six women, both designers and developers. As people dropped off and while waiting for the theme design to be completed, it became more difficult for me to picture how we would be able to create two themes: One standard PHP theme, and a full site editing version.

I had made a promise mostly to myself, that I was not going to let the theme be delayed this year. That I would not let this theme be as stressful as Twenty Twenty. That we would start development as early as possible, and that I would make sure that we had all the time we needed… And it did not quite turn out that way.

Instead, there were delay after delay and I found it difficult to not have a dedicated person to discuss the technical development details with. -Which is something very different to having the support of co-lead Mel Choyce-Dwan as design lead to discuss the design aspect with. It made me insecure of my role and how to kickstart the actual development.

I found it stressful and difficult that together we were not able to create and stick to a plan for what features the theme would have. We had been asked to base Twenty Twenty-One on a theme from Automattic called Seedlet, and features kept being removed and added back.

-It was not possible for me to estimate how much time that would be needed for developing features and implement and update design elements. Without a plan I did not know what skills that would be needed in order to create specific theme features, or who would be the best developer to reach out to for help with these features.

I don’t want to say that without the help from Yoast, there would not be a theme; because there absolutely would have been a new default theme. It wouldn’t have been a theme of this quality, or at this stage of completion.

I will say that without the help from Francesca and the WordPress team at Yoast I would have continued to push myself harder and continued to put in more hours not only working on, but thinking of and worrying about the theme than what is healthy. I would not have understood or recognized that I needed the extra help, or known where to ask for it. I would not have been in a good place and I would not have been able to be proud of the theme we have now created.

And as much as I love creating, and as awesome as working on the default theme is, there are more important things outside WordPress. Being reminded of that helps too.

Without the help and efforts from Aristath, (also at Yoast), the theme would have been a different and most definitely a subpar theme.

And I want to thank two more people who have stepped up to help the WordPress 5.6 theme squad. I am thankful for having Kjellr on the team, and for all the extra help from Ryelle. Without their skills and their in-depth knowledge of Gutenberg and theme development there would have been many more moments where we; the contributors and not least myself, had gotten stuck on technical solutions.

Together we have a few final steps to complete.

-Please let there be no more bugs… 😉