WordPress 5.9 review

WordPress 5.9 – Full Site Edition is Here

WordPress 5.9 arrived and a functionality that grew with each update reached the pinnacle: FSE, for the acronym Full Site Editing; in Spanish, the Complete Edition of the Site, that is, the use of the Gutenberg block builder (WordPress native) to modify portions of our Theme. How well does it work? And how do admins and designers react to this direction that WP development took? In this note we cover all aspects.


In case you hadn't heard, each new version of WordPress honors a jazz artist. Thus, this time it was the turn of Joséphine Baker, French-American singer and civil rights activist in the context of World War II. Her career not only inspired the new version of WordPress: she is the first woman of color to enter the Mausoleum of A Paris pantheon. We leave you here one playlist so that they like his work.

In another dimension of this new installment of WordPress, and surely the one that most concerns us at a professional level, we tell you that the very Matt Mullenweg, the original creator of WordPress, personally led the latter update. The first thing that emerges from this is Matt's personal interest in pushing, supervising, and putting the finishing touches on the newborn FSE. The second thing is that, obviously, the Full Site Editing is the definitive step in the direction WordPress took when it introduced Gutenberg..

Another novelty is that WordPress 5.9 leaves the factory accompanied by the first Theme made with Gutenberg Blocks: Twenty Twenty-Two. Unsurprisingly, this Theme sidesteps the need to use the Theme Customizer by allowing users to make changes in the Site Editor.

In short, we can anticipate that the Theme Customizer will cease to exist at some point in time, and what pushes it off the map is FSE…

FSE: Full Site Editing

Full Site Editing capability allows web designers and administrators to include and customize structural design elements, that is, design the Header, the Footer, the sidebars, the search fields, etc.

After upgrading to WordPress 5.9, a new “Editor (beta)” link will show up under the Appearance category of our Desktop toolbar. This editor unlocks the functionality of being able to visually edit styles and blocks throughout the site for both home pages, templates and sections.

In short, Gutenberg editing, which used to start and end with content, has moved to the design elements that make up the overall look and feel of a site. And all this without having to seek help from third parties via plugins or get your hands on the PHP and/or CSS code of the theme used.

However, nothing less is to point out that the Theme we use must “embrace” this technology. If a Theme is not ready to be compatible with ESF, ultimately Gutenberg's final effort falls on deaf ears. Will Divi, Ultra, and OceanWP (to name a few heavyweights) allow Gutenberg to manipulate their structure freely? And how long will it take for this to happen? Not surprisingly, one of the bosses behind the ESF project recently tweeted as a prayer:

from the site wpmarmite.com we get a study concerning ESF. The same was done on 125 Theme sales sites, some independent but others working within ThemeForest. The study revealed that 22% of Theme developers are working on fully FSE compliant versions. A heroic 9% actively contributes to improving FSE technology via feedback and code improvements. However, the rest of the Theme designers ignore this functionality for now. so that a 70%, it is not working to support Gutenberg Blocks, much less looking for compatibility with FSE.

Meanwhile, we have within our reach the popular Astra, a pioneer in pairing with Gutenberg from the beginning. And, as we anticipate, the new WordPress Theme 5.9, Twenty Twenty-two, allows us to experience ESF as we please.

A CMS with personality

What translates from this meticulously planned and worked direction is that WordPress moved away from a typical CMS, merely a blogger. This is not a matter of personal opinion: it was made clear when the developers announced that support for The Classic WordPress Editor will have its last update in December 2022. Yes, that editor that we have used so much all these years will give its final chord together with the closing of the year.

In a way, this evolution of WordPress is an attempt to get closer to a commercial solution like Weebly or Wix. Is this what the public, read admins and developers of all kinds, want from the most widely used CMS on the planet? Let's see.

Acceptance and rejection

Admittedly, not everyone is happy with the route that WordPress took. The community has been divided, and a growing portion feels that development efforts should focus on a more agile and more secure WordPress rather than add code for a block editor that they will probably never use.

The world of WordPress developers was divided into four groups:

  • Those who accept WordPress with Gutenberg as it leaves the factory; However, they are not interested in the block editor, much less FSE.
  • Those who use WordPress with a big “but”: download some component, typically "Classic Editor", to continue using the CMS as it was originally (note: the plugin ClassicEditor deactivates Gutgenberg and is used enough today to be the component No.#5 in the list of the most downloaded plugins in WordPress).
  • Those who have decided to LEAVE WORDPRESS. In replacement, they have embraced "forks” (forks or alterations of the original source code) that return the original spirit of the most famous CMS on the web. One of these "forks” that has become popular today is ClassicPress, an alteration of WordPress fourth generation (pre Gutenberg) that, as you can imagine, offers the conventional mode of use to which they were so accustomed.
  • Those who have been very enthusiastic about this roadmap and, in fact, have verified the benefits in speed and the scores obtained in Google Insights / GTMetrix, moving all their web content to Gutenberg and FSE. We are in this group: Duplika.

ESF Edition

WordPress 5.9 can be considered the beginning of the end of the Customizer.

The new editor (still Beta) is divided into Site, Templates and Templates Sections. On the right we have access to the Styles.

For practical purposes, an ESF-friendly Theme unlocks the ability to edit its Templates and sections. Under the hood, these are the code segments that control how the parts that make up our website are structured and designed.

Twenty Twenty-Two, the new Theme that comes out of the box with WordPress 5.9, allows us, for example, to edit the templates of Home Page, Post, Blog Index, Page and even 404 Error Page.

The section “Template Sections"For its part, it gives us the possibility of create and modify Headers and Footers. Meanwhile, the toolbar on the right makes it possible to affect the styles. Thanks to this we can modify sizes and colors of our fonts, buttons, upload new fonts and customize other common elements of a web design.

Changes and Improvements

One of the most requested blocks is now a reality: the Navigation block. This one allows us to create and modify menus based on Gutenberg blocks, incorporating not only links at our discretion but also logos and other design elements. Once created, these Navigation blocks can be located to our liking throughout the site.

Furthermore, this new block is responsive as we wish: always active or depending on the navigation device, including its adaptability to the size of the current display.

Note: the customizer will no longer be present in Appearance, Customize when we use FSE Eligible Themes.

More power of Personalization

Another of the great “historical” obstacles in Gutenberg was its simplicity, rather a lack of fields and options to customize the blocks. But in this new version of WordPress 5.9 the developers wanted to open the range by giving us a range of cool options for each existing block. Thus, we find ourselves with possibilities of changing the background color, typography (spacing, interlettering, capitalization), borders for some blocks, custom sizes, and much more.

An interesting novelty is that we can drag and drop items in the block list, allowing a more intuitive but also faster design/redesign. The latest version also makes it easy to expand/collapse sections with one click. Another notable improvement is that by default the blocks now have an anchor name; This allows us to establish links that jump directly to the block we need within the post.

The Block Image Gallery now allows us to manipulate each photo in the same way we do for an individual image block. This means that we can customize and effect each of the bitmap files included in the Gallery Block.

The Heading Block, perhaps one of the most used together with the Paragraph Block, now allows us to modify the weight of the typography.

performance improvements

The images of lazy loading, a functionality that until WordPress 5.5 we were looking for in a third-party component, was first expanded in WordPress 5.7 to incorporate iFrames, and now, in WordPress 5.9, it has been significantly improved to increase its performance even more. Let's remember that lazy loading (“LazyLoad” in English) is the mechanic that delay image download to prioritize text display. In addition, the off-screen images (those that are only seen when we scroll down) are loaded at the moment they should be seen and not before.

WordPress developers measured the functionality of lazy loading in the 50 Most Used WordPress Themes, concluding that WordPress 5.9 presents an improvement of up to 30% in page load.


Theme.json version 1, introduced in the previous WordPress 5.8 update, is a file created to set style properties in a structured way. The Block Editor thus manages to manage the CSS that comes from different sources (user created, inherent to Theme and main CSS). For practical purposes, if for example a Theme and a user set the font size for paragraphs, only the style that comes from the user will be enqueued and not the one from the theme.

Theme.json reached its new version 2 with WordPress 5.9. Some of the advantages are further reduction in the amount of CSS queued, and better prevention of "specificity wars".

While the files theme.json v1 Existing ones will continue to work normally, WordPress will progressively mutate them at runtime with v2 format. more about this here.

Multiple CSS per Block

With WordPress 5.9 it is possible to assign more than one style sheet per Block. The idea behind this is that we can share styles between Blocks or load unique styles from individual blocks so that CSS is only loaded when that Block is used. more about this here.

More hooks and functions

WordPress 5.9 brings us a new repertoire of hooks and functions for working with posts, post types, and taxonomies. more about this here.

New API to access global settings and styles

Following the birth of the Theme.json v1 API in WordPress 5.8 and its corresponding JavaScript API, WordPress 5.9 brings us a public PHP API for reading theme.json data. The following new functions give access to the configuration keys and styles found within a Theme.json:

wp_get_global_settings( $path = array() , $context = array() ); wp_get_global_styles( $path = array(), $context = array() );


WordPress 5.9 is the perfect prelude to the next generation, WordPress 6. The path is clear: to differentiate yourself from other CMS by providing an increasingly comprehensive solution in terms of design and programming. FSE is a reality and we can anticipate that in the not too distant future, the classic Site Customizer will be a thing of the past.

The new factory theme, Twenty-Twenty Two, is a beautiful “sandbox” for new developers to get familiar with the new WordPress tools. It provides many options for templates, as we have already reviewed in this note, and enough elements to create a new, modern and current Blog quite quickly. In the meantime, we old WP admins can deepen how FSE works by practicing with this new Default Theme how the tools work.

At the same time, and as we expected, WordPress 5.9 not only presents new functions and improvements, but also comes with a lots of bug fixes vs. its previous version.

If your site is hosted by Duplika you can update to WordPress 5.9 right now by going to your Dashboard and going to the WP and components update link in the top bar. When in doubt, or for prevention, it is recommended to make a backup.

If you have any doubts or wish to share your experiences, please make your inquiries in the comments section. We read and respond to all messages.

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