WordPress 5.9 Delayed Until January 2022

photo credit: Tom Woodward

WordPress 5.9 has been delayed due to significant blockers that could not be resolved in time for Beta 1, which was previously scheduled to be released November 16. The 5.9 release team came to the decision after a lengthy deliberation on the impact a delay will have on users and contributors.

Robert Anderson, Editor Tech Lead for 5.9, published a summary of the blockers that were found while testing full-site editing in core this week. They are identified as either blockers for beta 1 or blockers for 5.9.

“Historically (and even in the linked post), ‘deadlines are not arbitrary‘ has referred to the ability to cut features that aren’t quite ready yet, and include them in a future release,” Gary Pendergast commented on the post announcing 5.9 beta 1 as delayed. “Are there particular reasons for why this philosophy has been re-interpreted?”

Tonya Mork, Core Tech Lead for the 5.9 release, responded with an explanation that FSE is going to have to be a package deal.

“Removing those areas that need fixing were ruled out as they are too intertwined into FSE and would make it unstable,” Mork said. “Punting fixes was ruled out as these meant delivering a ‘half-baked’ experience.

“The choice is between shipping these major features in 5.9 with a delay or moving these major features to 6.0 to ship in the spring.

“Impacts were assessed. Shipping these major features sooner than later were determined to be more beneficial with less impact.”

Others commenting on the post shared concerns about the features possibly being rushed after seeing the list of blockers.

“My initial reaction when reading the Overview of WP 5.9 pending issues and blockers -issue on Gutenberg repository was ‘holy smokes, there are so many open issues and blockers,’” Timi Wahalahti said.

“Nevertheless, from the viewpoint of a developer working in an agency and having 150+ client sites to look after, I do have similar concerns that Gary and Addison (in the Gutenberg repo issue) have already shared about rushing features out. After seeing the blocker list and reading how new major features are still under works, I’d be very uncomfortable on updating to 5.9 after releasing it, knowing that some features were probably finished in a hurry.”

Contributors on GitHub cautioned that the new flows for FSE features have not been adequately tested and should not be shipped just days after landing major changes.

“I think there are some large red flags here that some things are not ready for 5.9,” Gutenberg contributor Addison Stavlo said. “Overall, it seems like right now we are rushing things in a dangerous way. We targeted 5.9 as the release for these items in core but too many things are just not ready, hence the rushing to change so many things at the last minute. Wouldn’t it be better to miss the expected target date than to rush potentially regrettable decisions and brand new flows into core WP at the last minute?”

The new proposed schedule, which has not yet been officially confirmed, is as follows:

  • Nov 30 – Beta 1 (2 weeks from now)
  • Dec 7 – Beta 2
  • Dec 14 – Beta 3
  • Dec 21 – Beta 4 (optional)
  • Jan 4 – RC 1 (5 weeks from Beta)
  • Jan 11 – RC2
  • Jan 18 – RC 3
  • Jan 25 – Release date

At the time of publishing, all 18 contributors who weighed in on a poll in the 5.9 release leads slack channel are in favor of the proposed new schedule. More blockers are being resolved and should continue throughout the weekend, but the delay to Beta 1 makes it inevitable that the stable release will be pushed back to January.

The remaining consideration is whether or not FSE will be on track for inclusion in 5.9 or if it will need to be shipped in 6.0.

“If for some reason progress does not advance on track or something unknown / unexpected happens to cause further delays, then FSE features and TT2 theme are at risk to be punted to 6.0,” Mork told the Tavern. The team is working to put safeguards in place to protect the release from further delays.

“FSE is a collection of features with some that are interconnected,” WordPress 5.9 Testing Co-Lead Anne McCarthy said. “This release includes a selection that are interconnected including Styles, Block theme flows, Navigation Block, etc. In order for them to really shine, it makes the most sense for them to be released together, making it hard to just delay shipping one. They need more time to be refined in order to be shipped together.”

The release team plans to publish an update on Monday with confirmation of the schedule moving forward. McCarthy noted that contributions have been lower this year, which has contributed to the delay.

“We need to recognize the very Human situation we’re in right now both in terms of larger cultural moments coming up with various holidays/celebrations and the reality of still being in the midst of a pandemic,” McCarthy said. “Delaying provides sustainability to get this release right without potentially burning out the remaining contributor base.”

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12 responses to “WordPress 5.9 Delayed Until January 2022”

  1. David McCan says:

    I’m glad to see this. There has been so much hype about FSE that pulling out features would deliver an experience much less than people have had while using the plugin version these last few month. I’m sure there is anxiety about a delay, but better to get it right than rush. Also, the contributors should take a break over the holidays to spend time with family.

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  2. Sally G. says:

    Getting it right is way more important than getting it fast.

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  3. Guti says:

    Of course we prefer stabilty even if implies releasing later.
    What it sounds strange to me is that there are even no words about the IndexNow initiative.

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  4. Mounir says:

    I agree with the idea of not delivering a half baked FSE experience. But I also think it’s a good idea not to be shipping half-baked features which is why this should be postponed to WP version 6.0.

    And like I mentioned it in a comment some months ago, shipping FSE within WP 6.0 also makes for a better semantic version even though that’s not the usual philosophy of WordPress, but since you are open to reinterpreting core philosophies, this one is a good candidate even if done as a one-off reinterpretation, like it happened with 5.0.

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  5. Robert Lilly says:

    I’m all for pushing this back. I don’t want to see FSE unless, and until, it’s fully working and usable the moment it shows up in core. I don’t want a broken experience. I’m happy to wait.

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  6. ad says:

    Thanks to all involved for organising and maintaining these kinds of complex tasks and decisions! I envy your abilities to create this awesome tool 😰

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  7. Denis says:

    I completely agree with this decision, there are still too many problems to solve, better wait and go out with the problems solved.

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  8. Andrew says:

    I love FSE and want it available in core like yesterday!

    But.
    I also want it to work fully, and right now there are some niggling issues that take away from the FSE experience, that I’m not sure will be fixed in time.

    My preference would be release 5.9 as originally scheduled and wait til 6.0 for FSE.

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  9. Gabriela says:

    “Overall, it seems like right now we are rushing things in a dangerous way. …

    Well, finally this has been noticed, it is like that since first Gutenberg release rush. Let’s hope for a learning curve here.

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  10. Steven Gliebe says:

    I have to say this is music to my ears. It always throws me off to stop what I’m doing and fix the block editor styling in X number of themes. ;-)

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  11. I like FSE but still it should be in fully working state. I agree with delay because it is not that much easy to solve the problems. So, It is better to wait and enjoy the full working FSE.

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