How do post formats fit into a thematic block world? – WP Tavern

Over the weekend, Nick Bohle asked Elma Studio’s Ellen Bauer how post formats fit into the world of theme blocks. The question was for her a proposal for a WordPress and FSE theme conversation she had yesterday via the Twitter spaces. I couldn’t attend and see if Bauer brought up the subject, but the question is something I thought about a lot not so long ago.

During the summer I tweeted a screenshot an experiment around post formats. Part of me was trying to figure out if we could revive a dying feature, which I continue to use today.

Apart from the archive in post format.

I’ve been using post formats since before they were a thing. The “Asides” were one of the forerunners of the landing feature in WordPress. I wrote my first on my personal blog in 2006. I had borrowed code that WordPress co-founder Matt Mullenweg had posted two years earlier. It was a concept he had borrowed from others.

For me, this was a way to give quick posts and links a unique layout without all the robustness of a long article.

In 2011, WordPress 3.1 was released with a new taxonomy. Users could choose from nine different formats for their posts, assuming their theme supported one or more. The goal was to allow theme authors to design custom layouts around each one.

For much of the community, it seemed like WordPress was pursuing Tumblr’s post content functionality. The allure quickly wore off after it seemed to have stopped beyond its initial release. Other than a few trivial fixes and improvements under the hood, post formats never meant much.

They have remained a niche feature over the years. A few theme authors add further support. Some of us old school bloggers who have used them in one way or another are still hanging on. But post formats are long dead.

Therefore, I decided to try to make them work for block themes.

One of the most frustrating things I encountered with post formats in this block-based theme project was how helpless I felt to make them work “the old-fashioned” way. The dynamic nature of the classic theme meant that I could change the post content templates on pages listing multiple posts. The query loop and its internal post template block won’t let me show a different template for a quote or gallery post, for example.

It was frustrating because that part of the design process was not in my hands. If I wanted to do something as simple as showing an entirely different design for a side post in a mix of normal posts, I couldn’t do it as a theme designer, at least not without doing some workarounds. hacked.

My “light bulb” moment was when I realized it was OK not to have that control. I needed to get out of the mindset that the design was mine and mine alone. It’s seeing creation through a classic thematic lens. My approach was wrong. Instead, I had to start thinking about how to hand these design tools to the user.

The question became: can I create something that uses this concept of the original post format while still giving users the freedom to do whatever they want?

Then it came to me. The following is the response I tweeted to Jeff Chandler, who had asked if i was thinking about post formats would work as templates:

I see the blocks themselves as an evolution of post formats. Video, audio, integrations (mostly cool links), quotes, etc. Most of the elements are already there. Templates just give users an easy way to insert various templates, which could build on these blocks.

Perhaps the post formats as they currently exist are dead. However, the idea of ​​designing a layout around specific types of posts is very much alive.

If users want to embed a single video in a post, just copy and paste a link. To share a quote they’ve found from their favorite author, just drop it in a Citation block. Besides chat messages (let’s read them fully), the concept of message formats has simply been replaced by blocks.

However, theme authors still have a role to play. If all of the elements of the post formats have essentially been replaced with blocks themselves, that means designers can have a day in the field to build models around them.

The WordPress template explorer with the Post Formats category open.  On the right, it shows three side designs and a quote design.
Templates designed for post formats.

This led me to develop my original idea for Asides, my preferred post format. Instead of offering just one design, I built three different models that users can choose from. End users could mix and match their looks on the front end.

I also built a custom taxonomy-post_format-aside.html template to present them on their archive page. It simply displayed the post date and post content, which the user is controlling.

I went back to the drawing board and built a quote template that I liked. Again, it would be up to the user to decide if they want this particular design. They could always go in a different direction.

A quote block in the WordPress editor.  It is wrapped in a Group block with a light blue background.
Quote block template and custom styling.

In some ways, post formats were always limiting. The functionality was never fleshed out and there were only nine formats allowed. In the end, each was just a term within a taxonomy. There were never any rules about how everything was supposed to work. It might not be such a bad thing. Now, messages can be whatever users want them to be.

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