Justin Tadlock over at WP Tavern recently posted a few updates on the changes to the Customizer in the upcoming WordPress 5.9 update. What caught my attention was this:
A custom CSS solution in core WordPress is unlikely to be reimplemented in the site editor. The global styles panel and per-block design options are the future of styling. This makes many of the most common stylistic tasks much easier for non-coders. In the context of block-based themes, the average user is unlikely to need the CSS editor in the customizer.Customizer Will Disappear for Some Block Theme Users With WordPress 5.9
That’s a major concern for me. Since I develop and modify my own WordPress themes, I’m not personally worried. However, my immediate thought was, “What’s going to happen to my clients’ websites when this option is removed?”
You see, whenever a client asks me to do some minor tweaking on their themes, which are often bought and ready-made, the first place I go to for changing them is the Additional CSS section. The reason is because saving the CSS separately is a safe way to which my clients can update their themes, without disturbing the changes they asked for in the first place. The changes are mostly aesthetics, anyways, so there isn’t a need for me to modify programmatically.
Will it all be downhill from here for custom CSS?
There’s a saving grace, kind of. The post assured us that a workaround will be available by manually accessing customize.php. However, looking at the recent development on WP’s Customizer, the way forward is clear. I’m not surprised if in the next two major updates, the GUI theme customizing option is removed for good.
If you have been keeping track of WordPress front-end development trends of late, the way to go is by doing block-based theming. We have the Gutenberg editor to thank for. Not in the least, those popular visual designing plugins such as Elementor, Divi, Unyson, and my absolute favourite, Brizy (aff), have also contributed to the idea of drag-and-drop blocks for designing a website (which, I have to add, is great for non-coders, but a pain for developers like myself who are anal at optimizing codes and getting the little things exactly right. Sandboxing with them feels like heaven, though).
Block theming is the way of the future, people. Or at least in the next five to 10 years, for WordPress.
I feel like going through those plugins-to-widgets period, or pre-WordPress 2.3. Exciting, to be honest.
Change is good, y’all.
In the meantime, my advice to you is to do what I always preferred to do. Either programme my themes from scratch (LOL) like what I did with Material Kit, or use child themes generously, like what I did to Twenty Fifteen and Esplanade. And yeah. Sure. You can use builders like Brizy (aff) and Elementor, too, if you’re not too budget-conscious.
Even better, if you’re already using block-based themes or want to anticipate what’s coming, read through the Block Editor documentation for a high-level view of the best practices in approaching your WordPress theming and styling.
Go forth and build!