Previewing the WordPress Twenty Nineteen Theme

Ezequiel Bruni By Ezequiel Bruni  |  Nov. 01, 2018

Winter is coming, and so is WordPress 5.0. From some of the chatter about Gutenberg—the new content editor in WordPress—you might be led to believe that it’s worse than White Walkers. Others of us are more cautiously optimistic. We can all agree on two things: dragons are cool, and a lot of theme developers are going to have some work to do.

The WordPress developers themselves are leading the way with a brand new theme they’re calling Twenty Nineteen… because 2018 is almost over, I guess. It is intended to provide flexibility and customizability, and maybe to compete with Medium.

What? Don’t tell me you don’t see similarities.

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But really, there are two clear priorities:

 

Priority One: Gutenberg Integration

Clearly the devs want to show off what Gutenberg can do, and put their best foot forward in that arena. They want us to see what we can do with Gutenberg’s layout tools, so they have refrained from doing too much layout themselves.

We get a big single column; and inside that, we get the content area, and everything it now offers. What it offers is—if the screenshots are anything to go by—is not overly impressive, but not bad either.

As a nice side addition, they’ve used SASS to implement both front-end and back-end CSS. They want the content to look pretty much the same in the editor as it does on the front end. I am particularly interested in seeing how well this works, as it could mean big things both for designers who love WordPress as a platform, and for our clients.

 

Priority Two: Going Beyond the Blog

WordPress will never abandon their blog-centered user base, but they’ve been adding more and more goodies for those developers that love to stretch the CMS to its limits. Until now, all default themes have been, first and foremost, blogging themes.

With Gutenberg’s integration coming, it seems that they’ve decided to expand their horizons in the theme-building department, in deference to everyone who uses WordPress as a more traditional CMS. This is reflected in the screenshots they provide of a typical business site:

business

 

Technical Bits

We will, hopefully, get to find out how well it all works on November 19th of this year, when WordPress 5.0 comes out. They’ve got a shortened development cycle, though, so it may be delayed if they run into significant bugs.

You can try out a testing version here: https://github.com/WordPress/twentynineteen

You can find more screenshots on WordPress’ own blog post here: https://make.wordpress.org/core/2018/10/16/introducing-twenty-nineteen/

Lastly, Twenty Nineteen is based on a combination of the Underscores theme and Gutenberg Starter Theme.

 

My Impressions

Twenty Nineteen is intended to be a nearly blank slate, as default themes tend to be. The typography is absolutely beautiful, while remaining flexible enough to be used for different kinds of sites. There will, most likely, be a fair amount of customization available in any case.

It’s not blowing me away, but it’s not supposed to. It’s supposed to be a foundation that helps a million would-be publishers get up and running, and help developers understand how Gutenberg is intended to be used. In that, I suspect it will succeed.