Here is a quick summary on updates to the WordPress Core platform during September 2020. There was a maintenance release, WordPress 5.1.1, which was announced September 1. This release included 34 bug fixes, 5 enhancements, and 5 bug fixes for the block editor. These bugs affect WordPress version 5.5, so you should have upgraded if you are running 5.5. If your site is on an Outcome Labs Monthly care plan, it was upgraded just after the release was made available.
There were three updates to the Gutenberg plugin released in September. This included Version 8.9, version 9.0 of the Gutenberg plugin on September 16, and version 9.1 on September 30. As we have suggested previously, we don’t recommend using the Gutenberg plugin on production sites, but you should have it installed on a sandbox so you can learn about new Block Editor features as they are implemented. In the 9.1 update, there were several changes to the Block Editor including adding a category dropdown to the Block Patterns section of the block inserter (see image below). We think this is an improvement from the “never-ending” list approach, but wonder why the inserter for regular blocks, block patterns, and reusable blocks all have slightly different UIs. It is an ongoing issue with the Block Editor that will impact new or casual users.
One of the major features being targeted for WordPress 5.6 is enabling block-based widgets. It looks like this feature could be pulled. For the latest, read Justin Tadlock’s recent post, Gutenberg 9.1 Adds Patterns Category Dropdown and Reverts Block-Based Widgets in the Customizer. Justin also highlights some other improvements in the Block Editor like being able to set the image size in the Media and Text block now. While this is a good improvement, it is strange that the ability to set the size by percentage that is in the regular image block was not included. Unfortunately, yet another example of inconsistencies in the Block Editor UI.
Here is the link to the Core team September update for some additional background on things that happened in the WordPress community in September.