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Default Theme Releases May Become More Frequent Following WordPress 5.9

photo credit: Matt Bango

The new Twenty Twenty-Two default theme coming in 5.9 hasn’t even been fully built yet but many WordPress enthusiasts who saw yesterday’s design reveal are already eager to use it on their sites. Contributors have just 40 days before the scheduled Beta 1 release on November 16 to get the theme ready. While that seems like an impossibly tight deadline, more frequent default theme releases may be ahead on the horizon.

In a couple of short paragraphs tucked into the end of the announcement, Kjell Reigstad commented on the future of default theme release frequency:

The community has produced a dozen best-in-class themes together, and we’ve come to look forward to a new one arriving at the close of each year. That said, themes are in a transition period today, and it seems like this may be a reasonable time to step back and to re-evaluate the annual cadence with which we build default themes. 

Innovations like theme.json, block templates, and block patterns are making theme development far simpler, and are providing new ways for users to customize their sites. There’s reason to believe that the community can leverage all this to build more frequent and diverse theme and customization solutions for our users in the coming years. 

It wasn’t clear whether Reigstad meant that the cadence of default theme releases would be slowing down or speeding up. I asked him for clarification and he confirmed that the idea is to consider the possibility of speeding up.

“I hope these new tools allow us to create and release more frequently than we’ve been able to in the past,” Reigstad said.

“The general idea came up as part of the ideation process for the default theme this year, and that part of the post is meant to give it a wider platform for conversation in the community. I’m excited to hear what other folks think since this idea is in its very early days! I really think there’s a lot of opportunity here.”

 The ideation process he referenced, which varies from year to year, included early conversations with project leadership to plan and make sure the theme is aligned with the future of WordPress.

Before the discussion officially kicks off regarding increasing default theme release frequency, contributors are focused on getting Twenty Twenty-Two out the door. Reigstad said people can jump in on testing now, as the general structure is already in place. This includes fonts, colors, and basic templates, although details like spacing and specific block styles are still in progress along with block patterns. If you want to contribute to making Twenty Twenty-Two the best it can be, check out the development happening on GitHub.