Block, FSE, Hybrid, Universal? What Do We Call These New WordPress Themes? – WP Tavern


Ellen Bauer, developer and co-owner of ElmaStudio, posed the query on Twitter final week that many have been asking. What will we name these new kinds of WordPress themes constituted of blocks? She was not the primary to ask. The query additionally got here up through the Post Status Slack chat earlier this week.

The brief reply is that these new themes are “block themes.”

The WordPress Themes Crew determined to make use of this terminology in December 2021. The consensus during their meeting was to make clear the distinction between block and basic themes.

The terminology has additionally grown organically as the brand new theming system has emerged. Block themes are themes which might be actually constituted of blocks. The long-term objective must be to easily name them “themes,” however the “block” prefix will keep on with us for some time.

The lengthy reply is extra nuanced. As Anne McCarthy famous within the Publish Standing dialogue, there are 4 kinds of themes now:

  • Block
  • Basic
  • Hybrid
  • Common

Technically, builders can create a wholly customized theming system. That’s simply how versatile WordPress is, however we’ll follow the considerably extra official definitions. There are sufficient phrases for our personal little mini dictionary of theming as it’s.

Block Themes

WordPress site editor showing the front page of a site that is designed with purple color scheme.  On the right the global styles interface is open.
Enhancing a block theme through the positioning editor.

Block themes have been formally supported since WordPress 5.9’s launch final month. They supply customers entry to new instruments resembling the positioning editor and world kinds interfaces. These options have changed many previous settings pages, such because the customizer and widgets screens.

Twenty Twenty-Two is the primary default to assist this new set of instruments. There may be additionally a small however rising variety of different block themes.

Why will we not name them FSE themes? Full Web site Enhancing is a set of elements and never a single factor. WordPress has launched a number of of those elements earlier than model 5.9, such because the template editor, block-based widgets, and theme.json assist. In a way, a basic theme with any degree of function assist can also be an FSE theme.

The factor that makes block themes totally different from basic themes is that they’re constructed from HTML templates made solely of blocks. This robotically allows the positioning editor, template editor, world kinds interface, and extra.

Basic and Hybrid Themes

WordPress customizer open.  On the left is a set of control panels.  On the right is a frame with the site's homepage in view.
Customizing Twenty Twenty, a basic theme.

I’ve grouped basic and hybrid themes collectively as a result of there isn’t any must differentiate the 2.

Basic WordPress themes are people who now we have identified and liked all of those years. They function PHP-based templates typically. There are some, like Foxhound, which might be primarily product of JavaScript. Nonetheless, none have the required block HTML templates to qualify as a block theme.

Hybrid themes are basic themes which have adopted a number of FSE elements, such because the template editor or theme.json.

I don’t separate the 2 theme varieties as a result of now we have by no means accomplished so earlier than when themes undertake new options. For instance, when the nav menus system was first launched, there was no must name themes one thing totally different based mostly on whether or not they supported the brand new menu system. The identical may be mentioned for many different options prior to now.

If something, the official theme listing could must broaden its tags to incorporate extra options as they come up. Filters permit customers to seek for the issues they need from a theme.

Common Themes

Common themes work in each a basic and web site editor context. Ben Dwyer provided a more thorough explanation through the Theme Shaper weblog final yr:

Common themes are an try to bridge the hole between the basic themes and block themes, by including some layers to a block theme to make it work.

A Common theme is a block theme that may use the Full Web site Editor however can be configured in a extra basic approach. That signifies that you need to use basic WordPress instruments, just like the Customizer, Menus and Widgets dashboards in addition to the Web site Editor.

I’ve not seen a lot urge for food from builders for creating common themes. I’m not positive if any exist, at the least not within the official listing.

It’s too early to inform if they’ll ultimately catch on with theme authors. Supporting each basic and fashionable WordPress instruments doubtless solely is sensible for the most well-liked themes. Their authors may have to remodel their codebase, opting into extra FSE options and transitioning from a basic/hybrid state to common assist. If the demand is there, some will undoubtedly meet it.

The assist and upkeep burden can be unappealing for many. A clear break from basic might be the most effective route for builders constructing with the newest WordPress options.


Naming issues is difficult, however it’s essential to have equal footing amongst contributors in discussions. The excellence between basic and block themes will doubtless be essentially the most helpful.

I doubt the phrases matter a lot for the typical WordPress person. They should know whether or not a theme helps Characteristic X or Characteristic Y. It has been some time since theme tags (filters) have been overhauled, and plenty of are outdated. They is perhaps value revisiting to make sure that we’re assembly person wants immediately.


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