WordPress Themes Directory Launches Pattern Previews in Beta

Jul 22, 2022 | 0 comments

Meta contributors have turned on a new feature in WordPress.org theme listings that allows visitors to preview themes’ bundled patterns. A grid displaying the patterns is now shown underneath a theme’s description and tags. These are automatically fetched from any theme that registers patterns and works for both block and classic themes.

Patterns included in the Zeever theme

Clicking on a pattern will launch it within the theme preview. Visitors can see what it looks like within the context of the theme but cannot manipulate it or customize it.

Automattic-sponsored Meta Team contributor Steve Dufresne published a short announcement of the pattern previews moving into beta, with a request for feedback from theme authors.

“From a technical standpoint, the pattern preview screenshots are generated by adding patterns into whichever template handles ‘page’ rendering,” Dufresne said. “If you think the pattern preview isn’t rendering properly, try adding the pattern to a page in your theme (as a user would). If the screenshot differs significantly from what you see, please open a meta ticket so we can take a look.”

Elma Studio co-founder Ellen Bauer noted that the preview does not render third-party blocks and opened a ticket to track this issue. Patterns that require WooCommerce or another plugin will not display correctly. Bauer said the patterns for their Aino theme do look as intended, because they use the AinoBlocks plugin. Unless this can be resolved, relying on a plugin to provide a theme’s patterns may be a drawback for theme authors whose primary distribution channel is WordPress.org.

Another quirk at the moment is that patterns designed to be full-width or wide width may not be displaying as intended due to being restricted to the narrower default content size. This issue is in progress and should be resolved soon.

Pattern previews help users get a better picture of what patterns a theme offers and how they might look inside the theme. Feedback has been positive so far, as it gives theme authors another way to showcase the possibilities their themes enable. Themes without patterns are not necessarily disadvantaged by this new preview section, as the Pattern Directory has grown considerably since its launch to host more than 800 block patterns.

This early beta for pattern previews is the result of work on a ticket opened seven months ago requesting a demo for patterns when browsing themes in the directory. The Meta Team requests feedback and bug reports to be filed as a new ticket on Meta trac.

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