Genesis Framework & Full Site Editing

Is there a place for the Genesis Framework in a full site editing world?

Full site editing is coming to WordPress…eventually. StudioPress recently announced an open beta for Genesis Block Theme, which is an early rendition of what will eventually become a full site editing theme. That’s sparked some conversation and questions that inspired this post.

First, some context:

  • WordPress 5.7 is tentatively scheduled to land in March 2021 and will include the foundations for full site editing.
  • There are theme experiments in progress for full site editing.
  • Genesis Block Theme BETA exists for users to test and provide feedback that will inform the eventual development and release of a full site editing theme.
  • The “Genesis” brand includes multiple products, one of which is the Genesis Framework.
  • Genesis Framework (? affiliate link!) is a massively popular theme framework that’s been around for eons. It supports block-based themes but not full site editing because full site editing isn’t even a part of core WordPress yet.

All good? Good.

So the question I’ve gotten a few times that I want to address in this post is the same as the post title… Is there a place for the Genesis Framework in a full site editing world?

tl;dr The answer is yes and the rest of this post will tell you why.

For starters…

Full site editing isn’t even in WordPress yet

Not to be Captain Obvious, but it will be months before FSE is available in WordPress. And even when it lands in WordPress, your favorite themes and plugins (Genesis Framework included) will not suddenly become obsolete.

Genesis Framework is relevant now, it’ll still be relevant when FSE comes to Core, and it will continue to be relevant for at least a few years to come (in my humble opinion).

Even when FSE exists in WordPress, adoption will take time

Remember when the block editor was rolled into Core for the WordPress 5.0 release? Remember the 2000+ “dumpster fire” reviews for Gutenberg? Many (myself included) felt like the block editor was introduced to core prematurely.

While the block editor has dramatically improved in the two years since its introduction, there are still 5+ million active installs of the Classic Editor plugin. That’s a huge number of site owners who are still not ready to embrace the block editor.

When FSE is added to core, it’ll still be early days for the world of full site editing. Just like Gutenberg, it will take years to reach feature maturity and I predict wide-spread adoption won’t happen for at least 2-3 years.

That means there’s a wide window of time you still have to enjoy whatever your favorite development tools are, Genesis Framework included.

The Genesis family of products is actively embracing and planning for FSE

If you browse through post titles on the StudioPress blog over the past couple of years, you’ll see a ton of activity around the block editor. A quick highlight reel:

I won’t belabor the point, but from the activity around Genesis, blocks, and full site editing (as well as my personal involvement in Genesis Shapers), there’s every indication that WP Engine is “all in on Genesis.”

The Genesis Framework supports block-based themes right now

Genesis Framework already supports block-based themes and has updated some of StudioPress’s more popular themes to include block-based layouts.

When I say block-based themes, I do not mean full site editing themes (again, these are only recently emerging and most are experimental). Block-based themes are themes that take advantage of the block editor.

Will the Genesis Framework support full site editing themes? Here’s what David Vogelpohl, VP of Growth at WP Engine has to say:

First of all, Genesis Framework does support block-based themes today (Genesis Sample, Navigation Pro, etc.).

The distinction is that Genesis Framework themes are not “Full Site Editing” themes. Of course that’s true for pretty much every theme in all of WP since FSE isn’t even live in WP Core yet.

Genesis Block Theme beta is for testing purposes only. The final version will be a full site editing theme.

Since full site editing themes will be fundamentally different than the themes we build today, our path to powering Genesis FSE themes will be through the free version of Genesis Blocks. Again, this is ONLY for the FSE context / FSE themes.

If you build non-FSE themes after FSE is launched (which many people will do for years), then Genesis Framework would continue to be an excellent choice.

David Vogelpohl, VP of Growth at WP Engine

The WordPress (and Genesis) ethos is to not leave users behind

WordPress has always prided itself on backward compatibility, perhaps even to a fault. But the idea is to not alienate users or “leave them behind” when new versions of the software are introduced.

There’s a similar ethos in Genesis land. While the Genesis development team is leaning hard into the future of WordPress with blocks, there’s a concerted effort to:

  • help users and developers move forward into modern WordPress
  • not leave the rest of the community in the dust

In evidence, the Genesis Framework is still under active development and has made significant leaps to help bridge the gap between sites using the Classic Editor and newer sites that embrace the block editor.

Admittedly, moving forward while bringing everyone along is a huge challenge, but everything I’ve witnessed from my little perch indicates that inclusivity is the goal.

But Carrie, you’re clearly biased

This is true. My sort of “claim to fame” is all-things Genesis, so of course I’m biased. But I enjoy developing with the Genesis Framework because it’s a solid product. Also, I’ve always made a point to only recommend products that I use and love. (see what I did there?)

So, when I say that the Genesis Framework is still a viable tool, even as we inch closer to full site editing, I say it because I think it’s true. I don’t plan to stop using it any time soon.

16 thoughts on “Is there a place for the Genesis Framework in a full site editing world?”

  1. I am skeptical but hopeful as Genesis has been my bread and butter for most of my WordPress life. We’re all in good hands for sure. I am looking in many directions right now for other options but also for the option to learn. Now is an immense growing period and the more I learn (yes, the less I know…and therefore) the more I can offer clients and our community. Carrie, you have been in this mode for as long as I have known you.

  2. Pingback: WP Weekly 23 / WordPress 2021 / Predictions, WP Costs, New WP 5.6

  3. Thank you for the above post. I am currently creating a new site with the New Genesis Block Theme. I need to customize the header, navigation bar location and footer. With this full site editing theme, how do I customize those areas. Do you have a link to explain how to do this. Thanks.

    1. Hi Kelleen,

      Genesis Block Theme doesn’t support editing the header and footer with blocks. You’ll want to use traditional templates to customize those.


  4. Hello Carrie,

    Your blogs and approach is excellent, thanks!

    I am trying to wrap my mind around this theme not being a child theme and not needing the framework as well.

    So essentially this theme leverages the use of Genesis Custom Blocks and native WordPress to simplify the development process so that no framework is needed.

    I am doing a corporate site now with custom blocks where I am considering ditching the Child Theme/Genesis Framework and going full out on the blocks and post types using the Genesis Blocks Theme. What I am not sure about is if this will mean more work coding advanced pages or running into roadblocks that this theme has not evolved to handle.

    Any thoughts that about my concerns for going that route from your perspective?

    1. Hi James,
      It is a lot to wrap a head around!

      I have done one simple site using Genesis Block Theme, but for anything that might require more complexity, I still like using Genesis Framework + child theme to leverage all the hooks, etc that Genesis brings to the table.

      We’re just at this weird period where WordPress is in flux and the decision to go “all in on blocks” versus more traditional theming is just a personal choice. I’m still in hybrid mode (as I think many others are, too). For me that means leveraging blocks as much as possible (including creation of custom blocks), but still using a traditional theme/framework like Genesis.


  5. Just wanted to offer a thought as of 15 August 2021 with regard to framework/child theme combo still being necessary. In short, I’d say the answer to this is yes, especially if you’re building sites that must be wCAG 2.1 compliant at minimum and obviously accessible. I’m finding it easier to add back in the accessibility features via the framework. I’m still trying to wrap my head around a Genesis theme not needing the Genesis framework and was admittedly very much caught off guard when the block theme was installed and set as active when creating a current site. Our clients are still very much block and classic editor hybrid so both situations need to be accommodated, often on the same site, and so it’s more efficient to keep the framework in place.

    1. Amanda, I agree! I’m still starting new builds with the Framework + child theme but also trying to incorporate theme.json and other “new practices” for block-first builds. It’s a learning process for sure.

  6. Hi, Carrie,
    Now that full-site editing is out, will there be ANY Genesis block-based themes updated for full-site editing? At this point, I’m so desperate to build clients something that won’t be obsolete in a year I don’t even care if it’s on the Genesis Framework (although I truly wish it were). Can you please tell us just ONE theme that will be upgraded so we have something to offer clients??
    Thank you, Dawn

    1. Hey Dawn, I can certainly relate to your frustration and I think a lot of us are in the same boat. As for Genesis, WP Engine recently added Frost (by Brian Gardner) to its lineup. While it’s not based on the Genesis Framework, keeping an eye on Frost is a great way to stay close to the future of building with blocks. There are many ways to start integrating more tightly with the block editor without going full-on FSE and Frost is a great example of that.

  7. Hi Carrie, I’ve been happily building client websites using a customised version of the Genesis Sample theme for a few years now, and I wondered what your current thoughts are about using this theme from here on in, now that we’re well into 2022 and without any signinficant updates in the last 12 months. I’d greatly appreciate your thoughts…

    1. Genesis is still as stable as ever, but if you’re looking for a new base theme for clients AND want to embrace FSE, I’d start looking at Frost.

      If you don’t want to go all-in on FSE yet (which is totally understandable), I’d go with a hybrid approach. For instance, keep working with Genesis Sample, but incorporate theme.json so that you can take advantage of more block editing features.

  8. I m using Frost since beta and it had child theme for genesis before 0.7.We love Genesis framwork and child theme.When We use Frost full-on FSE its not Framwork So We have to upgrade our theme. My Request Make full-on FSE with Frost Framwork Like Genesis. Or upgrade Genesis Framwork for full-on FSE

    As a Stand alone theme Frost is one of best theme ever seen.But We need framwork So We can work with child theme.

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