Earlier today, Gutenberg 12.1 landed in the WordPress plugin directory. The latest release was heavy on improvements to the user experience, including a fix for the block appender layout shift, new global styles features, and improved templates list view. Theme authors also have a new flag for enabling all appearance-related tools.
WordPress 5.9 was slated for launch today, but it has been pushed to January 25, 2022. Contributors needed more time to refine the site editor and related tools bundled alongside the release. Thus far, they are using the extra time by fixing bugs and creating an overall better user experience.
No More Layout Shift
If this was the one and only change in Gutenberg 12.1, I would have been the happiest user in the world. Fortunately, there are other nice-to-have items, but my biggest pet peeve in three years of using the block editor has now been fixed.
The block appender (those little + buttons) in the content canvas are now shown using fixed positioning. This means that when you select blocks, particularly those nested within others, the screen no longer bounces around, shifts the layout, or leaves gaps of whitespace in an otherwise-perfect section.
Appender button does not shift layout.
I know from talking to others that this has been a pain point when building complex layouts in the past. For some, they would not use the block editor at all because it was so irritating. If you fall into this camp, it is worth giving it a try once again. It is a marked improvement in the user experience.
Global Styles Improvements
Users can now define