Divi 5 Dev Letter #1: A look into the state of Divi 5 and our plans to update our plugins for it

As we gear up for an exciting phase in our development, it’s important to share our comprehensive approach to the upcoming Divi 5 update and how it impacts our suite of plugins. Divi 5 has a lot of changes under the hood that requires many many development hours to make sure that we are squeezing every last drop out of the positive changes it brings. We are definitely stoked to wave goodbye to the Divi Builder double load.

Quick Links:

Divi 5 Explained

Before we get into how amazing Divi 5 is, let’s quickly explore what is new in Divi 5, and what new challenges it presents for developers. This will help give some context to the decisions we made and how we are approaching development.

What is New with Divi 5?

Obviously Divi 5 will present a massive list of enhancements, don’t expect an host of new features just yet. Divi 5 will be addressing many of the growing pains of one of the most popular page builders out there, so the real focus of the release is on speed, future-proofing, and creating an stronger Divi ecosystem for developers.

Core Technology Overhaul: Divi 5 introduces a foundational overhaul, reengineering the theme’s core for better performance, stability, scalability, and extendability. This update includes a complete rewrite of the underlying codebase, preparing Divi for future web standards and technologies.

New Builder API: The release features a new Builder API, significantly expanding customization options for developers. This API facilitates the creation of custom modules and deeper integrations, allowing for a more tailored experience and innovative feature development within the Divi ecosystem.

Enhanced Gutenberg Integration: Divi 5 enhances its compatibility with Gutenberg, aiming to seamlessly integrate Gutenberg blocks within Divi layouts. This compatibility extends the functionality of Divi pages, combining the power of Divi’s design capabilities with the flexibility of Gutenberg’s block-based editing.

Elimination of Shortcodes: In a significant shift, Divi 5 moves away from using shortcodes, adopting a modern storage format. This transition aims to streamline the editing process, reduce bugs, and improve the stability and speed of loading Divi content, ensuring a smoother workflow for users.

Performance and Speed Improvements: With a focus on speeding up both the front-end and the builder interface, Divi 5 enhances the user experience by decreasing load times and improving responsiveness. This is achieved through optimized code and the latest web performance techniques.

Future-Proofing and PHP Compatibility: Divi 5 is designed to be future-proof, aligning with the latest WordPress releases and PHP versions. This ensures that websites using Divi are secure, performant, and compatible with the latest web technology standards.

Challenges with Divi 5

Example of a Divi 5 Changelog entry with a breaking change.
Example of a Divi 5 Changelog entry with a breaking change.

Adapting to New Builder API and Core Changes: Divi 5 introduces a significant overhaul of its core technologies and a new Builder API. This necessitates that third-party plugin developers extensively recode their modules to align with these changes. The shift away from shortcodes to a modern storage format requires adaptations in how data is handled and stored, adding complexity and potential labor to the development process.

Frequent Updates and Breaking Changes: The transition to Divi 5 includes constant updates that can lead to breaking changes, as highlighted in the development documents. These changes can affect everything from simple plugin functions to complex integrations, requiring developers to continuously update their code to maintain compatibility. This constant need for updates can disrupt development cycles and difficulty in mapping timelines.

Increased Complexity in Customization and Extension: With the introduction of a more robust and flexible API, the complexity of creating custom modules or extending existing functionality increases. Developers must understand and implement intricate API details to fully utilize the capabilities of Divi 5, which could steepen the learning curve and lengthen development timelines.

Migration and Compatibility Issues: Developers face the challenge of migrating existing websites and modules to Divi 5. This involves ensuring compatibility with the new version, which may require significant testing and debugging. The move away from shortcodes alone is a substantial change that could impact many existing websites, necessitating careful planning and execution to ensure smooth transitions.

Performance Optimization: While Divi 5 aims to improve performance, the initial versions may still face optimization issues as developers begin to utilize the new features extensively. Identifying and rectifying these issues will require diligent testing and optimization to ensure that the enhancements in Divi 5 effectively translate into faster and more responsive websites.

Documentation and Learning Resources: The release of a substantially updated platform like Divi 5 also brings about the need for comprehensive documentation and learning resources. Developers will rely heavily on updated documentation to understand and implement the new features correctly. Delays or inadequacies in providing these resources can hinder the adoption and efficient use of the platform.

In summary, while Divi 5 presents significant advancements, it also poses considerable challenges for developers, particularly those of us who create and maintain third-party extensions. These challenges underscore the need for thorough preparation, continuous learning, and active community engagement to leverage Divi 5’s full potential.

Our Strategic Approach to Divi 5

The evolution of Divi into its fifth iteration presents a pivotal opportunity for growth and innovation in how you build your sites and how we develop our plugins. With 10 plugins that almost all have a number of custom modules, it presents a huge task which we are fully committed to. We’ll get into more detail, but for those of you just looking for the TLDR; version, take a look at the Frequently Asked Questions at the bottom of this post.

Focused Plugin Development

Divi Engine is all in with Divi 5 and we have Peter almost exclusively doing full-time development to get our plugins ready. We made some other strategic moves in regards to development resources to make this possible, so you might see Jeff helping you out on support tickets more.

To dive in and explore the state of the Divi Dev Beta , mainly the new API, we decided to start with Divi Ajax Filter due to it’s shared modules with Divi BodyCommerce and Divi Machine. In the last few weeks we have learned a lot, especially that we shifted gears at what is probably the best time to do so as there have been many breaking updates to how the Divi 5 API functions and how modules are handled. When we initially looked into the Divi 5 Alpha and started playing around things were still very raw and could not really get anything going that didn’t require some “hacky” code that would have needed to be rewritten. Even as recently as the end of March some updates were introduced that would have required us to redo weeks of work, so we are thankful that Divi 5 and its developer documentation is now in a state where it makes sense to go full steam.

Now what does full-steam look like for our Divi 5 development? The quick way would be is to jump in and make sure that all of our modules are Divi 5 compatible without looking at the rest of our code. We decided against this as we recognize many opportunities to improve our base code, but also take advantage of the modularity of the Divi 5 API which will help us extend our plugins more efficiently and stable in the future. So, we decided to re-code our plugins from the ground up.

This will ensure that we take advantage of every benefit offered through the new Divi 5 API.

Existing Plugin Enhancement

Our focus isn’t just on being fully geared up for Divi 5; it’s about enhancement and building a strong foundation to build on. The fact that we are re-coding our Divi plugins from scratch gives us many ways to enhance your experience and squeeze every drop of value out of your investment in our products.

Let’s list what this will look like right now:

1. Less Fragmentation

We will be streamlining module features across like modules to give you more freedom and ability to use plugins like Divi Machine. For example, the goal is to extend the Loop Options available in the Archive Loop module to that of the Post Carousel module, which is all made more convenient with how Divi 5 handles module features and settings.

It is still early days, but we hope that this more modular architecture in Divi 5 will then further allow us to extend features and settings between the different plugins in our suite where it makes sense to do so. This could work great for the Ajax filtering features in Divi Ajax Filter, Divi Machine, and Divi BodyCommerce.

2. Improved Settings Framework

When we started Divi Engine, we used an admin framework for our plugins called the Titan Framework. This was great as it kickstarted the development process and got plugins out there faster. It was less great because it would sometimes affect plugin performance, which is an issue.

Starting with Divi Machine, we moved away from the Titan Framework and developed our own zippier settings framework, and the Divi 5 re-coding project will be the introduction of this to our entire Divi plugin suite.

3. Visual Builder Compatibility

We know this is a bit of a contentious point in the community so we want to assure you that we will be sporting full visual builder compatibility as we launch our plugins on the Divi 5 platform. It is no secret that it is frustrating not being able to see changes as you make them in the visual builder and we will be fixing that.

Interactive Community Engagement

Understanding that our community’s needs are paramount, so we want you to participate directly in our development process. Starting with this poll, we want to hear from you on certain development decisions as we walk this path to Divi 5.

Which plugins would you like re-coded for Divi 5 first? (pick 2)

A Collaborative Journey with Elegant Themes

The anticipation for Divi 5 within our community is palpable, and we share your eagerness to dive into its new features and capabilities. It’s a sentiment echoed by our partners at Elegant Themes, who are working tirelessly to ensure Divi 5 not only meets but exceeds our collective expectations. This development phase is a testament to the power of collaboration and patience, as highlighted by insights from Elegant Themes’ leadership. Our shared goal is clear: to deliver a robust, innovative, and transformative version of Divi that sets a new benchmark for web design.

Looking Ahead with Anticipation

As we continue to adapt and innovate alongside Divi 5, our vision for the future is bright. We’re excited about the potential that Divi 5 brings to the Divi Engine family and the broader community. This transition is more than a theme update; it’s an opportunity to redefine what’s possible in web design using our suite of Divi plugins.

We want to extend our deepest gratitude to you, our community, for your continued support, patience, and engagement. Your enthusiasm inspires us, your feedback drives us, and your trust in us fuels our commitment to building the best dang Divi plugins out there. As we forge ahead on this journey together, we look forward to sharing more updates, celebrating milestones, and exploring the new horizons that Divi 5 will unveil.

Stay tuned, stay engaged, and let’s embrace the future of Divi, together.

Warmest regards,

Divi Engine Team Signature

Frequently Asked Questions

Yes, we have already started development for Divi 5 by exploring the impact and assessing the development cycle. We are starting with our Ajax filtering features in Divi Ajax Filter, Divi Machine, and Divi BodyCommerce.

Yes, we will continue to add new features and maintain the plugins.

This all depends on the changes that come with future versions of the Divi 5 development beta, as well as when Divi 5 is released. The plan is to do things in a way that not only makes our plugins compatible, but also more useful with the new flexibility offered with Divi 5.

Yes, we feel the developer documentation for Divi 5 and the new API is at a place where it makes sense to dive in.

Since we received access to the Divi 5 developer alpha, much has changed in how it operates and what the expectations are for final release. During our initial exploration last year, we found that the developer documentation was lacking and that things were still very buggy. Various class names and modules have changed since then and as early as one month ago, we were still seeing some changes that would have wasted precious development time. At this time, we think the developer beta is in a good place, so we are fully committed to full-time development from here on in.

No, we do not currently have any plans to increase the pricing of our plugins related to Divi 5 or otherwise.

Yes, we want to hear from you in this process. We constantly monitor feedback on our feedback site at https://feedback.diviengine.com, so we encourage you to make any suggestions there.

We wish we knew as much as you do. Divi 5 is still evolving and is actively being developed by Elegant Themes. We suspect the public alpha might be released during Q2 this year, with a beta to follow in Q3, and ultimately a Divi 5 release before the end of the year. This is speculation based on the state of Divi 5 right now.

  • Core Technology Overhaul: Total rewrite for improved performance and scalability.
  • New Builder API: Allows extensive customization and feature development.
  • Enhanced Gutenberg Integration: Improved compatibility with Gutenberg blocks.
  • Elimination of Shortcodes: Shift to a modern storage format.
  • Performance Improvements: Faster load times for front-end and builder interface.
  • Future-Proofing: Updated for the latest PHP and WordPress versions.

Explore more from Divi Engine