UPDATE: We published this February 15, 2022. But Nick Roach just gave an update on November 11, 2022 about Divi 5.0 and the future plans. So basically he is sharing the same thing as me, just better 🙂
DISCLAIMER: I do not work for Elegant Themes. Please consider the information in this article as reliable, but not official. My sources include information gathered from public statements from owner Nick Roach, design director Kenny Sing, and senior development manager Josh Ronk. The majority of this post includes public information gathered and written into my own words. A small percentage of the future features section is based on a combination of this existing public information combined with my own knowledge of the company, experience with the product, and a few educated assumptions. There is a lot more that I know which is not written due to the fact that that information has been shared privately and has not been shared publicly by Elegant Themes, so it would be unprofessional to share more without their consent. Again, everything here is reliable, but not official, and obviously anything could change.
The Future Of Divi Is Extremely Exciting!
I honestly can’t tell you how excited I am for the future of Divi. Some of you will want to believe me, but have doubts and will question my excitement. Some may even laugh at me. But I believe the majority of you will cling to what I have to share and embrace it, and take part in my excitement. You really need to read ALL of this post. If you would rather listen, then click the YouTube video and listen to me cover the information in this post.
My desire is for the Divi community to be properly educated on the past, present, and future of Divi so you can maintain a correct perspective. I encourage all of you to stay well-informed and resist believing false information and negativity, especially as we face uncertainty with the rise of Gutenberg and other competitors. Far too many people are swayed by lack of knowledge, rumors, or nearsightedness. The future of Divi is very bright. I am not being naïve. Things are about to get epic!
Past – Divi, The Game Changer
This section is a brief look back at how Divi started and became the most popular WordPress theme in the word.
The Origin Story Explains A Lot
Depending on when you came to Divi, you may not know how it started. Perhaps the name of the company gives a clue – Elegant Themes. Notice the plural “s” on the end. What is that all about?
Elegant Themes started as a theme company. This was before page builders existed. They created 88 themes before Divi! That’s a lot! Then one day they decided to make a theme that could give users a lot of customization options. That is when Divi was born.
Another Theme – With Fixed Modules
Divi was started as a theme – not a builder and not a framework. They envisioned a theme with modules for different things like a blog, portfolio, etc. But they did not envision having 100 different layouts and thousands of settings inside each of those modules.
It’s actually quite amazing that Divi was able to continue to build on this foundation until what we know today. It’s almost impossible. So be thankful for what it has become and what it can do!
Divi Became The #1 WordPress Theme In The World
I can’t say for sure if this title is still true, but it certainly was true at some point that Divi theme was the most popular WordPress theme in the world. Keep in mind we are saying “theme” and not “page builder” which would be a little different. Something like the Elementor plugin would have more installs than the Divi Theme. You can check these stats on websites such as BuiltWith.com. This popularity was made possible by their visionary ideas to completely change the definition of editors or page builders as we know it.
Incredible Feature Updates
If you have been using Divi for several years, you know the evolution of the product has been astonishing. Just take a few moments and think back. Just in the past years, we got some amazing new features. I’m not even going to try to list them all, just go to their blog and take a scroll: Divi Feature Updates
Present – The Current State of Divi
This section is a look at the current state of Divi at the time of publication.
Divi has remained a very popular theme throughout the changes in technology and the rise of competitors. I believe this continued success is due to three main factors:
- The commitment from Elegant Themes to constantly improve, innovate, and invest in the future
- A huge 3rd party ecosystem encouraged by Elegant Themes which extends the framework in every way possible
- The unusually large and helpful Divi user community
Why is Divi development so slow?
It may seem like Elegant Themes takes too long to release new, exciting updates. This was not always the case, and will certainly not be the case in the future. But for now, it’s true, and there are fair reasons that explain why. The current state of Divi feels like a calm before the storm. And I say that in a good way, a good storm. For now, Divi remains popular, versatile, and capable.
Why Are Modules Missing So many Features?
Most of the modules today lack basic settings that you would expect. Why? For example, why is the Menu module or Blog module missing so many expected layouts and customization settings? It is frustrating, and users deserve to know the answer. The answer is in the origin story plus the fact that the team is smart, and they know adding more and more requested features right now will destroy Divi – it will simply get too big. This is exactly why Divi is being reinvented, so be sure to keep reading!
Legacy “Technical Debt” Is Holding Divi Back
Because Divi has been around since 2013, there are many years of something called “technical debt.” The best way to understand this concept is to think of how technology has changed in the last decade. Let’s say a website was built in 2013 with the Divi Theme. The site may be perfectly functional, but every time Divi wants to move forward and improve on the Theme, it has to constantly consider millions of sites on older versions. Ever wonder why updates take long to release? Actually, the Divi development team is fast! But the QA testing takes forever, and that is so that any new update doesn’t break the internet.
The Big Boat Analogy
Kenny Sing kept referring to Divi as a boat, and I love this analogy. Let me explain.
Imagine Divi as a boat in a race. There are other boats too, and everyone wants to take the most people along to the other side. So it needs to be fast, and safe, and they want to get there first.
Divi was one of the first boats to sea. People were hopping aboard, and it was great sailing.
But as more and more people got on board, the boat got slower and more features, they started sinking. Other boasts started passing them. Now what?
The only solution is to get a bigger boat. But wait, you can’t just get a new boat out in the sea. But what if you could somehow make your current boat bigger and better?
So to put yourself in the perspective of the Elegant Themes team, imagine you are on this boat. What would you do? How would you do it?
Divi Is Stuck
The team at Elegant Themes knew they were stuck. They could not move forward without adding more and more weight to the builder. And they couldn’t move back because they have so many customers.
Because of this, Divi has been 2 years behind on everything. It’s like when you go buy a new car and wonder why it doesn’t have the latest new tech innovation- it’s because the care was designed 2+ years ago. Nick and his team knew the cycle of being stuck needed to change.
More, More, More! The Cry For Features
The answer is not adding more features — because the system is at capacity. We all want all the features, but honestly, that would be like driving off a cliff — it’s going to die. So the question became more like, what would they do if they build from scratch? And how to do that without throwing out the old?
The Competition Is Making Divi Look Bad
If you hang around the WordPress space at all you will hear of seemingly endless line of new page builders coming out that are lightweight, fast, and full of every imaginable feature. This naturally brings up the question of why Divi is not keeping up with the competition. Why is Divi taking so long to release update?
There are several things worth knowing about this. The competition came after web technologies changed. So while Divi had a head start, suddenly the competition was passing them because they started years later after technology changed.
Market Leader Challenges
And to make matters worse, the competitors were able to watch Divi and avoid making the same mistakes, while Divi was left stuck with the dept that was created. No one was at fault, it was just a matter of timing and one of the challenges of being a market leader.
The explanation is actually due to the technical debt. This also explains how competitors can rise up and seemingly surpass Divi features overnight. They have an incredible impossible to overstate advantage here. They can look at all the features that make a theme or page builder great and simply build it, all at once. Boom! They release it and it looks amazing. That’s because there is no history of sites using their tool, and instead of needing a huge support team for existing sites and customers they can focus on new development.
Future – The Extremely Exciting New Divi Experience
This section is a summary of plans and expectations for the future of Divi.
Divi Is Not Going Away
Let’s start off the future section here by stating very clearly that Divi is NOT going away. It is here to stay, and the team at Elegant Themes has things under control. They are self-aware, and realize there are issues to overcome, but the best part is that they are both willing and capable of overcoming them. For this fact we should say a huge thank you, as this could not be said about every company.
More Than A Version Jump
We are generally familiar with how software evolves. First we have version 1.0, then some smaller updates like 1.1, 1.2, etc. Then after a while we get 2.0, a much bigger update. Then again we get a cycle of smaller updates 2.1, 2.2, etc. In Divi, we got to 4.0 which was a big update with the Theme Builder. So after many 4.x updates, the next logical update is just another big 5.0 update, right?
Well, yes and no. Divi 5.0 is not going to be just a normal “big” update. It’s going to be almost like a different product. But yes, it will be called version 5.0 technically, but in some ways it will be like 1.0 of a new Divi experience.
New Divi Backend Foundation – 5.0
Some of the most exciting changes from a developer perspective is the upcoming change to the core component of the Divi Visual Builder. Divi is soon releasing their own API to rebuild the Visual Builder interface from the ground up. The main motivation and goal for this is all of the above factors and issues, but mainly to ensure the Divi Builder foundation is prepared for the future. This huge change will ensure the highest level of performance and scalability of both the Visual Builder itself and the font end performance.
No More Shortcodes
This new foundation brings exciting API changes to the Divi Builder. Instead of the current/old method of using shortcodes to retrieve data stored in the database and output that to the builder/frontend, the new method will utilize the same storage format as Gutenberg and store the data in HTML on the page. This will be a significant performance improvement!
Compatibility with WordPress
WordPress is changing — a lot. No one knows for sure what will keep changing as far as integration with themes and plugins, but from Divi’s perspective, things are looking up! Keep in mind Divi has always paid attention to this, and released some basic integration and compatibility with Gutenberg in the past, but only what was needed to get by –but always with a plan!
Elegant Themes is looking ahead and embracing the latest WordPress APIs in their foundational rebuild, including those having to do with the block editor and block based themes. Basically, this means there is a potential for maximum Gutenberg/Divi Builder compatibility. Please note they are not making any promises yet, but as they continue to progress and understand the WordPress roadmap it is looking very exciting! (more on Divi vs. Gutenberg later)
Extendable Module API For 3rd Parties (me!)
Elegant Themes is committed to improving their 3rd party API to ensure developers like myself have the most flexibility and opportunities to continue to build modules and extend the Divi Builder. Unfortunately, this is going to mean a lot of work for us, and you should expect a transition period for developers to catch up and literally rebuild all their modules. Yes, you heard me. Rebuild! It’s going to be a huge task. Look at some plugins out there that have 30+ modules in one. Yikes. I personally am already planning around this, only doing updates that will not be impacted by this until we rebuild. Thankfully, Elegant Themes is providing an extensive library of developer focussed resources to help make this possible for us. The good part is that the new modules will be easier to build than the traditional way, so after the transition is over, look out!
Expect A Smooth Transition
Don’t worry too much, though. Divi is going to change the entire foundation without affecting the house. It’s crazy, and a tremendously huge task. But the upgrade experience will be surprisingly smooth, flawless for all customers, whether they just use Divi or 3rd party Divi plugins too.
Even if you use 3rd party modules, don’t worry. There is going to be a way to keep backwards compatibility, at least for a while. The experience may not be optimal, and there are no promises that it will remain backwards compatible forever, so it is highly recommended that developers embrace the new API and upgrade their modules. But please, lets all be gracious! To us, and to Elegant Themes.
No Visual Changes – Yet, Until 6.0
From the customer perspective, there will not be any dramatic visual changes to the Visual Builder UI for this foundation rebuild. All the changes are below the surface, and it will not affect the look of Divi. Although there are changes coming to the UI with 5.0.
UPDATE: They changed their mind about this. Originally, the foundation change was going to be Divi 4.x, and the visual change 5.0. But now they are planning the foundation update to be Divi 5.0, and the visual change is 6.0 probably a year or more after 5.0 is released.
Global Styling Framework
We have seen Divi gradually add design features related to global styling. First we got things like Copy & Paste styles, which was a basic first step. Then we got Find & Replace, which was a cool next step. After that, we got Presets, which is quite a big step. Then we got Global Colors, another important step forward.
Here is the problem with all of that. None of it is global! You can’t set your font sizes in a Text module and expect them to be set in the Blurb module. It’s a little sad. But soon you will be able to adjust your global site styles, colors, and more from a central global styling modal directly in the builder!
Eliminate The Need For Any CSS
The Elegant Themes team believes there is no need to have a child theme just for styling alone. Sure, maybe for other functionality, but not for the sole purpose of adding CSS. Because of this belief, expect even more CSS related settings in the Divi Builder that cover absolutely every element.
Everything In The Builder
In the past, themes and builders like Divi always relied on separate settings pages. In Divi, we have both the Theme Options area and the Customizer. This is a hassle, because it means we are always switching back and form from the Divi Builder to the backend settings. These are also both very dated, and I expect them both to be dissolved and relocated.
No More Customizer (Thank God)
I’ve known for a few years that the vision Nick Roach had for Divi was to keep everything within the builder, like a distraction free working area. For years now, people have begged for more settings in the Customizer, but thankfully Divi did not provide those. Then we got the Theme Builder and Presets, and it is becoming obvious that the future is in the builder itself, not those clunky old Theme Options and Customizers. I personally have not used the Customizer for years. Even WordPress is moving away from it. I already have a post/video about the Customizer and why it is going away (thank goodness!): Where Are The Missing Divi Customizer Settings?
Custom Code Editor Inside Builder
Answering The Cry For More Responsive Breakpoints
This is not a topic that Divi or WordPress or any other builder can ever truly solve. Some people mistakenly believe that more breakpoints would solve their issues, but not necessarily. So you want 10,000 breakpoints? Of course not. My point is that the echoing cry for more breakpoints is a bit uneducated. Sometimes we expect a magical canvas, but depending on which value the user inputs or even the unit like px, em, percentage, or vh, it’s going to make a big difference. Finding an answer to this is next to impossible, but challenges are fun, and Divi is planning some clever ways to improve responsive design. Yes, it will involve more breakpoints, but it will go far beyond just adding breakpoints. They are thoroughly thinking through everything, so expect greatness!
Flex Is Old – Expect Grid CSS
The current situation with the Divi column structure is not so good. It uses CSS flex a little, but mostly not. And let’s be honest, CSS flex is old. Grid is the current best solution, and this is what Divi is planning to use for their new column framework.
Most of you already know that, and many of you have purchased my Divi Responsive Helper plugin to solve a lot of that. But our plugin is a band-aid hack, not a core change. So the column stacking portion of our plugin will most likely become obsolete someday. But it will before the betterment of Divi and all users, so although my solution will be less valuable, it is for the best.
Reorganized Modal Settings
The challenge is fitting all the settings into Divi. The current UI is already crowded. So the challenge becomes how to give users the settings they need when they need it, but not all the settings all the time when they don’t need it. Wow! Think about that for a second. I predict that version 5.0 will be the point at which we see changes to how the current modals, pages settings, layouts, and all the builder interface works. But don’t worry, they’re smart enough not to change everything and let us wonder aimlessly. But the fact remains — they need to fit more and more things into an interface, that requires some degree of changes. The beautiful thing will be seeing how they make this work, only showing what each user needs at just the right time and place!
Improved Standardized Terminology
It can be awkward to try to talk about the Divi Builder. What is that called? We end up saying things like widget, module, row, section, panel, modal, window, toggle, tab, box, contextual menu, dropdown, etc. But nobody really knows what to call stuff. While this may not seem like a big issue, it does become important in training when writing documentation or creating courses. Sometimes I just make stuff up, and the trick is to say it confidently like you really know what you mean 😉 But thankfully Elegant Themes will be addressing this along with the above-mentioned changes.
The lost red-headed stepchild of Divi is the theme Extra. Keep in mind the origin story. Divi was going to be this new builder that could do everything, and then they planned to just build more themes with Divi. Makes sense, right? But Divi took off. It quickly became obvious that Divi was the main product, so the theme became synonymous with the builder. Something is planned to happen with Extra in the future, but my detective skills have not been able to uncover the details on that yet.
Divi Cloud – The Central Hub For Everything
I have suspected for a long time that Divi was inching closer to having a centralized hub for storing layouts, presets, colors, theme builder templates, and other settings. We have seen competitors doing this left and right, and it just makes sense. This has been confirmed by a Facebook post by owner Nick Roach, and in the comment section he confirmed this is the plan. I’ve seen customers begging for things such as the ability to add sections instead of layouts for a long time. But again, remember the why – they could not keep adding features like that to the existing system. They were thinking far beyond just layout management. The teased new Divi Cloud sounds like a new kind of platform altogether, which will undoubtedly come in phases and deliver more than we’ve asked.
UPDATE: Divi Cloud is now available!
Divi Teams – Collaboration Within Your Account And Divi
Elegant Themes surprised most people with the announcement of Divi Teams. This is like an addon for Divi that integrates with Divi and Divi cloud, and is used for managing your team and clients.
I happen to know that Divi will be working on a lot more Divi Teams features. Divi cloud and Divi Teams will clearly be the “updates” that happen during the transition to 5.0.
Hey elephant! Yes, Divi And Gutenberg Can Coexist
I use Divi exclusively in my website design and product business, so I personally was getting a little concerned when I saw some better updates to Gutenberg come out, like back around WordPress 5.5. And they have gotten more and more serous about it since. So I asked a few well respected friends who are in similar shoes, even developers that work for Elegant Themes, what their thoughts were about the future of Divi. The response was essentially this: “Why can’t we have both?”
Continue Using The Tools You Love
Users will continue to use the tools they feel most comfortable with, whether that be Divi, Gutenberg, Beaver Builder, Elementor, Astra, or any other WordPress theme or builder. But don’t write Divi off. Even if you already have, you are going to find yourself coming back to Divi. That’s right, you read this post, didn’t you? You’re curious, and that is because you love Divi. You’re going to be watching, and I predict you will also be using Divi far into the future. The competition is watching too — and some of them are going to be saying “oh crap” soon. Just wait for it.
A Trustworthy Team And Leadership
If you follow Elegant Themes at all, you know that the owner and founder Nick Roach is very business savvy, smart, and forward-thinking (he can also be just like me – sarcastic. lol). He also has some of the smartest, most capable team leaders in the industry around him. It’s a group effort by everyone from sales to support to design and development, but having leaders with those qualities should give you some peace about the future of Divi as we enter a world of a more mature Gutenberg blog editor and intense competition. I personally am not worried, not even 2%. Was I before? Yes, before I became aware of the Divi plans, I was about 37% worried. Not anymore, I’m just giddy with excitement now!
Timeframe? Patience, Please!
The big question is timeframe — when will we see all of this become a reality? I personally have learned a lot of lessons from my own product business. There are reasons why we don’t always tell you exactly what is coming. If there is a pause, or quietness, it always means something big is brewing. I hate waiting. I am also in the middle of several huge development cycles building big products, 10x bigger than I have before. I can’t wait myself, but good things take time.
My advice is to do everything you can to wait, because it’s going to be well worth it. You need to trust me on that! Meanwhile, take this time to prepare for it. Think ahead and get the rest of your business in order, so that when Divi does start releasing big changes, you can spend a little extra time on learning everything that is new.
Encouragement Goes A Long Way
Let’s all encourage the team. There will undoubtedly be hiccups along the way. Delays. Frustrating bugs. But there’s nothing better you can do to help than encourage the team. Let’s be better at that. I know personally we are in for some extra work, extra expense, extra time rebuilding our plugins. So bear with us. Once we all get past some stages, it’s going be well worth it.