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As the pandemic continues to dominate the conversation of many industries, the WordPress community has had a busy summer. 

Here’s the good news: 

The coronavirus hasn’t been able to stop the WordPress world. Exciting updates and events are still happening. The pandemic has only changed how these things are done.

In case you missed it, here’s a roundup of the latest updates to the WordPress community, including:

  • Flagship WordPress events going virtual through 2021
  • The launch of WordPress 5.5
  • WordPress 5.6’s all-female squad 
  • The launch of WordPress Learn
  • Extended support for PHP 5.6

All WordCamps Are Going Virtual Through 2021

The WordPress community announced that all 2021 flagship WordPress events, like regional WordCamps, will be held online or canceled. The team strongly advises that 2020’s remaining events should take place online, as well. 

WordPress’s community manager Hugh Lashbrooke expressed concerns about thousand-person WordCamps becoming COVID-19 super-spreader events if attendees are sick.

Sadly, WordCamp US 2020, scheduled for October, was canceled and will not be taking place online. Fortunately, other upcoming local WordCamps and WordPress events will take place virtually. 

Check out these tips for making the most of online WordCamps.

WordPress 5.5 Eckstine Launched

In case you missed it, WordPress 5.5 launched on August 11. The release is named Eckstine, after American jazz singer Billy Eckstine.

This version of the content management system includes significant improvements to WordPress’s core speed, search, and security. 

Eckstine enables faster load times for pages formerly slowed by lazy load images that don’t appear until you scroll to them. The update also includes a new XML sitemap that helps WordPress websites show up on search engines more easily. 

Additionally, the Eckstine update increases security by letting you choose whether or not you want to update plugins and themes automatically, and which ones you want to update manually.

WordPress Eckstine also comes with several additions to the block editor. A new block directory makes it easy to find blocks and build a website you love. Additional block patterns help you create professional-looking layouts. Furthermore, image editing is now possible within blocks. 

Updates to accessibility features make WordPress a more powerful tool for everyone. You can now copy links with the click of a button, rather than by highlighting text. You can also edit images more easily with an assistive device and move meta boxes with a keyboard instead of just the mouse.

WordPress 5.5 brings some significant changes to the WordPress core and is part of WordPress’s Gutenberg project.

The WordPress 5.6 Team Will Be All-Female

Although WordPress 5.5 was just released, the WordPress community isn’t wasting any time getting started with WordPress 5.6. The community announced in March that it would be using an all-women release squad for this version. 

The goal is to expand women’s involvement in the development of the WordPress core.

The team plans to release a beta on October 20, 2020, and do a general release on December 8. WordPress 5.6 will be the last major release of 2020 and will bring Gutenberg closer to full website editing capabilities. 

The WordPress accessibility team is crowdsourcing their goals for the upcoming update.

Learn WordPress Launched

In August 2020, the WordPress community launched Learn WordPress — its very own resource for learning and teaching WordPress. The website has workshops for students and lesson plans for teachers.

Current workshops available for WordPress are:

The workshops are videos that range from 8 to 75 minutes long and are taught by WordPress experts. Students can also engage with other students in discussions. 

Learn WordPress’s lesson plans include spam management, theme installation, and WordPress security. Look for new Learn WordPress content in the coming weeks.

Support for PHP 5.6 Will Continue Through the End of 2020

The WordPress team initially announced that it would stop supporting PHP 5.6. However, they changed their minds and will instead continue to support it through December 2020. 

Follow along with support drop plans.

Many exciting things are happening in the world of WordPress despite COVID-19. A new WordPress core version was released, and a new one is already underway with an all-female team. WordCamp events are going virtual through 2021. 

Stay tuned for more updates. 

Are you looking for powerful hosting for your WordPress website? Check out Bluehost’s hosting packages.

  • Machielle Thomas

    Machielle is a content enthusiast who has a passion for bridging the gap between audiences and brands through impactful storytelling. Machielle has also spoken at dozens of WordCamps throughout the years.

    Texas State University
    Previous Experience
    Brand Content, Content Marketing, Brand Lead, Operations Lead, Course Instructor
    Other publications
    Shopify, Contently
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