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As the holiday season ramps up, WordPress is busy at work to deliver WordPress 5.6 before the end of the year. 

In the meantime, WordPress has released new versions of its platform, and Gutenberg updates.

The maintenance release, 5.5.1, from last month, was followed up with WordPress 5.5.2 and 5.5.3, which fixes security concerns and glitches.  

WordPress also issued three beta versions for WordPress 5.6, giving users the chance to test it out before its official launch in a few weeks. 

Read on to learn more details about the newest maintenance releases and beta testing. 

The Latest WordPress Version: 5.5.3 

WordPress 5.5.2 came out a few weeks after the 5.5.1 update with several security measures. Then 5.5.3 quickly resolved errors caused by the previous update. 

WordPress 5.5.2 

WordPress 5.5.2 addressed ten security updates, including:

  • Strengthening requests for deserialization 
  • Disarming websites on a multisite network from embedding spam
  • Preventing factors that could lead to cross-site scripting (XSS) worldwide and in post slugs
  • Resolving a hole that might cause random erasing of files 

Since this does concern security issues, WordPress recommends updating as soon as possible.

The update also resolved several maintenance issues, such as:

  • Events using the wrong time zone for users
  • Incorrect video alignment 
  • PHP notices in incorrect areas
  • Undefined indexes and variables in theme editor, plugin updates, and core files

WordPress 5.5.3

WordPress 5.5.3 came quickly to resolve an installation error in the 5.5.2 update. This error only affected new downloads that didn’t have a configured database connection. 

It’s a recurring problem that’s challenging to reliably test for, but the WordPress team is working on a permanent solution.

In fixing this issue, WordPress disabled the 5.5.2 download. That caused many sites to automatically downloaded 5.5.3-alpha. At this time, 5.5.3 was functionally the same as the previous WordPress update. 

The other effect of this unintentional update is that the “Twenty” themes and the Akismet plugin might have been installed on your website. Neither the themes or the plugin were activated upon installation unless you already had them on your website, and it’s safe to delete them if you don’t wish to use them. 

A Look at WordPress 5.6: Beta 1, 2, 3

As it prepares for a December 8, 2020 deadline, WordPress has released beta versions of WordPress 5.6.

You can sample the versions by either downloading the WordPress Beta Tester (select “Bleeding edge” and then “Nightlies”) or downloading the ZIP file. WordPress advises using a test website if you want to try it out, as the software hasn’t been finalized.

Beta 1

Beta 1 showcases improvements in the core program and Gutenberg

Core updates include the Twenty Twenty-One default theme, which is designed to optimally function with WordPress 5.6. 

The new version also features an automatic update option, allowing you to select for significant updates to download in the background instead of manually updating.

Before 5.6, PHP 8.0.0 will be released. WordPress ensures its newest version will be compatible with the PHP update. The team is already searching for and correcting any anticipated bugs. 

An anticipated addition to 5.6 is Application Passwords. This feature will give developers more flexibility outside of the current cookie and nonce authentication process, which can interfere with applications. 

There are several changes to increase WordPress’s accessibility, including:

  • The addition of arrow navigation
  • Tweaks to the website focus for various processes
  • Correcting blocks from landing in the wrong placements 

Beta 2

In the second beta phase, the WordPress team ironed out 53 bugs in areas including administration functions, test tools, themes, comments, users, and privacy. 

For beta 2, the WordPress team also: 

  • Fixed six errors in the block editor
  • Made updates to plugins including Twemoji, Akismet, and React
  • Tweaked Application Passwords, making it more clear and accessible
  • Included an indicator for images to display if it is attached to a website option or not

Beta 3

The latest beta version includes block patterns for the previous “Twenty” themes, and it has a theme support addition for navigation-widgets to enhance accessibility and semantics. 

Beta 3 also fixes coding in URLs to correctly work with REST API, and it released a way to test if headings work properly for Application Passwords.

In total, 20 errors were fixed, not including ten more bugs corrected in the block editor. 

WordPress Updates November 2020

Engines are full steam ahead on releasing WordPress 5.6 in December 2020. Its three beta versions are live and ripe for testing by users. 

With its two major core updates, 5.5.2 and 5.5.3, WordPress has made your website more secure and fixed the kinks users experienced.

Are you looking to upgrade your website before the end of the year? Take a look at Bluehost’s hosting packages.

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