WordPress News: Gutenberg 9.7 Released + 4 More Updates | January 2021

In 2020, WordPress released several major updates aligned with its focus on full site editing. Looking at the company’s progress in January, it seems there are no signs of slowing down in 2021.

Discover the latest happenings in the world of WordPress, such as:

  • The release of Gutenberg 9.7
  • All in One SEO plugin backlash
  • New owner for WordPress Events Calendar
  • Launch of WordPress educational platform
  • Updates from the State of the Word keynote

Gutenberg 9.7 Brings Welcome Improvements to User Experience

Gutenberg 9.7 was released on Jan. 6, 2021, tight on the heels of version 9.6, which was released two weeks prior. 

Version 9.6 introduced the ability to drag-and-drop content blocks onto the post canvas. In version 9.7, the team added drag-and-drop functionality to block patterns as well.

The Gutenberg team shipped several refreshing improvements to the block building editor in addition to drag-and-drop block patterns. 

Block variations received an update that shows variation details on the user interface. In other words, the team replaced generic names and icons of each variation with the corresponding platform information.

The team also spent time updating reusable blocks, a feature that previously appeared to be on the backburner. Reusable blocks now use a streamlined saving method, and the team plans to continue improving this feature.

All in One SEO Plugin Faces User Backlash

All in One SEO is a popular WordPress search engine optimization (SEO) plugin. The plugin has over two million active installations and empowers users to set up advanced WordPress SEO features.

At the beginning of January, user reviews and reports indicated that the plugin developers enabled automatic updates for all users.

Previously, the plugin required user consent to update. Unfortunately, many websites experienced strange behavior and outages after the first major automatic update. 

With automatic updates enabled, WordPress users aren’t able to back up their websites in case something goes wrong during the update. 

All in One SEO users flocked to Twitter and review sites to express their displeasure with issues caused by the automatic update. 

If your WordPress website has been negatively affected by this automatic update, you can look for answers in this support thread.

Events Calendar Has New Owner Liquid Web

More than 800,000 WordPress users use The Events Calendar plugin on their websites. The plugin was created by the digital agency Modern Tribe. 

In early 2021, Liquid Web purchased The Events Calendar plugin from Modern Tribe. Liquid Web provides managed hosting services for WordPress users.

The acquisition will help Liquid Web establish itself further as a hosting provider for eCommerce publishers. In particular, it can help support businesses that rely on tickets and event sales.

The Events Calendar company will remain independent under the Liquid Web umbrella. Liquid Web confirms users will not experience any changes as a result of the acquisition.

WordPress Launches User Education Platform

On Dec. 21, 2020, WordPress.com launched WPCourses.com. The new website serves as an online education platform for WordPress users. 

The platform launched with two courses: Blogging for Beginners and Podcasting for Beginners. Each class is taught by WordPress experts and is available as a subscription. 

The launch of WordPress Courses comes after the company saw high engagement in its educational webinars during 2020. The team plans to expand its customer education content further. 

State of the Word Keynote Speech Highlights Future of Full Site Editing

WordPress CEO Matt Mullenweg delivered his annual State of the Word keynote speech on Dec. 4, 2020. 

He began by recapping WordPress’s steady progress, despite unexpected obstacles presented by the global pandemic. 

WordPress stayed true to its roadmap and kept a steady pace in 2020, shipping three significant releases. Block-based editing continued to improve with the addition of revolutionary features such as block patterns. 

The team also released a new default theme, and WordPress saw the introduction of the first block-based themes.

The speech included a demo of the Site Editor beta, highlighting new theme editing functionality and several new content blocks in the works. 

The WordPress team remains committed to its vision of block-based website building. In 2021, the team can focus on perfecting many of the major features introduced in 2020. 

WordPress users can expect a continuation of frequent updates, iterations, and experiments. The good news is user experience seems to be a priority for the team in 2021.

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Desiree Johnson
Desiree Johnson | Content Specialist
Desiree Johnson is a Content Specialist at Bluehost where she writes helpful guides and articles, teaches webinars and assists with other marketing and WordPress community work.

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