The long-awaited WordPress 6.3 is finally out, which is great news for WordPress fans.
But that’s not all August brought to us. Gutenberg 16.5 also came out, as did the official roadmap to the next major WordPress release.
The news isn’t all good, however. We recently learned that many community contributors struggle to stay on top of their workload due to a lack of volunteers or funding, though WordPress continues to press on to 6.4.
Read on for the major WordPress news for August 2023.
WordPress 6.3 “Lionel” is out now
Many exciting updates are in store. Here are just a few of them:
- Site Editor changes: You can edit content, templates and patterns all within the Site Editor (which also has distraction-free mode now).
- New Command Palette: These keyboard shortcuts enable you to execute commands quickly. Developers will be interested in the Command Palette API that can integrate with their plugins.
- Better pattern management: Now, you can create and sync block patterns.
- Design tools update: You can take advantage of new Cover block functionality, track Style revisions and customize captions without code.
- New blocks: Check out the new Footnotes and Details blocks.
- Theme previews: You can now see what a theme will look like on your website without having to enable it.
- Better accessibility: Lionel includes 50+ accessibility improvements, from better labeling to improved navigation and controls.
- Faster performance: The WordPress team worked hard to improve client- and server-side performance, leading to a 27% speed boost for block themes and an 18% boost for classic themes.
Also, PHP 5 support has been discontinued, so make sure to upgrade to the latest version.
The Community Themes Initiative released Blue Note, a jazz-inspired theme to go with this release. Give it a download if you’re looking for a clean, colorful and beautiful theme.
WordPress released its bimonthly Gutenberg updates on Aug. 9 and 23. Gutenberg 16.4 added the most interesting features, though 16.5 was packed with many useful enhancements.
The top features from both releases include:
- Auto-inserting blocks. This experimental feature must be manually activated. It enables you to insert blocks automatically when specific parameters are met. The use cases for this are intriguing.
- New Command Palette commands. They allow you to show/hide block breadcrumbs, enable/disable the pre-publish checklist and preview changes in a new tab.
- Progress bar component. You can use this simple progress bar throughout your website.
- Block changes. Additional settings have been added for the Footnotes, Details, Post Content and File blocks.
Ready for WordPress 6.4? The next major update is coming on Nov. 7, 2023, and its focus will be enhancing the WordPress experience. Gutenberg’s third phase will also continue to be looked into.
WordPress developers have some exciting plans in store for 6.4:
- Font Library: Along with @font-face support, the Font Library will make installing and using fonts much easier.
- Template revisions: Much like how Style revisions were introduced in 6.3, 6.4 will bring this in for Templates.
- New blocks: The Table of Contents, Scrolling Marquee and Time to Read blocks will fill some much-needed functionality gaps. A Query Loop block is also being considered.
- Auto-insert blocks: A beta version of this functionality is already out in Gutenberg 16.4.
- Better writing and editing experience: Various features to improve this in WordPress’ Gutenberg editor are planned.
- Styles, patterns and design tools: WordPress is a great tool, but it can always be improved. The developers have set out to add dozens of much-needed refinements for existing features.
- New default theme: Twenty Twenty-Four will be released alongside the 6.4 update.
It’s no secret that the WordPress admin is getting a little outdated. It’s looked essentially the same for the past 10 years.
WordPress devs and designers have been considering this problem since 2022. And in August 2023, they finally showcased some potential design ideas.
The previews look promising and much more modern, though WordPress also seeks feedback on the underlying structural design.
Many users have already voiced compliments and concerns on the new WordPress admin look, and you can chime in with your thoughts.
The newest WordPress release comes with many exciting new tools and changes for developers to experiment with. Here are some examples of WordPress 6.3’s features:
- Vertical text orientations: Now, you can easily add an interesting flair to your themes or better support for vertical languages.
- Pattern updates:The Library is now “Patterns,” and reusable blocks are now “synced patterns.” This functionality has been overhauled, so look closely before diving back in.
- Development mode function renamed: The function is now “wp_is_development_mode()” rather than “wp_in_development_mode().”
- Potentially breaking design changes: If you’re using wide/full-width images in the Image block, these now have a fixed width of 100%. And the Avatar block’s global styles selector now targets the wrapper, not the <img> element. Make sure to check on your themes.
- The HTML Processor: This minimal API is in development and may be released with WordPress 6.4.
Read the complete list of changes in the WordPress developer roundup for August 2023.
As a free and open-source program, WordPress relies on the work of thousands of talented enthusiasts to stay running.
The Make WordPress team has dozens of branches, from the Core developers to the designers, community organizers, marketers and testers.
Unfortunately, while many people work together to keep WordPress thriving, some teams desperately need more volunteers as WordPress gradually takes over the internet.
One of these includes the Plugin Review team, which, despite best efforts, has a 1,900+ plugin backlog.
The team recently added six new members and is hopeful to improve the situation after receiving over 20 applications. If you want to help, you can apply to join the Plugin Review team and help cut down the backlog.
Another area where WordPress volunteers need help is in maintaining the WordPress coding standards. Despite how important it is to keep these up to date, WordPressCS is maintained by a small handful of volunteers.
While WordPressCS 3.0.0 was released successfully in August, the situation could be more sustainable. Not to mention, future maintenance will be halted without funding from corporate/agency users of WordPressCS.
WordPress.com recently unveiled its 100-Year Plan, which would provide century-long domain registration for a one-time fee. It also implemented special ownership protocols if you wish to transfer the domain to someone else, such as a child.
While this isn’t the first time an indefinite or lifetime domain registration has been offered, it’s certainly not a standard option.
Of course, this raises interesting questions about what would happen to your domain if WordPress.com is dissolved or bought out within the next century.
August was an exciting time for WordPress enthusiasts, bringing WordCamp US and the WordCamp Community Summit.
In September, 10 more WordCamp events will take place worldwide, including in Nepal, Malaysia, Finland, Spain, Canada and New York.
Check out the WordCamp schedule and see if there’s one in your corner of the world.
If you’re interested in being more involved in an event, WordCamp Asia has opened a call for speakers. You have until Sept. 30, 2023, to apply.
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