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As 2023 comes to a close, so too does an exciting year of WordPress updates.

The biggest of these was WordPress’ 20th anniversary in May. There was also the first flagship WordCamp Asia, the push into stage 3 of the Gutenberg project and the release of WordPress Playground.

Besides this, WordPress 6.2–6.4 came out this year, and 70 WordCamps took place around the globe.

Now, let’s wrap up the year with WordPress 6.4.2 (the last release of 2023), Gutenberg 17.2 and the State of the Word going to Madrid for the first time.

Security release: WordPress 6.4.2

The latest security release of WordPress is 6.4.2.

If you don’t keep automatic updates turned on — which you definitely should — it’s time to update WordPress immediately.

A potentially critical security issue introduced in WordPress 6.4 could allow remote code execution and a full-site takeover when combined with insecure plugins. Luckily, it doesn’t seem like the vulnerability was exploited significantly, if at all.

The quickly released WordPress 6.4.2 addresses this issue. You’re completely safe as long as your WordPress install is up to date.

Roadmap to WordPress 6.5

With WordPress 6.4 settling in, it’s time to look forward to the next release: WordPress 6.5. Expect it early next spring on March 26, 2024.

While not all of these may make it into the final product, the WordPress team is looking to add these features and more:

  • The Font Library feature previously planned for WordPress 6.4 will be coming to 6.5.
  • Block and pattern attributes will sync while still allowing local changes. For example, you can reuse a block’s styling across your entire website but change the text within it on each page.
  • Support for Appearance Tools and better Pattern management will come to Classic themes.
  • The Colorways feature will allow you to use predefined colors within Group blocks.
  • A new feature-rich redesign for templates, template parts and patterns pages is in the works. Revisions will also come to templates and template parts.
  • Several new APIs, including the Interactivity API, will be available for developers.
  • The minimum version of MySQL will rise to 5.5.5, and the team will work to improve compatibility with PHP 8.0+.

It will be an exciting update for WordPress designers, who will see many improvements and more options.

Gutenberg 17.2: Design experience improvements

Gutenberg 17.2 offers greater accessibility to the block editor.
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Gutenberg 17.1 and 17.2 came out in late November and early December, each bringing a few small but impactful features to enhance your experience.

Here’s a highlight of the new features of Gutenberg 17.2 and 17.1:

  • The team made some improvements to accessibility and writing flow. This includes small tweaks to make various features consistent with others.
  • The Quote block now supports block spacing.
  • You can drag and drop blocks onto the beginning and end of a document much more easily.
  • Table headers on large datasets are now sticky.
  • Distraction-Free Mode now features a Block Toolbar that slides into view when hovering at the top of the screen.

WordPress developer updates for December 2023

Programmers of WordPress, tune in to the final developer updates for December. We’ve mentioned the roadmap to 6.5 and will go over the return of Plugin Previews, but here are some other highlights for the month:

  • The Theme Handbook has added several new chapters focused on blocks, and the handbook overhaul is still underway.
  • The PHPMailer and getID3 libraries have been updated to their latest versions.
  • The Interactivity API in Gutenberg now supports a native store() API.
  • Gutenberg has added a theme.json layout setting to turn off custom content size controls.
  • Gallery blocks with nestled images now use a transparent scrollbar. This prevents issues with long captions.
  • The Tabs component recently replaced TabsPanel in Gutenberg and has received several improvements.

Plugin Previews return

If you remember the initial launch of Plugin Previews, you know it was quickly steeped in backlash. The premise — allowing people to try out plugins via the new WordPress Playground demo feature — was great in theory.

In execution, WordPress Playground didn’t account for any plugin requirements. It simply didn’t play nice with some plugins, making users see a broken plugin and decide not to install it.

The WordPress team quickly removed Plugin Previews. Still, they listened to feedback and decided to reimplement the feature on an opt-in basis. Plus, developers can set up any install dependencies with other plugins or themes and other helpful changes.

Major vulnerabilities affect over 15.2 million websites

Late November and early December have been stressful for WordPress users, as multiple major vulnerabilities in plugins and even the platform itself have been uncovered. Here are a few highlights:

To mitigate potential hacks, keep your plugins and WordPress core up to date and install a highly rated security plugin.

State of the Word 2023 recap

The 2023 State of the Word celebrated WordPress’ 20th anniversary.
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The annual State of the Word premiered this December, taking place for the first time outside of the USA — in Madrid, Spain.

This year was WordPress’ 20th anniversary, so the event was an exciting reflection on how far WordPress has come. Hundreds of key developers and contributors attended, while millions watched online.

The talk touched on topics like the Gutenberg project, its upcoming phases and the future of AI and WordPress.

You can read the State of the Word 2023 recap and watch the entire event on YouTube. WordPress fans will enjoy it.

The first WordCamps of 2024

A few WordCamps will occur in early 2024.

All of the WordCamps for 2023 have come to a close. It’s been a long and exciting year, with 70 WordCamps globally. Now, it’s time to look forward to next year’s WordPress events.

While most of these are still in the works, a few WordCamps are planned for the early months of 2024.

This January, look forward to WordPress events in Kolkata, India; Pokhara, Nepal; Zaragoza, Spain; and Jakarta, Indonesia. February will also feature WordCamps in Kobe, Japan, and Phoenix, U.S.

Check out the WordCamp schedule to see what events are coming near you. Also, don’t forget to take the 2023 Annual Meetup Survey if you want to attend or organize WordPress events.

Official launch of Bluehost Professional Email

Bluehost launched Professional Email.

Once you’ve set up your professional website, a personalized email is the next thing you’ll need.

You can’t launch an email marketing campaign from your personal email, and a branded email reduces customer confusion.

That’s why Bluehost launched Professional Email, bringing you affordable email hosting starting at only $1.25/year for the first year. Give it a try if you need a branded email address for your website.

Stay up to date

Follow Bluehost to learn all the latest news in the WordPress community.

If you’re looking for a powerful, reliable and budget-friendly WordPress host, check out Bluehost’s WordPress hosting plans. And don’t forget to sign up for our affordable Professional Email service.

  • Minal Agarwal

    Minal is the Director of Brand Marketing at Bluehost. With over 15 years of business experience in the technology industry, she strives to create solutions and content that fulfill a customer's needs. She is a dog mom and a stickler for calendaring.

    Masters in Marketing Management
    Previous Experience
    Strategic Partnerships, Customer Success, Events and Community
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1 Comment

  1. TasteWP is proven solution for WP sandbox that has been around for years, not sure why people are pushing so hard for clumsy wannabe WP Playground?

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