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The release of WordPress 6.3 brought a lot of excitement to the community. While September 2023 has been relatively laidback compared to August’s WordPress news, there were still some exciting developments.

Among them is the release of the Performant Translations plugin, which can instantly improve the performance of localized websites. On top of that, there’s the approach of WooSesh, an event for WooCommerce enthusiasts, along with various small feature releases and developer updates for WordPress.

Most exciting:

Bluehost has kicked off the 2023 Creators Awards, giving innovative WordPress creators a chance to rank in the top 20 and win prizes.

The 2023 Bluehost Creators Awards

The Bluehost Creators Awards.

Are you passionate about WordPress? Have you designed an exceptional website or created your own theme or plugin? Do you use WordPress to pursue creative passions or build exciting projects?

We’ve just announced the 2023 Bluehost Creators Awards. Whether you’ve made an awesome tool as a developer, crafted unique websites as a designer or put passion into your work as a blogger, you can show off your creativity.

If your work is unique and innovative, you could rank in the top 20 and win cash and other rewards from a prize pool worth $9,100!

Submit your application today if you think you have what it takes!

Gutenberg 16.6 releases

Plugins can auto-insert blocks as of Gutenberg 16.6.
Image source

Gutenberg 16.6 recently released, bringing some small but impactful quality-of-life (QoL) updates.

Auto-inserted blocks are now known as Block hooks. If you missed the memo, you can use this experimental feature to automatically insert a block when certain conditions are met, saving time from configuring the same block repeatedly.

The Navigation, List and Quote blocks also support attaching child toolbars to their parent blocks, which is a little more intuitive.

Besides that, the WordPress team made several dozen bug fixes and minor QoL improvements. This is a great update if you’ve been having small but annoying issues with Gutenberg like fixed background images being zoomed in too much.

Minor WordPress update

WordPress 6.3.1 is a maintenance update.

WordPress released version 6.3.1, a minor maintenance update that squashes a few pesky bugs. If you don’t have automatic updates enabled, you can install the latest version from your WordPress dashboard.

Work continues on WordPress 6.4 Beta 1, slated to be released in late September 2023. You can expect to see more Beta and Release candidate versions throughout October, with the full release of 6.4 in early November.

Curious about how WordPress 6.3 has improved the platform? The core team posted an analysis of Core Web Vitals’ performance in 6.3.

The results show that 6.3 was a big step towards improving WordPress’ performance, with block themes loading 27% faster since the update.

Developer updates: Updated blocks, new hooks and functions

As always, WordPress continues to add exciting new features for developers. Here’s a quick overview of developer updates for September:

  • Additional design options are now available for various blocks, including a stretch-to-fill option for the Column block.
  • Standardized admin notices are now added via the new wp_admin_notice() function.
  • Node.js version 16.x and npm version 8.x are the new minimum version requirements for core contributors.
  • The useBlockEditingMode() hook is public, along with getBlockEditingMode, setBlockEditingMode and unsetBlockEditingMode, so you can use them in your blocks.
  • The Interactivity API received a status update and is slated to be included in WordPress 6.5 or later versions.
  • WordPressCS 3.0.0 is now available if you missed it last month.

Performant Translations plugin

The Performant Translations plugin was released by the WordPress Performance Team.

If you use translations on your WordPress website, you may have noticed that it can slow things down.

The WordPress core performance team recently released Performant Translations, a plugin that aims to fix this long-running issue. You don’t need to set it up — just download it and instantly enjoy faster speeds.

Performant Translations is still in beta but has undergone stringent testing. The team has also said it should be safe to use on production sites.

They’ve also released a call for testing, so be sure to provide feedback if you notice any bugs or security issues with the plugin.

Vulnerabilities exposed in Slimstat Analytics, OpenCart, Essential Blocks

In September, news broke that some popular WordPress plugins had many significant vulnerabilities. Two plugins with over 100,000 users each, Slimstat Analytics and Essential Blocks, were affected. Slimstat developers fixed the issue within four days and Essential Blocks patched theirs within 12.

Magecart malware hit OpenCart, an online store management system that can integrate with WordPress. A compromised payment module led to credit card details being stolen.

Other vulnerabilities were revealed throughout August and September, even in major plugins like Advanced Custom Fields and Forminator.

Additionally, a “zombie plugins pandemic” has affected over 1.6 million WordPress websites. Patchstack revealed over 404 vulnerabilities in various WordPress plugins, but plugin authors were unreachable. WordPress’ plugin review team closed most of these plugins.

Patchstack urges plugin authors to add up-to-date contact information to their plugin’s readme files and support their official request to alert users when the repository removes a plugin for security issues.

To keep your website safe, make sure your WordPress themes and plugins are updated to the latest version, follow a basic site security checklist and use a tool like SiteLock.

Openverse wins OE Award for Excellence

Openverse won an Open Infrastructure Award.

WordPress recently released Openverse, a library of free stock photos, images and audio.

Openverse is extremely useful for creators who need free assets for their website or other projects. It’s also straightforward to understand the licensing.

The OE Awards for Excellence highlights tools and technologies applicable to the open education community, which values openness and transparency in educational resources.

Openverse won an Open Infrastructure Award, made for open-source tools freely available for educational use.

WordPress events: WooSesh 2023, WP Includes, October WordCamp sessions

WooSesh 2023 is coming up in October.

If you’re looking for a WordPress event for WooCommerce, check out WooSesh 2023.

WooCommerce store builders are invited to a virtual conference on October 10-12. It includes a State of the Woo address by WooCommerce’s CEO and various other talks from 30 speakers.

There will also be a community awards ceremony and you can nominate candidates you think deserve to have their work recognized.

Meanwhile, WordCamp is popping up in various locations worldwide this October, including France, Taiwan, Uganda, Atlanta, Tokyo, Wrocław and Mumbai. Check the WordCamp schedule to see if there’s one near you.

Finally, if you’re a woman interested in WordPress leadership, apply to join WP Includes as a mentor or mentee. This is a five-month mentorship program with calls for mentors and mentees twice a year in September and March. Applications are open at the time of writing.

Stay up to date

Follow Bluehost to learn all the latest news in the WordPress community and don’t forget to sign up for the 2023 Bluehost Creators Awards.

Check out Bluehost’s WordPress hosting plans if you’re looking for an affordable, reliable and robust WordPress host.

  • Devin Sears

    Devin is a Senior Event Marketing Manager for the Bluehost brand. He is our brand steward for all things Bluehost and WordPress. You'll always see him supporting Bluehost at WordCamps around the world!

    Brigham Young University
    Previous Experience
    Social Media, Customer Experience, Field Marketing, Sponsorships, Event Coordinator
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