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The year 2021 looks to be exciting for WordPress, and the company has no plans of slowing down. 

From updates focused on block website editing to exploring new media and business models, discover the latest happenings in the world of WordPress, such as the:

  • Release of WordPress 5.7 Beta 1
  • Release of Gutenberg 9.9
  • Launch of WordPress’s in-house web development service
  • Acquisition of analytics platform
  • Launch of WP Briefing Podcast

WordPress 5.7 Beta 1 Released for Testing

WordPress 5.7 Beta 1 was released on Feb. 2, 2021, for broader testing in anticipation of the targeted release of WordPress 5.7 on March 9, 2021.

The WordPress 5.7 update has 68 new features and enhancements, over a dozen bug fixes, and Gutenberg versions 9.3 to 9.9. Some notable improvements include:

  • Lazy load iframes
  • Streamlined migration from HTTP to HTTPS
  • Standardization of colors used in WordPress Admin
  • Clean-up of jQuery 3.5.1
  • New Robots API

Current WordPress 5.6 users will also be glad to note the release of WordPress 5.6.1 on Feb. 3, 2021. The latest version was a short-cycle maintenance update to include 20 bug fixes and address issues in the block editor.

The next major update will be WordPress 5.7, which will focus on making the most enhancements to the editor. Features will include dragging blocks and improvements in the buttons block and social media icons.

Gutenberg 9.9 Update Prepares for WordPress 5.7

Gutenberg 9.9 was released on Feb. 5, 2021, just two weeks after Gutenberg 9.8 was released.

Version 9.8 introduced minor UI improvements when working with the Spacer block and border-radius support for the Group block.

The Gutenberg 9.8 update had almost two dozen bug fixes, including the never-ending creation of auto-drafts in templates and template parts. 

Gutenberg 9.9 is bundled with WordPress 5.7 and addresses more minor UI improvements, such as support for rounded image borders. The most notable changes in version 9.9 are the inclusion of color options for the social links block and the new JSON file format.

WordPress Introduces In-House Website Development Service

WordPress has launched its premium website builder, promising professional and custom web design starting at $4,900.

The service, called Built by WordPress, was launched on Jan. 4, 2021. It offers three different plans, one each for:

  • Online stores
  • Educational websites
  • Professional services 

The educational website is not to be confused with the educational platform that was launched in December.

As of writing, slots for the service are limited, but interested customers can apply online and wait two to three days for a review of their request.

When WordPress initially announced the beta version of Built By WordPress last year, it was met with backlash from the WordPress community. The community considered it a betrayal of the company’s commitment to offering free services. 

But Automattic founder Matt Mullenweg said the service was simply the company’s way of competing with businesses like Squarespace or Wix.

Since Built by WordPress is relatively new, it’s impossible to say yet what the long-term effects on the web development community will be.

Automattic Acquires Analytics Provider

Automattic, WordPress’s parent company, has announced its acquisition of data analytics provider, will be part of WordPress VIP (WPVIP), WordPress’s platform that provides enterprise hosting and support to major content websites such as Facebook and the NBA. 

The plan is to make WPVIP available to customers and vice versa. The acquisition may also prove useful down the line in terms of eCommerce data, as Automattic also owns WooCommerce.

WordPress Launches Own Podcast

WordPress started February 2021 with a bang with the launch of its podcast, WP Briefing. True to its name, the first episode was just over 12 minutes long. It was met with mostly positive reactions from the WordPress community on Twitter.

According to WordPress Executive Director Josepha Haden Chomposy, the podcast does not specifically cater to a developer audience.

Expect podcast episodes every two weeks.

As mentioned in the State of the Word 2020, WordPress is committed to its vision of website block editing, and frequent updates to the WordPress core and Gutenberg are proof of that. WordPress is also exploring new mediums, offerings, and acquisitions to grow the community further in 2021.

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