July brought several exciting WordPress updates. The release of WordPress 6.3 is impending, with multiple Release Candidates showcased in July, and Gutenberg 16.2 and 16.3 brought in some small but solid changes.
We also saw exciting developer updates, the final round of tickets for WordCamp U.S. and the release of Bluehost WonderSuite, an AI-powered onboarding assistant for WordPress websites.
There’s plenty to see here. Read on to get the highlights of WordPress news in July.
The highly-anticipated update is about to go live. In the meantime, you can check out the new features and help the WordPress team by reporting bugs. The final version of 6.3 will be released on Aug. 8, 2023.
RC1 came with 120+ updates, but the bugs are being squashed, as RC2 had only 15 updates. 6.3 is almost ready to go.
There are plenty of fun features to try, including:
- Synced Patterns, a fluid replacement for Reusable Blocks.
- Command Palette, a convenient shortcut to necessary admin commands.
- Style Revisions, which let you see previous versions of your website’s visual design. Site Editor navigation has also been cleaned up, offering theme preview and Distraction Free mode.
- New blocks: Footnotes, Time to Read, Details and enhancements to existing blocks.
The bug bounty has also doubled for those who report security vulnerabilities in the Beta or Release Candidate versions.
Remember, you should only test the unstable Release Candidates on a test server, not your main website.
WordPress Gutenberg update 16.3: small QoL updates
Gutenberg released two small quality-of-life (QoL) updates in July 2023: 16.2 on July 12 and 16.3 on July 26. While there are no groundbreaking new features, these tiny changes should simplify the tool.
Here’s what you can expect from the new WordPress updates for Gutenberg:
- Consolidated patterns: Fixes to the patterns menu make it more consistent across various menus.
- Footnotes block bug fixes: Now you can manually insert the Footnotes block, which helps if you accidentally delete it.
- Vertical text orientation: Specific themes can now support vertical text, especially for displaying vertically written languages.
- Focus mode for patterns:You can now use “focus mode” while working with Gutenberg patterns.
- Rename, duplicate and delete patterns:Accessing this functionality is now quicker and simpler.
Developer updates: Development mode, Command Palette API and more
For WordPress developers, July brought a ton of valuable updates designed to make your life easier and take your plugins to the next level.
Here are the highlights:
- WordPress now has a Development Mode. It turns off caching, such as disruptive theme.json caches. In the future, you may get more precise error messages or the ability to use it with your debugging tools.
- The Command Palette now has a public API, so you can set up custom commands for your plugins and themes.
- The Query Loop and its Post Template block now support CSS-Grid,so you can control the block spacing between posts.
- New action and filter hooks, including plugins_list, bulk_edit_posts and wp_update_user_action.
- Various theme improvements from a new “description” property for style variations to better support for classic themes.
There’s more to see, so check out the full changelog for July 2023.
If you use Slack or Matrix to communicate with the WordPress development community, a Slack/Matrix bridge now syncs messages from both platforms to the same channel.
And remember, PHP 5 support is being dropped when WordPress 6.3 releases. You’ll need to run your website on PHP 7.0.0 or newer.
New WordPress plugin vulnerabilities
There are a few popular plugins with vulnerabilities listed, so take a look. The plugins include Rank Math SEO, All-In-One Security and The Events Calendar.
If you’re running any of these plugins, update them to the latest version to patch any holes that could let unwanted actors in.
BleepingComputer also reported a critical exploit in WooCommerce Payments that allowed a hacker to take admin control over a website. Though WordPress force-released a patch, a targeted campaign against unpatched websites ran from July 14-16, targeting 157,000 websites with over 1.3 million attacks.
Ensure you’ve updated WooCommerce Payments to the latest version so you aren’t in danger.
It’s a good idea to always keep automatic WordPress updates on, especially if you have dozens of plugins installed.
WordPress Playground gains notoriety
WordPress Playground has been around for months but flew somewhat under the radar.
This handy tool instantly sets up a test demo of WordPress in your browser. With this, you can test WordPress themes and plugins, try a different WordPress or PHP version or even set up a website and save it to the host later.
On July 14, 2023, WordPress Playground reached #1 on Hacker News, bringing many eyes to the valuable developer tool. It’s an exciting milestone for those who worked to make it possible.
WordCamp U.S. approaches
WordCamp is always an exciting time for avid WordPress fans and community contributors, and it’s finally almost here.
WordCamp U.S. released the final round of tickets on July 25 and the event will take place in late August. As of writing, tickets are still available, so get yours before they’re gone.
Other upcoming WordCamp events include Kenya and Denmark in August, so buy tickets to this exciting community event if you live in or near those countries.
The 2023 WordPress Community Summit will also occur in National Harbor, Maryland, on Aug. 22-23. Applications were confirmed in June, so it’s likely too late to attend if you haven’t applied, but some exciting new perspectives are sure to come out of it.
WonderSuite launches, offering AI-powered onboarding
Last month, we launched WonderSuite, an AI-powered tool designed to make setting up WordPress intuitive and straightforward. Here are its features:
- WonderStart will help you get set up correctly. Answer a few questions and get custom-picked designs, layouts and palettes.
- With WonderTheme, you can generate various example webpages using the colors and layouts set by WonderStart, then pick the one that suits you best.
- WonderBlocks makes the WordPress block editor even easier to use and will get you set up fast.
- WonderHelp is an AI-powered assistant that can answer questions about WordPress from within the dashboard.
- WonderCart is available with Bluehost WooCommerce plans. If you run an eCommerce shop, it will help you set up payment processing and other features like upselling and discounts.
These features are easily accessible through WonderSuite’s intuitive dashboard, where you can receive continual guidance.
WonderSuite is included in all Bluehost WordPress plans, so you can start using this tool immediately.
Follow Bluehost to stay updated with the latest news in the WordPress community.
If you’re looking to boost your website, check out one of Bluehost’s top-tier WordPress hosting plans. You’ll have a chance to try the new WonderSuite for yourself.