Here’s a recap of the latest developments in the WordPress ecosystem, from WordPress core updates and Gutenberg news to more plugin news.
News from WordPress Core
A new version of WordPress was released this month, WordPress 5.3 “Kirk”
Introducing WordPress 5.3 “Kirk”
- Released on Tuesday, November 12
- 645 volunteers contributed to the release (the most ever for a WordPress release).
- Full Support for PHP 7.4
- Meta tag for discouraging search engines in addition to the existing robots.txt file
- New backbone.js and other developer-y things
5.3 Tweaks the Admin CSS Styles
- AKA “who stole the blue buttons?”
- There are now ghost buttons and standard buttons (CSS classes button & button-primary)
- Focus styles on fields and buttons
- Darker borders on fields, meta boxes and tables
5.3 Gives Some Love to Images
- Automatic Image Rotation (uses the EXIF orientation tag)
- Large Image Handling
- A much-needed addition to WordPress core
- All images will be downsized to 2560px by default
- Can be changed with a filter, no admin UI for this
- Should not affect image optimizations plugins
- Disable “BIG Image” Threshold plugin
- Improvements in image processing and recovery for failed image uploads
5.3 Adds Login and Admin Email Improvements
- You can now click an “eye” icon in the password field to reveal the password as you type it.
- Prompts for the administrator user to verify email every 6 months
- Helps to prevent accidental loss of site control
5.3 Brings Major Improvements to the Block Editor
- Include the last 12 Gutenberg plugin releases with over 150 new features and improvements
- Significant improvements to group, column, and gallery blocks
- Much improved accessibility with navigation mode that allows tabbing from block to block
- Layout improvements like block groups, fixed column widths and predefined layouts
- Other additions like snackbar notices and typewriter mode
5.3 Enhances the Site Health Feature
- Adds a new grading indicator with circle graph and a “Good” or “Should be improved” label.
More WordPress 5.3 Resources
User-focused WordPress 5.3 overview on the iThemes Blog:
Field Guide for WordPress 5.3:
Meet the New Twenty Twenty Theme
- Excellent review of the new Twenty Twenty WordPress Theme from Kristen Wright on iThemes Blog
- Full support for the Block Editor with in-post previews
- Many customization options in the customizer
- Several included template options
Curated Featured Themes List Coming Soon
- Originally the featured theme list was based on review score, then theme developers began gaming the system
- Currently the list of featured themes is random to level the playing field.
- This makes it harder for new WordPress users to select a quality theme.
- The Theme Review Team has decided to allow people to recommend themes based on design and quality, then pick from the recommendations.
- Released October 16
- Adds support for Storybook for developers
- Introduces gradients on button backgrounds
Gutenberg in November
- The team is focused on moving Gutenberg outside the post content
- A new custom post type wp_template has been created to store block information
- Menu Navigation block is being polished
- Gradient support is being added for all blocks
Gutenberg Customization Conversation
- Gutenberg development is going to be more and more focused on the customization phase.
- Editing beyond post content, templates and theme integration, etc.
- Weekly meetings are held in the #core-editor channel of the Make WordPress Slack group Wednesdays at 13:00 UTC.
- If you haven’t joined wordpress.slack.com you really should.
Gutenberg? Block Editor? What’s the Difference?
- Gutenberg is a plugin where ongoing development of the Block Editor is happening.
- Gutenberg is updated usually every 2 weeks.
- Periodically, Gutenberg features are merged into core WordPress in a version release (like 5.3)
- You get the Block Editor by default on WordPress 5.0 and higher. If you want the latest features, install the Gutenberg plugin as well.
- You install Gutenberg. You use the Block Editor.
WordPress Security News
WordPress Vulnerability Roundup
- Twice monthly on the iThemes blog
News From iThemes
Social Media Marketing Workshop with Bridget Willard
- November 19 & 20 1-3p Central
- Learn how to use social media and content marketing to build relationships that last.
- Time-saving tips
- Practical tips
- Any skill level
- Course pass is $99 – Register here now
Beaver Builder Developer Course with Nathan Ingram (coming soon)
- December 17 – 19 1-4p Central
- Create a streamlined process for building client sites using Beaver Builder.
iThemes Security Passwordless Login
- Enter a username or email address and have a link sent to your inbox.
- Now supports WooCommerce.
WordPress.com and Jetpack Add Support for Recurring Payments
- WordPress.com allows bloggers to sell access.
- Uses Stripe to process payments with standard
- Stripe fees + a tiered fees table of an extra 2-8% based on the user’s WordPress.com plan.
- Added to Jetpack for self-hosted WordPress sites using a Recurring Payments Block.
- Content must be set to password protected and a password sent to subscribers. Not great.
- But this is a development to watch..
- “Though made of code, WordPress is also very much made from the passion of so many people from many walks of life… We wanted to explore why and how volunteers contribute to WordPress…”
- If you ever want to explain the amazing WordPress community to someone, send them this link.
- And… the film itself is Open Source.
Chrome May Shame Slow Sites
- Just an idea for now, but is signaling how much site speed matters
WordPress 2019 Survey
- This annual survey helps the WordPress Foundation understand more about who is using WordPress and why.
- It should take less than 10 minutes to complete.
Worth a Look
- WordCamp US 2019 Videos Are Up!
- The Content Framework that Powers Stories, Landing Pages and More
- An HTML Element worth 18M to Indiegogo
- Complete Guide to Gravity Forms GDPR Compliance in WordPress
- The Future of Freelancing with WordPress
- The No-Code Movement is Changing Who Gets to Be a Builder
- How to Accept Recurring Payments: The 110% Guide
Upcoming WordCamps in US & Canada
- November 15-16 Boise, ID
- February 7-8 Phoenix, AZ
- February 28-March 1 Miami, FL
- March 6-7 Dayton, OH
- March 14 Lancaster, PA
- March 28-29 Jacksonville, FL & San Antonio, TX
- Full Schedule:
Can’t attend? Don’t forget wordpress.tv!