WordPress 5.6 was launched today and is available for update on all WordPress driven websites. Even better, we’re thrilled to let you know that if you’re a HITS client. Then your site has already been updated since all HITS use a custom WordPress framework. We usually implement this to all of our clients on the day of the update release.
Here’s a rundown of what this means for you:
Block Editor Improvements
With WordPress 5.6, several versions of the Gutenberg plugin have been merged into core, so WordPress users and writers should notice several improvements in the editor. For example, we’ll see enhanced block patterns, word counts in the info panel, improved keyboard navigation, improved drag & drop UI, and much more.
Blocks API V2
A new Block API version enables blocks to render their wrapper element. The goal of the new API version is to lighten the editor’s DOM and make it match the front page content. We have already seen speed improvements due to the use of this new API.
A New Default Theme (Twenty Twenty-One)
WordPress 5.6 includes a brand new default theme. Twenty Twenty-One is a highly accessible, minimalist WordPress theme with a single column layout and a footer sidebar. The new theme uses a system font stack and a minimal colour palette based on pastel background colours. While we use our own core theme framework for our client’s sites, we like the look of this new theme.
Auto-Updates For Major WordPress Releases
Automatic updates are a core feature introduced in WordPress 3.7 to improve site security and make it easier for site admins to maintain their WordPress websites up to date. While automatic minor core updates have been implemented in earlier versions, with WordPress 5.6, site administrators can now manually enable automatic updates for major releases as well.
Site Health Changes
Along with all the features here discussed, WordPress 5.6 also brings an improved version of the Site Health tool, which now behaves differently in the background. This new update includes Site Health Check Data Validation and Asynchronous Checks via the REST Endpoint.
Better Support For PHP 8 (Upcoming)
PHP 8.0 brings in tons of new features and optimizations, making it a true milestone within the evolution of the language. Unfortunately, the newer version of PHP introduces many updates breaking backwards compatibility, and many deprecated features have now been officially removed. So, adding support for PHP 8 in WordPress is a great challenge.
In fact, even if WordPress Core contributors put great efforts into making WordPress 5.6 compatible with PHP 8, we shouldn’t expect that every possible issue would be discovered. The goal here is to reach a point where the whole WordPress ecosystem is compatible with PHP 8, which seems really a tough nut to crack at the moment.
Furthermore, a WordPress website includes at least one theme and a variable number of plugins. So, we may expect good support for PHP 8 in WordPress Core, but it’s hard to believe that plugins and themes would quickly add support for PHP 8.
We hope you like all the WordPress 5.6 updates as much as we do!