WP 5.2, also known as “Jaco” has launched and some of the new items they have added to the core include Fatal & PHP Error Protection, Site Health checks as well as some new Gutenberg features.
How To Update
Before you update to this version – make sure you have a backup on hand! This is a major update and a backup is highly recommended.
There is a new minimum PHP version required for the update that you should make sure you are using before pushing that update button!
The minimum supported PHP version is now 5.6.20
If you do not know what version you are currently running you will need to confirm with your host.
While 5.6.20 is the minimum required to run WordPress 5.2, it is highly recommend you run at least PHP 7 for the speed and security benefits it offers. Also many plugins require higher PHP versions to run properly.
We are recommending you wait a week or 2 before doing this update – just to make sure no major bugs are reported!
If you need help with any of this, contact us and we will be glad to assist you to make sure you are up to date and running smoothly!
Now, let’s talk about the new features in WordPress 5.2.
WordPress Site Health Check
Once you update to 5.2 you will have access to the new Site Health Check. You can access the Site Health Check in the Tools area in your WordPress administrative menu.
Within this menu item you will see 2 menu items, one is called Status and the other Info.
A Bit About Status
This gives you an overview of how well your website is doing in regards to performance and security. This screen does give you a score at the top but we do not want you to worry about hitting that 100%, you should be more focused on what issues the tool is reporting.
In the example below you can see this site looks like it needs a PHP update and we can probably remove a theme and some plugins. We actually like to keep a default theme on our sites so we can test for issues – so we may not actually delete that.
Again – this is just a guide!
The screen will also have a list of things that you have passed checks for at the bottom of the page in a toggle called Passed Checks.
A Bit About Info
The Info section under the Health Check will give you all the important details about your WordPress website from how larger your file directories are to an overview of the WordPress version and server stats you have.
For developers like us this is gold! It can help us diagnose things faster when you have issues and it can help you keep an eye on your storage and database usage to help keep your hosting costs down.
Below are some of the items you will be able to see:
- WordPress – just an overview of your WP version and basic setup details
- Directories and Sizes – shows you how big your database and file directories are which in turn can help you see where you can downsize. On some hosts you only have so much space, so knowing just how much you are using can help tremendously.
- Active Theme – you can easily see the details of the theme you are currently using and the details surrounding that theme.
- Plugins – You can see at a glance all Must Use plugins and standard plugins you are using along with plugins details a a glance.
- Media Handling – offers details about how your website is handling your images.
- Server – core details about your server settings regarding type of server, memory and settings.
- Database – type of database your server is using and user information.
- WordPress Constants – shows where elements are loaded from in WordPress and some basic configurations details.
- Filesystem Permissions – a system check to make sure WordPress can write to the files it needs to.
Fatal Error Protection
This may be one feature we are particularly excited about and think is a great addition.
In version 5.2 there is a feature called Fatal Error Protection system that will alert you when there an error on the site you need to address. It has probably happened to you at one time or another – the white screen of death!
But the Fatal Error Protection is a way to help you solve this annoying error.
If WordPress now catches an error where it used to be a white screen of death you will now see a prompt that if you are the admin you can go back into the admin and it will help you resolve the problem while putting your website into what they call “Recover Mode”.
In the past the white screen of death meant heading into your files whether via FTP or your sever to disable plugins one by one to find the offender.
At least those days are over!
Another new feature is the check that WordPress will do on plugins you have installed as well as those you download.
If you try to activate a plugin that requires a newer version of PHP than you have, WordPress will not allow it to be activated. Doing this will help prevent potential issues on your website.
Dashicons & Emojis
There has been an update to the Dashicons with many new additions making their way to WordPress.
You can view the new Dashicons here.
There has also been additions to the available emojis in WordPress so if you are using them you have a few more available to you now.
New Gutenberg Features
WP 5.2 will also ship with a few Gutenberg enhancements including enhancements to blocks for media and text as well better image resizing.
You can view some of these changes here.
While we are still not 100% on board with Gutenberg yet, we are liking the changes that are happening and hope to start digging deeper into it to help you guys do more with it.
Below are some of the newest additions to the Gutenberg blocks with this version.
- An RSS block
- An Amazon Kindle embed block
- A Search block
- A Calendar block
- A Tag Cloud block
A New Way To Manage Blocks
This was a much needed advancement. Now you will have more control over your blocks and can will be able to switch them on and off so if there are blocks you know you will not use you can turn them “off” so they do not appear in your list.
This is a great time saver when trying to create content fast.
Privacy Page Update
There is now a privacy page template included as well as a conditional function, and two CSS classes to help make customizing and creating privacy pages easier.
Editing Got A Speed Boost
One of the things a lot of people dislike about Gutenberg was the load time affect on posts it was getting. Many were reporting slow page load times, but the newest update is said to have improved page speed by about 35% while also giving faster feel during post creation.
I am writing this post in Gutenberg and do have to say, it does feel better than my past attempts.
Below is their testing so you can see the difference.
There were a few other updates as well in this version for developers to makes some things a bit easier as well as several accessibility updates which were much needed.
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