UPDATED 11/14/19 – So WordPress 5.3 is now ready for WordPress users to install we have installed it on several sites and so far all has gone smoothly. Be sure to do an update BEFORE you do your update and then read below to see some of the cool new features this update brings!
WordPress is always updating to keep it fresh, user friendly and secure! The next major update to WordPress is 5.3 and is currently in beta but scheduled for release on November 12, 2019 if all goes well!
We wanted to outline some of the upcoming changes and give you some idea of how these changes will affect you so you have some time to prepare! While there are developer specific updates as well – we are only including the update information that we feel you should be aware of so we do not bog you down with boring techie stuff!
Let’s get started!
Block Editor Improvements
Because we are loving Gutenberg a little more every day – we are excited about some of the changes we are seeing in the beta version!
First we will list all of the changes we could find and then break out a few with a bit more detail that we think are really kind of cool!
- Group block and grouping interactions (see them in the video!)
- Columns block improvements (width support + patterns) (see them in the video!)
- Table block improvements (text alignment support, header/footer support, colors)
- Gallery block improvements (reordering inline, caption support)
- Separator block improvements (color support)
- Latest Posts block improvements (support excerpt, content)
- List block improvements (indent/outdent shortcuts, start value and reverse order support)
- Button block improvements (support target, border radius)
- Animations and micro interactions (moving blocks, dropdowns, and a number of small animations to improve the UX)
The video below is showcasing the things we love the most and will give you insight into using some of the features.
This is a really cool feature which allows you to see a preview or text description of what the block does. So below you can see a preview of the “group block” we built for a mailing list sign up. This will help in choosing the right block of your unique needs.
This is a new functionality that allows you to put a bunch of blocks into one singular block and we can think of a million ways that this will be awesome!
This allows you to add images, text or other items into one cohesive group that you can then create a color background for or use CSS to style any way you like.
A particularly good use case would be a call to action block that you can then add to your reusable blocks area!
In the video below we are showcasing a great use case scenario which we will outline below:
- You are a dog trainer and have 5 posts about how to properly walk dogs – one is about walking senior dogs, one is about walking puppies, one is about aggressive dogs as examples.
- You have a PDF that is about dog walking with tips and tricks.
- With a Group Block you can create a call to action that promotes that PDF to ONLY those people that are already on your website looking for information about walking dogs.
- You can then make that Group Block a reusable block that you can choose to show on any post you would like!
- When you update a reusable block – it updates on every page it is used on!
This is just one idea – this is a really flexible way to do some awesome content marketing, add author boxes and so much more!
Below is an example of how it would look – in this “group” you can see a title, an image, some text and an area for your subscribe box all put together in a pretty blue background!
The latest posts block has a few added features like the ability to show excerpts and control excerpt length.
In the image above you can see a round image – this is a new feature in WordPress 5.3 where you can choose default image shapes – or make them round.
There was a couple of small improvements to the button block including the ability to add radius for rounded edges as well as the ability to set the target and add rel attribute for the link which will allow it to open in a new tab and add a nofollow.
Column Blocks in the past were not all that flexible – but the newer version coming in 5.3 allows you to add multiple columns and resize them as needed so you are not restricted to a preset with.
This has had some edits as well making it a little more user friendly and prettier! You can select a few styles and colors to make your table brandable and can also add a header and footer row.
Block Editor Performance
The new update has a performance enhancement that shaves 1.5 seconds off loading time for a post that has roughly 1,000 blocks. This is a great change as long posts in Gutenberg have been posing issues for many and ever second makes a difference!
Big Image Uploads
As per WordPress this new feature means the following:
“Uploading non-optimized, high-resolution pictures from your smartphone isn’t a problem anymore. WordPress now supports resuming uploads when they fail as well as larger default image sizes. That way pictures you add from the block editor look their best no matter how people get to your site.”|
This means you should be able to upload any size images which would be detrimental to site speed and storage space. Images are the one issue we see on every website we audit – image sizes are a huge issue and doing this may make life easier – but think in the long run it will hurt more than help.
There is a new filter being added called big_image_size_threshold where you can set a default size that WordPress should consider “big”. By default it will be set to 2560px which in ours eyes is huge!
So if you upload an image that is larger than 2560 pixels in height or width – it will resize it down to the default size you set.
Auto Image Rotation
Another one we are not thrilled about is the new image rotation feature that will automatically rotate your images based on your EXIF data.
Never really saw this as a problem that needed fixing for!
Administrative Email Verification
This new feature will just ask you to verify that your admin email is correct every so often when you login. They added this so you can prevent the chance of being locked out of your account.
Not sure we love this and hope we can add some code to deactivate it since it seems like an extra “thing” with little reward.
This is a boring techie thing, but one that is important. PHP is the “language” that WordPress uses to deliver your content and code to the front end of a website. PHP just like anything else web related needs to be constantly monitored, maintained and updated to ensure it keeps up with the technologies around it.
In WordPress 5.2 they noted that PHP version 5.6.2 would be the minimum PHP version required – but they also noted that PHP 7+ would be the minimum required by the end of the year.
WordPress 5.3 is going to be preparing for the use of PHP 7.4 which is set to release later this year, so it is important that you check with your host to ensure your server is using the highest version of PHP possible.
Find out What PHP Version You Have
Go to TOOLS > SITE HEALTH in your WordPress admin and you should see something like the below image letting you know what version you have. In our development site you can see we are only on 7.0 – so we need to update ours too!
Welcome To The Twenty Twenty Theme!
With this release will come a new theme called Twenty Twenty which includes full support for the block editor. They are really promoting it as a full scope theme that can be used for a variety of websites from businesses to blogging because of the focus on the flexibility it offers with the Gutenberg core.
It is using a font called Inter which which is going to be available as a variable font version which means it will include all weights and styles with just 2 font files included. This will help with the load time and page size of your website.
When Should You Update?
This is a MAJOR release so not right away! Even as developers we wait a bit before updating our clients when they are major releases so we can be sure sites are compatible.
Here are basic things to do before updating:
1. Make sure you test your website with the latest version
2. Do a full backup of your site before the update
3. Run your update.