WordPress 5.9 was released on January 25th. The release name is “Joséphine”, named after Joséphine Baker – an acclaimed jazz singer.
Following on from the recent trend of WordPress updates, Gutenberg blocks are up front and central in this release. Gutenberg is the advanced editor within WordPress that was launched a couple of years ago and is improving with every release as new features are added. It’s built with blocks of functionality that you can drag and drop within your pages.
Release 5.9 brings improvements to styling block themes (you’ll no longer need to use the Theme Customizer). The navigation block has been enhanced to give you the power to choose menu styles and preferences based on your screen size. There are new typography tools and layout controls to help you control the look and feel of your site easier. Other improvements include revamped list views within the editor and improved gallery blocks.
A new year also means a new WordPress theme and Twenty Twenty-Two is the the first default block theme in the history of WordPress.
As with all WordPress releases however, there are critical security & performance patches so we always recommend staying current with releases even if there are no obvious functional benefits.
Click here for full release details from WordPress.
What do I need to do to install this release?
If you’re a ClearSoft client, you don’t need to do anything. Our WordPress hosting environment is configured to automatically install major and minor releases and check compatibility with all other plugins. If you’re one of our clients, the likelihood is that you’re site will have been updated already so all the new features and benefits will be available to you already!
Why is it important to stay current with WordPress releases?
There are a number of reasons why you should stay current with WordPress.
Running older versions of WordPress is a security liability. WordPress is the largest Content Management Solution on the planet and the code is freely downloadable and viewable giving the bad guys means and motive to identify and expose vulnerabilities.
Speed is quickly (excuse the pun!) becoming one of the most important characteristics of your website in relation to Search Engine Optimisation. Google and other search engines look more favorably on a quick website and with each new release of WordPress, the developers improve performance.
WordPress sites are comprised of a core WordPress base and plugins which are extensions of functionality. Running your website on an old release of WordPress running old releases of the plugins exposes a huge security vulnerability. Running up to date WordPress with old plugins or vice versa can cause major headaches around compatibility. e.g. something that worked great on day 1 may stop working down the line when you update a plugin 2 years later as it is no longer compatible with that version of WordPress.
Newer isn’t always better but when it comes to technology it’s almost always the case. Technology moves on, website standards evolve, mobile device capability gets enhanced. Web is one of the fastest moving technologies around. What was considered cutting edge 2 years ago is now yesterdays news. The developers of WordPress realise this and incorporate new functionality into the core of WordPress with every release.
Falling behind in WordPress releases is a risky game and we’ve seen some horror stories over the years where somebody will ask us to look at their problem site (not developed by us!). Sites getting hacked, sites becoming slow, functionality stops working all of a sudden. In almost all cases there is nothing we can do except suggest a rebuild from scratch.
For this reason, all of our WordPress client sites are configured to update automatically as soon as a new release comes out. The same applies to all plugins on those sites and we have compatibility logic built into our hosting platform that identifies issues.