WordPress 6 was released on May 24th. The release name is “Arturo”, named after Arturo O’Farrill – a Mexican Grammy-wining jazz musician.
The release contains over 500 enhancements and over 400 bug fixes. Some of the major enhancements are covered below.
Full site editing
This is a feature that has been available on certain themes for a while and the WordPress developers have been slowly working towards integrating it into WordPress core for block based themes. Essentially full site editing allows you to modify your entire site look and feel through the block editor page – rather than going into specific ‘Appearance’ pages for the theme. Useful for those with block based themes.
Switch theme styles easily
This is another theme based enhancement. Theme developers will now be able to create style presets that can be modified through a new style button on the block editor.
Export theme options, templates and styles
This new feature allows you to easily export theme options from one site to another. So let’s say you created beautiful styles and modules in a website – and some of these elements might work on another project – WordPress now allows for easy export and import of these options.
Block editor enhancements
Most releases in the last 2 years featured enhancements to the Gutenberg block editor. Release 6 introduces new blocks such as comments, read more, author biography & avatar. Also introduced in release 6 are enhancements to editor to allow for easier text selection, the ability to lock reusable blocks, and the ability to select multiple blocks in the list view amongst other enhancements.
WordPress 6.0 introduces many accessibility improvements that will greatly enhance the experience for those with accessibility needs.
Under the hood improvements
As with every WordPress release, the developers have made enhancements to the WordPress core to make it easy for third party theme and plugin developers to integrate and extend their capabilities of the platform.
This is a major WordPress release, and while there are many enhancements, most of them are in the block editor space which will benefit those with block themes. In our view the jury is still out on block based themes so we don’t see huge benefit in the enhancements for most clients. 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.