First appeared in 2003, WordPress is now used in more than 27% of the top 10 million websites. On 16 November, 2017, WordPress Foundation released a new version, 4.9, named Tipton. Like all major updates, it brings some enhancement and improvements that provide better user experience and a set of new tools for developers.
Let’s find out what changes they have made. Below, you will see the 10 biggest added features in WordPress 4.9.
1. Schedule Website Design
WordPress 4.9 allows you to change your website’s theme design (go to Appearance<<Themes) and schedule those changes to go live on a particular data and time. This works exactly like you draft, revise and schedule posts.
What’s more impressive is you can copy a preview link of what you have designed and send this link to your colleagues or customers to get their feedback, before you schedule the changes to go live.
WordPress 4.9 also has a Design Lock feature, in case if two of your team members are working on the same web design. Like Post Locking feature, it will prevent one member to override the changes made by another member, thus saving your hard work from getting erased. Moreover, it also prompts to save your unsaved changes.
2. A New Gallery Widget
You do not need a 3rd party plugin to add gallery in widget area anymore, as WordPress 4.9 comes with its own gallery widget.
Also, Text widget has been furnished in this version. You can now add media in a text widget and embed videos and audio from any site that supports oEmbed, like Facebook or TED Live Stream, 9Gag and more.
3. Syntax Highlighting and Catching Errors
WordPress now supports syntax highlighting that makes error checking (for HTML, XML, CSS and PHP code) a little bit easier. It helps you scan code more easily and fix errors in less time. It does this by highlighting mistakes and giving you hint(s) about the faulty syntax, incomplete function or mission element.
When you edit plugin or theme files directly from the dashboard, WordPress 4.9 warns you that it’s a dangerous practice and backup your flies before making any changes.
We believe it’s a great move, especially for new developers who often make a lot of mistakes. However, if you are confident, you can switch off this option in the User<<Profile page.
4. Browsing Themes
The theme browsing experience has been improved significantly. Now you can browse, install and preview themes directly from the Customizer (Appearance<<Customize). There is even a filter to narrow down your search. This saves you a lot of hassle of switching back to the Themes section to install a new one, and helps you experiment with different designs quickly.
5. Updated Menu Panel
The layout of menu panel has been updated for clarity. The panel now shows all available menus first, and then locations, which allows it to adjust more easily according to what menu you’re editing. For instance, if there is no menu, the panel will ask you to create a new menu and explain the steps to be taken.
6. Better Theme Switching
While switching between themes, you might have noticed that some widgets disappear or move in random locations. Well, this is not the case anymore. The new version of WordPress offers more persistent widget and menu placement when you decide it’s time to change website’s theme.
Read: 20 Best WordPress Theme Generators
7. Confirmation Email on Email Change
Unlike previous WordPress version, WordPress now sends a confirmation email when you change your email address associated with WordPress account. A pretty nice security feature, isn’t it?
8. Better Custom JS API for Developers
WordPress 4.9 comes with several improvements to the Customizer JS API that make it as easy to work with as the PHP API. There are new base control templates, global or section notifications, date/time control, new utility methods, updates to changeset update requests, and much more.
Moreover, Developers can add custom instances of the CodeMirror text editor by using WP_Customize_Code_
10. Upgraded MediaElement.js
MediaElement.js has been upgraded to 4.2.6, which completely eliminates dependencies on jQuery, modernizes the UI (using flexbox), improves accessibility, upgrades YouTube and Vimeo renders to use new APIs, and adds support for Mac OS and iOS 10 on websites using HTTPS.
11. Other Minor Changes
Development on SWFUpload stopped around 8 years ago, so the WordPress Foundation decided to remove SWFUpload library from the core.
WordPress 4.9 allows granular management of plugins and translation files. Developers have also improved the process of site switching in multisite to update the available roles and capabilities in a more coherent and reliable manner.
Read: 25 Best WordPress Cheat Sheet for Developers
The next update is scheduled for mid 2018, and it will be a major release — WordPress 5.0. It will have a new editor, named Gutenberg, for adding more little blocks and advanced layout options. The aim is to make writing posts and pages effortless, making it easy to do what today might take custom HTML and shortcodes.
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