Well, the time has come to say hello to WordPress v4.9, so I thought I’d check in to see what you can expect to see with this new version. I did some scouring of the internet to see what people are saying and the word is, it’s a big improvement over previous versions.
WordPress 4.9 is named Tipton, after jazz musician Billy Tipton. All the major updates are named for jazz musicians and singers, if you didn’t already know that. There are tons of features to help smooth work flow and make for a better user experience overall, particularly in terms of coding errors.
There are design drafts, scheduling, preview links and locking, the theme customizer workflow is greatly improved for collaboration between different bloggers or content creators. Also, there’s code syntax highlighting and error checking. That’s meant to make for a smooth site building experience. Oh yeah, there’s also a slick looking gallery widget now too, which is very nice and it’s a great way to lay out your images.
Customizer Workflow Improvements
Draft and Schedule Site Design Customizations – Yes, you read that right. Just like you can draft and revise posts and schedule them to go live on the date and time you choose, you can now tinker with your site’s design and schedule those design changes to go live as you please.
Collaborate with Design Preview Links – Need to get some feedback on proposed site design changes? WordPress 4.9 gives you a preview link you can send to colleagues and customers so that you can collect and integrate feedback before you schedule the changes to go live. Can we say collaboration++?
Design Locking Guards Your Changes – Ever encounter a scenario where two designers walk into a project and designer A overrides designer B’s beautiful changes? WordPress 4.9’s design lock feature (similar to post locking) secures your draft design so that no one can make changes to it or erase all your hard work.
A Prompt to Protect Your Work – Were you lured away from your desk before you saved your new draft design? Fear not, when you return, WordPress 4.9 will politely ask whether or not you’d like to save your unsaved changes.
Coding Experience Enhancements
Syntax Highlighting and Error Checking? Yes, Please! – You’ve got a display problem but can’t quite figure out exactly what went wrong in the CSS you lovingly wrote. With syntax highlighting and error checking for CSS editing and the Custom HTML widget introduced in WordPress 4.8.1, you’ll pinpoint coding errors quickly. Practically guaranteed to help you scan code more easily, and suss out & fix code errors quickly.
Sandbox for Safety – The dreaded white screen. You’ll avoid it when working on themes and plugin code because WordPress 4.9 will warn you about saving an error. You’ll sleep better at night.
Warning: Potential Danger Ahead! – When you edit themes and plugins directly, WordPress 4.9 will politely warn you that this is a dangerous practice and will recommend that you draft and test changes before updating your file. Take the safe route: You’ll thank you. Your team and customers will thank you.
Tons of Widget Updates
The New Gallery Widget – An incremental improvement to the media changes hatched in WordPress 4.8, you can now add a gallery via this new widget. Yes!
Press a Button, Add Media – Want to add media to your text widget? Embed images, video, and audio directly into the widget along with your text, with our simple but useful Add Media button. Woo!
Enhance Your Site Building
More Reliable Theme Switching – When you switch themes, widgets sometimes think they can just move location. Improvements in WordPress 4.9 offer more persistent menu and widget placement when you decide it’s time for a new theme.
Find and Preview the Perfect Theme – Looking for a new theme for your site? Now, from within the Customizer, you can search, browse, and preview over 2600 themes before deploying changes to your site. What’s more, you can speed your search with filters for subject, features, and layout.
Better Menu Instructions = Less Confusion – Were you confused by the steps to create a new menu? Perhaps no longer! We’ve ironed out the UX for a smoother menu creation process. Newly updated copy will guide you.
Just for the Developers
Customizer JS API Improvements – We’ve made numerous improvements to the Customizer JS API in WordPress 4.9, eliminating many pain points. (Hello, default parameters for constructs! Goodbye repeated ID for constructs!) There are also new base control templates, a date/time control, and section/panel/global notifications to name a few. Check out the full list.
MediaElement.js upgraded to 4.2.6 – WordPress 4.9 includes an upgraded version of MediaElement.js, which removes dependencies on jQuery, improves accessibility, modernizes the UI, and fixes many bugs.
Roles and Capabilities Improvements – New capabilities have been introduced that allow granular management of plugins and translation files. In addition, the site switching process in multisite has been fine-tuned to update the available roles and capabilities in a more reliable and coherent way.
And probably a ton more. but that’s enough of a list for now. What do you think, have you updated yet? I have and love the experience so far.
If you’d like a great looking WordPress theme to install on your fresh update of WordPress 4.9, check out our WordPress video themes, WordPress personal blog themes or WordPress minimalist themes, which are three of our most popular posts. Or, check out a free theme like Silverbow or Quartz.