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What’s new in WordPress 4.9?

The 16th of November 2017 saw the release of WordPress 4.9. Time to have a closer look at the new features that this latest WordPress release brings. What’s new in WordPress 4.9 and what does this mean for the platform’s users? We’ll give you the lowdown.

Saving and scheduling theme changes in the customizer

WordPress 4.9 allows you to save theme adjustments in the form of drafts. Planning on changing a theme in the customizer? You now have the option of first saving your changes as a draft rather than immediately going live.

This new WordPress feature also offers the option of viewing your changes in advance by means of a URL. This preview can be sent to each user, allowing everyone the opportunity to view the changes before they actually go live. Would you like to publish the changes at a set, predefined moment? No problem, WordPress 4.9 allows you to schedule changes – a very useful feature that facilitates creativity and experimentation within the WordPress platform.

New gallery widget

WordPress 4.8 already offered media widgets for rich text, audio, video and images. Version 4.9 steps it up a notch with the gallery widget. This handy little tool enables you to create a media gallery which can then be added to any widget area.

Media button in text widget

The previously introduced text widget included standard and visual text editors. To add an image, however, users still needed to write HTML code. WordPress 4.9 resolved this with the introduction of the special ‘Add media’ button.

Improved code management

Code programming, management and editing are also simplified with the new WordPress update. The code editor in WordPress 4.9 was overhauled and now allows you to adjust code in Custom CSS, the theme editor or a plugin editor. The code editor also introduces such features as code suggestions, autofill and syntax highlighting, the last of which prevents and corrects common errors which cause syntax errors when making adjustments to your WordPress theme. Not interested in syntax highlighting? This feature is easily disabled on your profile page. Go to ‘Users’ and select ‘Disable syntax highlighting when editing code’.

Improved security

The new WordPress update also includes added security. Submitting a request to change a user or admin email address? You’re now required to click on a link in a confirmation email. A notification will also be sent to your old email address, which email references the new email address. This approach has two significant advantages:

  • Prevents hackers from taking over a site by changing the user email address.
  • Reduces risk of incorrect or unintended changes resulting in loss of access to the system.

Other new features

The abovementioned changes and additional WordPress features are the most notable; however, the release of WordPress 4.9 brings a number of additional new features and changes.

  • The update introduces a drop zone for uploading plugins and WordPress themes. This allows you to drag a theme or plugin file to the dashboard, ensuring that you no longer need to browse for files in your computer’s menu.
  • WordPress 4.9 provides an improved overview of widgets and navigation menus when switching to a different theme.
  • The newest WordPress update offers the option of updating themes and plugins through zip file uploads.
  • In the 4.9 release the SWFUpload library has been removed from the WordPress core.

Gutenberg

The Gutenberg editor plugin is an innovation that won’t be included in WordPress 4.9 as of yet, but is planned for WordPress 5.0 and is currently in its testing phase. This as a result of much commentary from the WordPress Community.

With Gutenberg, the styling of a page or blog post is placed entirely in your hands. You are free to decide which content you want to highlight and define using the styling tools. The plugin uses text fields to which you can add diverse blocks. Using these blocks, you can design the textual and graphic features. This allows you to create a layout with headers, text, photo galleries, quotes, individual photos and summaries.

Gutenberg offers a great range of flexibility. You are unlimited in terms of text and image element sequencing. The plugin is also impressively simplistic to install, as it doesn’t involve any complicated codes: simply download, install and activate. The current version is still in its early development stages but regardless, Gutenberg’s underlying technique offers an abundance of interesting options to build upon the improvements already introduced in WordPress 4.9.

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