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WordPress 5.5 Beta 1

Posted July 7, 2020 by Jake Spurlock. Filed under Development, Releases.

WordPress 5.5 Beta 1 is now available for testing!

This software is still in development, so it’s not recommended to run this version on a production site. Consider setting up a test site to play with the new version.

You can test the WordPress 5.5 beta in two ways:

The current target for final release is August 11, 2020. This is only five weeks away. Your help is needed to ensure this release is tested properly.

Testing for bugs is an important part of polishing the release during the beta stage and a great way to contribute. Here are some of the big changes and features to pay close attention to while testing.

Block editor: features and improvements

WordPress 5.5 will include eleven releases of the Gutenberg plugin, bringing with it a long list of exciting new features. Here are just a few:

  • Inline image editing – Crop, rotate, and zoom photos inline right from image blocks.
  • Block patterns – Building elaborate pages can be a breeze with new block patterns. Several are included by default.
  • Device previews – See how your content will look to users on many different screen sizes.
  • End block overwhelm. The new block inserter panel displays streamlined categories and collections. As a bonus, it supports patterns and integrates with the new block directory right out of the box.
  • Discover, install, and insert third-party blocks from your editor using the new block directory.
  • A better, smoother editing experience with: 
    • Refined drag-and-drop
    • Block movers that you can see and grab
    • Parent block selection
    • Contextual focus highlights
    • Multi-select formatting lets you change a bunch of blocks at once 
    • Ability to copy and relocate blocks easily
    • And, better performance
  • An expanded design toolset for themes.
  • Now add backgrounds and gradients to more kinds of blocks, like groups, columns, media & text
  • And support for more types of measurements — not just pixels. Choose ems, rems, percentages, vh, vw, and more! Plus, adjust line heights while typing, turning writing and typesetting into the seamless act.

In all, WordPress 5.5 brings more than 1,500 useful improvements to the block editor experience. 

To see all of the features for each release in detail check out the release posts: 7.5, 7.6, 7.7, 7.8, 7.9, 8.0, 8.1, 8.2, 8.3, 8.4, and 8.5.

Wait! There’s more!

XML sitemaps

XML Sitemaps are now included in WordPress and enabled by default. Sitemaps are essential to search engines discovering the content on your website. Your site’s home page, posts, pages, custom post types, and more will be included to improve your site’s visibility.

Auto-updates for plugins and themes

WordPress 5.5 also brings auto-updates for plugins and themes. Easily control which plugins and themes keep themselves up to date on their own. It’s always recommended that you run the latest versions of all plugins and themes. The addition of this feature makes that easier than ever!

Lazy-loading images

WordPress 5.5 will include native support for lazy-loaded images utilizing new browser standards. With lazy-loading, images will not be sent to users until they approach the viewport. This saves bandwidth for everyone (users, hosts, ISPs), makes it easier for those with slower internet speeds to browse the web, saves electricity, and more.

Better accessibility

With every release, WordPress works hard to improve accessibility. Version 5.5 is no different and packs a parcel of accessibility fixes and enhancements. Take a look:

  • List tables now come with extensive, alternate view modes.
  • Link-list widgets can now be converted to HTML5 navigation blocks.
  • Copying links in media screens and modal dialogs can now be done with a simple click of a button.
  • Disabled buttons now actually look disabled.
  • Meta boxes can now be moved with the keyboard.
  • A custom logo on the front page no longer links to the front page.
  • Assistive devices can now see status messages in the Image Editor.
  • The shake animation indicating a login failure now respects the user’s choices in the prefers-reduced-motion media query.
  • Redundant Error: prefixes have been removed from error notices.

Miscellaneous Changes

Keep your eyes on the Make WordPress Core blog for 5.5-related developer notes in the coming weeks, breaking down these and other changes in greater detail.

So far, contributors have fixed more than 360 tickets in WordPress 5.5, including 157 new features and enhancements, and more bug fixes are on the way.

How You Can Help

Do you speak a language other than English? Help translate WordPress into more than 100 languages!

If you think you’ve found a bug, please post to the Alpha/Beta area in the support forums. We would love to hear from you! If you’re comfortable writing a reproducible bug report, file one on WordPress Trac. That’s also where you can find a list of known bugs.

Props to @webcommsat, @yvettesonneveld, @estelaris, and @marybaum for compiling/writing this post, @davidbaumwald for editing/proof reading, and @cbringmann, @desrosj, and @andreamiddleton for final review.

See Also:

Want to follow the code? There’s a development P2 blog and you can track active development in the Trac timeline that often has 20–30 updates per day.

Want to find an event near you? Check out the WordCamp schedule and find your local Meetup group!

For more WordPress news, check out the WordPress Planet.

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