Francesca Marano, a coordinator of the WordPress project, announced that WordPress 5.4 beta 1 was released on 11 February and is ready for testing. This version is still under development. So they suggested you don’t try it at your production site. If you want to check it out, try it on a test site.

You can test the WordPress 5.4 beta in two ways:

WordPress 5.4 is scheduled to be released on March 31, 2020. That’s why the team is asking for your help. If you can test it during this beta phase and share your feedback on the bugs that can make the final product polished.

The primary goal for 2020 is full-site editing with blocks. Also, the Developers are working on every aspect of the software to make it even better.

Block Editor: Features and Enhancements

New Welcome Modal in the WordPress 5.4

New Welcome Modal

WordPress 5.4 Core will merge 10 releases of the Gutenberg plugin. This includes a long list of exciting new features. Here are some of the features

  • There are two new blocks: social links and buttons.
  • More color options for Button, Cover, Group and Column blocks.
  • A modal Welcome Guide.
  • Tools for adding featured images to the Latest Posts block.
  • Easier navigation in the breadcrumbs block.

Some additional changes to make note of:

  • On the mobile, the toolbar stays at the top, so you can’t lose it.
  • Easier image size in the Gallery block.
  • Drag-and-drop images in the featured-image box.
  • Several new APIs.
  • Friendlier offline error messages on REST API request failures.
  • Table block captions.
  • You can now color only parts of the text in any RichText block.

Improved accessibility

  • Easier selection of multi-blocks.
  • Support for changing the title attribute of the image within the Image block.
  • Easier tabbing. This was one of the editor’s biggest accessibility issues, but now tabbing works with the block sidebar.
  • Visual switch between Edit and Navigation modes and enable screen reader announcements.

Improved performance

The Block Editor Development Team managed to reduce the loading time of the Block Editor by 14% and also reduced the time to type by 51% for a post containing 36,000 words and 1000 blocks compared to WordPress 5.3.

Additional Features and Improvement

Site Health

WordPress powers 34% of the world’s website, which is why the development team has also focused on further improving security in WordPress 5.4 through the Site Health project.

The latest version of WordPress will add a widget on the dashboard to warn admins about potential issues that could affect the performance or security of the site. It will also include a CTA (Call to Action) button that will lead them directly to the Site Health screen for details and suggested fixes.

Accessibility improvements

WordPress 5.4 will come with accessibility improvements. Here are a few of those

  • Better focus management on Menu, Customizer and Site Health screens to address some of the existing keyboard navigation issues.
  • Easier keyboard navigation for better semantics in the Media modal.
  • An easy-to-read Privacy Policy Guide.

For Developers

There will be a lot of important changes for developers in the latest version of WordPress 5.4. Here are some of those

Calendar Widget

The previous and next month links have been moved below the <table> element and within the new <nav> element. To produce a valid HTML.

apply_shortcodes() as an alias for do_shortcode()

A new apply_shortcodes() function has been added as an alias for do_shortcode(). This helps to distinguish between do_* functions that imply action and apply_* functions that imply a filter or something that should return a value.

Better handling of favicon

Favicon requests can now be managed more flexibly. Administrators can choose a favicon in the Customizer, or upload the /favicon.ico file. The WordPress logo will always be there as a backup if the favicon failed to load.

How can you help?

  1. If you speak languages other than English then you can help by translating WordPress into more than 100 languages!
  2. You can also contribute to the latest version of WordPress by reporting any bug when you find it and posting it to the Alpha / Beta support forum area.

Check out the official announcement to learn more about this release.

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