“New features in 4.9 will smooth your design workflow and keep you safe from coding errors.” – Mel Choyce, WordPress Blog
The newest version of WordPress has been released – WordPress 4.9 – dubbed “Tipton”. Fun Fact: WordPress core developers agree they all share at least one thing in common, a love for jazz music, and have therefore named all major releases since 1.0 after one they admire. Following suit, this release is named after a famous pianist, saxophonist & bandleader, Billy Tipton. The improvements within WordPress 4.9 are focused on enhancing the design and coding experience for the user.
Major Improvements to Customizer Workflow
Draft, Schedule & Preview Site Design Customizations
Previously, any changes made in the Customizer needed to be saved or discarded immediately. With the 4.9 release you can now draft and store changes without applying them. Once you’re happy with your changes you can easily schedule them to be automatically published, similarly to how scheduling posts on your WordPress site works now.
New Theme Browsing
Previewing and changing themes just got a lot more user friendly. You can now easily search, browse, preview & install themes directly in the Customizer.
You can easily share your changes with collaborators before making them live, by copying the preview URL and sending it any user. Additionally, 4.9 brings a design lock feature, similar to post locking, to ensure only one person can make changes to the design at a time.
Easily Create Menus
WordPress 4.9 streamlines how you create menus in the Customizer making the process much easier.
Syntax Highlighting & Error Checking
Ever try to publish code and it doesn’t quite go as you intended? When there’s even just a tiny error in code you can end up looking at a blank screen instead of the beautiful vision you had in your mind for your page. To fix this, WordPress 4.9 has added syntax highlighting, code suggestions & auto-completion to help correct common mistakes that cause errors. The built-in code editor works with CodeMirror to highlight coding mistaking and then give you suggestions on what might be missing or what is faulty in the code. Fret not advanced coders, this feature can easily be turned off under the profile page.
Any time you edit a theme or plugin, WordPress will send you a prominent reminder to save your draft and test your changes before updating the file to avoid crashing your site. The new coding enhancements are a huge improvement and should be extremely helpful for novice page builders.
Brand New Gallery Widget
The previous version of WordPress introduced audio, image & video widget galleries. Now 4.9 allows users to add a gallery – think multiple images – in any widget area.
Add Media With A Button
Text widgets now have an “add media” button allowing you upload an image, video and/or audio easily into your text sidebar without writing any code. Additionally, shortcode and OEmbed are now enabled in the text widgets.
Ready to Dive In?
As always, here are our recommendations on how to safely update your WordPress install:
- BACKUP YOUR SITE FIRST – With a backup you can always revert back should something go wrong. (Note if you have KartHost™ hosting your site it is backed up every 4 hours). We still recommend you do a backup since there’s no such thing as too many backups.
- Upgrade all your plugins FIRST
- Then upgrade your theme (caution if you have customized by changing your themes php code without changing the themes name or creating a Child Theme do not upgrade your theme, you will overwrite your customizations. Consult your theme designer if you’re not sure.)
- Now you can upgrade WordPress Core, it’s simple to do.
Note: If you have Managed WordPress Hosting with KartHost™, we will be doing all this for you, with the exception of upgrading your theme (unless you have one of our WordPress VIP Virtual Support Plans). For those with the KartHost™ EZWP Builder packages, we will be updating your Beaver Builder theme as well.