WordPress 5.2 Beta 1

WordPress 5.2 Beta 1 has just been made available from wordpress.org.

The release of WordPress 5.2 is planned in just one month’s time – on April 30. 2019.

There are some nice improvements in store for this upcoming release.

The Block Editor

The block editor has received significant performance improvements since WordPress 5.1, cutting 35% down on the load time for very large posts, and reducing keypress time by almost 50%.

‘Keypress time’ indicates how responsive it feels when typing.

Continued accessibility improvements

The block editor now supports your browser’s reduced motion settings.

The post URL slug has better labelling and help text.

The focus styling for keyboard navigating through landmarks is clearer and more consistent.

There are a variety of new speak messages, and existing messages have been tweaked for more useful screen-reader behaviour.

New blocks:

Several new blocks have been added in WordPres 5.2 Beta.

  • An RSS block
  • An Amazon Kindle embed block
  • A Search block
  • A Calendar block
  • A Tag Cloud block

To help keep track of these blocks, and only show the ones you need, there’s a new block management tool to switch blocks on and off.

There are tonnes of bug fixes and improvements in the block editor.

Read more about them in the Gutenberg plugin releases: 4.95.05.15.2, and 5.3.

The WordPress Mobile Apps

The block editor isn’t just for websites, either.

The WordPress mobile apps now include an experimental version of a built-in block editor.

This is still under development, but try it out here:

https://make.wordpress.org/mobile/2019/02/26/the-block-editor-is-coming-to-the-mobile-apps/

Site Health Check

Site Health Check is an ongoing project aimed at improving the stability and performance of the entire WordPress ecosystem.

The first phase of this project (originally scoped for WordPress 5.1) is now included in WordPress 5.2.

For the first time, WordPress will catch and pause the problem code, so you can log in to your Dashboard and see what the problem is (#44458).

Before, you’d have to FTP in to your files or get in touch with your host.

In addition, a new Health Check tool has been added to the Dashboard.

Go to the Tools menu and click on Health Check to get information that can help improve the speed and security of your site.

PHP Version Bump

With this release, WordPress will increase its minimum supported PHP version to 5.6.

To help check if your WordPress website is prepared for this change, WordPress 5.2 will show you a warning and help you upgrade your version of PHP, if necessary.

For Developers

  • Plugins can now specify the minimum version of PHP that they support, so you can safely modernise your development practices without risking breaking your users’ sites. (#40934)
  • We’ve added the sodium_compat library, which provides backwards compatibility for the Sodium-based cryptography library added in PHP 7.2. (#45806)
  • There’s a new release of Dashicons, the WordPress Dashboard icon font. There are 25 new icons for you to use! (#41074)
  • You can now pass a label to get_search_form(), improving accessibility. (#42057)

There have been 130 tickets closed in WordPress 5.2 so far, with numerous small bug fixes and improvements to help smooth your WordPress experience.

Keep your eyes on the Make WordPress Core blog for developer notes (which are assigned the dev-notes tag) in the coming weeks detailing other changes in 5.2 that you should be aware of.

The Internet’s 30th anniversary

Sir Tim: Now what, Internet?

I’ve always believed the web is for everyone. That’s why I and others fight fiercely to protect it.
Sir Tim Berners-Lee

On March 12, 1989 Sir Tim Berners-Lee, proposed a hypertext and TCP protocol based information management system to his boss at CERN in Switzerland.

His proposal for an information management system would lay the foundation for the birth of the Internet, the World Wide Web and online services.

30 years later the Net seems to be all that matters for a large portion of the world’s population.

At least for half of it.

The inventor of the World Wide Web has published an open letter to mark the 30th anniversary of his proposal.

Berners-Lee’s proposal was dubbed “vague but exciting” by his boss at the time.

The proposal outlines an information management system that Berner’s Lee and others later referred to as an Information Super Highway.

The proposal describes the use of hypertext combined with Internet TCP protocols and domain names.

Berners-Lee also designed the world’s first web browser and put together the first web server.

A few years later the first website was running on a NeXT computer at CERN, where Berners-Lee worked.

The rest is (internet) history.

A dysfunctional Net

Thirty years later the free, open and democratic online information system that Berners-Lee envisioned, has got very little to do with the Net and the Web we use today.

Berners-Lee notes that the web has become “a public square, a library, a doctor’s office, a shop, a school, a design studio, an office, a cinema, a bank, and so much more” – but not for all...

Tim Berners-Lee have persisted in insisting on what was (and still is) his beautiful dream:

A democratic information highway for all the people on earth.

The Net is NOT an academic, egalitarian paradise – far from it!

In fact, some might say that the Net today has degenerated into a platform for crime, fake-news, mis-information, mindless gossip and hateful outbursts.

Others might say that the Net is basically a digital platform for generating profit through online shopping, crypto-currencies and stock trades.

Some do say that fake news, hateful speech and the political correctness of the Social Media discussions have degenerated free speech to a point where there’s no longer consensus about anything.

But that’s just half the truth.

There is a Net that can be described as an academic, egalitarian paradise – for some.

There is a Net for generating profits – for some.

Online shopping is probably the Net’s biggest succes.

And there’s a Net for everything in between the two – for some…

One Small Step for the Web…

In 2009, Berners Lee said, “The web as I envisaged it we have not seen yet,” referring to how the Net at that time was primarily used for one-way document handling.

By then the Net had not materialized as a world-wide webcomputer for equal and democratic access and handling of read-write data – as intended by Berners-Lee and others back in the 1980s.
Medium

Tim Berners-Lee has been warning about how a few dominant platforms is destroying the Net.

They destruct the nety by acting as gate-keepers effectively controlling and setting the boundaries for which ideas and opinions are seen and shared.

In 2018 he started Inrupt, a new initiative for de-centralizing the web through new decentralization technologies.

Inrupt is an attempt to break the grip of the dominant digital platforms and to decentralize the web and restore power to the people.

He has also started Solid.

Solid is an online service offering Apps for people to use to separate their data from the applications that use it.

Power to the People!

In his anniversary letter urges people not to give up on the web:

If we give up on building a better web now, then the web will not have failed us. We will have failed the web,” he writes.

Sir Tim’s open letter focuses the problem of web misuse into three areas:

  1. Deliberate, malicious intent.
    Such as state-sponsored hacking and attacks, criminal behaviour, and online harassment.
  2. System design that creates perverse incentives
    Where user value is sacrificed, such as ad-based revenue models that commercially reward clickbait and the viral spread of misinformation.
  3. Unintended negative consequences 
    Of benevolent design, such as the outraged and polarised tone and quality of online discourse.

While the first category is impossible to eradicate completely, we can create both laws and code to minimize this behaviour, just as we have always done offline,” Berners-Lee continues.

The second category requires us to redesign systems in a way that change incentives.

The third category calls for research to understand existing systems and model possible new ones or tweak those we already have.

He also warns against reacting to online problems with ‘simplistic narratives.’

You can’t just blame one government, one social network or the human spirit.

Simplistic narratives risk exhausting our energy as we chase the symptoms of these problems instead of focusing on their root causes.

To get this right, we will need to come together as a global web community,” Sir Tim suggests.
Sir Tim Berners-Lee: 30 years on, what’s next #ForTheWeb?

A set of core priciples

Last year Berners-Lee’s Web Foundation  launched a set of core principles for a ‘Contract for the Web‘.

The Contract is designed to make governments, the private sector and citizens work together on tackling problems of online abuse and misuse.

And to collaborate on contributions that drive “equality, opportunity and creativity,“‘ and “to ensure the web serves humanity.”

The Contract for the Web must not be a list of quick fixes but a process that signals a shift in how we understand our relationship with our online community, Berners-Lee suggests.

It must be clear enough to act as a guiding star for the way forward but flexible enough to adapt to the rapid pace of change in technology.

It’s our journey from digital adolescence to a more mature, responsible and inclusive future.

“The web is for everyone and collectively we hold the power to change it. It won’t be easy.

But if we dream a little and work a lot, we can get the web we want.”
Sir Tim Berners-Lee: 30 years on, what’s next #ForTheWeb?

Keep that beautiful dream alive

I have always believed the web is for everyone,” Tim Berners-Lee wrote in his blog post One Small Step for the Web… in late 2018.

The web has evolved into an engine of inequity and division; swayed by powerful forces who use it for their own agendas,” he added.

Today, I believe we’ve reached a critical tipping point, and that powerful change for the better is possible — and necessary.

Keep that beautiful dream alive and kicking, Tim!

WordPress 5.2 is coming!

In a short while we will see WordPress 5.2 being released – maybe as early as April 2019.

In his article on make.wordpress.org Gary Pendergast describes and proposes a elease schedule for the Beta, the RC and the final release of WordPress 5.2.

Proposed WordPress 5.2 Schedule according to Gary Pendergast

To give something a little more specific than “late April”, I’d like to propose the following key dates for WordPress 5.2.

– Beta 1: March 14, 2019.
– Release Candidate 1: April 10, 2019.
– General Release: April 23, 2019.

The end of April does have quite a few observed holidays to account for. The weekend of April 20/21 is Easter, the week of April 20-27 is Passover, and the weekend of April 27-28 is Orthodox Easter. The following week includes May Day, and is the week before the start of Ramadan.

I would like to propose April 23 as a reasonable compromise that isn’t an observed holiday for most people, and allows several days after the release for sites to test and upgrade.

Proposed WordPress 5.2 Scope

Given the timeframe, there are several projects in progress that would fit nicely.

Gutenberg
With the widgets to blocks being complete for Gutenberg 5.1, the Gutenberg work is ready to move into the next item on the 9 projects for 2019 list: the block directory.

The way authors discover and use new blocks is shaping up to be an important part of the block editor experience, so join in the #meta and #core-editor channels to discuss this important part of our future infrastructure.

With the explosion of new blocks comes the need to manage them. There are a lot of plugins which add dozens of blocks, but authors may only need one or two of them. Being able to hide the ones they don’t use can only make the editing experience easier. The CoBlocks plugin recent introduced a Block Manager feature along these lines.

Additionally, the Gutenberg team have made more UX and performance improvements, which you can see in recent Gutenberg plugin releases.

Site Health Check
The Health Check plugin has been coming along nicely, and is looking like it will be ready to merge before beta 1. This is another of the 9 projects for 2019.

PHP Error Protection
While it missed WordPress 5.1, the core PHP team have been reworking the PHP Error Protection feature, and are on target for releasing it in WordPress 5.2.

Update Package Signing
Auto-updates are featured as two of the 9 projects for 2019, but to ensure these are completed in a safe and reliable fashion, there are a few steps to take beforehand.

The first step involves implementing update package signing, which ensures sites have downloaded a valid update package.

Once package signing has proven itself when running against WordPress 5.2.x releases, the next steps include improving the error detection and fallback mechanisms for the plugin and theme updaters, as well as making UI options available for enabling auto-updates.

Pending WordPress.org work and Systems approval, package signing could reasonably be ready for WordPress 5.2.

WordPress 5.1 Beta 1

WordPress 5.1 Beta 1 is now available from wordpress.org.

WordPress 5.1 is scheduled for release in late February 2019 – the 19th according to wordpress.org.

Site Health Checker

The new Site Health Check is a project within wordpress aimed at improving the stability and performance of the entire WordPress ecosystem.

The first phase of this project will be included in WordPress 5.1.

For the first time, WordPress will catch and pause the problem code, so you can log in to your Dashboard and see what the problem is.

Earlier you would need FTP to diagnose and solve the problems in your files or get in touch with your host.

Additionally, in April 2019, WordPress’ will increase its minimum supported PHP version to 5.6. To help you check if you’re prepared for this change, WordPress 5.1 will show you a warning and help you upgrade your version of PHP, if necessary.

The end of an era – and the beginning of a new…

Beginning with the WordPress 5.1 version the phrase “Happy blogging” will be changed to “Happy Publishing” in the file-system og WordPress

This marks the end of the days when WordPress was perceived as (merely) a blogging tool.

In Changeset 44455 it’s stated that:

As of this commit, WordPress is no longer a simple blogging platform. It’s now a comprehensive publishing solution.

This also replaces a couple of other “blog” references that were missed previously.

This signifies the end of an era, which actually ended a long time ago when WordPress developed into a proper CMS system.

Now it’s formally recognized in the software and by wordpress.org.

WordPress is so much more dynamic than what a blogging tool rerquires it to be.

Nowadays, WordPressis a true publishing solution that can easily transition into e-commerce stores or online magazines without having to migrate to a new platform.

Gutenberg is now in the hands of thousands, if not millions of users.

With Gutenberg publishing different types of content is becoming more accessible for coders and non-coders alike.

The new era of “Happy Publishing” in 2019 will bring even more progress to WordPress!

WordPress 5.0.3 Maintenance Release

Today WordPress 5.0.3 Maintenance Release was released.

The frequency of maintenance releases from wordpress.org run high these days.

5.0.3 is a maintenance release that includes 37 bug fixes and 7 performance updates. The focus of this release was fine-tuning the new block editor, and fixing any major bugs or regressions.

The list below goes through some of the most important fixes in this release of WordPress:

WordPress 5.1 beta

The WordPress 5.1 beta is being prepared to be released in short while.

This version will include the new Site Health checker function.

The 5.1 release will also be marking an end of an era for WordPress when it’s official status as a ‘blogging tool’ will be changed to a ‘publishing solution’.

WordPress 5.0.2 Maintenance Release

WordPress 5.0.2 is now available from wordpress.org.

5.0.2 is a maintenance release that addresses 73 bugs.

The primary focus of this release is performance improvements in the block editor.

The cumulated performance gains make it 330% faster for a post with 200 blocks.

Here are a few of the additional highlights:

For a full list of changes, please see the list of tickets on Trac or the changelog.

You can download WordPress 5.0.2 from wordpress.org or through the Dashboard → Updates and click Update Now.

Sites that support automatic background updates have already started to update automatically.