WordPress 5.6 Beta 1

Today WordPress 5.6 Beta 1 was released. This Beta is still in development and should be used for testing only

Today WordPress 5.6 Beta 1 was released.

According to wordpress.org the WordPresss 5.6 Beta 1 is still in development and should be used for testing only and not for a production website.

The target for the release of WordPress 5.6 is December 8, 2020.

Improvements in the Editor

WordPresss 5.6 Beta 1 includes seven Gutenberg enhancements.

Here are a few highlighted enhancements:

  • Improved support for video positioning in cover blocks.
  • Enhancements to Block Patterns including translatable strings.
  • Character counts in the information panel, improved keyboard navigation, and other adjustments to help users find their way better.
  • Improved UI for drag and drop functionality, as well as block movers.

WordPresss 5.6 Beta 1 Core improvements

A new default theme

The default theme is making its annual return with the Twenty Twenty-One theme.

The theme features a streamlined and elegant design, which aims to be AAA ready.

AAA readiness is a term focusing on the level of Accessibility Compliance of any WordPress theme or any other piece of webcontent – or software for that matter.

On W3C’s website you can read more about the Levels of Conformance for websites’ accessibility. 

Auto-update option for major releases

The much anticipated opt-in for major releases of WordPress Core will ship in this release. With this functionality, you can elect to have major releases of the WordPress software update in the background with no additional fuss for your users.

Increased support for PHP 8

The next major version release of PHP, 8.0.0, is scheduled for release just a few days prior to WordPress 5.6.

The WordPress project has a long history of being compatible with new versions of PHP as soon as possible, and this release is no different.

Because PHP 8 is a major version release, changes that break backward compatibility or compatibility for various APIs are allowed.

Contributors have been hard at work fixing the known incompatibilities with PHP 8 in WordPress during the 5.6 release cycle.

Application Passwords for REST API Authentication

Since the REST API was merged into Core, only cookie & nonce based authentication has been available (without the use of a plugin).

This authentication method can be a frustrating experience for developers, often limiting how applications can interact with protected endpoints.

With the introduction of Application Password in WordPress 5.6 Beta 1, the frustration and the need to jump through hoops to re-authenticate when cookies expire are all gone.

But don’t worry, cookie and nonce authentication will remain in WordPress as-is if you’re not ready to change.

Application Passwords are user specific, making it easy to grant or revoke access to specific users or applications (individually or wholesale).

It’s also easy to track down inactive credentials or bad actors from unexpected locations because information like “Last Used” is logged,

Better accessibility

WordPresss 5.6 Beta 1 ships with a number of accessibility fixes and enhancements.

  • Announce block selection changes manually on windows.
  • Avoid focusing the block selection button on each render.
  • Avoid rendering the clipboard textarea inside the button
  • Dropdown menu focus loss when using arrow keys with Safari and Voiceover.
  • Fix dragging multiple blocks downwards, which resulted in blocks inserted in wrong position.
  • Incorrect aria description in the Block List View.
  • Add arrow navigation in Preview menu.
  • Prevent links from being focusable inside the Disabled component.

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