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The first beta for WordPress 4.5 is in full flow, with a final release date set for April 12th 2016. And thankfully, unlike with WordPress 4.4, I'm quite looking forward to clicking the update button on release day.
I've had my moments with WordPress recently. I have channeled some of my thoughts on the world's most popular CMS via my coverage of WordPress 4.4 (where I labeled the update as a bare bones excuse for a semi-major update), and also through my article entitled; “How WordPress Needs to Improve Itself (In 6 Ways)“.
In fact, the latter publication caused a bit of a stir. In return, I recieved some scathing feedback from well-known WordPress advocate, sparking a small debate.
But as WordPress 4.5 edges closer, I'm happy to report that it looks far more useful than its predecessor.
Customizer Gets a Much Needed Update
The usefulness of WordPress 4.5 will largely reside in the updates it has for Customizer, WordPress' front-end editing environment.
But to be fair, there's more to it than that. Here's a summary, borrowed from the official WordPress announcement:
- Responsive Preview of your site in the Customizer – See how your site looks in mobile, tablet, and desktop contexts before making changes to its appearance.
- Theme Logo Support – Native support for a theme logo within the Customizer.
- Inline Link Editing – Within the visual editor, edit links inline for a smoother workflow.
- Additional Editor Shortcuts – Includes a few new shortcuts, like `..` forcode and **..** for bold.
- Comment Moderation Improvements – An enhanced experience when moderating comments, including preview with rendered formatting.
- Optimization of Image Generation – Image sizes are generated more efficiently and remove unneeded meta, while still including color profiles in Imagick, for reduced sizes of up to 50% with near identical visual quality.
WordPress developers will get a bundle of updates to play around with, too:
- Selective Refresh – A comprehensive framework for rendering parts of the customizer preview in real time. Theme and plugin authors should test their widgets specifically for compatibility with selective refresh, and note that it may ultimately be opt-in for 4.5.
- Backbone and Underscore updated to latest versions – Backbone is upgraded from 1.1.2 to 1.2.3 and Underscore is upgraded from 1.6.0 to 1.8.3. See the this post for important changes.
- Embed templates – Embed templates were split into parts and can now be directly overridden by themes via the template hierarchy.
- New WP_Site class – More object-oriented approach for managing sites in Multisite
Now that's an update!
Customizer has long been a relatively handy tool, but it was never truly impressive in terms of functionality. But this update is a solid step in the right direction for that particluar dimension of WordPress.
Plus, inline link editing and improved comment moderation seem like good additions to the platform. I'm hoping the latter can help speed things up when comments start to clutter up the moderation queue.
To find out more about WordPress 4.5 beta 1, check out the WordPress blog announcement.