What’s New With WordPress: WordPress 5.6 Is Here + 4 More Stories

The year 2020 has been full of change for WordPress. The team remains focused on phase two of its four-part roadmap

WordPress users have seen significant changes and shifts towards full website customization using the Gutenberg block editor. 

As the year nears the end, WordPress’s future comes into clear focus with the latest core release.

In case you missed it, here’s what’s new with WordPress:

  • WordPress releases 5.6 “Simone”
  • New block-based theme Bosco
  • Security issues with WordPress 5.6
  • WordPress and Shutterstock’s integration plan
  • WPGraphQL plugin goes live in the library

WordPress 5.6 “Simone” Released

On Dec. 8, 2020, the WordPress team introduced WordPress 5.6, named for American singer, songwriter, and civil rights activist Nina Simone. 

“Simone” ushers in the future of flexible website creation with the block-based editor. The core version comes with the new Twenty Twenty-One default theme.

WordPress 5.6 is the last major WordPress release of 2020, and it brings several enhancements and new features geared towards the future of full site editing (FSE). 

Notable features of WordPress 5.6 include:

  • Increased layout flexibility 
  • Expanded auto-updates 
  • Built-in block patterns 

Developers also have access to better PHP support and updates to jQuery with WordPress 5.6. 

To make sure your plugins are compatible with jQuery updates, you can run the update test plugin to identify possible bugs and errors.

Bosco: The Newest Block-Based WordPress Theme

On Dec. 1, 2020, the team behind the Bosco WordPress theme announced the FSE version of it — block-based Bosco

Block-based Bosco is the second block theme to hit the WordPress library, following the Q theme developed by Ari Stathopoulos.

Like the Q theme, block-based Bosco is an experimental theme and requires the Gutenberg plugin. The Gutenberg plugin activates the beta version of WordPress’s Site Editor when an FSE theme is activated.

With the activation of the Site Editor, the Widgets and Customize screens no longer appear in the WordPress menu. 

Blocks and block patterns take the place of widgets. All theme editing and customization happen in the Site Editor. 

Keep in mind that full site editing is not ready for full production use. However, those interested in experimenting with FSE themes should be able to use them for simple websites or personal blogs.

Additionally, WordPress continues to work toward compatibility with the latest jQuery version and PHP 8. For now, you can learn more about potential issues for plugin users working with PHP 8.

WordPress 5.6 Comes With New Security Risk: How to Protect Your Website

WordPress 5.6 brought plenty of enhancements and bug fixes to the WordPress experience, but some updates present potential security risks

In particular, a feature that allows for creating application passwords might leave websites vulnerable to malicious actors. 

In WordPress 5.6, applications can create application-specific passwords and execute commands on behalf of a user, thanks to the WordPress REST API. 

Wordfence’s YouTube channel demonstrated the risks of application passwords and how an attacker can gain full control of a website. To mitigate risk, application passwords are disabled by default in the latest version of Wordfence.

Coming Soon: WordPress + Shutterstock Integration

Finding the perfect imagery for your WordPress website can be a challenge. 

Here’s the good news:

On Dec. 9, 2020, Shutterstock announced its new WordPress plugin.

The plugin provides access to millions of Shutterstock images, and it’s available in over 20 languages. 

Shutterstock’s plugin is available to its premier customers who use WordPress (or WordPress VIP). Key features include a smart image search, license history download, and user permission management. 

WordPress users can find, insert, and manage their Shutterstock images inside WordPress. This partnership paves the way for further collaboration between Shutterstock and WordPress. 

WPGraphQL Version 1.0 Now Available in Plugin Library

In 2016, Jason Bahl created WPGraphQL to offer a GraphQL schema and API for WordPress websites.  

GraphQL APIs empowers creative teams to collaborate with development teams and continue using the tools they know and love. 

Compared to the WordPress REST API, GraphQL APIs function faster and more efficiently. Product teams, digital agencies, and freelancers use the GraphQL schema to build JavaScript applications in WordPress.

On Nov. 16, 2020, Bahl announced WPGraphQL 1.0. The long-awaited stable version of WPGraphQL is now available on the WordPress.org plugin library.

Developers hail Bahl’s project for making it easy to create custom WordPress sections and pull the data they need.

As the WordPress team pushes through their four-stage roadmap, users have dealt with constant changes, experiments, and bug fixes. 

The road to a revolutionary website building experience hasn’t always been a smooth one. Users can expect more changes in the year to come as the team prepares full site editing for production. 

However, WordPress continues to focus on creating the best user experience for creators and developers. To learn more about reliable web hosting plans for your WordPress website, explore Bluehost’s plans today

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Machielle Thomas
Machielle Thomas | Content Manager
Machielle Thomas writes and curates web and email content for marketing professionals, small business owners, bloggers, and more.

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