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What’s new for developers? (October 2023)

WordPress 6.4, led by an underrepresented gender release squad, is progressing fast. Beta 3, is about to be released. The Release Candidate 1 is on the schedule for October 17. That’s also when the docs squad will publish the Field Guide with the Dev Notes and a list of all the changes. Final release is scheduled for November 7, 2023.

To learn about most features coming to a WordPress instance near you, you can participate in not one but two calls for testing

After discussion and recommendations from the release squad, release lead Josepha Haden Chomphosy decided to punt the Font Library and Management to the next major version, WordPress 6.5. The feature needs more time and more testing before it can land in a major release rolled out to millions of users. The WordPress Test team published instructions on how you can help test the Font Library using the Gutenberg plugin.

Also, on October 12, 2023 at 18:00 UTC contributors will discuss in a Hallway Hangout: What’s new for developers in WordPress 6.4. The session will be recorded and published on WordPress TV shortly thereafter.

The Gutenberg plugin release for the 16.7 version was moved to September 27th, 2023. Due to the 3-week release cycle the milestone contained 290 PRs. You can find the full changelog in the release post.

Highlights

Background image for Group blocks

Another new feature came to the Group block with the Gutenberg 16.7 release. Users can now add background images to their group blocks via a new UI in the sidebar. 

Name your Group blocks

Since the Gutenberg 16.7 release, users can give specific names to their various group blocks in a post, template or page. Those names also persist when the block becomes part of a pattern. 

Plugins and tools

Point release of WordPress Coding Standards

After the major release of WordPressCS 3.0.0, contributors packaged a minor release of the 3.0.1 with a short changelog. 

Plugin Check plugin 

To help with the giant backlog of reviews for new plugins in the repository, the plugin review team published the Plugin Check plugin.  which developers can use to double-check their code before they submit it to shorten the review cycle. The plugin points to missing or erroneous code sections and provides hints how to solve it or links to the guidelines so a developer can self-correct before submitting the plugin for official review. 

Gutenberg as a framework

More and more agencies and developers are looking into using the Gutenberg packages outside of WordPress. The efforts have been intensified with a series of GitHub issues regarding splitting packages, streamlining ReactJS abstractions and to review components toward reusability in various other contexts. For developers interested in this part of Gutenberg this tracking issue is a great starting point. This GitHub List for the Label “Framework” shows all PRs merged with 16.7. There is also the start of a documentation site. You can get started following these instructions and using Node and Vite for installation. 

Buttons block shows Button block variations in the inserter

When you register custom variations for the Button block, the wrapping Buttons block now shows an inserter with all of the available variations. This makes it easier for users to quickly select the Button variation they want to use.

Customizable theme previews back button

You can now customize the back button when previewing block themes. Currently, it points to /wp-admin/themes.php, but you can change it via the __experimentalDashboardLink key when filter block_editor_settings_all.

New initial focus option for the Modal component

The Modal component now accepts a firstContentElement for its focusOnMount property. The first focusable element is often the close button, and using this option lets you focus on the first element of the content <div> of the Modal component.

Themes

Enable Lightbox for image blocks

If you previously enabled the lightbox feature via theme.json, there has been a change. It’s now a block level specific attribute only for the image core block, that can be turned on or off and also allowEditing can be toggled on or off as well. The support for an animation setting was removed.

“settings”: {
      “blocks”: {
           “core/image”: {
                “lightbox”: {
                       “enabled”: true | false
                        “allowEditing”: true | false
                 }
           }
       }
}

Buttons now allowed in Navigation block

With this update, users can now add buttons to the Navigation block and implement a common design feature to place a Call to action button into the header of a website. 

More design tools for Core blocks

In addition to the above, existing design tools were made available for various Core blocks: 

Font Library and Management 

After many months in the works, the Font Library is now available with the Gutenberg 16.7 release. It was slated to be included in the next major WordPress version but release lead and team decided to punt it to 6.5.  For now it is mainly a feature for end users to upload fonts. The next phase for the Font Library will provide hooks and filters for plugin developers to connect font foundries API to WordPress. Also, theme developers might need to pay attention, as their designs can be overwritten by users with a different font altogether. 

Pattern Import/Export as JSON

It was already a well kept secret that you could export reusable blocks (now synched patterns) in JSON format from the wp-admin screens and import them to other sites. Now the feature received an upgrade with the Gutenberg 16.7 release and is available to all patterns. 

Events & Resources

Learn WP

The WordPress training team published two new tutorials 

Developer Hours

The latest Developer Hours covered the create-block package, the official scaffolding tool for custom block development. Besides the fundamentals, participants learned about other features such as external project templates and variants for dynamic blocks or blocks using the interactivity API. 

Hallway Hangouts

During the latest Hallway Hangout, participants explored the power of block variations and how they can use them to enhance the editing experience in WordPress.

Developer Blog

Four new posts expanded the coverage of the WordPress Developer Blog;

Props to @greenshady for co-writing and review 

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2 responses to “What’s new for developers? (October 2023)”

  1. Faisul Alam Avatar

    Hi WP developer,
    Recently I update few WP plugins. However, my website alignment changed when it was live but edit with Elementor section showing accurate structure. Could you please advice how to solve this problem. Maybe you can find any bugs in new WP plugins.

    Kind regards
    Faisul Alam

    1. Justin Tadlock Avatar

      This is a question best asked over on the support forums. Good luck!

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