WordPress Developer Blog

What’s new for developers? (July 2024)

What’s new for developers? (July 2024)

WordPress 6.6 is just days away, and it’s always an exciting time for developers when a new major release ships. There are lots of new features to tinker with and handy updates to make extending and using WordPress just a little nicer.

Officially, version 6.6 is expected to ship on July 16, 2024 (read the development cycle timeline for more information). 

If you haven’t already done so, now is a great time to test your plugins and themes against the latest changes. WordPress 6.6 RC 3 is the most up-to-date version to check out.

Also, be sure to read the Field Guide, which covers all the major changes you should know about. It has links to all the Developer Notes and a breakdown of what happened during the development cycle.

As usual, this post will contain a list of development-related changes in the past month. Be sure to test them while using WordPress and Gutenberg trunk. Some of the features and changes listed below, unless otherwise noted, are under development and won’t be released until WordPress 6.7.


Section style and block style variation updates

Section styles” and other updates to the block style variation feature represent a huge shift in what’s possible for themes, giving you more control using the standard design tools. Be sure to check out the dev note for an overview of what this update offers.

Since the initial release of this feature in Gutenberg, several updates have landed in time for WordPress 6.6:

New course: Beginner WordPress Developer

The WordPress Training Team released a new course titled Beginner WordPress Developer. It walks you through what you need to know to start your journey into building everything from themes to plugins to blocks.

The course provides an extensive overview of the basics of almost every development topic relevant to WordPress. While it is geared toward first-time developers, there’s enough information available that it’s worthwhile for veterans in the community to learn something new.

WordPress 6.6 Media Corps Briefing

The first WordPress Media Corps Briefing was held on June 27, 2024. The goal of these briefings is to provide media outlets with information around the release. While the session is not specifically geared toward developers, there is still a lot of useful information for anyone who builds on top of WordPress.

Plugins and tools

WordPress 6.6 developer notes

There are several dev notes for WordPress 6.6 that cover new features, updated APIs, and progress on experimental features:

Custom post type actions with Data Views

A new API in Gutenberg 18.6 lets you register and unregister post type actions when building custom Data Views. Currently, these actions appear in two places in the UI:

  • Site Editor views
  • Sidebar in the Post or Site Editor

The API is currently a part of the Editor package but will likely be moved to a dedicated package in the future.

JSON Schema for .wp-env.json

.wp-env.json files now have JSON Schema support, which you can define via the standard $schema property. This should make it easier to validate your JSON code in your preferred code editor.

Block Bindings API bug fixes

Several important bug fixes landed for the Block Bindings API:

  • Reverted a change that caused values beginning with a number to break.
  • Applied a fix for the Site Editor breaking when selecting bound and unbound blocks.
  • Corrected an issue where Button blocks with empty content would not work within bindings.


WordPress 6.6 developer notes

That latest WordPress release will include many theme-heavy features and enhancements. Be sure to read through the dev notes to catch up before 6.6 goes live:

This cannot be stressed enough: the theme.json version 3 update and changes to CSS specificity will almost assuredly mean updating some of your code. At the very least, you should read those posts and test your themes.

On the whole, the updates open up a lot of the other nice features in the 6.6 release, but the reality is that they may cause some small compatibility issues with previous code.

Color and typography variation changes

Color and typography variations are two of the biggest theming features coming to WordPress 6.6. However, an issue arose with how the underlying code generated options in the UI for the end user. Previously, any type of style variation with either registered colors or typography would generate an option. This proved to be problematic with some designs. 

Therefore, the feature was changed to generate options in the UI for color-only or typography-only style variations. This update will provide theme authors more control over what color and typography choices the user sees.

Additionally, a change in Gutenberg 18.7 shows a tooltip with the color or typography variation name when hovering over the option. This change will not be in WordPress 6.6, though.

Block library design and setting enhancements

Gutenberg 18.6 and 18.7 added several supported design tools to various blocks, giving you more freedom in your theme designs:

Experimental grid layout

A new Grid variation for the Group block will land in WordPress 6.6, but overall grid layout support is far from finalized. Contributors continue working on making the feature more powerful. In Gutenberg 18.7, you can drag and drop nested grid items across multiple columns and rows. You can test this by enabling Grid interactivity from the Gutenberg > Experiments screen in your WordPress admin (or use this Playground instance to start testing).

Check out the Hallway Hangout on Exploring Grid Layouts for a deeper dive into what’s possible in WordPress 6.6 and what’s coming in future versions.

Classic themes

In WordPress 6.6, classic themes can opt into the default font and spacing sizes using the standard add_theme_support() function:

add_action( 'after_setup_theme', 'themeslug_setup' );

function themeslug_setup() {
	add_theme_support( 'default-font-sizes' );
	add_theme_support( 'default-spacing-sizes' );

Notable bug fixes

Several bug fixes landed in Gutenberg 18.6 and 18.7 that will be included in the WordPress 6.6 release. Most of these are CSS fixes for things introduced during the 6.6 development cycle and were found during beta:


Developer Hours

Three educational sessions for developers happened in the last several weeks, each covering new features coming in WordPress 6.6:

Hallway Hangouts

Two Hallway Hangouts, which are community discussions around WordPress features, occurred over the past month:

Developer Blog

Five new posts were published here on the Developer Blog in the last month. They cover everything from new WordPress 6.6 features to existing APIs that you can use:

Props to @bph and @ndiego for feedback and review on this post.

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