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WordPress 5.9 Beta 1

Posted November 30, 2021 by Chloe Bringmann. Filed under Development, Releases.

WordPress 5.9 Beta 1 is now available for testing!

This version of the WordPress software is under development. You don’t want to run this version on a production site. Instead, it is recommended that you run this on a test site. This will allow you to test out the new version.

You can test the WordPress 5.9 Beta 1 in three ways:

  • Option 1: Install and activate the WordPress Beta Tester plugin (select the “Bleeding edge” channel and “Beta/RC Only” stream).
  • Option 2: Direct download the beta version here (zip).
  • Option 3: Use WP-CLI to test: wp core update --version=5.9-beta1. Do not use this option if your filesystem is case-insensitive.

The current target for the final release is January 25, 2022, which is just eight weeks away. Your help testing this version is vital to make sure the release is as good as it can be.

Check the Make WordPress Core blog for 5.9-related developer notes in the coming weeks which will break down all upcoming changes in greater detail.

How You Can Help – Testing!

Testing for bugs is a critical part of polishing the release in the beta stage. It is also a great way to contribute. If you’ve never tested a beta release before, this detailed guide will help walk you through what and how to test.

If you think you’ve found a bug, please report it to the Alpha/Beta area in the support forums. If you’re comfortable writing a reproducible bug report, file one on WordPress Trac. That’s also where you can find a list of known bugs.

To see every feature in the Gutenberg releases since WordPress 5.8, check out the What’s New In Gutenberg posts for 10.8, 10.9, 11.0, 11.1, 11.2, 11.3, 11.4, 11.5, 11.6, 11.7, 11.8, and 11.9

Beyond the noted changes, which include 580 enhancements and nearly 450 bug fixes, contributors have fixed 297 tickets for WordPress 5.9, including 110 new features and enhancements. More fixes are on the way.

Happy testing!

Want to know what’s new in version 5.9? Read on for some highlights.


Full Site Editing

The Styles Interface

Combine all the features that went live in 5.8 with those making their entrance in 5.9, and you get Full Site Editing.

Formerly known as Global Styles, the Styles Interface lets you interact directly with your blocks and elements right in the WordPress Admin. From typography to color palettes, this cohesive design interface means a design change—even a dramatic one—can happen without a theme switch. No code needed.

Theme.json

Introduced in WordPress 5.8, theme.json has been improved to enable features and default styles for your site and its blocks. With 5.9, theme.json can support child themes and the duotone treatment. Coordinate layers of style with theme.json, taking the weight off of your theme’s required CSS.

Other features supported by theme.json include:

  • Border: color, style, and width augment the border-radius property that landed in 5.8.
  • Flex layouts: Block Gap support, courtesy of spacing.blockGap.
  • Typography: font families, font style, font weight, text decoration, and text transform.
  • Images: Duotones.

A New Navigation Block

Welcome to the most intuitive way to build navigation: the Navigation Block. 

Here are the features that need testing the most:

  • Responsive menu options you can turn off, have always on, or opt to use only for small screens.
  • Built-in keyboard accessibility.  For accessibility, for speed, or both.
  • Add extra blocks like Search and Site Icon blocks (and customize them to your liking).
  • Submenu items with styling options.
  • Horizontal or vertical alignment.
  • Reusable navigation? Even across themes? Yes. Because the Navigation Block you build gets saved as a custom post type.

What if you could treat single images in your Gallery Block the same way you treat the Image Block? Now you can.

Make every image in your gallery different from the next, with inline cropping or a duotone and change layouts with the ease of drag and drop. With the improved gallery block, every image is its own Image block.

One thing to note: Have you built a plugin or theme on the Gallery Block functionality? Be sure to review this Dev Note, which details what you need to do for compatibility.

Focused Template Part Mode

Building template parts can take a level of focus all its own because you’re making decisions for the entire site. So WordPress 5.9 adds a focus mode that shows you only the part you’re working on right now (and you can get back to the regular view with a keystroke). 

Block Pattern Directory

The Pattern Directory offers a range of prebuilt block patterns, from a couple of blocks that show an image and text, to an entire page layout with columns and sections. Since the 5.8 release, the directory has become a hub for exploratory UI and patterns, taking submissions and offering them to the community. So now, your creation can help other people build out their perfect site.

Twenty Twenty-Two Default Theme

A whole new way of building WordPress themes.

WordPress 5.9 introduces features that make Full Site Editing possible, including the first default block theme.

Using minimal CSS, theme styles reside in theme.json so that you can configure them in the Styles interface of the WordPress Admin. Make this theme take on its own personality site-wide, with a wide array of color schemes, type combinations, page templates, premade components (forms), and image treatments to choose from.

More Improvements and Updates

  • Do you love to blog? New tweaks to the publishing flow let you add new posts just seconds after hitting Publish on your latest post.
  • List View lets you drag and drop content as easily as you could always cruise through it – and collapse entire sections – so you can concentrate on a task or get the bigger picture.
  • The Buttons and Social icons blocks now absorb and display their parent block’s toolbar controls.  
  • Choose your language on the login screen.
  • More performance improvements (i.e., speed).

Props to @chanthaboune, @priethor, @psykro, @annezazu, @webcommsat, @marybaum, @hellofromtonya, @davidbaumwald, and @rmartinezduque for their research and copy.

See Also:

Want to follow the code? There’s a development P2 blog and you can track active development in the Trac timeline that often has 20–30 updates per day.

Want to find an event near you? Check out the WordCamp schedule and find your local Meetup group!

For more WordPress news, check out the WordPress Planet or subscribe to the WP Briefing podcast.

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