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As of December 8, 2020, WordPress 5.6 has officially released! WordPress currently power 38% of the web, and every year more website owners learn WordPress websites are fun to build and easy to maintain. WordPress continues it’s tradition of naming releases after jazz musicians, so today we can officially introduce you to Simone, named for the jazz performer Nina Simone.

WordPress 5.6 Features

The new features released with WordPress 5.6 include:

  • Additional Block Patterns
  • A new default theme, Twenty Twenty-One
  • Update Gutenberg to latest version with new features
  • PHP 8 support
  • Automatic updates for major WordPress Core releases (opt-in)
  • Public beta of full site editing
  • oEmbed changes

How to Test WordPress 5.6

If you’re looking to test WordPress 5.6 before upgrading your live environment, we recommend using Cloud WordPress, our WordPress staging environment.

Cloud WordPress allows you to create a fully functional free WordPress site for sandboxing (with or without BoldGrid) in just a few clicks. Easily design, build, test and share your WordPress website, and use the BoldGrid Total Upkeep Backup plugin to move your website live when ready.

You can also download the zip directly from WordPress.

PHP 8 Support

WordPress always aims to be compatible with new versions of PHP on their release day. However, full integration for PHP 8 will not be completed by the WordPress 5.6 release.

At this time no changes will be made to the minimum required version of PHP. The changes made for PHP 8.0 support will be done in a way that maintains backward compatibility for all versions of PHP supported by WordPress (currently to PHP 5.6.20). A decision still has to be made on when to stop supporting older PHP versions.

Keep in mind that while php 8 has been released, not all WordPress hosts include this as an option. Some hosts allow you to change your php version – you may want to see if you have the latest php version available.

To view all core tickets for PHP 8 support, click here.

Deprecated Facebook and Instagram Embeds

Both Gutenberg and the Classic Editor use oEmbed requests to pull in content from Facebook and Instagram. Facebook, which owns Instagram, deprecated these types of embeds on October 24th, 2020. Therefore, WordPress has already removed them from the stable Core 5.5 release, and they will not be included in WordPress 5.6. Learn more about deprecated embeds here.

Application Passwords

A new system for making authenticated requests to WordPress APIs will ship with WordPress 5.6, called Application Passwords. These new passwords will allow making authenticated, automated requests to your WordPress site much easier.

To the average user this might not seem very exciting, but the possibilities it introduces for developers are intriguing. The primary motivation for creating it was to improve the usability of the WordPress mobile applications for iOS and Android. However, once the functionality is built other developers can use it to make all kinds of new tools for managing your site, creating new content, and improve options for 2-factor authentication. The new process could even evolve into a full OAuth system.

Another notable use for the new system will be improving Static Site Generators and rich JavaScript applications, including “headless” WordPress implementations that separate the website from the actual WordPress installation.

The current authentication system is not being changed, and developers can rest assured any custom solutions should continue to function as it does today. For those using the Application Passwords beta testing plugin, after upgrading to WordPress 5.6 we recommend deactivating the plugin. However, leaving the plugin active on WordPress 5.6 shouldn’t lead to errors. But don’t completely forget about this plugin! WordPress currently plans to use it for future prototyping. For more information, be sure to follow the Core ticket.

What’s Next?

WordPress Core has released WordPress 5.7!




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