As one of the most popular open-source projects in the world, WordPress has 70 developers contributing 4,969 commits to the core in 2019. Acknowledging that, it’s probably not surprising to learn that there’s usually a new WordPress release every single month!
Some of these releases are full new versions or critical security patches, in which we recommend updating all your sites to the latest version fairly quickly. Others are minor fixes or even release candidates that are less critical to update right away or even optional. In this article, we tell you what they are, their advantages and their downsides so that you decide to update your WordPress or not.
What are they?
1. Twenty Twenty-One – New default theme
Traditionally, WordPress will release a new default theme every year. WordPress 5.6 comes with a new default theme named Twenty Twenty-One. This new theme offers a Canvas canvas for WordPress Block Editor and Web site editing features. It is designed to be simple, aesthetic, and refreshing.
Twenty Twenty-One uses a light green and dark gray background color for the text. It also has dark mode colors that you can enable by customizing the theme. You can also change the background color by choosing from several Pastel color schemes or choosing your own. The theme will also automatically adjust the text color. For the typeface, the designers chose to use the default system font. You don’t need to download any additional font files and you can still easily create sub-themes with their own fonts and styles.
If you are testing a Theme with a new WordPress Website, you can try a new homepage layout. Just go to the Appearance page, choose Custom, and click the Publish button to create Web pages. Through Block Editor, you can create content, and edit pages for Web pages.
2. Block Editor improvements
The WordPress content editor is what you’ll use for writing blog posts, creating pages, and creating layouts. Update WordPress 5.6 has several improvements for the Block Editor.
- Control Video position for the Cover block
- Patterns are arranged by categories
- Allows adding Keyword Variations to improve search block
- Number of characters in the information sheet
- Color Support for Block List
- Social Icons Block
- Editor Options is renamed to Preferences
2.1. Control Video position for the Cover block
Cover Block previously only allowed adding images. With WordPress 5.6, Cover Block allows you to add and customize the location of Videos, instead of just having images like the old version.
2.2. Patterns are arranged by categories
The Patterns section now allows category switching. This way, you can easily find and use the template and format you need. Besides, you will also be able to view the Patterns available with your theme and distinguish them from default patterns. Patterns are in the Add New Block column.
2.3. Allows adding Keyword Variations to improve search block
The block editor now allows storing keyword variations that might help users find the block. This is one of the improvements that I quite like in Update WordPress 5.6. This change will improve the block search feature and allow you to discover blocks added by a block library or third-party plugin.
2.4. Number of characters in the information sheet
The Information Panel displays the characters along with the words, paragraphs, and blocks used in your content. As a result, you can control and optimize your content more easily.
2.5. Color Support for Block List
The Lists Block now has an option for you to choose text color and background color without adding the list to another block.
2.6. Social Icons Block
Social Icons Block has two enhancements that, in my opinion, are quite expensive. The first improvement is to add a gray Icon format to the social icons. A second chance, the ball can now choose to open all links in the block in a new window.
2.7. Editor Options as Preferences
The default block editor has a settings panel. There, you can set up the editor to your own liking. In the WordPress 5.6 Update, this method plays as ‘Preferences’ instead of ‘Options’.
As far as we know, the Preferences is more useful than its previous version with descriptions for different items. This will make it easier for beginners to decide which items they want to enable.
3. Automatically update WordPress
Since WordPress 5.5, you can turn on automatic updates for plugins easily. As for WordPress Version 5.6, there was an update by adding the option to enable automatic updates for major WordPress releases.
To use this feature, go to Dashboard, and go to Updates in the WordPress admin area. Then you click on the link ‘Turn on automatic updates for all new versions of WordPress’.
This is optional, so you can enable it or not. Personally, I recommend that you enable this feature to update the latest versions of WordPress for the Web promptly. If you are using a Managed WordPress Hosting service then there is no need to worry about this feature. Because your service provider will automatically update WordPress for you.
4. Compatible with PHP 8
As you know, WordPress contains mainly PHP programming language. Just like WordPress, PHP also releases new versions to improve performance, add features, and fix bugs.
PHP 8 first appeared around the time of the announcement WordPress 5.6 Update. Their development team is constantly working to make sure to fix any PHP 8 compatibility issues if any.
This will ensure that users when upgrading to the latest PHP version will not experience any major issues. However, in my opinion, you also need to self-monitor and check the Web, Theme, and Plugin to detect and promptly handle if any problem occurs.
5. Application password for REST API
REST APIs in WordPress allows you to read, update, and create Web content remotely or from an external application.
To stay safe, WordPress has used Cookies and Nonce Key to ensure that only legitimate users can access the API. However, I personally think that these methods do not work very well for Developers.
The WordPress 5.6 Update will allow you to use app passwords in WordPress. Just like the popular platforms Facebook and Google, you can now grant access to the Web for applications. Management is also straightforward. You go to the User page, and select Profile to view the access rights here. You can also revoke an app’s permissions any time you want.
6. Several other improvements under the foundation
WordPress 5.6 has come out with a lot of features and improvements aimed at developers. Here are some of the most significant changes under the platform:
- WordPress 5.6 continues the second phase of the three-step plan to upgrade jQuery that comes with WordPress.
- This new version of WordPress also includes REST API Batch Framework. It allows users to make a series of REST API calls in one request to the server.
- A new command – WP_After_Insert_Post allows you to run custom Code against a post and its terms and Metadata updated.
- WordPress 5.6 has replaced the older style PHP conversion functions with the new one, namely the transition from Type Conversion to Type Cats.
- WordPress 5.6 also introduced the ability to merge WP_Error objects. This will allow you to add multiple data items to the WP_Error object.
- Should we update to WordPress version 5.6 in December 2020?
Temporarily, updating to WordPress 5.6 is not a high recommendation, although it brings many advantages. See the reason in the article below!
What are the advantages of WordPress 5.6?
WordPress 5.6 version has come with new features to avoid legacy jQuery plugin issues encountered with WordPress 5.5 update in August 2020. It was an update that caused websites to stop working in myriad ways. desire. WordPress 5.6 has updated the Enable jQuery Migrate Plugin to avoid repeating website crashes. What’s special is that the Plugin will detect outdated jQuery and log it, then display the screen at the top of the page to signal the problem. At the same time, the Plugin will detect jQuery issues from the page as they switch between pages.
There is a log page on the plugin for the Plugins to make alerts. After updating the Plugin, the publisher can delete the old log and continue to review to see if the Enable jQuery Migrate Plugin detects more problems.
What are the downsides of WordPress 5.6?
As of 12/18/2020, WordPress 5.6 did not update immediately because for 2 main reasons:
1. Theme and Plugin PHP 8 compatibility
WordPress 5.6 will launch with their first version of WordPress compatible (somewhat) with the latest PHP 8 in November. However, this compatibility is compatible with the beta version. Publishers should check before upgrading their PHP version as Themes and Plugins at this point will most likely not be ready for PHP 8.
That’s why WordPress announcement considers compatibility with PHP 8 one of the first steps. This is due to potential compatibility errors and possibly incompatible themes and plugins.
2. Ability to be attacked
WordPress 5.6 introduces REST API authentication with the Application Passwords Feature. The App Passwords feature allows third-party apps to connect to your website and add functionality.
However, according to Wordfence, the publisher of the WordPress security plugin, a social engineering attack could be used against the webmaster to get the admin credentials.
Social media attack techniques are based on spoofing information or access. For example, an attacker might email a victim pretending to be their bank, asking them to reset their credentials. A link in the email resulted in a web copy that resembled a banking website, where the victim entered their username/ password and lost their account then.
Wordfence describes a social engineering attack in which a criminal can create an application impersonating a trusted Application, prompting a Web site publisher to grant a password and allow a secure connection to their website.
We hope that the above article helps you fully understand the updates and advantages as well as downsides of WordPress 5.6. For more details about specific topics, just take a look at our list of posts.