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WordPress 5.1 “Betty” Is Ready! Get to Know the Improvements

WordPress 5.1 Betty Is Ready

Hello WordPress fellows, how’s your 2019 going so far? Alrighty then, it’s been 2 months since the WordPress 5.0 Bebo was released, and in the meantime, the enhancements and the work on WordPress 5.1 made serious progress towards its release that happened yesterday in the afternoon, with its “Betty” version, named in honor of acclaimed jazz vocalist Betty Carter!

As a company that is consistently contributing to the WordPress Core, at DevriX, we’re chuffed about the update and what’s about to come in the Gutenberg era. With 7+ teammates who have contributed to “Betty”, we can’t wait to share what’s new. So, without further ado, let’s make a quick rundown on what are the major updates and improvements that come along with 5.1 “Betty”, shall we?

What’s New?

The biggest change that comes with 5.1 revolves around the Site Health Check project!

It encourages users that if they run a website, they should do a routine of check and update not just of WordPress but the underlying technologies that the site is built on. It also builds positive website ownership and habits.

The project is split into what can be considered 3 parts – changes to WordPress Core itself, a site Health Check plugin and the Site Health Check community support. with the Site Health Project, it is much harder for something to go terribly wrong with your WordPress site, and it can definitely help you with the debugging process and keeping the code clean.

For instance, if your website displays a White Screen of Death error, currently, the solution for that problem is to use an SFTP client and remove the bad code, which is not a walk in the park for regular WordPress users.

Well, WordPress 5.1 will resolve this by predicting these errors upfront for you, before they create havoc to your website. With that, you can still access your Dashboard and resolve the issue while everything is still working normally.

Want to make the most out of the Site Health Check plugin?

Install it from WordPress.org and go to Dashboard > Health Check if you want to get a thorough site health checkup. It includes a beneficial troubleshooting mode where you can open a vanilla WordPress session, with all of the plugins and themes disabled for the user. This is excellent because it doesn’t diminish the users’ UX with your site.

WordPress 5.1 also maintain the updates for the minimum-supported PHP for the WordPress core to 5.6. WordPress 5.1 will display an alert and aid you to upgrade your version of PHP. The minimum PHP will be bumped to 5.6 in April and, depending on feedback, will be bumped again to 7.0 in December 2019.

The block editor also continues its rapid development cycle since WordPress 5.0 with the 4.8 version of the Gutenberg plugin that has integrated with WordPress 5.1. Predominantly, this includes performance improvements, a Getting Started with JavaScript tutorial, enhancements to the design guidelines to build blocks, and high-end README files for the UI components.

5.1 also introduces a brand new database table where you can store metadata that is related to websites, which allows for the storage of arbitrary site data relevant to a multisite/network context.

If you want to install the new database table, you need to do a network update! The site meta API contains a function is_site_meta_supported() to ensure no unexpected errors occur when that process has not run yet. Beginning from WordPress 5.1, there is only a sole use-case for the site meta in the core which safeguards the fatal error protection mechanism.

WordPress 5.1 also includes a change in behavior for Cron spawning on servers running FastCGI and PHP versions 7.0.16 and above. It also embeds a change to the Cron API that renews the return values for functions used to modify scheduled tasks. It contains two brand new functions to help with returning data, and it embodies new filters for modifying Cron storage.

In WordPress 5.1, the admin table pagination links have had their CSS styling adjusted.

via WordPress.org

This improves the color contrasts that result in better accessibility and better conformity across admin screens. The links in the pages are now formed like a standard WordPress button, and the background color is no longer changed to blue on hover and focus.

Gutenberg Advancements

The brand new block editor that arrived with WordPress 5.0 is just the initial stage of Gutenberg implementation. Phase 2 is here, and it’s coming straight to your widgets, more specifically, transforming Core Widgets into Gutenberg blocks!

This will also reshape the Navigation menu into a Navigation block, and additional blocks such as RSS and Kindle blocks. You can find additional Gutenberg improvements here, as well as in this article from WPTavern.

To Sum Up

Clearly, 5.1 contains lots of changes and corrections, as well as precautionary measurements!

First and foremost, the PHP version will be the key information. As developers and users, we will all be notified regarding outdated versions of the environment.

When installing themes and plugins, the “Site Health” feature will detect everything that is incompatible with the PHP version on the server, and as a result, block such installations, which is a brilliant new feature!

Of course, we expected some changes to be applied to the visual editor, Gutenberg, and we got them! In the brand new version, everything will be quicker and the writing process ought to be more fluent. Definitely improvements and features that we had expected. We’re looking forward to what’s next with the already-announced 5.2 update set to be released in April.

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