The latest WordPress 5.6 “Simone” update, named after the remarkable American musician and activist Nina Simone, was released on December 8, 2020. It comes with a brand new canvas built-in theme, many improvements, and more flexibility for customization and integrations to realize your ideas.
The “Simone” release is big and also a special one because it marks the first release squad led entirely by women in WordPress history. Overall, more than 605 volunteers have contributed to WP 5.6 with over 1,000 pull requests on GitHub.
The latest version of our favorite open-source software puts a focus on layout flexibility and accessibility for end users, supports more Blocks and a new dropdown for pattern categories. WordPress developers can benefit from more goodies and REST API improvements that provide enhanced security and application password options.
Let’s look closely at some of the highlights of this update:
The Twenty Twenty-One Theme
The tradition of launching a new theme with the last major release of the year continues in the 5.6 update, this time with a blank canvas design and emphasis on accessibility and better access for people with disabilities.
Twenty Twenty-One is built on the base of the Seedlet theme and comes with a system of nested CSS variables that allow easy customization and creation of child themes. The default theme design team, led by Mel Choyce-Dwan, has added a native system font stack to avoid extra load time and make the theme light and fast.
“We want this theme to be a teaching tool, and an outlet for your creativity”, says Mel.
The new theme comes with an awesome pastel color palette and makes use of block patterns functionality, which was not supported in the previous version launched a year ago.
Improved Block Editor
If you like playing with block patterns you will love this release, as it supports a range of built-in blocks that allow you to create and customize different layouts with images, colors, text or video.
API Application Passwords
The “Simone” release introduces improvements in the Login and Registration component that finally give developers options to make authenticated requests to various WordPress APIs via application passwords.
These are passwords containing 24 characters made up entirely of upper and lower-case letters and numbers generated by
wp_generate_password() without any special characters. This makes third-party integrations more easy and secure as it lets you monitor and control connected apps.
Enhanced PHP 8 Support & jQuery Updates
There are more reasons for developers to play on a Nina Simone album and celebrate this release.
WP contributors have worked hard to make version 5.6 compatible with PHP 8 and this marks the first step towards Core PHP support for the latest version.
The new release also comes with part 2 of the jQuery WordPress update that is covered in three patches (5.5, 5.6, and 5.7). “Simone” includes a major upgrade to the jQuery library and the WP team recommends running the update test plugin to check your website for issues.
A New Auto-Update UI
Website administrators now can enjoy a new core auto-update user interface (UI) in the Updates section that allows them to enable or deactivate automatic updates for major versions.
This feature already exists in WordPress, but the new release provides users with quick access to the settings right from their dashboard. Usually, it required a developer to set up the
For new WP installations, both major and minor updates will be auto-enabled by default.
DevriX’s Contribution to “Simone”
As part of our regular contribution back to the WordPress ecosystem, we are very proud to share that two of our 7 core contributors have left their mark in this release.
DevriX’s Quality Assurance Lead Yovo Kolev gained his first Core Contributor badge for actively submitting bug reports and supporting the community. Our Chief Technical Officer Stanko Metodiev is also part of the contributors’ list in the “Simone” update.
What’s the thing you love most about the new WordPress 5.6? Share with us in the comments below!