It’s mid November, and we’re ramping up to what just might be one of the biggest Cyber sale weeks in WordPress history (Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales are already getting started). And as if that’s not enough to be excited about, WordPress just dropped 4.9 and we couldn’t wait to show you what it was like when we updated. So without further ado meet WordPress 4.9, more affectionately named “Tipton.”
Customizer Drafts & Scheduling
One feature we’re excited to make use of is the new Customizer Drafts & Scheduling options. Now when you use the live customizer you can save changes as a draft, which is extremely useful when working on a website redesign. This way you can test different colors, fonts, layouts or any other customizer settings included with your theme right on your live site without having to commit to the change right away. Just save and come back to review your design later on. Don’t worry if you forget to save – WordPress will auto save drafts so if you accidentally close your window you should be able to
Equally as useful as drafts is the option to schedule a design change. This is a great way to plan and add promotional assets, sale banners or seasonal ads to your site. Simple make your edits then schedule the day and time to have your new design go live.
Customizer Collaboration Upgrades
Good news for design teams, WordPress 4.9 also adds new features to make working together even easier. The first is customizer locking while you’re making changes. This way another team member can’t interfere in your creative process.
The second is an easy to share customizer preview link option when you save your draft. Just copy and paste the link into your team Slack or group email to get input.
Themes via the Customizer
One other feature we wanted to touch on was the fact that you can now preview and install more than 2,600+ free themes from the WordPress.org repository right from the customizer. This is a great feature, specifically when first setting up your website or blog with WordPress.
New & Updated Widgets
This WordPress update adds a new Gallery widget you can use in sidebars, footers and other widget ready areas. This is a great way to showcase features project images, staff photos, or really anything else.
The widget works just like regular WordPress galleries. Just click to select images you’d like to add plus set options for linking, columns, ordering and size. Remember to save after inserting your gallery to see it live on your site.
All other notable changes were made to enhance the Text widget, which now supports oEmbed media and and parses shortcodes. What does this mean for you? Well, you can quickly add YouTube videos, SoundCloud podcasts, Polldaddy surveys, Tumblr posts, Spotify music or any other WordPress supported oEmbed media to a widget area by pasting the link in a text widget (you can use that handy media insert option if you’d like). Or if your theme (or any plugins) include shortcodes, you should now be able to successfully use them in your widgets.
Improvements When Changing Themes
Ever lost your widgets, or had menus unassigned from locations when you switched themes? This was a common issue users ran into when updating their website design but with WordPress 4.9 that’s now a thing of the past!
WordPress will now do it’s best to maintain menu locations and widget areas based on similar IDs and naming. So ideally your “Top” and “Main” menu locations will remain when you switch from one theme to another. This assumes both themes use similar menu locations or the same number of menu locations (as WordPress will try to assign the menu from the first location according to your old theme to the first menu location in your new theme). Similarly, sidebar widgets should remain in your sidebar and footer widgets in your footer (again – assuming similar locations exist).
The latest version of WordPress also comes with new and improved updates for the code Editor (even though we personally HIGHLY recommend against using the editor, since really all changes should be made via a custom child theme to ensure your edits remain when you update your themes and plugins).
If you do use the Editor to make changes you’ll be happy to know that it now supports CodeMirror which formats your code like most major code editors. This update integrates improved formatting, autocomplete and live syntax error notification. This new functionality also comes with the ability for developers to enable CodeMirror in plugins.
More for Developers
As always, there were more changes going on under the hood so to speak. This includes customizer JS API improvements, a MediaElement.js upgrade to 4.2.6, REST API updates for objects, as well as brand new roles and capabilities. For a full run down be sure to read over the official dev notes from the Make WordPress Core trac.
Over to You
That’s what we played around with in WordPress 4.9. We’re definitely most excited to use the customizer scheduling, especially with holiday sales and promotions just around the corner. But what about you? What features you you like in 4.9? Let us know below!