What to expect from WordPress 5.2

Lydia .

Fast fixes, greater control and safety nets dominate WordPress 5.2, the latest version of the content management system behind over a third of the world’s websites…

On 7 May, WordPress went live with version 5.2. Developed by 327 volunteer contributors, it focuses on helping you find and fix configuration issues and fatal errors with its blog management tool – whether you’re running one site or managing a mountain of them.

Making everyone’s life easier…

While WordPress 5.1 brought us Site Health, a package of features for improving speed and security, WordPress 5.2 goes a step further. It’s Site Health Check helps you debug common configuration issues and lets developers share debugging details with site maintainers.

The new version also introduces Php Error Protection. Aimed at administrators, it lets you fix fatal errors quickly and safely, without bringing developers in. There’s a new way to enter recovery mode, freezing error-causing plugins and themes as well as better ways to handle the dreaded white screen of death. Good news all round.

You’ll find 13 shiny new dashboard icons, as well as really useful compatibility checks. In fact, WordPress 5.2 automatically works out whether your website’s PHP is compatible with installed plugins. If the plugin needs a newer PHP than you’ve got, 5.2 will put its foot down and stop you activating it, before the trouble starts. Pretty clever stuff.

For anyone using assertive technologies like screen readers, there’s more good news – a number of accessibility updates that improve contextual awareness and keyboard navigation flow.

Developer geek-out time…

If you’re a developer, there’s plenty to get excited about in 5.2. But if you’re a developer, you’ve probably already had a good look around. Just in case you missed anything, here’s what’s new:

The PHP bump.

WordPress 5.2 has raised the bar and now only supports pHP 5.6.20 or newer. It also lets themes and plugins use things like namespaces and anonymous functions.

The handy hook.

A new wp_body_open hook means you can inject code straight after the opening <body> tag, avoiding all kinds of workarounds.

The JavaScript support.

5.2 has web pack and Babel configurations in its WordPress/scripts package, so you don’t need complicated build too to write modern JavaSccript.

The privacy boost.

It’s now easier than ever to design and customise your privacy policy pages, thanks to a new theme page template, a conditional function and two CSS classes.

Thinking of upgrading? Before you do…

It’s always a good idea to upgrade when new versions come out – and WordPress 5.2 will give you valuable new control and security. If you’re on our STORM hosting platform, it’s ready to use on new installs straight away. But before you dive in with your existing WordPress installs, follow these few easy steps to make sure the switch goes smoothly.

First up, make a staging version of you site using STORM’s staging feature. It only takes a few clicks to create, and it’ll be ready to explore in a couple of minutes.

Once it’s ready, upgrade the PHP to 7.2 (it’s the minimum we recommend) and update WordPress 5.2. This lets you fully test your staging site, including any plugins, before you make the same upgrades on the live version.

Finally, take a backup of your live site, just inc are you need to roll back any of your changes once they’re out in the world.

Job done? You’re good to go. Enjoy WordPress 5.2 – we’re sure 5.3 will be hot on its heels.

 

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