2017 has indeed been an exciting and a busy year for WordPress Developers with 2 major releases. The latest release, WordPress 4.9 has been named “Tipton” after yet another legendary Jazz Musician, Billy Tipton.

In this blog, we will cover some of the new features that have been released as a part of WordPress 4.9.

Ability to Save & Schedule Changes in the Theme Customiser

In the latest version of WordPress, 4.9, you will now be able to save theme changes in draft and also have the ability to schedule changes. What’s more? These changes can be shared using a link. This is a great feature for projects where the development work is being carried out in a team.       

A New Theme Browsing Experience

WordPress 4.9 brings about a completely new theme browsing experience. This includes the ability to browse through and install thousands of themes within the WordPress repository, right from your WordPress customiser. There is also a navigation panel available on the left side that allows you to switch between installed themes and themes available on the WordPress.org.

Ability to Collaborate During the Design and Development Phase

WordPress 4.9 gives you the ability to share preview links that can be shared with other team members or with your clients. What’s more? You can also lock in your work so that no other team member can make changes to your designs. 

There is now a Gallery Widget

WordPress 4.9 boasts of a Gallery Widget that allows you to insert a collection of images in the sidebar. This widget is quite basic in terms of functionality however if you are after something more powerful then you will need to get a third-party plugin.

Text Widget Enhancements

There is no need to write any HTML code if you want to add an image in the sidebar Text Widget. This can now be done with a simple press of a button. What’s more? You can now use shortcodes in the Text Editor as well. This functionality was previously limited to pages and posts only but with WordPress 4.9, you can replicate some of the work across multiple web pages with the help of shortcodes.

Video Widget Enhancements

The Video Widget now supports videos from multiple third-party sources. With the previous versions of WordPress, you could only add videos from YouTube and Vimeo.

Code Editor Enhancements

WordPress 4.9 now comes with CodeMirror as the default code editor that enables WordPress developers to easily make any changes or enhancements to the code, directly from the backend. This includes adding custom CSS through the WordPress Customiser, making changes to the code of a theme or plugins directly from the WordPress backend and adding custom HTML. But wait there is more! The editor comes with some advanced features which take the UX for developers to another level, these include, Syntax highlighting, coding suggestions, auto-completion of code.

Better Menu Creation Flow

Another UI/UX improvement in WordPress 4.9 is the way menus are created. In previous versions of WordPress, you could create a menu but if you forgot to mention the menu location, the menu was pretty much lost. But with WordPress 4.9, developers will be guided through the menu creation process and will be prompted to add the menu location as well.

oEmbed Enhancements to Support Text and Video Widgets

oEmbed could previously be only used within posts. This was mainly because of the caching mechanism it utilised i.e. using post as context for the sake of caching. WordPress 4.9 now makes it possible to use oEmbeds in the Text widget and the Video widget. This is because oEmbeds will now get cached in an oembed_cache custom post type instead.

Other Improvements in WordPress 4.9

There are a number of other improvements in WordPress 4.9, specifically from a developer point of view. These include:

  • JS API Improvements
  • Elimination of Repeated ID when Adding Constructs
  • Flattened Constructor Parameters
  • Default Parameters
  • Passing Settings when Instantiating Controls
  • Control Templates
  • Date/Time Control
  • New Utility Methods
  • Updates to Changeset Update Requests
  • Discontinued Customize Loader in Core
  • Outer Sections
  • Notification Improvements

Removal of SWFUpload library from the core

Roles and Capabilities Improvements- WordPress 4.9 now has new user capabilities that allow for better management of plugins and translation files. In addition, the site switching process in multisite has been fine-tuned to update the available roles and capabilities in a more reliable and coherent way.

Additional Security from an Admin Point of View- For additional security, WordPress 4.9 will require confirmation link in an email to be clicked by admin when a user attempts to change their email address.