A Field Guide to WordPress 5.3

wordpress 5.3 field guide

WordPress 5.3, the major release this year is on for 9th November 2019. With this big release, users will be experiencing over 150 enhancements and more than 360 bug fixes. The core development team released a field guide to WordPress 5.3 in the official core channel of the team on October 17. The guide, posted by Jeffrey Paul, lays down the major changes that will be seen in WordPress 5.3. Jeffrey strongly suggests users test their plugins, themes, and sites with WordPress 5.3 before the release so that they don’t have to face unanticipated issues later.

The major update, WordPress 5.3 will include new blocks, more intuitive block editor interactions, improved media handling, improved accessibility, and a brand new Twenty Twenty default theme.

Let’s have a quick look at the enhancements we’re going to witness in WordPress 5.3.

Gutenberg Block Editor

WordPress 5.3 includes performance enhancements regarding the Gutenberg editor. The default block editor will include features from the last 12 Gutenberg Plugin Update releases (from 5.4 to 6.5). Not only will these but the major update also includes bug fixes and performance improvements from Gutenberg versions 6.6 and 6.7.

Regarding the editor enhancements, the update will include new server-side block style variations API, a new block APIs, the Group block, reduced block styles specificity, using class names for text alignment, Columns block classnames, color support for the separator block, an update to Table and Gallery blocks markup.


WordPress 5.3 contains 50 Accessibility enhancements including changes to Admin CSS, improvements of all the media views form controls and changes to explicit labeling, how the core will now programmatically add aria-current=”page” attributes to certain widgets, and programmatically add a specific aria-label parameter for navigation menus.


There are 42 Media updates in 5.3 including a new way to manage big images by detecting them and generating a “web-optimized maximum size” of them as well as saving of image metadata while creating intermediate sizes.

PHP 7.4 & Code Modernization

WordPress 5.3 supports PHP 7.4 which will be released on 28th November this year. Contributors have addressed 5 compatibility issues for WordPress 5.3. In addition to it, a handful of updates occurred as a result of the continued coding standards and code modernization efforts. Most notably, the spread operator is now in use where appropriate, and the native PHP JSON extension is now required to run WordPress.

Site Health

There are 31 Site Health Updates in WordPress 5.3 which includes grading indicator, recovery email enhancements, filters for completed Site Health status tests, and a new Admin email verification screen.

For Developers

For developers, There are even more goodies in 5.3 like

  • Date/Time component improvements
  • Search engines indexing sites prevention
  • New functions to add UGC attribute to links and implement it to comments
  • Changes on Twenty Nineteen HTML structure
  • Changes to wp_die() HTML output
  • Expanded meta key comparison operators
  • Backbone Upgrade
  • No more Integer Menu Slugs
  • A new “Show” button next to the password field on the login screen

There’s More!

Over 362 bugs, 157 enhancements and feature requests, and 36 blessed tasks have been marked as fixed in WordPress 5.3. Some additional ones include:

  • General: Use ** operator to replacepow() function calls (#48083)
  • I18n: Text length should be localizable (#44541)
  • Menus: Replace http with https in custom links menu item (#46312)
  • Networks and Sites: Redundant blog_versions table (#19755)
  • Networks and Sites: Save database version in site meta (#41685)
  • Site Health: Provide simple debug data in WSOD emails (#48090)
  • Widgets: Replace http with https in the link placeholder widget image (#46320)

You can read the full field guide to WordPress 5.3 here. Please, test your code. So that any prevailing issues can be fixed beforehand and help you and other millions of WordPress users and sites.

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