WordPress 5.6 Beta 1 Available for Testing!

WordPress 5.6 Beta 1 Released

The initial beta for the next major release, 5.6, is here. WordPress 5.6 Beta 1 has been released including many new features and enhancements. The major enhancements focus on a better Gutenberg Editor experience, a new default theme, core auto-update option, PHP 8 support, better accessibility, and many more.

The software is still in development, so the development team recommends you not run it on a production site and so do we. Simply set up a test site just to play around with the new version.

The major release, WordPress 5.6 is targeted for release on 8th December 2020. It is our responsibility to help the team roll out the major release with minimal (to no) issues. Therefore, let’s start testing!

To test WordPress 5.6, try the WordPress Beta Tester plugin (you’ll want “bleeding edge nightlies”). Or you can download the beta here (zip).

Check out the big items to test to find as many bugs as possible in the coming weeks to make things easier for the developers.

Highlights in WordPress 5.6 Beta 1

Block Editor Enhancements

WordPress 5.6 is going to include features from seven releases of the Gutenberg plugin. Here are a few of the features:

  • Improved support for video positioning in cover blocks.
  • Enhancements to Block Patterns including translatable strings.
  • Character counts in the information panel improved keyboard navigation, and other adjustments to help users find their way better.
  • Improved UI for drag and drop functionality, as well as block movers.

A New Default Theme – Twenty Twenty One

A new default theme will ship out in WordPress 5.6 – Twenty Twenty One. Like any other theme released by WordPress, Twenty Twenty One default WordPress theme is also clean, simple, and visually aesthetic. With a simple and minimal outlook, the theme provides extreme flexibility at its core.

Know more about the new Twenty Twenty One Theme here.

Core Auto-Update Option

WordPress 5.6 is likely to introduce the much anticipated opt-in major releases of WordPress Core. The functionality will help you pick to have auto-updates of major WP releases in the background effortlessly.

Added PHP 8 Support

PHP 8 will roll out a few days prior to WordPress 5.6 release. Therefore, the team is making sure v5.6 fully supports PHP 8.  The theme and plugin developers will need to verify that all of your plugins and themes are also compatible with PHP 8 prior to upgrading.

Application Passwords for REST API Authentication

The REST API was merged into Core and only cookie & nonce based authentication has been available. This authentication method can be frustrating for developers. Now, with the introduction of Application Password in WordPress 5.6, you don’t need to jump through hoops to re-authenticate when cookies expire. Cookie and nonce authentication will remain in WordPress as-is if you’re not ready to change.

Application Passwords are user-specific, making it easy to grant or revoke access to specific users or applications (individually or wholesale). Because information like “Last Used” is logged, it’s also easy to track down inactive credentials or bad actors from unexpected locations.

Better Accessibility

  • Announce block selection changes manually on windows.
  • Avoid focusing the block selection button on each render.
  • Avoid rendering the clipboard textarea inside the button
  • Fix dropdown menu focus loss when using arrow keys with Safari and Voiceover
  • Dragging multiple blocks downwards fixed, which resulted in blocks inserted in the wrong position.
  • Fix incorrect aria description in the Block List View.
  • Add arrow navigation in the Preview menu.
  • Prevent links from being focusable inside the Disabled component.

WordPress 5.6 addresses more than 180 tickets. It includes numerous small bug fixes and improvements to help smooth your WordPress experience.

As mentioned above, WordPress 5.6 Release is up for December 8 and the development team can surely use all the help. If you think you’ve found a bug, you can post to the Alpha/Beta area in the support forums. If you’re comfortable writing a reproducible bug report, file one on WordPress Trac, where you can also find a list of known bugs.

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