At WordCamp US 2017 last week, Mel Choyce and I had the opportunity to present the new features in WordPress 4.8 and 4.9 which we co-lead with Jeff Paul. We start presenting ~17 minutes into the State of the Word:
Whereas my recap post about WordPress 4.9 focused mostly on the new features and enhancements, my co-release lead Mel Choyce just published a great post that gets into more of the process aspects of the release, including the key contributors:
I think that 4.9 went really well by having essentially three co-release leads: Mel Choyce leading design, myself leading the development, and Jeff Paul leading project management as deputy release lead.
For the past few months I’ve been co-leading the WordPress 4.9 release with Mel Choyce (and Jeff Paul too). I’m really excited about all the new features and enhancements we’ve built which will now be rolling out across 29% of the Internet(!).
In particular I’m excited about the powerful new capabilities being added to the Customizer. Now you can draft changes to come back to later while also scheduling them to be published at a future date. The Customizer also now features autosave revisions, changeset post locking, customization drafts, and more. These changes were a long time in coming. For more than two years we’ve been working on these features in the context of the Customize Snapshots feature plugin where we’ve developed the infrastructure and UI for changesets in the course of service delivery for our clients at XWP. In WordPress 4.7 the changeset infrastructure from the plugin was introduced to core, and now in 4.9 the UI has also been introduced, after many design iterations.
There are several other things I’m really happy about in 4.9, including the integration of CodeMirror into the code editing interfaces (Additional CSS, Custom HTML widget, theme/plugin editors) and the many improvements to widgets, including adding media/embeds to the Text widget and a new gallery widget.
Thanks to XWP for sponsoring my time to be part of this release.
We did a ton of work on widgets in the WordPress 4.8 release. Prior to this release there hadn’t been any new widgets introduced for a very long time. Now there are media widgets for images, video, and audio. Additionally, the Text widget finally gets the TinyMCE visual editor just like the post editor has had forever. In 4.8.1 we introduced a dedicated Custom HTML widget for storing arbitrary markup, which the Text widget was formerly used for. Many of these widget changes incorporated ideas from XWP’s JS Widgets plugin, as prior to 4.8 widgets in core lacked any JS-driven functionality at all.
The widget improvements aim to mirror the development of blocks in Gutenberg. If there is a block for something, there should also be a widget for it.The more that block-like widgets are available today, the more users will see a consistency between post content and widget sidebars. After Gutenberg is merged into core, we’ll be working on migrating widgets over to use blocks instead. At that point we’ll be able to abandon many of the hoops we have to go through to make widgets JS-driven when they are fundamentally PHP beasts.