38. All About WordPress 6.6


Although there are still a few weeks left until the release of WordPress 6.6, we already know almost everything this new version will incorporate.

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Program transcript

Hello, I’m Javier Casares, and you’re listening to WordPress Podcast, bringing the weekly news from the WordPress Community.

In this program, you’ll find the information from June 17 to 23, 2024.

On June 18, the latest beta version of WordPress 6.6 was released. With no beta 4 in sight, this means that we will soon have the first release candidate, which will freeze any changes in this new major version in terms of features, focusing on small fixes that may appear.

This latest version includes 50 changes in the editor and 39 core tickets.

With the arrival of a release candidate, many of the new features are beginning to be documented technically and soon also for end users.

One of the biggest and most anticipated is the relaunch of the grid layout, which was already included in WordPress 6.3 but now receives the necessary boost for mass use. With this, designs can be created that go beyond columns, groups, stacks, and rows, allowing for almost 100% custom organization.

The grid layout will allow blocks to be displayed as a grid with visual resizing options. It will incorporate two options: “Auto,” which automatically generates rows and columns using a minimum width, and “Manual,” which allows specifying the exact number of columns. Child blocks can be resized manually or by dragging the visual controls.

Another highly anticipated feature that can now be applied to almost all blocks is background images, allowing adjustment of position, size, and repetition. In the next version, we will probably have more options, such as keeping the image fixed in a parallax style or avoiding issues with gradients.

Among the more visual elements, the possibility of adding negative margins directly in the editor for all blocks that support margin controls is being added, allowing for easily creating overlapping designs or adding box shadows to the Featured Image block to create unique designs, achieving a consistent visual appearance across all site images.

The Media & Text block now supports the use of the featured image of a post, providing more design options when using this block in post and page templates.

Another interesting change is for Social Blocks, primarily when they are used in the navigation menu, which will function like any other element. This internal change will improve accessibility, display, and navigation.

WordPress 6.6 will introduce changes to simplify style customization in themes, reducing CSS specificity. Core styles and global styles will be adjusted to a specificity of 0-1-0, meaning no ID selectors, only class or attribute selectors, but no elements.

This facilitates the creation of complex designs and maintains flexibility in customization. Theme and block authors are advised to review their designs and adjust CSS selectors as necessary to ensure compatibility with global styles.

And, an important detail: when switching between style variations, custom CSS added in the Styles interface is maintained, ensuring that no customization is lost.

All this will allow theme authors to create specific color or typography variations, separated from general style variations. These variations offer more specific and easier-to-implement design options without changing the entire theme style. An example is the Onyx variation in the Twenty Twenty-Four theme, which offers only a color palette.

Still, WordPress 6.6 will include many more things. Some have already been mentioned and published previously, and others are not yet public.

The biggest change will be seen in Data Views, which will improve the user interface in WordPress for handling collections (templates, patterns, posts, media, etc.). As part of phase 3 and the admin redesign, these views simplify management and editing, eliminating intermediate steps and optimizing navigation and bulk actions. They introduce improvements in visual experience and performance, such as a side-by-side page view and integrated template part management.

WordPress is unifying the experiences of the post editor and the site editor to create a consistent interface. This involves sharing code and design, reducing the maintenance of the 7,000 lines of code that comprise them. The main changes include a unified publishing flow, a summary inspection panel, and greater consistency in the information displayed. Additionally, universal spaces for plugins have been added, facilitating extension in both editors, so developers will need to adjust their plugins to ensure they display correctly.

Many of these improvements will not only be usable in block themes, as classic themes will also have access to the new pattern management experience of the Site Editor, offering a modern and feature-rich experience for managing and creating patterns. The Template Parts submenu redirects to the Patterns section, unifying management. This update will be available automatically, without additional activation needed.

With WordPress 6.5, the Block Bindings API was included, allowing dynamic data to be bound to block attributes, improving the editing of custom fields. Now it is possible to edit directly from the block and see changes in real-time, making the experience more intuitive for users.

Additionally, we have automatic rollbacks for plugin updates, so if an automatic update causes a fatal error, the plugin reverts to its previous version via a loopback request to the main page, preventing the “white screen of death” and increasing confidence in automatic updates.

What things will be left for future versions? Zoom View for Composing with PatternsPreferred LanguagesServer-to-Client Data Sharing for Script Modules, or Display of Inherited Style Values.

The Core team has picked up the challenge posed at the closing of WordCamp Europe 2024 regarding the Data Liberation project, going a step further with a complete migration from WordPress to WordPress.

Until now, we had the content export system, but it did not include the migration of themes, plugins, or configurations, which should be included in this new migration system.

The Performance team has announced some changes regarding the default data loading in options. Primarily, the function when adding a new option will change from “yes” to “null,” so if something needs to be preloaded, it must be explicitly stated. Additionally, to make the most of the new options and optimizations, Site Health panels include tools to analyze values that could slow down loading and disable them.

In the Developers Blog, two new posts have been published.

The first refers to overriding synced patterns, allowing users to change specific content without changing the structure and design.

For this, the pattern design must be synced, users must be able to edit the content of an individual pattern without changing the design of the entire model, and user modifications to the content must be “connected” to the synced pattern.

The second post refers to one of the novelties of WordPress 6.6: styling sections, nested elements, and much more with block style variations.

With the changes coming in the new major version, many custom elements in CSS can be included directly in the theme.json, which will allow for trimming dozens of lines of code.

The Hosting team has announced the next steps of the Hosting Directory project, the project to create a listing of hosting providers.

The goal is to start developing the plugin that will display this system and the subsequent creation of the Hosting Review Team.

Additionally, in line with the release of WordPress 6.6, hosting providers are invited to activate the libraries by default on their operating systems to provide full support for WebP, with 98% coverage, and AVIF, which only 30% of them support.

It is also reminded that WordPress 6.6 will no longer support PHP 7.0 and 7.1. The new minimum supported version will be PHP 7.2.24, although PHP 7.4 or higher is recommended.

And recovering a 12-year-old ticket, support for custom ports in WordPress Multisite is added, a function previously limited to individual sites.

The Themes team has launched version 3 of the theme.json file standard for creating block themes.

With the launch of WordPress 6.6, some changes will be incorporated:

  • The version increases due to significant changes in the API.
  • Previous versions remain compatible.
  • The correct version of theme.json should be used according to the WordPress version.
  • The version ensures compatibility, and the JSON schema validates the correct use in the editor.

The minimum version indicated in the file will indicate which version of WordPress the theme can work with, so it is not advisable to increase the version until necessary, although it may imply a lack of features.

Among the new features in version 3, we find changes in font sizes and their default configuration, and something similar with spacing sizes.

However, the standout news about themes is that the Theme Directory, where they can be found and downloaded, has already had its update and is now powered by blocks.

With a child theme of the one used on the site network, the process has been to normalize the design and create a previewer to show patterns and style variations.

The Design team has presented some updates on WordPress.org sites.

The first is the new WordPress Playground site, with an update in the content to better explain the product.

The Media Corps team has proposed that those media outlets that meet the proposed rules offer to participate in the program, and not the other way around, opening the process to a more transparent and voluntary system.

The rules for participation are that 80% of the content must be about WordPress, with relevant facts and information, maintaining a high standard of content quality and following community guidelines, respecting sensitive information and timelines when applicable.

The decision on the first list of participants will be made after June 25, with the possibility of creating a second list starting July 29.

The Polyglots team has celebrated all those who participated in the Contributor Day translation event at WordCamp Europe 2024, with over 80,000 new strings created by 76 contributors.

In another line of work, there was a meeting to discuss how to continue with the documentation localization project, focusing not on translating strings, but complete documentation content and which tools to use.

Regarding tools, in the GlotPress settings, the option to use DeepL Pro or select the OpenAI model from its API has been added.

The Community team proposes a unified sponsorship initiative to improve support for WordCamp organizers.

It is suggested to create a working group that harmonizes sponsorship benefits, establishes clear rules, and offers support and training. The goals include attracting new sponsors, improving the event experience, and ensuring the financial growth of the WordPress community.

This working group would be focused on flagship events (WordCamp Asia, Europe, and the United States), harmonizing sponsorship packages, creating standard rules, and unifying management tools.

The Sustainability team participated in WordCamp Europe 2024, working on the development of the WordPress sustainability plugin and the sustainable events manual, achieving significant progress thanks to in-person collaboration.

They also discussed social, economic, and environmental sustainability topics in several sessions, including a case study on the WordPress community in Uganda and practical techniques for more sustainable web development.

And, the WordPress Foundation has announced the Kim Parsell Memorial Scholarship 2024, which this time will go to Cynthia Norman.

This scholarship is awarded annually to a WordPress contributor who has never attended WordCamp US and needs financial help to do so.

Cynthia joined the WordPress Mentorship Program in its inaugural year as a mentee and attributes that program to the boost she needed to delve deeper into WordPress and grow professionally. Shortly after, Cynthia started collaborating with the WordPress training team and has not stopped since.

And finally, this podcast is distributed under a Creative Commons license as a derivative version of the WordPress Podcast in Spanish; you can find all the links for more information at WordPress Podcast .org.

You can follow the content in CatalanGermanEsperantoSpanish, and French.

Thanks for listening, and until the next episode!


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