WordPress 5.7 is the first major update to WordPress for 2021. It is targeted for release on March 9, 2021. The second release candidate (RC2) is now available and the WordPress 5.7 Field Guide has been published. You can access the release candidate by downloading the WordPress Beta Testing plugin. We recommend you only do this on a local, staging, or sandbox installation.
The Outcome Labs team is going through our WordPress Update Verification Checklist using RC2 to identify and resolve any issues to prepare for the March release of WordPress 5.7. We expect to update our own sites and the sites of any clients who have subscribed to an Outcome Labs WordPress Care Plan within 24 hours of the public availability of the release. If you are on a Care Plan and your site requires changes to resolve conflicts before updating to WordPress 5.7, our team will be in touch with you.
WordPress 5.7 includes enhancements to the WordPress Block Editor, improvements to the WordPress administration tools, lazy-loading iframes, streamlined migration from HTTP to HTTPS, and a new Robots API and media search engine visibility setting. There are 66 enhancements and feature requests and 127 bug fixes. One item you should review is the ongoing cleanup after the update to jQuery 3.5.1. This may have compatibility issues with plugins you have deployed.
Here is the Outcome Labs team’s initial assessment of the key changes in WordPress 5.7.
Block Editor Enhancements
Seven Gutenberg releases (versions 9.3, 9.4, 9.5, 9.6, 9.7, 9.8, and 9.9) are bundled into WordPress 5.7. Bug fixes and performance improvements from Gutenberg versions 10.0 and 10.1 are also part of 5.7.
The new features and improvements to the block editor include the ability to drag and drop from the block inserter into the post canvas. You can now set full height alignment for blocks to fill the entire viewport. Block variations are now shown in the block inspector. There are enhancements to the usability and stability of reusable blocks. You can now set vertical alignments and width percentages in the buttons block, change the size of icons in the Social Icons block, and change font sizes in the List and Code blocks.
These new features and improvements enhance the content creator’s experience. While none are “killer” features, they demonstrate the evolving maturity of the WordPress Block Editor. Most of the “action” for the past six months has been in the Experiments area of Gutenberg where the contributors are focused on Full Site Editing. These new capabilities are expected to be bundled with the core in WordPress 5.8 later in 2021.
Administration and Performance
The core team has finally added the ability for an admin to send a password reset link to a user from the WordPress admin. You can do this from the user profile and the user list. You can even do it to multiple users at once. It seems like a small thing and there certainly were workarounds, but this will really simplify site administration.
If your WordPress site is not configured to run exclusively under HTTPS yet, this will now be flagged as a critical Site Health issue. An option will be presented that will automatically switch your WordPress and Site URL settings, and update URLs in your content to use HTTPS.
Our Take on WordPress 5.7
WordPress 5.7 is a small update that continues to improve the Block Editor, kills some “bugs”, enhances performance, and moves some key platform modernization initiatives like Full Site Editing and the JQuery project forward. We expect to be able to deploy it as soon as it is available.