WordPress News and Links — Mar 14, 2021

Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

Here is our update on the latest WordPress news and recommended reads for Outcome Labs WordPress Care Plan customers and our newsletter subscribers.  We provide this so you are current on things that may impact your site and to highlight opportunities to enhance your site to support your business goals. You can see other WordPress-related posts here.

If you have any questions, please reach out to us.

WordPress 5.7 “Esperanza” Released

WordPress 5.7 was released on March 9, 2021.  “Esperanza” is named in honor of Esperanza Spalding, a modern musical prodigy. With this new version, WordPress has improved color palettes in the admin.  There are a number of improvements and new capabilities in the Block Editor. The update also includes performance and infrastructure improvements.  You can read the entire release post here.

Wordpress 5.7 "Esperanza" Intro Banner

As we pointed out in our pre-release assessment, WordPress 5.7 is a relatively small platform 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. If you are on an Outcome Labs Monthly Care Plan, your site has been updated to WordPress 5.7 and verified.

WooCommerce 5.1 Released

The WooCommerce team announced the availability of WooCommerce 5.1 on March 9, 20201 on the same day the core team released WordPress 5.7.  This is a minor release that is backward compatible with previous versions of WooCommerce.  The release includes 279 commits to the WooCommerce core, 109 commits to the WooCommerce admin, and 175 commits to WooCommerce Blocks. You can read the full release post here.

This is the third minor release from the WooCommerce team so far in 2021.  They are staying on their committed plan for monthly incremental updates.  If you are on an Outcome Labs Monthly Care Plan and have WooCommerce installed, your store has been updated and verified. 

New Block Editor Preferences Interface

A new interface for setting your Block Editor Preferences was released with WordPress 5.7.  The new interface had four tabs to group the settings rather than one long list.  These tabs are General, Appearance, Blocks, and  Panels.  You can get more details here.

New Block Editor Preferences UI
New Block Editor Preferences UI

This change is an example of how the Gutenberg team continues to improve and mature the Block Editor experience.

Reusable Blocks Level Up

If you use reusable blocks in the WordPress Block Editor, there are some changes to how you access and edit them in WordPress 5.7 you should be aware of.  While they will make reusable blocks easier to edit and use, they could result in inadvertent changes if you are used to the previous interface. You can read our post about this here.

Core Editor Speed Improvement

The WordPress core team announced two changes have been merged into Gutenberg 10.1 that should significantly improve front-end performance. The first change is that CSS styles will only be loaded for blocks used on a page. In the current version of the editor, all styles for all blocks were enqueued in a single file. The second change is that block style sheets will now be inlined to avoid making multiple small requests.  With Gutenberg 10.1, these changes are the default behavior with Full Site Editing, but opt-in for nin-FSE templates to avoid compatibility issues.

You can read the entire post here.

There was a good assessment of the impact of this update on Core Web Vitals published in the Search Engine Journal. You can read the post here. With the coming changes in Google Search, it is good to see the front-end performance improvement getting some attention from the core team and the wider WordPress contributor community.  Remember, that these changes will not be available in WordPress core until this version of Gutenberg is merged into core.  We expect that will be WordPress 5.8.  The Outcome Labs team will be evaluating the impact these changes will have on sites that we manage.

WordPress Considers Dropping IE11 Support

A new proposal is being considered by the WordPress community to drop support for Internet Explorer 11.  IE11 usage has dipped below 1% on the major tracking tools used by the WordPress community.  You can join the discussion on WordPress.org here.  There was also a good overview of the topic published on WordPress Tavern this week.

There are always pros and cons to these kinds of changes. It does seem that the benefits, especially in the area of performance, are worth strongly considering.  Be sure to join the discussion with other members of the WordPress community.

WordPress Tallahassee Meetup Reminder

The Tallahassee WordPress Meetup has its next meetup scheduled for Tuesday, March 30, 2021, at 6:30 p.m.   This will be a virtual session on Google meet. You can get more details and register here.

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