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WordPress 6.3 – What’s New

On August 08, 2023, WordPress 6.3 was released to the public. It is the second major update by WordPress this year. WordPress 6.3 has been named “Lionel” after famous American jazz artist Lionel Hampton. There have been a lot of changes made, especially the site editor. Other than that, there have been some vital performance and accessibility enhancements. It also has many design options, which are sure to foster the creativity of WordPress users. This article is all about WordPress 6.3 updates and changes. So, let’s delve into it and see what WordPress 6.3 brings to the table.

New Site Editor in WordPress 6.3

The primary and the most notable update we can see in WordPress 6.3 is the New site editor, which is still powered by the Gutenberg Editor, but there have been a lot of changes when we dig a little bit deeper. The whole editing interface has changed. Now, the content, templates, and patterns are all combined in a single interface. It promotes a consistent and productive editing experience by facilitating simple navigation, page creation, and coordinated pattern use. Let’s see it in more detail.

Now you can create Patterns and Sync them.

Now you can arrange blocks, save them as “My Pattern” and use them whenever you want the same pattern on your site. Additionally, you can sync those patterns so that if you make any change to that pattern, then changes are automatically applied to all the places where you have used that pattern, similar to the reusable blocks. You can also use patterns as a framework, with tweaks possible in every instance.

Until now, there hasn’t been a way to make a block pattern using the Site Editor because doing so necessitates either a pattern management plugin or bespoke PHP code.

Now let’s see How you can create Patterns and Sync them.

  1. You can create a pattern out of a single block or a group of blocks as you wish. Just select the block you want to create as a pattern. Now click on the three dots in the block toolbar named “options”.
  2. Then, find create pattern/reusable block in the drop-down menu.
  3. Just click it and now name it, and leave the sync pattern on if you want to sync it throughout your site or toggle it if you don’t want to sync. It’s that simple.

New Design Tool in WordPress 6.3

WordPress 6.3 offers new design tools letting people change the look of their website exactly as they want it. The tool provides for more freedom of expression by enabling, for example, the modification of captions without the need for coding and the administration of duotone filters and layout options.

The Options you will find are

Navigation: Once a navigation menu has been made, it will appear in the Site Editor’s Navigation menu. Here, you can rearrange the order of the menu items or remove them entirely using a simple drop-down. The order of the menu items can also be changed by dragging and dropping them. The specifics of a page can be viewed by selecting it from the menu. Content and structure can be modified here as well.

Styles: Make style adjustments to your theme with this drop-down menu and preview them. It also features shortcuts to the Style Book and the Global Styles Panel.

Pages: All your website’s pages, including any you’ve saved as drafts, can be accessed through the pages menu. To make changes to any of these, simply click on them and open them in the Site Editor.

Templates: This menu works identically to how it did in the previous edition, displaying all existing templates and allowing you to make a new one.

Patterns: This new option now appears in place of template parts menu. Now, you can use the synced and unsynchronized patterns and the template parts. 

Easy Transition into Editing Templates

The Site Editor makes it simple to transition from editing a page to altering the template with just a few clicks. This is a helpful function because it’s not uncommon to realize a layout adjustment is necessary while working on a page’s content.

The template can be selected from a drop-down menu in the page’s settings panel. To make changes to the template, select the Edit button.

Keep in mind that you may only access this option through the Site Editor. You won’t see that option if you try to make changes to a page using the page editor.

The New Command Palette in WordPress 6.3

The Command Palette is another new feature in WordPress 6.3. It allows users to quickly and easily access common editing commands without having to leave the editor. To open the Command Palette, simply press Ctrl+/ on Windows or Cmd+/ on Mac.

The Command Palette includes a number of different commands, such as:

  • Inserting blocks
  • Editing styles
  • Navigating to other parts of your website
  • Managing your website’s content

Previewing Block Themes

WordPress 6.3 introduces the ability to preview block themes before making them active. With this new feature, users may preview different theme options, tweak the look of certain elements, and select the optimal theme for their website with complete assurance.

Style Revisions

WordPress 6.3 also introduces a new feature called Style Revisions. This feature allows users to track and revert website style changes. To access Style Revisions, open the Site Editor and click the Styles tab.

Style Revisions is a great way to experiment with different styles without having to worry about making permanent changes to your website.

Distraction Free Mode in WordPress 6.3

A distraction-free mode, which was previously only available in the post and page editors, is now also available in the site editor. It provides site authors with a preview mode to help them concentrate on their work. When you switch to Distraction Free mode, all of the extra sidebars and toolbars go away so that you can concentrate on your changes.

New Blocks Have been Added in WordPress 6.3

Two new blocks have been added this time. Every WordPress update brings a new block to the table, so this update is also keeping up with the trend. The two new blocks added are:

Details Block: The Details block gives you the ability to conceal content that users still have the option to access if they so desire. If you want to elaborate on anything but don’t want your page to get too long, this could be a valuable tool for you to use. The content that is initially ‘hidden’ can be text, images, or some other form of media. When you use this block, that doesn’t mean that search engines will not be able to view the content, so this will definitely not hurt your SEO.

Footnote Block: Footnotes are a handy way to annotate your material throughout the entire content. Footnotes can now be added to any paragraph, and they can be linked too.

Improved Padding and Margin Control

There is a really nice way to control the margin and padding of the blocks in WordPress 6.3. You can now adjust the padding margin with a simple slider. Instead of putting the values manually, you just have to drag the slider to modify these attributes that match the design.

Image Blocks now provide adjustable aspect ratio settings.

Now, you can adjust the image’s aspect ratio directly in the image blocks. This is especially useful for preserving the WordPress site’s aesthetic. If you modify the image in a block while keeping the same aspect ratio, the block will keep its original proportions. While this may seem like a tiny adjustment, it will help the designers save time and effort.

Post Modified Date Variation

The post date block has been updated to include various additional display options for the most recent modification date.

It is possible to include not one but two separate post-date blocks, with the first one indicating when the post was initially published and the second one showing when it was most recently edited.

The “Edit Site” will bring you back to the currently selected template

Once again, this is a relatively minor adjustment that significantly improves the CMS’s functionality. Previously, selecting the “Edit Site” button took us back to the site editor on the home page. From there, we have to locate and open the template that we want to alter in order to continue.

Now, it’s easier than ever to do this. To modify the currently active template, simply click the “Edit Site” button. Editing templates in WordPress 6.3 is now much easier because of this.

Enhancements to Performance and Developer-Focused Modifications in WordPress 6.3

With more than 170 updates, WordPress 6.3 improves performance. Features like async scripting, lazy-loading images, and other improvements help websites load more quickly and smoothly for users. Some Notable updates are:

Dropped Support for PHP 5

With the release of version 6.3, WordPress has definitively ended its support for PHP 5. Since 2019, the minimal version of PHP that is supported by WordPress has been 5.6.20; however, with this release, that number has been raised to 7.0.0. However, the recommended version of PHP will still continue to be 7.4.

Since the previous adjustment to the minimum supported version, which took place in WordPress 5.2 in 2019, the percentage of monitored WordPress installations that use PHP 5.6 has decreased to 3.9% as of July 2023.

Significant Improvement in Loading of Images

Beginning with version 6.3 of WordPress, the fetchpriority attribute of an image with the value “high” is utilized to determine if it is the LCP (Largest Contentful Pain) image. This metric tracks the render time of the largest element within the viewport.

The browser is instructed to prioritize this image even before the layout is calculated using the fetchpriority attribute.

One more improvement is that the loading property may now automatically deal with lazy loading of images. WordPress 5.5 introduced this functionality; WordPress 5.9 improved it, making the loading = “lazy” tag unnecessary for the initial content image.

Development Mode

WordPress 6.3 introduces a new Development Mode with its release. You can activate this mode by making use of the new WP_DEVELOPMENT_MODE constant. The following list of possible values will be used for this constant.

“core” – indicates a core development.

“plugin” – indicates plugin development.

“theme” – indicates theme development.

“all” –indicates all three types of development.

When you visit a website and see a string that is empty this is an indication that the site is not being used as a development environment. You can also check the current value of your WP_DEVELOPMENT_MODE in the Info panel of the Site Health tool.

If you want to know if your site is in development mode, you can use the “wp_in_development_mode()” function. You may also see what kind of development mode you’re in by using the “$mode” parameter.

Improved caching

WordPress 6.3 includes many caching improvements, such as:

  • A new query caching implementation that can improve the performance of database-driven queries.
  • New block theme caching implementation that can improve the performance of block themes.
  • A new caching API that makes it easier for developers to implement caching in their plugins and themes.

API for the Command Palette

In this release, the WordPress core team introduced the command palette API, allowing programmers to modify the existing set of commands or create new ones.

Both static and dynamic commands are available via the API. You may also provide contextual properties to the commands.

Other Notable Updates

  • A newly introduced Block Selectors API makes it possible to configure numerous CSS selectors for individual blocks so that they can be used in global styles.
  • The colours applied to social icons will now dynamically update based on the theme.json and Global Styles.
  • Additional updates addressed internationalization (I18N) as well as layout support.
  • Defer and async support added to the WP Scripts API.
  • Merge get_posts() and get_pages()
  • Add rollback for failed plugin/theme updates.

Accessibility Improvements in WordPress 6.3

Users who rely on assistive technologies will appreciate WordPress 6.3’s accessibility enhancements, which include tab and arrow-key navigation and a reorganized heading hierarchy.

  • New accessibility options in the admin panel’s image editor make the platform more accessible to people with physical impairments.
  • Several significant advances in accessibility are as follows.
  • Better labeling, description, and focus style of block transform to pattern previews.
  • Increased accessibility of custom field UI
  • Improvements to constrained tabbing in Safari and Firefox
  • Updated ARIA 1.0 compliant URL input combobox.
  • Snackbar’s colour contrast on hover has been enhanced for better readability.
  • The Writing Flow’s keyboard shortcuts have been optimized for various input methods.

WordPress 6.3 placed a strong emphasis on accessibility improvements. These changes make WordPress an even more robust and welcoming system for everyone.

External Library Updates

Updates to external libraries are an important part of WordPress that takes care of some of your site’s functions. These updates may include new features, patches, or bug fixes to ensure your site uses the most up-to-date software.

There are changes to several external libraries in the WordPress 6.3 update that make your website run faster and safer. The following are some of the updates:

  • The version of PHPMailer being upgraded to 6.8.0
  • Requests library has been updated to version 2.0.6
  • jQuery upgraded to version 3.7.0
  • Sodium Compat updated to version 1.20.0
  • jQuery Migrate is updated to version 3.4.1
  • npm packages are updated to the most recent available version

Now, Let’s Move to WordPress 6.3

Now that you know everything there is to know about WordPress 6.3, you can start getting your site ready for the update.  

Make a replica of your site and test WordPress 6.3 on a staging site first. Check this out if you want to know how to create a staging site. Make sure to create a backup first. This will eliminate any potential compatibility problems with your production site. It is imperative that any serious errors be investigated in the staging environment.

Ensure everything works properly on a test site before updating the real site.

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