July was an action-packed month for the WordPress project. The month saw a lot of updates on one of the most anticipated releases – WordPress 5.5! WordCamp US 2020 was canceled and the WordPress community team started experimenting with different formats for engaging online events, in July. Read on to catch up with all the updates from the WordPress world.

WordPress 5.5 Updates

July was full of WordPress 5.5 updates! The WordPress 5.5 Beta 1 came out on July 7, followed by Beta 2 on July 14, Beta 3 on July 21, and Beta 4 on July 27. Subsequently, the team also published the first release candidate of WordPress 5.5 on July 28. 

WordPress 5.5, which is slated for release on August 11, 2020, is a major update with features like automatic updates for plugins and themes, a block directory, XML sitemaps, block patterns, and lazy-loading images, among others. To learn more about the release, check out its field guide post.

Want to get involved in building WordPress Core? Follow the Core team blog, and join the #core channel in the Making WordPress Slack group.

Gutenberg 8.5 and 8.6

The core team launched Gutenberg 8.5 and 8.6. Version 8.5 – the last plugin release will be included entirely (without experimental features) in WordPress 5.5, introduced improvements to block drag-and-drop and accessibility, easier updates for external images, and support for the block directory. Version 8.6 comes with features like Cover block video position controls and block pattern updates. For full details on the latest versions on these Gutenberg releases, visit these posts about 8.5 and 8.6.

Want to get involved in building Gutenberg? Follow the Core team blog, contribute to Gutenberg on GitHub, and join the #core-editor channel in the Making WordPress Slack group.

Reimagining Online WordPress Events

The Community team made the difficult decision to suspend in-person WordPress events for the rest of 2020 in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. The team has also started working on reimagining online events. Based on feedback from the community members, the team decided to make changes to the current online WordCamp format. Key changes include wrapping up financial support for A/V vendors, ending event swag support for newer online WordCamps, and suspending the Global Community Sponsorship program for 2020. The team encourages upcoming online WordCamps to experiment with their events to facilitate an effective learning experience for attendees while avoiding online event fatigue. The team is currently working on a proposal to organize community-supported recorded workshops and synchronous discussion groups to help community members learn WordPress.

Want to get involved with the Community team? Follow the Community blog here, or join them in the #community-events channel in the Making WordPress Slack group. To organize a Meetup or WordCamp, visit the handbook page

WordCamp US 2020 is canceled

The organizers of WordCamp US 2020 have canceled the event in light of the continued pandemic and online event fatigue. The flagship event, which was originally scheduled for October 27-29 as an in-person event, had already planned to transition to an online event. Several WCUS Organizers will be working with the WordPress Community team to focus on other formats and ideas for online events, including a 24-hour contributor day, and contributing to the workshops initiative currently being discussed. Matt Mullenweg’s State of the Word (which typically accompanies WordCamp US) is likely to take place in a different format later in 2020.

Plugin and theme updates are now available over zip files

After eleven years, WordPress now allows users to update plugins and themes by uploading a ZIP file, in WordPress 5.5.  The feature, which was merged on July 7, has been one of the most requested features in WordPress. Now, when a user tries to upload a plugin or theme zip file from the WordPress dashboard by clicking the “Install Now” button, WordPress will direct users to a new screen that compares the currently-installed extension with the uploaded versions. Users can then choose between continuing with the installation or canceling. WordPress 5.5 will also offer automatic plugin and theme updates

Further Reading:

  • The Block directory is coming to WordPress with the 5.5 release. Plugin authors can now submit their Block plugins to the directory.
  • The Core team has opened up the call for features in the WordPress 5.6 release. You can comment on the post with features that you’d like to be included, current UX pain points, or maintenance tickets that need to be addressed. August 20 is the deadline for feature requests. 
  • Editor features such as the new Navigation block, the navigation screen, and the widget screen that were originally planned to be merged with WordPress 5.5 have been pushed for the next release
  • The Theme team is inviting proposals on whether to allow themes to place an additional top-level menu link in the admin.
  • BuddyPress 6.2 beta is out in the wild, and the team will soon release the stable version. The update includes changes that will make BuddyPress fully compatible with WordPress 5.5.
  • WordCamp EU 2021, which was being planned as an in-person event in Porto, Portugal, is moving online. The team is considering an in-person WordCamp EU in 2022. 
  • The Polyglots team has prepared and finalized a Translation Editor & Locale Manager Vetting Criteria to provide more clarity on how global mentors assign PTE/GTE/Locale Managers and to help locale teams set their own guidelines. The document, which was finalized after a lot of discussion, is now available in the Polyglots handbook.
  • Members of the Community team are discussing whether WordCamp volunteers, WordCamp attendees, or Meetup attendees should be awarded a WordPress.org profile badge. The ongoing discussion will be open for comments until August 13.
  • The WP Notify project, which aims to create a better way to manage and deliver notifications to the relevant audience, is on to its next steps. The team has finalized the initial requirements, and is kicking off the project build.
  • The WordPress documentation team has banned links to commercial websites in a revision to its external linking policy. The policy change does not remove external links to commercial sites from WordPress.org and only applies to documentation sites. The decision is intended to protect documentation from being abused, and to prevent the WordPress project from being biased. 

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