The WordPress 4.9.9 release leads published a roadmap for the release this week. The minor release will be led by Anthony Burchell and Alain Schlesser. It is targeted for November 5 with the first beta arriving near the end of October.
The leads identified four key focus areas for the upcoming release: accessibility, internationalization, the Site Health Project, and Gutenberg preparation. The internationalization focus is aimed at improving translations and RTL support, as well as ensuring that date/time values work. The roadmap doesn’t identify any specific accessibility items but Burchell said the leads see lots of ways they can “drastically improve the experience for a lot of people with minimal effort.”
Contributors to the Site Health Project, previously known by the “Servehappy” code name, will be working on resolving issues that will allow users to stay on WordPress 4.9.9 while they prepare for 5.0 and still have access to the important information about how to update their PHP versions.
“It will be crucial to get the Servehappy components included: WSOD protection, update dashboard notice, plugin version requirements,” Burchell said. “The reason for this focus is because, when 5.0 ships, users who decide not to upgrade will be on 4.9.9 for a potentially extended time period. If we don’t have these Servehappy components included in 4.9.9, getting rid of old PHP versions will only happen after 5.0.”
Another major part of WordPress 4.9.9 will be landing items that lay the groundwork for anything necessary for Gutenberg’s merge into 5.0. Two items identified include user locale support in REST API endpoints and endpoints to lock/unlock and release posts.
With an unusually quick turnaround, WordPress 5.0 could arrive before the end of 2018. Development will kick off in mid-November, one week ahead of the U.S. Thanksgiving holiday.
UPDATE 9/13/2018 – 8:13PM: The wording on the roadmap document has been updated to more accurately reflect the intentions of contributors regarding the work outlined for the Site Health Project. The roadmap now reads:
“We will investigate the work remaining for the Servehappy project and determine how to get it in people’s hands as soon as possible. WSOD protection, update dashboard notice, plugin version requirements are the hot items pending.”