WordPress core contributors worked together today to package up 5.3 Beta 1 for release on schedule. The Core slack channel was abuzz this afternoon as developers pushed through last-minute commits and fixed issues ahead of shipping the beta.

Iterations on the block editor are a major part of of this release. WordPress 5.3 will include the last 12 Gutenberg plugin releases. If you have already been using the plugin, you may have forgotten how many features it has that still haven’t made it into core WordPress. This includes significant improvements to group, column, and gallery blocks, Accessibility Navigation mode, the new inserter help panel, “snackbar” notices, and the typewriter experience, to highlight a few big items that have been rolled into 5.3.

The highly anticipated Twenty Twenty default theme is also available in the beta, which which we will explore in greater detail on WP Tavern this week. Its design is based on the Chaplin theme from Anders Norén and showcases what is possible with the block editor.

Some of the UI changes introduced in Gutenberg are starting to make their way into other parts of the WordPress admin.

“These improved styles fix many accessibility issues, improve color contrasts on form fields and buttons, add consistency between editor and admin interfaces, modernize the WordPress color scheme, add better zoom management, and more,” release coordinator Francesca Marano said in the 5.3 beta 1 announcement.

A few other notable additions to 5.3 that need testing include the following:

  • Support for resuming uploads on large file sizes
  • Automatic image rotation during upload
  • Improvements to Site Health checks
  • Time/Date component fixes
  • PHP 7.4 Compatibility and removal of deprecated functionality

If you’re ready to take the beta for a test drive, the easiest way is to install the WordPress Beta Tester plugin and select the “bleeding edge nightlies” option. The official release is targeted for November 12, 2019.