What to Know Before Updating to WordPress. 4.6

Andrea Ferguson

President at AndiSites Inc.
Andi is founder and President of AndiSites Inc. She writes about website design and development, best practices, and random stuff her busy brain thinks would be useful.
Andrea Ferguson

On August 16, 2016, WordPress Version 4.6, named for jazz baritone saxaphonist Park Frederick “Pepper” Adams III, was released to the public. Here are the highlights:

User-Level Improvements

  • Streamlined Updates:  Stay on the same page while you update, install, and delete plugins and themes, thanks to “Shiny Updates“.
  • Easier Plugin Search:  Relevant plugins appear automatically below the search box as you type. You don’t have to reload the page and wait for results.
  • Native Fonts:  The WordPress 4.6 dashboard uses your computer’s locally-installed fonts, making it load faster and look more familiar.
  • Inline Link Checker:  WordPress 4.6 now automatically detects broken URLs when you insert them in the editor, so they’re easier to identify and fix.
  • Easier Content Recovery:  Rather than save draft content to WordPress as you type, it’s now saved locally in the browser, making it easier to recover content in case of a dropped Internet connection.


Geek-Level Improvements

  • Plugin Translations on Demand:  Plugins that use language packs now load faster.
  • Resource Hints:  Resource hints tell the browser which resources to fetch and preprocess for your styles and scripts, making your site faster.
  • Robust Requests:  The HTTP API uses the open-source independent Requests library instead of the WordPress-specific HTTP library. This improves HTTP standard support, parallel HTTP requests, and support for Internationalized Domain Names as well as adding case-insensitive headers. That’s all good stuff.
  • WP_Term_Query and WP_Post_Type: New classes and objects are good news for developers, who now have more flexibility in how they make WordPress 4.6 generate queries and interact with post types.
  • Meta Registration API:  The API is expanded to support types, descriptions, and REST API visibility.
  • JavaScript Library Updates:  External libraries were updated to the latest versions, and several popular JavaScript libraries are now bundled into WordPress 4.6.
  • Customizer APIs for Setting Validation and Notifications:  Settings now have an API for enforcing validation constraints. Notifications now display validation errors instead of letting things fail silently.
  • Faster Multisite:  Cached and comprehensive site queries improve the network admin experience, and the addition of WP_Site_Query and WP_Network_Query help developers create advanced queries with less effort.

What You Need to Know About Updating to WordPress 4.6

  • Your dashboard fonts may look different after you update:  That’s normal, nothing to worry about. WordPress is just using your local fonts to give you a faster, more familiar experience.
  • Category and tag screens may look different: Depending on what plugins you have installed, some sites may show a different ordering of elements on category and tag screens. Probably nothing to worry about, but if things don’t work as intended you may need to update your plugins.
  • You might get weird Warnings or Errors about components being disabled for security reasons: Some hosts don’t properly maintain their servers, so they may not have the current versions of server software installed. Report Warnings and Errors to your host first. Then make sure they have PHP 5.6 or higher installed on your server.
  • Themes and plugins may work differently…or not at all: As always, when you update the core, also be sure to update your theme framework and plugins. However, not all themes and plugins are ready for WordPress 4.6. Hold off on updating the core if you use a free or prebuilt theme that isn’t maintained by its developers, or if you have an important plugin that isn’t 4.6-ready yet.
  • The whole thing could go boom, but you don’t need to panic:  As always, the WordPress developers constantly improve the core software based on user feedback, bug reports, and their own fanatical testing. Assuming you’ve properly backed up your site before updating, you can always roll back if applying the core update doesn’t work. If you need assistance with the updating process or have any questions, friendly help is available.
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