It’s WordPress 6.4 release day, and I’m really excited for this new version of WordPress.
I think it’s one of the most important releases for WordPress, especially through its new default theme, Twenty Twenty-Four. I also think this is a first milestone release of an”Apple way” of releases.
Meaning, just like iPhones and MacBooks, updates are iterative, and not groundbreaking at every release. I see WordPress settling into a similar feature/update cycle similar to Cupertino. So when I say it’s important, I mean, will this next year of development, building off 6.4, continue to bring WordPress into the future?
Block Editor updates in WordPress 6.4
WordPress 6.4 brings six Gutenberg releases into the core with this update.
As the team continues to streamline the effectiveness of Blocks and Patterns, the Patterns Section in the site editor saw some minor updates. You can now see a pattern’s “sync status” in the Details section.
“Custom Patterns” -> “My Patterns” and given a more prominent position at the top of both the Pattern sidebar and the inserter.
Footnotes editing feature received a number of bug fixes to make them more reliable.
Vertical text orientation is now available to themes via a block’s Typography settings panel. This allows text to be written vertically. This new feature is a first step towards full support of vertically written languages as well as for decorative purposes in website design.
It’s all about the Patterns from Gutenberg 16.3. This includes a Focus mode for editing patterns, similar to viewing your editor screen in various viewport sizes. A Sticky Header Bar on the patterns page keeps your search box in constant focus. Lastly, managing patterns is a bit easier through new renaming, duplicating, and deleting functions.
An Auto-Inserting Blocks feature is now available in the frontend and site editor via the REST API. This is isn’t something average users will interact with, but allows theme and plugin devs to create more dynamic templates or patterns. Note: This becomes Block Hooks in Gutenberg 16.6!
A new horizontal progress bar component loads across various areas of the site editor. I expect to see this in more areas of the admin as that evolves.
New commands in the command palette are available: Show/Hide block breadcrumbs, enable/disable pre-publish checklist, and preview in a new tab.
Some minor updates to the command pallet were introduced. Most notable are the block-related commands. For example, users can select a block, open the command palette and duplicate a block by typing the command.
Auto-inserted blocks become Block Hooks in this version. Toolbars, in the editor, at least for child blocks are now ‘captured’ or ‘attached’ the parent block in an effort to declutter the editing experience.
Sadly, font management did not make it into WordPress 6.4, but was made available in this release AND available if you run the Gutenberg plugin in your WordPress instance.
However, more pattern goodness made it into 6.4, including: Import/Export of Patterns from one WordPress install to another. Pattern Filters have been restructured to areas like All vs Synced vs Standard.
Users can now name group blocks in the editor for a more organized feeling. Speaking of group blocks, you can now assign an background image to that block
Handful of User Interface updates, Editor changes, and 100+ Performance Updates made in WordPress 6.4
A handful of UI updates throughout the site editor and content editor were made in WordPress 6.4. Nothing of a major splash, but more of that iterative update I mentioned earlier.
Two new Admin Notice functions were made available: wp_get_admin_notice() and wp_admin_notice() are ready for developers. However, this isn’t the saving grace for ads or nagging updates it seems.
One update users might notice is that new WordPress installations will now have attachment pages fully disabled for new sites. This will benefit SEO by avoiding attachment pages created by default, which were indexed by search engines and could have led to bad results for users and site owners.
There’s also a range of other under the hood updates, that most users won’t notice when running WordPress 6.4:
- Updates to the HTML API
- Improvements to Object Caching
- New option functions
- Improvements to template loading
- Image loading optimization enhancements
- Script loading changes
- Style loading updates
- Revisions now supported for post meta on an opt-in basis
Twenty Twenty-Four theme
Arguably the most impactful update for WordPress 6.4 is the new default theme, Twenty Twenty-Four.
As I’ve followed the development of this theme, core contributors and other community members, really see this theme as the most feature complete theme for site builders. My own opinion is that for a default theme, it’s still very opinionated for design.
We’ll dive deeper into this theme in future content, but I am overall happy with this direction. It does have a lot of patterns and flexibility available for many use cases.
Why I think it’s important for the direction of WordPress as a whole:
- First default theme in the block-based era to position itself this way
- Site editor iteratively improving to a point where users might opt out of classic themes
- Lots of patterns that should warm average users up to becoming more comfortable with block-based content or site editing
Time will tell how well Twenty Twenty-Four is adopted for the world’s most popular Content Management System. I’d love to know how you plan on using the Twenty Twenty-Four theme. Let me know in the comments or on social media.