Podcast Episode

WordPress 6.3


Is there a plugin for that?

With more than 50,000 plugins in the WordPress repository, it’s hard to find the perfect one. Each week, I will highlight an interesting plugin from the repository.

For more great plugins, download my 50 Most Useful Plugins eBook.

Visual Link Preview is a plugin to easily create a Facebook-like link preview for any link on your website.

WordPress 6.3

In this episode, we delve into the latest WordPress release, version 6.3, named Lionel after the renowned jazz artist Lionel Hampton. This update introduces a range of enhancements and new features that elevate the web publishing experience with a focus on the Gutenberg block editor.

Topics Covered:

  • Overview of WordPress 6.3 and its namesake, Lionel Hampton
  • Insights from the release lead, Matias Ventura, on the evolution of WordPress
  • Central themes of WordPress 6.3 and its significance for web publishing
  • New features and improvements brought by the Lionel release:
    • Creating and syncing patterns in the site editor
    • Previewing block themes before activation
    • Command palette for quick navigation and execution of actions
    • Tracking design changes with style revisions
    • Introduction of the Footnotes and Details blocks
    • Performance updates, including speed enhancements and accessibility improvements
    • Compatibility with PHP 7.0 and discontinuation of support for PHP 5
    • Auto-restoration of a plugin or a theme versions during failed updates
  • Accessing the WordPress 6.3 field guide for a comprehensive view of the update
  • Commendable contributions of 650 contributors across 52 countries
  • Reflections on the collective effort and impact of the WordPress community

Explore the dynamic enhancements of WordPress 6.3, which empower users to create, customize, and optimize content with unprecedented ease. From the site editor’s expanded capabilities to improved performance and accessibility, this release underscores WordPress’s commitment to enabling web publishing for a diverse audience. Dive into the episode for a comprehensive overview of the Lionel release and its transformative features.

Thank You!

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Full Transcript

Business Transcription is provided by GMR Transcription.

[00:00:00] **Dustin:** On today's episode, we are going to talk about the brand new version of WordPress, WordPress 6. 3 right here on Your Website Engineer podcast episode number 533.

Hello and welcome to another episode of Your Website Engineer podcast. My name is Dustin Hartzer and today it sounds like I have a frog in my throat, but we're going to power through and we're going to talk about WordPress because it's a timely episode and a timely release because WordPress 6. 3 came out this week and I'm going to highlight some of those features and some of the things that you need to know that are new and that are built into your site now so you can create and continue to make that perfect website for your business, for your hobby site, for whatever you're using WordPress for.

So today I want to dive in and talk about first a couple news items and then I've got a plugin to share and then we'll dive right into the news.

The first thing on my list today is about ConvertKit and ConvertKit is now updating the WordPress plugin. It adds member only content, a newsletter feed and product embeds. ConvertKit is a service that you can [00:01:00] pay for to send out email newsletters to your list and the plugin is getting so much better today.

It gives you the ability to dynamically create content on your website so that people can see after they've signed up. And so this means that they will kind of track and figure out who is already on the newsletter list. They won't show up those popups anymore. They'll give you the ability to have a pro newsletter, whether you can pay for a newsletter subscription and all of those good things.

There is a link in the show notes. If you are a ConvertKit user and you're interested in managing like a paid newsletter feed type of thing, then I recommend reading that and seeing the new updates that are coming.

The second thing on my list today is about wordpress. com makes a bid for Google domain customers to transfer into wordpress. com. Basically Google domains is sold to Squarespace and a deal that was reportedly worth 180 million. After the sale was announced, wordpress. com pitched Google domains, customers reminding the public that the company is also a domain registrar, but the call to action didn't include any incentive to switch, but now there is an incentive to switch.

You can move your domain if it [00:02:00] was on Google domains over to wordpress.com and you will pay the exact same amount of money that you did to Google domains. And so basically it's kind of like if you had domains over somewhere else, now they're getting moved over to over to the Squarespace deal and you don't want to have anything to do with Squarespace, then bring them over to wordpress.com and we will happily get that ready for you and help you with that transition.

You can go to any other domain registrar that's out there, like hover is one that I have all of my domain names with, but this is the article that was hit the news wire this week.

The next thing on my list is not really news per se, but it is an event that's happening in two weeks, and that is WordCamp US. It's happening in National Harbor, Maryland, August 24th, 25th, and 26th. If you are heading over to National Harbor and you will be there, let me know. You can send me an email or you can send me a... An X or a tweet or whatever it's called these days. Let me know you'll be there and I'm happy to hang out.

I'll be organizing the volunteers and making sure the [00:03:00] event runs a very, very smoothly. But mainly throughout the day, I won't have a lot, a lot to do. So I'm happy to jump in and have some conversations and just learn about how you are using WordPress.

And then also in the WordPress space, I've created a handful of videos. There's a webinar replay that's now on my YouTube channel. That's that's called Why FSE. Full site editing is the real deal. It's a 49 minute video kind of highlighting the live webinar that I did a couple weeks back. That's there.

And then I also have a couple videos. I was going to start doing a bunch of like single, short little five, just eight minute clips on the WordPress block editor. I got that project started. I've got everything set up and now I just need to record a few more. There's a couple that are out there that are getting some views.

And so if you're interested in learning about how so you do certain things in the WordPress editor, then I recommend checking that out. I'll put links in the show notes so you can get directly to those.

The plugin that I want to share with you this week is called visual link preview. It is a fairly new plugin. It's got 10, 000 plus active installs, but this will allow you to create Facebook like [00:04:00] link previews for any link on your website. You can choose the image and the text to display increase your very own custom template.

The default template can be styled in from the settings to match your website. And so you could use this for called actions with your affiliate links or promote WooCommerce products on your website, list sources for articles, a weekly post of interesting websites you found a link to articles basically gives you the ability to paste a link and then give it an image.

And then add a title and a description. It's a pretty cool plugin. And I recommend checking this out. If this is something that you use regularly on your site and you're posting things and linking from outside sources, this is going to be a very good plugin to add again is called visual link preview.

And there is a link in the show notes for episode number 532.

Alright, let's go ahead and dive into WordPress 6. 3 named Lionel and it is named after a Lionel Hampton, the celebrated American jazz artist. And there is all kinds of things that went into [00:05:00] WordPress 6. 3. Let's see, there is a, the release lead had this comment, Lionel marks a major chapter in the evolution of WordPress as a tool for expression.

It's the culmination of years of work from hundreds of contributors, bringing more powerful and cohesive editing experiences for crafting websites with blocks. It continues the quest of making web publishing approachable for everyone, and so it's just a new beginning. So that is from Matias Ventura, who was the WordPress 6. 3 release lead. So, what's inside? Let's go ahead and take a look.

WordPress now allows you to create a lot of things, not, I'm not going to say everything, but almost everything in the site editor. You can bring your content, your templates, your patterns, all together in the site editor for the first time.

You can add pages, browse style variations, create synced patterns and enjoyed fine tune control over your navigation menus. Spend less time switching across different site areas from pages back to templates, back to pages, back to templates over to post over to this. You can do so much more to the [00:06:00] navigation.

All of that is built in to the site editor now. You can focus on what matters most. Creation to completion all in one place. You now have the ability to preview block themes so you can experience block themes before you switch and preview in the site editor, which options you can customize directly before committing to a new theme.

This is a very similar to like the, the customizer. And when you went to select a new thing, you could do a preview of what your site would look like. It's very similar to that, but you can see all of the options that are built into that theme whether there's page templates or styles or patterns or what's all included you can see that in a preview without fully committing to that new theme.

The next thing you can do is you can create and sync patterns so you can arrange blocks and save them to the my pattern section. So if you wanted to create a contact block or a maybe a newsletter pop up full width banner thing, you could create those as a pattern. You can use any of the patterns that are outside in the WordPress space already.

And basically you can save them to my pattern section and you can use them throughout the site. [00:07:00] You can even specify whether to sync your patterns, which were previously called reusable blocks, so that when one changes, all of them change across your site. Or you can say that you can, you don't want them synced and so this is a good starting point of where you can add your content and then the blocks can change on a page to page basis.

I am so excited for this feature, and it is the command palette feature that you can switch to a specific template or open your editor preferences with this new tool that helps you quickly access expanded functionality with a simple keyboard shortcut, which is command K on the Mac or control K on Windows or you can click on the search icon in the site view or click on the title bar.

There's a whole ways to get to this. You can get to this command palette and you can see where you need to go in just a mere second. So if you want to add a brand new page, you can click command K. Or control K and then start typing add and you can say add new page. Or if you wanted to update the homepage, you can type home and it's going to do that.

If you want to update the header, you can type header and it's going to do that. It's very much like the Mac switcher or Alfred or any of the tools that you [00:08:00] use your keyboard for daily on your computer. And so now this is inside the WordPress site editor and it is oh so slick and really, really cool.

There are new controls being added to different blocks that have been in in our world for a while within WordPress. So if you wanted to style and customize the captions of images, you can now do that in the right hand sidebar.

If you wanted to customize the way that the cover block Maybe the text displays or things like that. You can do that now in the sidebar. So more of the blocks that we're used to have more settings in the right hand side so we can go in and fine tune and make it exactly what we want our site to look like.

I said the command palette was one of my favorite tools. Another one, which is really nice, especially when you work in support and you help people figure out like what's going on or where things are broken. You can now track design changes with style revisions.

And so just like a post or a page has a revisions tab. Now you can see these revisions and you can go back in time to see what happened two, three, four days ago and you can restore those changes. So that is now in the site [00:09:00] editor.

There are two new blocks that were added in this release.

One is called footnotes and one is called the details block. So the footnotes are a convenient way to add annotations throughout your content. You can add a link footnotes to any paragraph. So that's super nice. And you can also use a new block called details and these are perfect for interactive Q and A's or high and long paragraphs under a heading.

But basically you can put anything that you want inside a details block and they will open and close kind of like that down arrow sideways arrow type thing. I'm sure you've seen it before on websites. You could do that now within WordPress itself.

Performance got a great big boost this year as well with WordPress 6. 3 and has more than 170 performance updates including defer and async support for script API and fetch priority for other images.

I mean there's a bunch of mumbo jumbo in there if you're not interested, but basically it's saying that a lot of things have sped up and things are much, much faster, especially when you're using a full site editing theme for [00:10:00] your content. Accessibility remains a core focus of this. There is more than 50 accessibility improvements across the platform and it is more accessible than ever improved labeling, optimized tab and arrow key navigation, revised heading hierarchy and new controls in the admin area.

For the editor helps those with assistive technologies navigate their site more easily. There are some other, like, smaller name things that are fixed. You can set aspect ratio on your images, so you can set those up, especially in your patterns. You can build your site distraction free with the new distraction free design center inside of the site editor.

The top toolbar has been revamped so that it has areas in there for nested blocks options. When selecting multiple blocks, when interfaces embedded into the title bar with a new functionality in mind, there's list view improvements and list views another one of my favorite things of the site editor, and that's over there on the left hand side, you can get to it by pressing the, the.

It kind of looks like a stair step. It's three vertical lines, but they're not all lined up. It kind of looks like a steps, but [00:11:00] basically you can drag and drop every content layer and delete blocks and just updated things inside the list view itself. You can build templates with patterns. There's changes in WordPress.

A php support php five is discontinued. The new minimum support is php 7. 0. And the, the feature that has really got swept under the rug that nobody's really talking about, but WordPress now will auto restore a previously installed version of a plugin or theme if something goes wrong during a failed manual update.

And so in the past, like what has happened is if a plug in maybe doesn't load all the way or it gets into some sort of sequence where it fails to load, like your site will either be completely broken or it just won't work. And so this, what this does is if those fail safes. Are in place now.

So if this would happen, if something would happen in the installation of an auto update or whatnot, then it would just revert back to the previous version of the plugin. I'm not exactly sure how this works at all, but this is a very good improvement in the fact that we can now be [00:12:00] more confident with our ability to press that button to update and outdated plugin because before it's like, Oh, well, should I test this before? Is it gonna work? Is it gonna break my site or whatnot? At least we have the confidence now of when we click that button to update our our plugins that are outdated that nothing will break.

Our site will continue to work, which is a good thing.

There is a link in the show notes as well to a wordpress 6. 3 field guide and this is on the wordpress. org site and it basically goes through and tells you everything that was brought into the wordpress 6. 3 release. It shows that there were 371 tickets that were fixed. It shows that there were 1700 pull requests.

It talks about how many versions of Gutenberg has been brought in. 10 Gutenberg releases have been brought in. And it just highlights all of the different things if you're really, really interested in. All of the improvements, whether it's about internationalization or media, our metadata performance, script loaders, upgrade, install, all of that stuff, how the users have changed, how developer updates, all of the stuff about the cron editor, the embeds, the formatting, the general, [00:13:00] all of that stuff.

If you are interested, head on over to the show notes and click on the link or head to make. wordpress. org under the core section, you will find this post.

This release would not have been possible without the generous support and the dedication from all of these contributors, 650 of them this year are in this release, and that includes 205 first time contributors. The, this effort came from across 52 different countries and it is just an incredible thing to see what it's so many people with their, their experience of a full site editing with, with JavaScript, with PHP, with, you know, all of their thoughts and all of their plans.

All of this team just. It's magically works together and we get these great releases every couple of releases every single year, which is so great.

Josefa Hayden Champuzay, who is the executive director of WordPress. org. She has a quote here at the bottom of the release page that says, Our community of contributors has always been what makes WordPress wonderful. You are what makes sure our project continues [00:14:00] to thrive and our software remains secure, usable, and impactful.

Thank you so much for joining together to make the web and the world a better place.

Alright, I'll leave you with this, go out and try some of these features. Now granted, a lot of them do have to do with the block theme or the site editor, but I recommend the very next project that you do. Go out, spend a little bit of time. Maybe go watch the webinar replay that I have posted over on YouTube or on yourwebsiteengineer.com.

Go over and just spend a little bit of time figuring out how this new thing works. Because I think the learning curve is moderate. It's not super steep. And I think it is one of those things like when we jump from an html building website to WordPress or maybe we went from some other platform, maybe a google sites to WordPress, like there was a definite learning curve, I think from going from a old school classic theme to a full site editing theme that jump is way less dramatic and way less drastic, especially with all the patterns that you can grab.

Like you can go out and install 2023, grab a [00:15:00] pattern for your header and then have a homepage pattern or an about page pattern and you can just start filling in the details. It's like basically creating a website with kind of a pseudo template there already, and then we just fill in the details and we're good to go.

So that's what I want to recommend today. Head on over to yourwebsiteengineer.com for any links. And I mentioned in the show notes for episode number 532. And we will talk again soon. I am so thankful for the WordPress community and all of these updates. I'm excited to get all of my sites. And by the end of the year, I will have all of my sites on full site editing that is for sure. Just a matter of finding the time to convert them over and make the improvements and do the updates and all that kind of stuff. There's just, it's a busy seasons. Kids are going back to school, so hopefully that'll keep them entertained so I can work on WordPress, but I'm excited about WordCamp US.

I will see those who are going there in just a couple of weeks until then. Take care. And we'll talk again soon. Bye. Bye. Press

information. Head on over to your website, engineer. com.