WordPress 4.6 is here and it’s time to update.
This version has a ton of developer-focused changes, and you can find those in the Field Guide to 4.6.
However, what new features will users see in WordPress 4.6? There are 3 new features that users will notice, and we’ll explain each one.
New feature #1. Shiny Updates
Shiny Updates is needed because the WordPress team want to improve the user experience:
“The Bleak screen of Sadness™ that users encounter when installing/updating/deleting plugins or themes is a terrible experience WordPress users. It’s not timely anymore and doesn’t reflect the values WordPress strives to adhere to. Instead, WordPress needs a simpler and more straight forward experience when installing, updating, and deleting items.”
Bear with me, because the roll-out of this feature is a little confusing:
- Shiny Updates already work for plugins. 4.6 just expands the feature to themes, translations and even WordPress itself.
- Shiny Updates also works for installs, not just updates.
So, you can actually test Shiny Updates on your current 4.5 site. Find an out-of-date plugin and click “update now”:
That’s it. The plugin is updated. When 4.6 arrives, you can use this process on other site features too.
The other change is to plugin installations. When you’re installing a plugin in 4.6, click the “Install Now” button:
You won’t need to see any other screens at this point. The page will reload and you’ll see the “Activate” button. I suspect the next step will be to make the “Activate” button work automaticaly, but for now you’ll need to use the current activation process.
New feature #2. Broken link checking in the editor
In 4.6, the editor will check for broken links. If you enter an invalid URL, the editor will highlight it for you.
Here are two examples of broken URLs highlighted inside the editor:
Currently the link checker only tests for invalid link formats. For example, it didn’t catch http://zdfsdfsdfsd54654$#55ewrwe.org as a non-existent URL. But the link checker worked soon as I added a space into that URL.
New feature #3. Native fonts, rather than remote fonts
This is a return to an old feature: native fonts.
When WordPress introduced the new MP6 admin area in 2013, they also started using Open Sans. Every time you loaded your admin area, WordPress would go to fonts.googleapis.com and grab Open Sans.
However, this has some significant disadvantages when compared to using system fonts from your device. Remote fonts are slower and make it harder to work without an internet connection. Plus, I suspect that loading fonts from a Google site didn’t play well in China, with the Great Firewall often blocking Google.
4.6 replaces Open Sans with system fonts. There are different fonts selected for different devices, including Android, iOS, Windows, macOS, and Linux. For example, Windows may use a Segoe font and Linux may use an Ubuntu font. This post contains a range of screenshots.
Here’s a screenshot of the Ubuntu font in 4.6, thanks to Topher, our WordPress teacher: