WordPress 4.6 - all you need to know (8 improvements)

WordPress 4.6 was released jtoday, the 17th of August 2016. Being a major release, (the 2nd one of the year 2016), there quite a few improvements besides of course there are quite a few bug fixes. Here's all you need to know about WordPress 4.6. Once you've seen what's new, you might want to go and try these new features.

WordPress 4.6

As always, we highly recommend that you perform this update. Of course, a major update brings about a few risks, to make sure you've performed a full WordPress backup before you proceed with your update. You'll have to manually initiate the update in most cases, unless you're on web hosting service, which will trigger WordPress auto-updates atuomatically.

Recommended Reading: Native vs Plugin: WordPress backups using 3 reliable methods

"Version 4.6 of WordPress, has been named “Pepper” in honor of jazz baritone saxophonist Park Frederick “Pepper” Adams III. As always it is available for download or update in your WordPress dashboard. New features in 4.6 help you to focus on the important things while feeling more at home." WordPress.org

1. WordPress 4.6 admin loads faster because it uses Native System fonts

WordPress has been using Open Sans from Google Fonts project since WordPress 3.8. This was the default font of the admin interface. By using the same fonts, the admin interface looked identical on all platforms and devices. This also had the drawback of requiring the download of the font (meaning usage of the interface had to compromise slightly on speed). Open Sans is also a 3rd party font, which is not ideal for a project such as WordPress.

As of the WordPress 4.6 release, the WordPress admin interface now uses the native system font installed on the current machine you are using to administer WordPress. This will make the WordPress admin interface load faster. It will also make it feel more like the device and platform you are using right now.

Here is a screenshot of our admin area in the FireFox web browser, on macOS using the system font San Francisco.

WordPress 4 6 native system fonts

This change does not affect content areas like the post editor because this actually uses your theme’s editor stylesheet for determing which fonts to use.

2. Faster and Smoother Updates for Plugins & Themes

WordPress streamlined updates

On previous version before WordPress 4.6, while you were installing a plugin or theme from WordPress.org, you would see a progress screen. It is now smoother to actually get plugins and themes updated. You will simply seen a rotating icon whilst the update is being done, and a check box as soon as it is done. In essence, you remain on the same page and you'll see the progress there and then.

WordPress 46 updating plugins screen, rotating icon

The above shows the screen with the rotation icon as a couple of updates are being run. The below is the updates screen when the plugins are done. As you can see, everything stays on the same screen.

WordPress plugins updated

 

The same functionality of same pages updates also applies to Theme updates.

 

3. More Editor Enhancements in WordPress 4.6

The post editor typically gets a few improvements and new features on each new version of WordPress. 4.6 is no exception and introduces some new enhancements to the edit screen.

4. Broken Links are highlighted as broken in the Visual Editor

Sometimes, simply by accident, users may add a broken link or incorrect URL in a post. When you publish the post, the broken link creates a bit of a bad user experience for your users, besides a negative perception of the site not being updated correctly.

Since 4.6, WordPress 4.6 and subsequent version will now check for broken or incorrect links when you are using the Visual Editor. If a link is detected as broken, it will be highlighted with red dots, showing the link URL in red.

 WordPress 46 broken link highlighter

5. Fixes in Auto-Save and Recovery

WordPress 4.6 comes with a an improved and fixed disaster recovery mode for the auto-save feature in the post editor. Previously, if users had disabled post revisions, the way drafts were restored from browser cache and the autosave feature were negatively affected.

This problem has now been fixed.  Users will be able to easily and fully restore posts from browser backups and autosave, even if revisions has been disabled.

6. An Improved Import Screen

If you've had to do any migrations from other CMSes, you'll know that WordPress makes it very easy to import content from Blogger, Tumblr, and several other systems. This is done using the Importer plugins located at Tools » Import page.

WordPress 4.6 has made a few improvements to the import screen. It now has better readability and full accessibility..

WordPress import screen

Just like the updates screens, it uses Ajax to work in the background does not have to refresh the screen as the imports are being done. There are no extra popups to install the importer plugin or any extra page loads to show progress. This is of course the beauty of using Ajax.

7. Localization and Translation Improvements

Translations from WordPress.org hosted community translations will now be given preference over the translations included with the plugin. Essentially, as soon as translation is available, this will immediately be updated to reflect the latest update.

The jQuery UI date picker is now displayed with the correct locale.

Declension of comment numbers, and months in different languages are now properly handled.

8. Under The Hood Improvements for developers and bug fixes

WordPress 4.6 also brings many improvements for developers. Here are some of those improvements in the WordPress core engines.

Resource Hints

Resource hints is a new W3C specification, which allows browser to connect and prefetch resources to improve performance. (#34292)

Improved Meta Registration

WordPress 4.6 introduces register_meta() function for the registration of meta keys. It works like register_post_type() function and is essentially a way for developers to use a standard way to work with metadata. (#35658)

Robust Requests

The HTTP API now leverages the Requests library, improving HTTP standard support and adding case-insensitive headers, parallel HTTP requests, and support for Internationalized Domain Names.

Persistent Comment Cache

WordPress 4.6 now allows comments to be cached as a persistent object type. This means that the comment cache is properly validated and updated when there are changes. (#37613)

New WP_Post_Type Class

WordPress 4.6 a new WP_Post_Type class. It changes $wp_post_types to an array of WP_Post_Type objects. This provides methods to handle post type supports, rewrite rules, meta boxes, hooks, and taxonomies. (#36217)

New WP_Term_Query Class

The new WP_Term_Query class in WordPress 4.6 provides a better structure for generating term queries. (#35381)

JavaScript Library Updates

Masonry 3.3.2, imagesLoaded 3.2.0, MediaElement.js 2.22.0, TinyMCE 4.4.1, and Backbone.js 1.3.3 are bundled.

Customizer APIs for Setting Validation and Notifications

Settings now have an API for enforcing validation constraints. Likewise, customizer controls now support notifications, which are used to display validation errors instead of failing silently.

Multisite is now faster than ever

Cached and comprehensive site queries improve your network admin experience. The addition of WP_Site_Query and WP_Network_Query help craft advanced queries with less effort.

 

Although many of the improvements actually happened underneath the hood with this update, you'll probably like the smooth updates and the Broken Link highlighter the most, because these are the most visual improvements.
As always, you should make sure you update to the WordPress 4.6 as soon as possible, to make sure you don't run into any WordPress security issues.

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