WordPress 5.3 “Kirk” was officially released on November 12, 2019, and is available for download. So what changed with WordPress 5.3? First and foremost, a whopping number of releases of the Gutenberg plugin has been merged into core, from 5.4 to 6.6. This means a huge number of features and enhancements for both users and developers, as well as an important boost in performance. But there’s much more than Gutenberg in WordPress 5.3. In fact, this release features several improvements related to the Site Health Tool, a brand new default theme (TwentyTwenty), enhancements in the Admin User Interface, better support for PHP 7.4, improved accessibility, and more. That’s a lot of amazing stuff, right? So, let’s buckle up and dig deeper into WordPress 5.3.
What’s New With the Block Editor
Since it was first launched, the Block Editor has been regularly improved thanks to the commitment of contributors from all around the world. However, new releases are not merged into core as soon as they’re available. With 5.3, thirteen releases of the Gutenberg plugin have been merged into core all at once. So, if you haven’t been using the Gutenberg plugin so far, and you haven’t regularly updated it over time, you’ll find a lot of enhancements and new features in the Block Editor with the release of WordPress 5.3. Overall performance improvements have been reported as well. The following benchmark compares performances for a huge post (36,000 words/1,000 blocks) with different versions of the Gutenberg plugin. You might not notice the difference in loading time with regular posts, but it’s quite clear the general improvement in the editor’s performance.
Improvements in the Editing Experience
If you haven’t installed the Gutenberg plugin before, you’ll find a brand new block: the Group block. Added to the editor with the release of Gutenberg 5.5, the Group block is an all-purpose container for other blocks allowing you to create advanced block templates to be included in any page of your WordPress website. The new Group block supports wide alignments and background colors, giving WordPress users plenty of freedom when creating content. Besides the Group block, we had a look at ten improvements in the Block Editor that should have a great impact on the way you are using the editor.
Interesting Features for Theme Developers and Designers
WordPress 5.3 adds many features and improvements to the Block Editor for theme developers and designers as well. Three main changes involve theme designers and are related to the CSS and HTML of several blocks.
Features for Block Developers
WordPress 5.3 brings changes and improvements to the Block APIs.
Improvements in the Site Health Component
WordPress 5.2 introduced the Site Health tool to provide information about a website’s health and to help site admins to recover their websites when experiencing technical difficulties. With the release of WordPress 5.3 the Site Health tool gets several improvements and changes on both sides of the component.
Admin Experience Enhancements
Besides Site Health Tool, WordPress 5.3 brings several Admin UI enhancements that should considerably improve the overall experience of the whole WordPress dashboard.
A Brand New Default Theme: Twenty Twenty
WordPress 5.3 comes with a brand new default theme: Twenty Twenty. It’s a minimal theme designed for flexibility, clarity, and readability, with a keen focus on the Block Editor.
Changes for WordPress Developers
WordPress 5.3 comes with several changes and improvements for WordPress developers. Among the many changes, we think these are worth mentioning:
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