Hey there and welcome to WordPress Wednesday, where we just talk about something to do with WordPress to help you out.

Believe it or not, WordPress 5.3 is almost here. It’s slated to be released in a little over a month. And there’s testing currently going on. As I’m recording this video, 5.3 Beta 2 is out there for the world to see, and as your watching this video, Beta 3 is also out there.

And this new release has been out there really since September 23rd.

As you might expect, there are updates, changes and new features included in this upcoming release. So today, let’s go through them ahead of the November 12 release.

Slight admin design changes

So as you can see, when you upgrade to 5.3, you’re going to notice a subtle design change. Here I am on a website running the Beta 2 currently, and as you can tell there are more lines and the button styles are different.

I’m going to flip over to a 5.2 running website. The buttons here are raised and the lines aren’t as noticeable. So I’ll flip back over here and as you can tell.

It’s also extremely noticeable here. Any of the gray buttons now sort of have that blue outline to them. Input fields have darker borders. A lot of these are for accessibility reasons.

And overall, I’m kind of a fan of, sort of, the change.

It’s also extremely noticeable here in the post editor. Overall, it’s a subtle change, it’s not drastic. I don’t think people are going to mind too much. It will be sort of a jarring experience maybe at first, but you’ll get used to it. It’s nothing big.

Twenty Twenty Default Theme

Next up, as with any sort of last release of the year for WordPress, there’s a new default theme included in the 5.3 update. It’s called Twenty Twenty, keeping with the naming convention. It’s based off of Chaplin.

And really, I’ve found it to be really a sort of much better upgrade to the Twenty Nineteen theme that came out last year.

I’m going to have a more detailed sort of look at this come next week. But for now let’s just go over just kind of what it looks like. This is sort of a homepage that I really haven’t set up.

As you can tell, full width, seems to be what everything is going to these days. Very clean. Really, I’m a huge fan of it.

Skimming through to see what the blocks look like. Fairly simple styling. Some really, really cool examples of, you know, how themes can design different blocks.

And there are also, sort of, some things you can do. For starters, if you add a featured image, it will show up here.

And also with that featured image, you can come in here and select “Cover Template”, hit update, reload the page and now our featured image is actually behind up here at the top as sort of a hero image.

I think this is going to be really great. It makes it easy for making pages and posts, and really becomes sort of a page builder, which is kind of the way Gutenberg seems to be going these days.

And of course there are also some pretty good blocks. We’re going to change this to a nice big pull quote like so.

Like I said, we’re going to go over sort of a more detailed look at this theme, but overall, first impressions for me are pretty good. I probably won’t use it just because I like to use custom templates and what not. But really if you’re looking for something simple to just throw up on a website, this is going to be a pretty good theme to use.

Gutenberg Updates

Also, there have been some updates to the Gutenberg editor. This is continuing to be developed sort of as a development plugin over off of GitHub.

You can have it on your site. If you have it on your site, you’re probably not going to see any big changes when you update to 5.3 because a lot of those changes for the plugin are going to be rolled into core itself.

But if you haven’t been using the Gutenberg plugin, you’re probably going to notice a few big changes.

I’m not sure when it was introduced, but I’ve noticed on my live website I have a little bit more animation when I go into edit a post. I go in here. Yeah, so when I go in to — so I’m running 5.2 WordPress and the latest version of Gutenberg — and when I’m moving things up and down, I get a little animation. So far I haven’t seen that over here in the 5.3 Beta. I’m not sure if that got rolled in to 5.3 or not. Maybe it is, maybe my computer’s being a bit weird. Always a possibility.

But we do have a little bit more block things we can do. For example, it’s much easier now to edit the table block, that is. I have a bunch of different options going and create tables very easy.

And then, something also you might be interested in is in the latest posts block, you can now do it in a grid view and you can also have a lot more control over you can show. You can show — I don’t know why you would show the full post — but you can show the full post or the excerpt. You can control how many words in the excerpt get shown.

You can also have column blocks, and you can also sort of group blocks. So this is all one block now. Which can help it if I do that — let me back up, there we go — if I do that, I can move full sections. So if I was ever writing a post and I want to, this one section with an H2 tag and a paragraph underneath, I could group it and move it up or down depending on how I though the flow looked better.

But really, the Gutenberg editor is getting a lot better. I’m enjoying writing in it a whole lot more. I know if you’re coming from the classic editor, it still takes some time to get used to. I get it.

But if you just it daily, you sit down, you start writing, you start doing it more and more, it will all come to you. And really, I find going back to the classic editor a pain in the butt now just because it’s a weird flow for me. I’m so used to Gutenberg.

So if you haven’t been trying out Gutenberg, when 5.3 comes out, I highly suggest that you just go and see how you like it now.

Other changes and updates

Finally, we have a few sort of small changes that you may or may not see sort of on your front end but are worth mentioning here.

The first is a little bit better media uploads, especially with larger upload files. So I’ll upload this 4.7 MB file. And the idea is that large files when you upload them won’t break. If something happens, it will save the image upload and you’ll have it at some point.

So as you can tell it’s waiting a while, and there you go. The image is up.

Another thing is the site health report, which is a really good tool to make sure your site is running as good as it can be. In the past with previous versions when it was rolled into core, you had a score as a percentage up here.

They’ve taken that away. Now they’re just using words like “good”, “could be better”, “needs improvement” — those types of things.

As long as it says “good” up here, you’re good to go. And I really think that wording will sort of help non-developers understand, you know, where they are with their website health.

Finally, we have a few just sort of in the code changes that you probably won’t really see.

The first is the search engine visibility suggestion. Usually it was up to the search engines to honor this request and it still kind of is, but there’s some back end code that will highly discourage search engines from indexing the site.

So if you’re developing a website and you don’t want Google or Bing to index it and put it in their search results, you should be able to check this button and for the most part they shouldn’t index the site.

There’s also some support added for the upcoming PHP 7.4 release. That’s more of a developer topic. But I’m pretty excited for what’s coming up in PHP 7.4, I think in December.

And then there’s also quicker and easier ways to get the date and time sort of in the code. Again that’s more of a developer thing.

So that’s what you can expect when WordPress 5.3 drops in November. It’s nothing quite dramatic or drastic as the Gutenberg addition in WordPress 5.0 this time last year.

But it’s still a pretty good release and personally I’m pretty excited to see how it all shapes out.

But I also what to hear from you. What feature are you the most excited for? Or what feature are you the most nervous for? Leave them down in comments below.

Also, if you have any questions about how 5.3 might affect your theme and your website, also leave them down in comments below.

But until next time, happy WordPressing!

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