WordPress has released version 4.4 holding to their early December projected date. The new release contains some interesting feature additions and enhancements and continues the evolution of WordPress as the premier Content Management System in use on the Web today.
So What’s New in WordPress 4.4?
There isn’t a whole lot new that the typical user will notice right away. Most of the significant changes have been made “under the hood”, so to speak, so will be of most interest to developers of plugins and themes. That said, let’s see what WordPress 4.4 has to offer.
Images displayed in WordPress will now resize themselves to fit the device on which they’re displayed. This has been done in the past with CSS in the theme if the theme is responsive. Now, WordPress handles this function natively.
Additional oEmbed Capabilities
You may know that WordPress has for some time been an oEmbed consumer. This means you can embed YouTube videos in WordPress simply by entering the URL of the video into a page or post. No special code nor plugin is needed to display single videos. Several other content providers are supported by WordPress in the same way. Five new oEmbed providers have been added in WP 4.4: Cloudup, Reddit Comments, ReverbNation, Speaker Deck, and VideoPress.
In addition, WordPress 4.4 is now an oEmbed provider as well as a consumer. This means that other oEmbed consumers that support WordPress can embed WordPress posts into their content. Since WordPress 4.4 is both a consumer and provider this expands considerably interaction between WordPress sites running v4.4. For example, if you have a friend who has a WP site, they can embed your posts into their site and their visitors can read and comment on your posts directly from their site. The reverse is also true. You can embed content from another WP site into your site as long as you’re running v4.4.
The big news for developers is the rollout of the WordPress REST API. For those who are not developers, this simply means that developers will have much more flexibility in interacting with WordPress. This will result in much more powerful plugins and themes going forward. The implementation of the REST API in v4.4 is in its infancy and will be expanded as time goes on. The possibilities are quite exciting.
Other improvements in the infrastructure round out the new features of WordPress 4.4.
Should I Update?
As many of you who have been following me and/or are clients of mine know, I do not upgrade to the dot zero version of a major release. WordPress considers an upgrade from 4.3 to 4.4 to be a major release which really should be designated 4.4.0. Historically, the first patch release for a major release shows up within a few weeks of the dot zero release. This patch fixes bugs introduced with new features and typically includes some security fixes, as well.
Everyone should be running WordPress 4.3.1 which is the latest secure release. Unless there is a feature of v4.4 that you can’t live without for a few weeks, I recommend holding off until the first patch arrives before upgrading to v4.4. This has been my policy right along and I’ve found it saves everyone a lot of grief for a number of reasons. WordPress does a great job of testing new releases, but it’s impossible to anticipate every scenario that exists “in the wild”, so to speak. I prefer to let the pioneers take the arrows in the chest with the dot zero version.
Those of you in my Website Management Program can expect to be updated to v4.4.1 as soon as it’s released. If you’re a WMP client and absolutely need a feature in v4.4 right now feel free to request that I do the update and I’ll be happy to take care of it for you.
Image by Stuart Miles on FreeDigitalPhotos.net