WP 5.2 is scheduled to release May 7, 2019 and includes Fatal Error Protection, PHP error protection, the all new Block Manager, and several other new Gutenberg features.
Discover what you need to know before you update.
A transcript and links are below the video too!
Below you will find links and details on what’s new in WP 5.2.
Fatal Error Protection
WordPress continues to add more parts of the Site Health Check feature.
In version 5.2 that includes a Fatal Error Protection system that will alert you when there is a serious error on the site. Plus, it will give you a way to log into your admin area in Recovery Mode and fix the issue.
You’ll see a notice at the top that you are in Recovery Mode, plus a little red banner in the top right stating that fact too.
This is a major advancement for DIY site owners.
Previously, if you got the white screen of death during an update, you would have to access your site via FTP and disable all plugins just so you could log into your site and attempt to discover which one had the issue.
Now you will have a way to bypass going in via FTP and disabling all plugins from within the WP admin side.
While this is a leap forward, there’s an even easier way to deal with most plugin updates that go goofy on you.
READ: How to Restore Plugins to a Previous Version with WP Rollback for more.
Now, WP Rollback only works on free plugins from the WP plugins repository. But, that accounts for 96% of the plugins most site owners use. However, it doesn’t help recover from a WP update that goes goofy.
So, between it and this new Fatal Error Protection feature, you should be able to recover from most any update issue.
At least that is the theory.
This particular part of the Site Health Check system initially had a few security concerns which they believe they have addressed fully. So, there may still be some kinks to work out as more site owners begin using it and reporting bugs when specific errors start popping up. Since that is fairly infrequent, it could take a while to address everything. I expect this to be an ongoing work in progress for some time.
Minimum PHP Version
Our current version of WP 5.1 posts a warning in your admin area if you are running a PHP version lower than 5.6.
With the release of 5.2, they are taking that a step further.
Not only will site owners see the warning, they will not be allowed to update to WordPress 5.2 or higher.
Plugins can now also state a minimum PHP version requirement, although I haven’t heard of any that will not allow you to update. They may just break instead.
I hope more plugin devs will start including this in their plugins.
On one hand that makes sense in that it continues to encourage more site owners to update their PHP version.
But on the other hand, it may end up breaking some sites as a few plugins may require a higher version of WP to run.
A broken site will most definitely get a site owner’s attention, but it will also piss them off and they are likely to blame WP for doing it.
Since the majority of hacks are on sites that have not been kept up to date, I’m in favor of this tough love approach.
I only wish it were a little tougher in that WP required a PHP level of at least 7.1, especially considering the most current version is 7.3. But at least they are starting the march toward that.
READ: How to Check or Change Your PHP Version for help getting your site compliant.
New Gutenberg Features
WP 5.2 will also ship with a few Gutenberg enhancements.
The block editor got some speed love in WP 5.2, which I’m thrilled about.
They claim it could shave as much as 35% off the load time of massive posts.
(Same post as above)
Several new native blocks will be added in WP 5.2, including:
- An RSS block
- An Amazon Kindle embed block
- A Search block
- A Calendar block
- A Tag Cloud block
This definitely highlights a trend toward making native WP widgets into blocks, which is great.
New Block Manager
And to help us keep up with all these new blocks, WP 5.2 introduces a new Block Manager.
You will be able to switch off your least used blocks so you won’t have to sort through them in the blocks list.
That comes in especially handy if you use the keyboard shortcuts that make creating new blocks on the fly as you create your content a breeze.
Your intended block will likely be the first in the list, and that means less keystrokes for you.
One of the big reasons some folks in the WP community decried that Gutenberg was not ready for release at the end of 2018 was that it had very poor accessibility compliance.
WP 5.2 continues to improve that compliance by including:
- Reduced browser motion settings
- Better labeling of the post URL slug
- Focus styling for keyboard navigation
- New speak messages for better screen-reader behavior
Take a Backup First
This is a major release, and will not auto update for you. So be sure you take a full backup before updating.
READ: WordPress Backup Checklist to ensure you’re getting everything you need.
And I would advise holding off for a few days with the update to ensure all the bugs are worked out. There were so many changes on so many fronts that there were multiple bug reports in the beta version that caused the release to be delayed for a week.
So, there may still be a few bugs to address.
Be sure to follow the BlogAid Facebook page for when it’s safe to update.
What are you looking forward to trying out in the WP 5.2 release?