WordPress 6.5 is in the Works: Here’s What We Know So Far

by Jason Cosper
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The digital landscape is ever-changing, with web development at its forefront. WordPress, the titan of content management systems, has always managed to keep its users on the edge of their seats with its triannual updates. The upcoming WordPress 6.5 release, slated for March 2024, is no exception. This version will — no doubt — promise a slew of improvements and new features designed to supercharge the performance, customization, and collaborative capabilities of the platform.

Although there has yet to be a complete list of improvements and new features released as of November 15, 2023, there are several key areas of development that we do know we can look forward to seeing. We dig into those below.

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So, What’s On the Drawing Board?

Performant Translations

Arguably one of the most anticipated enhancements in the pipeline is the introduction of performant translations. This feature is a brainchild of the WordPress Performance Team, who have set out to turbocharge the performance of sites that utilize translations.

The performant translations feature encompasses a novel, streamlined internationalization (i18n) library. This powerhouse not only provides lightning-fast speed but also economizes on memory usage while loading the binary MO files used for translations in WordPress. The result? A seamless, efficient experience for site users and developers alike.

The library is also engineered to support the simultaneous loading of multiple locales, thus accelerating the process of locale switching. Additionally, it extends support to translations housed in PHP files. This innovative approach sidesteps the need for a binary file format and leverages server level caching, if available, to further enhance site speed and memory efficiency.

Font Library

Typography plays a pivotal role in shaping a website’s aesthetic appeal and user experience. Recognizing this, WordPress 6.5 will feature a revolutionary Font Library. This feature, initially slated for WordPress 6.4 but subsequently postponed to 6.5, promises to redefine typography management across WordPress sites.

The Font Library will empower users to peruse an extensive repository of open-license fonts in the admin panel, offering an experience akin to managing media. It’s worth noting that this library will not be constrained by theme dependencies, but will be extensible for plugin developers, providing greater flexibility and customization options.

The Font Library will also pioneer server-side @font-face CSS generation and printing. All in all, this groundbreaking feature is forecasted to significantly enhance the visual appeal and overall aesthetics of any WordPress sites that decide to leverage it.

Focus on Collaboration Features

WordPress 6.5 is also gearing up to place a heightened emphasis on collaboration features. This focus is part of Phase 3 of the Gutenberg project, which is dedicated to bolstering collaborative capabilities within WordPress.

These collaboration-centric features are set to be a key highlight of the 6.5 release and future versions throughout 2024. Users can anticipate a more cooperative and user-friendly WordPress platform, making web development and content creation a more engaging and streamlined process.

Improvements to WordPress admin accessibility

Admin notices inform WordPress users when something goes right — or wrong.

This new version of WordPress aims to provide mechanisms to assist users with accessibility needs navigate through the notices in a standardized way, outside of the existing than visual indication.

Along with this improvement, work is in progress regarding the focus styling in form inputs, buttons, and links to use a higher contrast. This continues with the previous work introduced in WordPress 5.3 to include some focusable elements that were previously missing.

Automate the workflows for testing WordPress

Build package installations for new releases (such as wordpress-6.5.zip) are manually tested by WordPress.org core developers and release party attendees when a new version is released — but they don’t usually cover an extensive range of PHP, MySQL, and older WordPress versions. With over 60,000 plugins and hundreds of different hosting configurations, it’s kind of hard to account for everything!

For this next version of WordPress, these tests could include more areas of focus programmatically to help avoid incompatibilities.

There is also a proposal to include links to WordPress Playground to automatically generate a testing environment for every new piece of functionality or patch without having to install a copy of WordPress locally. This could mean more people with non-technical skills could test and provide feedback.

Disable autoload for large options

WordPress is dazzlingly fast out of the box, but as a website grows with content and new functionality being added, it can become slow. Especially when unoptimized plugins bloat the database with options that load on every visit.

The proposal for this new version of WordPress is to prevent these options from being autoloaded if they grow past a specific size to help with speed.

Automatic Update Rollbacks

A key feature generating buzz is the ability to rollback auto updates for plugins and themes. This feature, already accessible as the “Rollback Auto Update” plugin, is a game-changer in website management. It automatically reverts plugins to a prior version if an auto-update fails, enhancing update confidence, site security, and reducing support dependency. While it adds a layer of security, regular site backups remain essential. The inclusion of this feature in WordPress 6.5 signifies a significant step forward in making website management more seamless and user-friendly.

Read more: Will “Rollback Auto Update” Be Included in WordPress 6.5?

Digital Eyes Open, More to Come

WordPress 6.5 is poised to usher in a wave of significant improvements and features that promise to elevate the user experience for experienced developers and new users alike. With a keen focus on performance, customization, and collaboration, this release marks a major step forward in web development.

Stay tuned for more updates on WordPress 6.5, coming soon!

Jason is DreamHost’s WordPress Product Advocate, based out of Bakersfield, CA. He is currently working on making our DreamPress product even better. In his free time, he likes to curl up on the couch and watch scary movies with his wife Sarah and three very small dogs. Follow him on Twitter.