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What's New in WordPress 4.9 – See New Features in Action

The second major WordPress release of the year dropped today; WordPress 4.9 brings a range of improvements and enhancements in line with the user centered update promised on June 16th. See them all here. This is what’s new in WordPress 4.9.

WordPress 4.9 is like every major WordPress update, in that the community has been circling it since the announcement was made. The list of potential enhancements and features has got everyone buzzing again!

It was made clear early that there wouldn’t be a focus on Gutenberg for this release – Gutenberg will be the driver behind WordPress 5.0 next year. However, WordPress 4.9 is one for the loyalists with a couple of additions that have been waiting eight years for inclusion. This WordPress 4.9 release is an opportunity to clear the decks in preparation for Gutenberg watershed sometime next year. In that light, the changes that we see here are overwhelmingly user oriented. With a strong desire to help users with editing and management.

Does it succeed? Should you update immediately? Well, we have been running the rule over 4.9 for months now, and this article will show you its best features in detail, plus the best of the rest:


Here’s what’s new in WordPress 4.9 – the most exciting stuff

1. The Scheduler and Draft Saver

The Customizer was always great for going through with big changes. But those changes had to be done en masse, and they went live as soon as you clicked the save button. Not particularly great from a visitor’s point of view.

One of the great things about working in the updated Customizer of WordPress 4.9 is the ability to save and schedule changes.

Basically, if the new features are actors then the new scheduler is Morgan Freeman; loved by all.

The updated Customizer has replaced the Save & Publish button. You will now see Publish with a cog next to it. When you click on the cog, you open a menu with some new options: Save Draft, Schedule, Publish. This will give you the same level of control that you have in the main dashboard with your regular content.

Having this kind of functionality in the Customizer helps reduce the workload. Anything that has a time limit or is time sensitive can now be handled without needing to sit by the computer and time your Save & Publish to perfection.

WordPress 4.9 introduces the scheduler
If you need to share changes with others then you can now get the draft link right from the Customizer, too.

Click for demo
Save draft right from the customizer in WordPress 4.9

Even Matt Mullenweg himself sees these new features as game changers for the future of WordPress and what’s there to come next. In a podcast episode of Draft Podcast with Brian Krogsgard, Mullenweg had this to share:

Design drafts are going to be pretty huge. Locking and scheduling, front-end preview links. There’s some really, really cool stuff in there.Matt Mullenweg

2. The Code Syntax Error Highlighter

CodeMirror is back after eight years in the wilderness. It is not for us to rank the various new features, but if we were then this would be a close second, very close.

This is a huge improvement for all users. Who of us hasn’t added a ton of code only to Save & Publish to the sound of crickets? The change is not there. You might try the odd refresh, but really this is just a Hail Mary. You just know it in your bones that your code is missing a ; somewhere.

Well, the new feature in WordPress 4.9 will highlight the mistake and even give you a hint about the missing element, incomplete function, or faulty syntax.

I’m most excited about the syntax highlighting in Theme and Plugin editors as it’s a feature that I’ve been wanting to see for a long time. I’ve seen many newbies, including myself, crash their WordPress by making a small mistake while editing a plugin or theme. With this new feature it won’t happen any more!Hardeep Asrani
WordPress 4.9 brings Code Syntax Error Highlighting to the customizer
This is a great move, particularly to help the novice developer when they write code. For the more confident WordPress-ers, the option can be switched off in the Profile page.
Turn off Syntax Highlighting in the Profile settings

3. Widget changes


WordPress widgets get another boost in 4.9 with the gallery widget

The Gallery Widget

WordPress 4.8 brought us some pretty sweet media widgets with image, video, and audio. This is a continuation of the trend, and WordPress now allows users to add a gallery in their widget areas too. People will tell you that a plugin is the way to go but in the battle of bloat vs functionality this widget is a winner.

WordPress 4.9 will support all oEmbeds in the text widget

Add new shortcodes in text widget

In our WordPress 4.8 post, here, we lamented the absence of oEmbed support in the text widget. Well, it has arrived. You can now embed videos from any site that supports oEmbed. You can even embed your Facebook Live stream, as well as TED, CollegeHumor, FunnyOrDie. This is a big deal.

Media embedding in the text widget is possible with WordPress 4.9

Add media in text widget

As mentioned above, WordPress 4.9 will also allow you to embed media in the text widget. This was a crucial inclusion because the media specific widgets will be clearly aligned with blocks when Gutenberg arrives.


4. Other changes in WordPress 4.9

No more disappearing widgets after switching themes. Improved widget mapping means widgets should be able to find their home after a major change.
Improved theme installation from the WordPress Customizer.

Improved installation from WordPress 4.9 Customizer

Better flow for creating menus. Includes location changing options, and menu name and locations housed in the same option.

Improved menu options for WordPress 4.9

Global notification area with error messages displayed beneath the Publish button in the Customizer.

WordPress 4.9 introduces a Global Notification Area

So what do you think of all these changes? Which do you like the most? Do you enjoy the direction overall?

Don’t forget to join our crash course on speeding up your WordPress site. With some simple fixes, you can reduce your loading time by even 50-80%:

Layout and presentation by Karol K.


Or start the conversation in our Facebook group for WordPress professionals. Find answers, share tips, and get help from other WordPress experts. Join now (it’s free)!

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