7 Big Changes that Make WordPress 4.9 Better

WordPress 4.9 (named “Tipton” after jazz musician/band leader Billy Tipton) is rolling out, and it includes some exciting new improvements.

WordPress 4.9 welcome screen

WordPress 4.9 Customizer Improvements

The improvement I’m most looking forward to is the ability to save draft changes in the Customizer.

What does this mean? According to WordPress:

“Just like you can draft and revise posts and schedule them to go live on the date and time you choose, you can now tinker with your site’s design and schedule those design changes to go live as you please.”

I’m very excited about this!

For example, if you want to change your WordPress theme, you used to need to have your site offline for at least a little while changing theme settings. With 4.9, though, you’ll be able to:

  • Install the new theme
  • Make your changes in the Customizer and save them as drafts
  • Schedule when they go live

Do it right, and you can eliminate the offline time.

Other changes include better collaboration, and safeguarding your work.

Collaborate more easily

WordPress 4.9 gives you a preview link you can send to colleagues or collaborators so they can look at your proposed changes. Previously, the only way someone could see changes before they went live was by logging into the WordPress dashboard.

Safeguard your work

If more than one person works on your site, you’ll appreciate this one.

Now you can lock your work against someone else’s changes. Use the new design lock to prevent another designer from inadvertently overriding changes you’ve made in draft.

Save your work

Just in case you forget to save, “WordPress 4.9 will politely ask whether or not you’d like to save your unsaved changes.”

Better Error Checking

If you change underlying CSS or PHP files, WordPress will now warn if you’re about to save a change that includes a syntax error. Sort of like spell checker for coders.

Menus and Widgets

Here’s another improvement that will help when you’re changing themes.

Until now, when you changed your theme, you had to rebuild your menus and widgets. With WordPress 4.9, they’ll carry over to the new theme reasonably seamlessly. (You may have to move widgets around a bit.) Basically, if the menu locations and widget areas have similar IDs, they’ll transfer smoothly.

The process of creating custom menus will be smoother with 4.9 as well.

Version 4.8 saw some changes to widgets, and WordPress 4.9 continues with widget changes as well. Those will let you:

  • Embed videos from other sources than YouTube and Vimeo
  • Embed videos inside text widgets
  • Add media in text widgets (yay!)
  • A new gallery widget

The new video embedding couldn’t be easier. To try it out I grabbed a small .mp4 video that was sitting on my hard drive and dragged it into the media uploader. Then I opened Appearance / Widgets, selected VideoPrimary Sidebar / Add widget. I gave it a title, clicked Add Video to open the media library, and selected my video. I clicked the Add to widget button, and voilá! A playable video in the sidebar without any special plugins, coding, etc.

video widget in the sidebar WordPress 4.9 There are other changes of course, the behind-the-scenes stuff that causes developers to drool and the rest of us to yawn. . .

Click here for the announcement from WordPress.

Why Are Updates Important?

Updating to the newest version of WordPress is vital to your site’s security. In the majority of cases where WordPress sites are hacked, the bad guys get in by exploiting known vulnerabilities in outdated versions of WordPress, plugins, or themes.

If you don’t have the time or can’t be bothered to update, keep your site safe by subscribing to a service, like mine, that will take care of it for you.


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