On August 8th, 2023, many WordPress users turned their attention to the next major update: WordPress 6.3. We’ve delved into this new version and are here to share the changes and innovations it introduced.
It was evident from the Wordcamp Europe held in Athens from June 8th to 10th, 2023, that WordPress, despite its market dominance, continues to evolve and has ambitious plans and objectives. In celebration of it’s 20-year existence, there was extensive discussion about its future and the recently released major update. There was also news that work on update 6.4 was underway, slated for a November 7th, 2023 release. We’ll be sure to keep you updated as more information emerges.
The New WordPress Version Was Named “Lionel”
By August 8th, it was revealed that the new WordPress version was named “Lionel”. Staying true to tradition, WordPress continued naming its major versions after jazz musicians. This particular one was named in honor of the American jazz artist, Lionel Hampton.
Key Features of WordPress 6.3: Emphasis on Full Site Editing (FSE)
Ever since its introduction in WordPress 5.9, FSE has been continually developed to become a full-fledged page builder. It wasn’t surprising to see the Site Editor being a significant feature of WordPress 6.3, coming with numerous enhancements. It remained usable only within designated “Block Themes” (FSE-Themes) – themes specifically designed for Full Site Editing.
The Site Editor received a series of updates, including improved user-friendliness and a revamped navigation section, which simplifies the control of different website settings and options. New sections for “Pages” and “Styles” were added to the Site Editor.
Additionally, the introduction of the “Command Center” tool piqued interest. It allows users to navigate the website more efficiently using command prompts, facilitating jumps to specific pages or template sections.
A Step Toward GDPR Compliance
With the latest 6.3 update, WordPress introduced an integrated font tool. This allowed fonts to be directly uploaded through the editor or saved from the Google Font Library to one’s server. This addressed past GDPR concerns, where using fonts from sources like Google’s font library risked non-compliance with the GDPR. With this new feature, such risks were eliminated.
Wrapping Up Phase 2 of the WordPress Gutenberg Editor
The Gutenberg Editor, named after the inventor of the modern printing press, Johannes Gutenberg, has seen significant developments since its introduction. By August 30th, 2018, the first phase of Gutenberg had been launched with update 5.0. With the 6.3 update, the finalization process of Gutenberg Phase 2 began.
This update brought an array of enhancements to the Gutenberg Editor, including:
Integration and optimization of “Openverse” via the “Media-Tab”.
Enhanced navigation between pages and templates.
Improved navigation block with list-based editing.
Better standard patterns and their categorizations.
A more intuitive user interface.
Advanced layout tools for specific areas.
Introduction of “mini-previews” for each block type.
Removal of the Beta status.
And various other optimizations and bug fixes.
More Optimizations? Yes, More Optimizations!
Despite the major update, we expect ongoing minor updates to enhance performance. WordPress 6.3 brought numerous improvements, both systemically and in terms of usability. Focus on performance optimization was evident, aiming to achieve top loading speeds. This included API improvements, addressing Lazy-Load issues, and optimized script loading behaviors. PHP compatibility was also expanded to cover versions 8.0 to 8.2.
Our Verdict: WordPress is Becoming More Autonomous
With the latest version and the Full Site Editing capabilities, WordPress took a significant step toward self-sufficiency. However, is it signaling the end for renowned builder plugins like Elementor, DIVI, or WPBakery? Not necessarily. While Gutenberg can craft comprehensive websites, it remains a preferred choice mostly for dedicated users. We believe builder plugins still offer a more beginner-friendly approach. Professional web designers and agencies with years of experience with tools like Elementor might not switch to Gutenberg overnight.
However, WordPress 6.3 presented an excellent opportunity to familiarize with and specialize in this editor, especially with built-in features like internal font management.
To see a modern website crafted with Gutenberg, check out the official Wordcamp Europe website: https://europe.wordcamp.org/2023/
We keenly observed these developments and are eagerly awaiting WordPress 6.4, scheduled for November 2023, which will likely introduce the final “Phase 4” of the Gutenberg Editor.
Interested in updating your WordPress website? Contact us.