And WordPress 4.9.1 is here, so what’s new?

WordPress 4.9 was released just few weeks ago, and already this morning we are updated to 4.9.1.

This is the 2nd, and the last major WordPress release of 2017 with some new features and enhancements of varying importance to most of us.

With everyone getting excited (depending on who you’re taking to angry or happy!) over Gutenberg launching in WordPress 5.0 next year, it’s easy to forget that WordPress had another major version update that went live in the past month.

Lets see if us Monkeys can run though quickly what’s new in WordPress 4.9.1 and which features you should (and probably won’t ever!) try after updating your website to WordPress 4.9.

So, what IS new in WordPress 4.9.1

4.9.1 is what is called a major WordPress release by the WPHive. If you are on a managed WordPress hosting service by one of the big hosts (and have ticked the right box) then you will probably just get an email saying that it has been done. For the rest of you, you will have to manually initiate the update in your Admin section.

Important: As always, don’t forget to run a total WordPress backup before starting the update, they do go wrong, we know, we make a living out of fixing ’em!

New Theme Browsing in The Customizer

WordPress 4.9.1 brings quite a few big improvements to the WordPress customizer.

Browsing through themes in the Customizer
Browsing through themes in the Customizer

Previewing and changing themes directly from customizer is now a heck of a lot more user friendly. You can view all your installed themes in the preview panel and click on the live preview button to load them in customizer.

You can also browse and search themes and install them directly from customizer.

Save and Schedule Changes in The Customizer

Changes in the Customizer can be saved as drafts or scheduled to be published later
Changes in the Customizer can be saved as drafts or scheduled to be published later

WordPress 4.9 brings changesets to theme customizer. It is like post revisions but for your theme changes. You can store changes without applying them.

Save theme draft

This new feature also allows you to easily share a preview of those changes with anyone. Simply copy the preview URL and send it to any user. They will be able to see the new changes without login.

Share customizer changes preview

WordPress 4.9 also allows you to easily schedule theme changes to be automatically published later.

Schedule theme changes in customizer

Theme developers will now be able to use these new changes in the customizer JS API. These changes will allow them to add better controls, beautiful outer panels, and display notifications on screen.

New Gallery Widget in WordPress 4.9

WordPress 4.8 introduced to us some shiny new media widgets such as rich text, audio, image, and video. WordPress 4.9.1 builds more on that with the introduction of the new gallery widget.

The new Gallery widget
The new Gallery widget

This new Gallery widget lets you create a native WordPress gallery and add it to your WordPress sidebar or any widget ready areas.

Add Media Button in Text Widget

The text widget in WordPress 4.8 came with plain text and HTML tabs, which was nice. But if you wanted to add an image in sidebar text widget, then you still had to write the HTML code = YEUGH!

WordPress 4.9.1 has finally fixed this by adding the ‘Add Media’ button in the text widget 🙂 . Now you can simply select or upload an image directly inside the text widget.

OEmbed Support Outside Post Content

Previously automatic embeds didn’t work in areas other than post content. With WordPress 4.9, oEmbeds will now work in text widgets and other areas as well.

 WordPress 4.9 oEmbeds are allowed in Text widgets
WordPress 4.9 oEmbeds are allowed in Text widgets

Shortcode in Sidebar Text Widgets

WordPress didn’t allow shortcode execution in text widgets. Users had to explicitly enable shortcodes in text widgets. WordPress 4.9 will finally change that and users will be able to add shortcodes in text widgets out of the box.

New Code Editing Experience in WordPress 4.9

WordPress allows you to add HTML/CSS code at various places like theme editor, custom CSS panel, or in custom HTML widget.
Previously, these areas were plain text boxes and didn’t look or act like a proper code editor.

WordPress 4.9 has changed that by adding syntax highlighting, code suggestions, and auto-completion into those areas.
Code editing in WordPress 4.9

If you have ever faced syntax error when editing your theme, then this enhancement will automatically fix many common mistakes that cause such errors.

Error highlighting

If you don’t want to use the syntax highlighting feature, then you can still easily disable it. Simply go to your profile page and uncheck the syntax highlighting option.

Disable syntax highlighting

One of the big usability issues beginners faced was directly making changes from WordPress built-in editor without fully understanding the consequences. A slightest mistake would lead to a syntax error and making their websites inaccessible.
WordPress 4.9 now shows a warning to users when they access the editor.

Theme editor warning

It will also show users helpful tips and point them to custom CSS panel in the customizer.

However, many users access the editor not to make changes but to quickly look up code. Particularly when they are working on child themes. To help those users, the editor will now recursively show files and folder in the sidebar for easier browsing of all files in a theme folder.
Files and directories in theme editor

Safety Precautions

Another interesting aspect of the WordPress 4.9.1 Tipton update is that WordPress now warns users that try to edit their theme or plugins directly. WordPress will also warn users that try to edit their themes or plugins for errors before saving (to avoid white screen of death).

Under The Hood Changes

WordPress 4.9 also brings several great changes for developers as well, but we are not going to go into that here as most of them are broing and techie LOL 😀

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