WordPress 5.9 Release Date and Planned Features

WordPress 5.9 will be released in December 2021. It will be the third and final major release of the year. 

This release will be led by WordPress founding developer Matt Mullenweg. 

Most of what is expected for WordPress 5.9 is yet to be determined, but this article will cover the information that is available regarding the official release schedule and possible planned features.

WordPress 5.9 Release Schedule

The official WordPress 5.9 release schedule is currently empty with all dates between now and December marked TBD. 

Exact dates are not added until a release cycle kicks off to ensure there is enough time to work on the issues and features that are planned. 

WordPress 5.9 Planned Features

This release is the next step in Stage Two of the Gutenberg Project, which is a four-phase project. 

The second phase is called: Customization — Full Site editing, Block Patterns, Block Directory, Block based themes. 

Full-site editing was partially introduced in WordPress 5.8, and Block Patterns took a step forward with the release of WordPress Pattern Directory, so it’s logical to think that WordPress 5.9 will bring more enhancements in those areas. 

While we will not know the exact features that will be included in WordPress 5.9 until a later date, WordPress core contributor Matias Ventura recently released an article quick overview of the main areas and features currently underway in Gutenberg for the release of 5.9. 

Some features are further along in development than others, but they give us a potential idea of what we might be looking forward to.

Among the features he mentioned in his article include:

  • Blocks + intrinsic web design: The base goal in this area is to make more responsive tools available to pattern and theme builders. Each block area should be intrinsically responsive in order to allow blocks to compose together, stack, wrap, and organize themselves to accommodate different spaces and screens. 
  • Patterns: Some goals are to expand pattern categories and improve the overall user experience when browsing them. 
  • Navigation Menus: WordPress is aiming to complete long-running navigation block and navigation menu projects that are a main target for WordPress 5.9. The team is still working to improve the user experience, reduce complexity, and test as much as possible on different themes. 
  • An interface for theme.json: WordPress 5.8 laid the groundwork for how themes will start to control various aspects of  how blocks render and how the interface is controlled. The next step is a project called “Global Styles” that is working to develop the user interface that allows users to interact with those style properties.
  • Design Tools: Colors, Typography, Spacing, Layout: WordPress continues to progress in its effort to introduce better and more consistent design tools. The team is working on tools that need to integrate smoothly with both the block API and theme.json. One of its main goals is consistent access to similar tools across blocks, including native and third-party ones.
  • Formalize editing flows for block themes: A majority of the features and basic infrastructure required to build block themes have been introduced at this point. WordPress now turns its attention to UX and design improvements.

For now, there is not too much else known about the features expected to be released in WordPress 5.9, but we will dive into these features in more depth as we move closer to the official release.

For those that would like to contribute, WordPress uses Slack for real-time communication. Contributors live all over the world, so discussions are happening at all hours of the day.

The core development meetings are every Wednesday at 20:00 UTC in the #core channel on Slack. Anyone is welcome to join, participate, or just listen in. 

We will continue to update this article with current WordPress 5.9 release information as it becomes available. Bookmark this page and stay tuned for updates. 

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