Exciting New Features in WordPress 6.5 – Now Releasing April 2nd

WordPress 6.5 Release Announcement Title Image

WordPress 6.5 was set to release on March 26, 2024, but has been delayed one week until April 2. The new version is packed with new features for both Users and Developers.

Many new features and improvements are focused on performance and site speed, as well as huge steps forward for the WordPress post editor and site editor.

Potentially Breaking Changes

The minimum MySQL version has been increased from 5.0 to 5.5.5. While MySQL version 5.0 has been at End-of-Life status since 2012, it was a part of Oracle’s Lifetime support Model. Most modern Web Hosts should already have MySQL or MariaDB versions that will meet this requirement. If you’re not sure, you can execute the command mysql -V from the command line to view your current version.

The Font Library – For Block Themes Only, for Now

The most exciting new feature in 6.5 may be the introduction of the Fonts Library. While this feature is exclusively available for Block Themes that use the Site Editor, support for traditional Themes is coming in a future release.

A view of the font library
A view of the Font Library

The Fonts Library is also the cause for the delay in release, as the development community identified a few high-impact bugs that needed to be addressed, and to react to user feedback about the storage location for the font files. Fonts will now be stored in wp-content/uploads/fonts.

Installing a font from Google Fonts
Installing a font from Google Fonts

This feature has been a pain point for WordPress creators in the past, with many plugins in the repo developed to address the problem of storing fonts from popular providers like Adobe and Google Fonts locally to avoid conflicting with privacy regulations like the GDPR. Previously, the onus of choosing and storing fonts has been on Theme developers, and this change will allow all WordPress users to use any typography their creative minds can conceive.

Many New Editor and Site Editor Features

Background Image Improvements

Blocks with image backgrounds are receiving new controls for Size, Repeat, and Position. Additionally, Cover blocks are receiving improvements to use an Aspect Ratio setting to allow better mobile presentation of the cover.

Pullquotes Add Margin and Padding support

The Pullquote block now allows user-control of the margin and padding for the block, allowing users to customize the appearance of their pullquotes without modifying their theme’s settings.

Drop Shadow Controls

WordPress 6.5 expands the Drop Shadow capability to new blocks, including the button, image, and columns blocks. Additionally, you can now modify the radius and border of shadows per-block, unless your theme specifically opts out of this by forcing the use of presets.

Many Other Miscellaneous Improvements

The Core and Gutenberg teams have added over 350 enhancements to the Editor and Site Editor, and fixed over 500 bugs. Check out the comprehensive list here.

New Smaller Image Format

WordPress will now support the AVIF image format, which is a super-performant image compression format. Sites using the new format will enjoy much faster site speed scores, even over the WebP format.

Plugin Dependencies

Plugins can now utilize the Plugin Dependency system to ensure that they have all of their requirements met. For example, an add-on for WooCommerce will no longer activate unless WooCommerce is installed. This will prevent frustration when searching for new plugins.

Interactive Block API

The new Interactivity API gives Block developers a set of powerful tools to create interactivity without the need for additional JavaScript Libraries. This improves performance and gives developers the ability to provide a single-page application type of user experience.

Check it out in depth at the 27:45 mark in the 2023 State of the Word.

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