What’s new in WordPress 4.4

Each new version of WordPress brings enhanced features and bug fixes to improve the Web’s most-used blogging platform. The upcoming release of WordPress, version 4.4, is slated for sometime in early December 2015 with some interesting changes.

The 4.4 codex page has already been created and is awaiting full details. But some release info has already been put out and should excite all fans of the WordPress platform.

Greater oEmbed support

WordPress 4.4 will include expanded support for oEmbed websites beyond just YouTube and Twitter.

The concept behind oEmbed is to allow for easy embedding of content based on a single URL. This means you can copy/paste a YouTube video directly into a post and WordPress will auto-generate the required embed code.

Even better, WordPress 4.4 will fully support oEmbed for all blogs that wish to use it. So now WordPress posts can be embedded directly into other websites using this same technology.

Many of these features were previously available via plugins but starting with v4.4 all oEmbed features will be added right into the WordPress core.

Default Twenty Sixteen theme

Heralding the new year is WordPress’ official theme release packaged as the default theme with WordPress 4.4. The Twenty Sixteen theme has been out for a few months and can be downloaded from GitHub or straight from the WordPress theme repo.

Twenty Sixteen is very minimal and relies primarily on typography. It’s fully responsive and perfect as a customizable template for WP theme developers. The entire layout can be restyled with various colors and offers custom sidebar positioning.

Twenty Sixteen was designed by Takashi Irie who also created the previous two themes for Twenty Fifteen and Twenty Fourteen.

Here are some of Twenty Sixteen’s major features:

  • Five color schemes: Default, Dark, Grey, Red, and Yellow
  • Optional sidebar with two menu locations
  • Fully responsive and designed for mobile first
  • Custom features like excerpts and header styles

Fully responsive images

Image media added into WordPress posts will now be fully responsive starting in WP 4.4. It’s always been possible to write fully-responsive images via CSS but that doesn’t solve high resolution screens.

Starting in v4.4 images added via WordPress will use the srcset attribute. This helps to regulate image sizes based on what each screen can properly display. The srcset attribute will be added dynamically and won’t be stored in a database table.

This may not seem like a huge deal if you’re a developer who manually builds themes to be fully responsive. But image media has always been tricky and now it’s controlled directly through WordPress to offer the sharpest rendering on all devices.

Note with this addition to the core, developers can work with many extra functions like wp_calculate_image_sizes() and wp_calculate_image_srcset().

To read more about this feature check out this recent update from Joe McGill.

WordPress core REST API

Developers will be excited to know the WP REST API is being worked in as a core feature.

This API is not fully merged yet, but the REST API infrastructure will be apart of the 4.4 core. API endpoints still require the WP API plugin, but these endpoints are an expected addition to the core in a future release.

Anyone who develops with APIs and knows about RESTful API practices will be thrilled. WordPress has grown so quickly over the years and this marks a truly exciting time for WP developers.

Changes to WP_Title

Another code-based change is the move away from WordPress’ well-known wp_title() method. This change has been in the works since WordPress 4.1 but now has much more detail moving into v4.4.

It seems the initial plan was to completely deprecate wp_title(), but this would cause a lot of confusion. The WP team has instead chosen to maintain support while encouraging devs to move onto the newer title tag feature.

There’s bound to be many other small changes but these larger points should get developers excited for the full v4.4 release.

Users who want to play around with the 4.4 beta can install WordPress Beta Tester to see the upcoming changes for themselves.

Jake is a writer covering all topics related to web design & development. You can find more info at his personal website jakerocheleau.com More articles by Jake Rocheleau
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