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5.3 expands and refines the block editor with more intuitive interactions and improved accessibility. New features in the editor increase design freedoms, provide additional layout options and style variations to allow designers more control over the look of a site. [WordPress.org]
Block Editor Improvements
This enhancement-focused update introduces over 150 new features and usability improvements, including improved large image support for uploading non-optimized, high-resolution pictures taken from your smartphone or other high-quality cameras. Combined with larger default image sizes, pictures always look their best.
This release also introduces the Twenty Twenty theme giving the user more design flexibility and integration with the block editor. Creating beautiful web pages and advanced layouts has never been easier.
Expanded Design Flexibility
WordPress 5.3 adds even more robust tools for creating amazing designs.
- The new Group block lets you easily divide your page into colorful sections.
- The Columns block now supports fixed column widths.
- The new predefined layouts make it a cinch to arrange content into advanced designs.
- Heading blocks now offer controls for text and background color.
- Additional style options allow you to set your preferred style for any block that supports this feature.
Automatic Image Rotation
Your images will be correctly rotated upon upload according to the embedded orientation data. This feature was first proposed nine years ago and made possible through the perseverance of many dedicated contributors.
Improved Site Health Checks
The improvements introduced in 5.3 make it even easier to identify issues. Expanded recommendations highlight areas that may need troubleshooting on your site from the Health Check screen.
Admin Email Verification
You’ll now be periodically asked to confirm that your admin email address is up to date when you log in as an administrator. This reduces the chance of getting locked out of your site if you change your email address.
PHP 7.4 Compatibility
WordPress 5.3 aims to fully support PHP 7.4. This release contains multiple changes to remove deprecated functionality and ensure compatibility. WordPress continues to encourage all users to run the latest and greatest versions of PHP.
WordPress Updating Tips
WARNING: The upgrade process will affect all files and folders included in the main WordPress installation. This includes all the core files used to run WordPress. If you have made any changes to those files, your changes will be lost.
When updating WordPress themes or plugins following the simple steps below can save you some headaches. With full revision updates (for example: 4.x to 5.0):
Doing a quick double-check with theme and plugin developers *before* updating to see if they have any concerns or comments about your theme and the new version is wise. If you are using quality a theme and plugins the developer(s) will be on top of this.
To help you safely and easily update to the most recent version of WordPress.
Before you update we need to do a little housekeeping:
- Save your WordPress XML file to your hard drive. You do this by clicking on the Tools icon in the left sidebar and then Export. On the next screen click on Download Export File. You might want to create a new Folder on your hard drive where you keep all your Website files. Name it WP Backup so you know to save all backup files for WP there (and you'll know where to find them if you need them). It is a good idea to back up this file once a month anyway regardless if an update is needed.
- Backup your WordPress database. If you are on a Managed WordPress Hosting platform, go to your hosting Dashboard and create a backup-point there. On most WordPress Managed hosts you can create a "backup-point" in your hosting dashboard which backs up your site at that moment in time. If you are on shared hosting, there is a nifty plugin that makes this process a no-brainer, UpdraftPlus WordPress Backup Plugin. This plugin is also a must have for repairing and optimizing your database (which you should be doing minimally monthly to keep things running smoothly).
- FTP into your Web hosting server and download a copy of your database backup so you have a copy off your server. That backup won't do you any good if the server crashes or has issues. Even better, store the backup file in the cloud or on an external drive in case you have computer problems.
- Cover all the bases and download your theme/framework/child theme folders to your local hard drive. This is just good practice if you have customized any theme files.
- Then, to be safe, deactivate all plugins before upgrading.
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It is a good idea to review my article:
WordPress How To: Do the Mother of All Backups
Don't forget to reactivate and update your plugins. You'll see with each WordPress update that plugin developers also update their plugins which you can also do with one click. You'll see the nag bar under the plugin name in the plugins area with a link to "update now."
If you find after an update that something is not working as it was, go through the systematic process of deactivating your plugins one at a time until you find the culprit. If the developer has not updated his/her plugin to work with the lasted update, find another plugin whose developer is on top of these things! [READ: How to Easily Fix a WordPress White Screen (and Troubleshoot for Conflicts)]
Updating should not be ignored or put off. When you keep up with WordPress, have a Premium Theme and Plugin updates, you are not only keeping up with technology, but you make sure your site is secure and functioning error free.
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