1. WordPress 5.1 “Betty” Release

WordPress 5.1 “Betty” Release

WordPress 5.1 was released today.

5.1 is a major release that includes 303 bug fixes and 156 enhancements – launching the first “site health check” functionality and further performance improvements for the Gutenberg editor.

Site Health Check

The Site Health Check project is a collaborative multi-team project with a focus on encouraging better site maintenance.

The main goal is to increase the increase the PHP version supported by WordPress. With plans to make PHP 5.6 the the minimum version in April 2019.

In WordPress 5.1 notices are displayed to administrators of sites running on less than PHP 5.6. WordPress will also start honoring plugin PHP version requirements.

Gutenberg performance

Since the release of Gutenberg in 5.0 the performance and experience has continued to be improved.

In 5.1 Gutenberg should feel a little quicker to start, and typing should feel smoother.

Multi-site metadata

A new database table – wp_blogmeta – has been added for storing metadata related to sites.

This provides an official place for shared metadata for a multi-site WordPress installation.

wp-cron improvements

5.1 introduces a change in behaviour for cron spawning on servers running fastcgi and PHP 7.0.16+.

The change improves handling of big cron jobs by having wp-cron.php return a response immediately, allowing additional requests to run at the same time.

There were also a number of developer focused changes – with new functions and standardising return values of existing functions.

Developer love

5.1 is packed with useful updates for developers, including:

How to install the update?

As a major release 5.1 will need to be installed manually.

You will need to install by logging into your WordPress administration console and go to the Dashboard -> Updates page.

As always, backing up the site before installing updates is highly recommended.

WSOD protection feature bumped from WordPress 5.1

Earlier this week security concerns were raised about the WSOD (White Screen Of Death) feature which was planned to be released in the upcoming WordPress 5.1 release.

The feature got as far as beta 2 but has been withdrawn so the security concerns can be properly addressed.

The decision to revert a new feature so late in the development cycle is rare and unusual for WordPress. But the decision was made due to the complexity of the feature.

The security concerns included:

  • A plugin could be paused due to another plugin using excessive resources
    This would cause confusion for administrators as the cause of the issue will be hard to determine.
  • Malicious code could selectively pause another plugin
    An attacker could pause a security plugin while performing an attack – leaving the site falsely appearing protected by the security plugin.

The WSOD feature is part of the Site Health Check project which aims to increase the increase the PHP version supported by WordPress. With plans to make PHP 5.6 the the minimum version in April 2019 the WSOD feature should help avoid critical errors which could lock administrators out of their websites.

Work will continue on the feature with the aim of it being released in WordPress 5.2.