WordPress 6.6 New Features and Changes

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WordPress 6.6 “Dorsey”, the second major release of 2024 has finally arrived. This release brings various improvements to the Data Views, all-new pattern management for Classic themes, automatic rollback for plugin updates, and more.

New Features and Changes in WordPress 6.6

Editor Updates

Enhancements to Data Views

WordPress 6.5 introduced all new Data Views and the upcoming WordPress 6.6 will enhance it further. This new enhancement will result in a new layout that offers much more information as compared to the previous one. The new Data Views can be seen in the Site Editor menus such as Pages, templates, and Patterns.

For example, this is how the Pages section in the Site Editor in WordPress 6.5 looks.

site editor in WordPress 6.5

Now, this is how the Pages section will look like with the release of WordPress 6.6.

All new site editor in WordPress 6.6

This will provide the users with a new layout and new filter features to smoothen the workflow.

Improvements to the Styles section

The styles section in WordPress 6.6 has seen a couple of changes. The first new feature is an all-new Palettes and Typography section within the left-hand side menu.

changes to the styles section in WordPress 6.6

These two new features can also be accessed from within the Global styles, under Color and Typography.

Shadows in Global Styles

A new feature in WordPress 6.6 is within the Global Styles, called the Shadows option.

New shadows feature in global styles

This allows users to create various shadow styles that can be used site-wide. There are default as well as custom options that users can choose from.

various shadow settings in global styles

Changes to the Post Editor

The Post editor has seen a couple of new changes in WordPress 6.6 and the Beta 1 release post has named this change as “ a new publish flow”. 

The Command Palette is now accessible with the block editor and the various options on the right-hand side have also changed.

This is the Post editor in WordPress 6.5.

Post editor in WordPress 6.5

This is the editor with the above-mentioned changes expected to ship with WordPress 6.6.

New post editor in WordPress 6.6

Block Visibility

Now with the upcoming WordPress version, when you insert a block and select the block inserter, you will be presented with an updated view. The first section shows the blocks you can insert into the current block and the next section shows all the other blocks you can freely use outside of the selected block.

For example in WordPress 6.5, this is how it looks with the list block when you select the block inserter.

block inserter in WordPress 6.5

With WordPress 6.6, you can spot the new change easily when selecting the block inserter.

updated block inserter view in WordPress 6.6

This release also merges eight Gutenberg releases into the core, from versions 17.8, 17.9, 18.0, 18.1, 18.2, 18.3, 18.4, and 18.5. Also, dev notes for the miscellaneous editor and developer changes in WordPress 6.6 have been published.

Block Updates

Group Block Improvement

The Group block will now have a new layout called “Grid”.

New grid option in Group block for WordPress 6.6

Negative Margins

This new feature in WordPress 6.6 will allow users to define a negative value to the margins and play around with the style.

New negative amrgins feature arriving with WordPress 6.6

Synced Patterns Override

The synced patterns overrides feature will now arrive with WordPress 6.6. It was originally set to be released with WordPress 6.5 but later got punted. This new feature allows users to edit the content of synced patterns at specific instances without the changes being reflected across all synced patterns site-wide.

Synced pattern overrides settings

All New Pattern Management in Classic Themes

One major change in the upcoming WordPress version will be related to the Patterns management in the Classic themes. What this allows the users on a Classic theme is to manage patterns the same way as one would do it in a Block theme.

With the upcoming release, with a Classic theme installed, when accessing the Appearence>Patterns, a new UI will be visible for the patterns management in Classic themes. This will be similar to the one in Block themes.

new pattern management option for classic theme in WordPress 6.6

Miscellaneous Changes

Rollback auto-updates for plugins

This new enhancement will make sure that websites do not face any downtime arising from plugin updates. How this operates is that, if a plugin update causes fatal errors on your website after a version update, WordPress will automatically revert that plugin to the previous version.

This greatly reduces the chances of white screen of death, which can negatively affect the users.

Improvements to several APIs

The various APIs such as the Interactivity API, Block Hooks API, HTML API, Custom Fields, and Block Bindings API will also be enhanced for the upcoming release. The Options API has undergone a change with regard to disabling autoload for large options.

Internationalization improvements

There will also be various internationalization improvements such as enhanced support for only using PHP translation files, a new lang_dir_for_domain filter, and additional context for the load_translation_file filter. 

Theme.json version 3

The version 3 of theme.json will land with WordPress 6.6.  Also, it is recommended to upgrade to version 3 when your minimum supported WordPress version reaches 6.6.

All new data structure

The new data structure will be called WP_Token_Map. This is closely related to the HTML API. As per the official post, “ The WP_Token_Map is a purpose-built class designed to take a large set of static string tokens with static string replacements, and then be used as a lookup and replacement mechanism”.

Site-wide background image support

Now, users can define site-wide background images in theme.json and the Site Editor. Other changes with regard to themes include section styles and CSS specificity.

JSX in WordPress 6.6

With the release of WordPress 6.6, developers can opt to use the React JSX transform that was released in React 17. A detailed guide has been provided on how to use JSX in the upcoming version, which mainly requires developers to make changes to the build scripts and files.

Gearing up for React 19

The upcoming version will use the React 18.3 library, but certain warnings have been added to alert the developers well ahead of the forthcoming upgrade to React 19.

End of support for PHP 7.0 and 7.1

From WordPress 6.6 onwards, the minimum supported version of PHP will be 7.2.24, and support for PHP 7.0 and 7.1 will be discontinued.

Wrapping up

The final major release of this year, WordPress 6.7 as of now is scheduled for November 12 and we can expect Phase 3 of Gutenberg to progress significantly.

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