WordPress 5.3 “Kirk” Released

Written: 13.11.2019 Updated: 13.11.2019

November 12 gave us a new WordPress version 5.3, also known as “Kirk” in honor of the late great jazz multi-instrumentalist Rahsaan Roland Kirk. The new version comes with many new features, a new default theme Twenty Twenty, improvements to media handling and accessibility, and a whopping 366 bug fixes.

Bigger is Better

Improved large image support will take care of unoptimized, high-resolution pictures taken with a modern smartphone or other high-quality cameras. With larger default image sizes, pictures will look better than ever on WordPress 5.3.

Improved Accessibility

The block editor styles are now integrated into the admin interface, fixing many accessibility issues, from the color contrast on form fields and buttons and consistency between editor and admin interfaces to animations that make interacting with blocks feel natural.

If you use a keyboard to navigate the dashboard, you’ll be glad to know that the block editor now has a Navigation mode. It lets you move between blocks without having to tab through every single block control.

20/20 Vision

WordPress 5.3 makes it easier to tweak the design of your site with improvements like a new Group block that makes it easy to divide a page into sections, fixed column widths in the Columns block, color controls in Heading blocks, and additional style options that make it possible to set your preferred style for any block that support the feature.

The new default theme Twenty Twenty takes these improvements through their paces. It’s built with flexibility in mind and will provide you with a combination of columns, groups, and media blocks. Clarity and readability are also a big focus, which fits the name of the theme nicely. The theme is designed by Anders Norén and includes a typeface called Inter, designed by Rasmus Andersson. Both designers hail from Sweden.

Smaller Things You’ll Likely Encounter

When uploading images their rotation will be automatically corrected based on the image metadata. This feature was first proposed already nine years ago and the fact that it now is reality is a testament to the dedication of the WordPress community.

The improvements to the Site Health Check feature, which was originally introduced in the previous 5.2 version, make it even easier to identify issues on your site when running 5.3.

You’ll be occasionally asked to confirm that your admin email address is up to date when logging in as an administrator. Thus changing your email address doesn’t lock you out of your site.

Developers, Developers

Developers will be glad to know that this version aims to fully support the upcoming PHP 7.4. There are multiple changes to remove deprecated functionality and ensure compatibility in this version. As always, running the latest supported versions of PHP alongside WordPress is strongly recommended.

What Does This Mean for Seravo Customers?

Seravo will update all customers running WordPress 5.x to the latest WordPress 5.3 version in the near future. Since 5.3 is not a security update, we won’t, however, be rushing these updates.

As we have communicated in the 5.0 release post, we are currently not yet updating customers from WordPress 4.x versions to 5.x due to backward-incompatible changes with many plugins. As the WordPress ecosystem matures we will proceed with these updates as well.

To summarize, as our customer you don’t need to worry about updates. We will take care of them for you.

Further Reading

For more information around the release, look at the release post and the more developer-oriented Field Guide.

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Toni Laakso

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