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What’s new in WordPress 5.2?

What’s new in WordPress 5.2?

Posted 04th July, 2019 by Sarah

One of the best things about a platform like WordPress is that it’s always evolving. It may require a little effort to keep up with all the changes, but being aware of them helps you stay prepared and ensures you can adjust your site if necessary.

WordPress has gone through a number of significant updates lately, and the latest version – 5.2 – is no different. While it doesn’t bring any changes that are quite as dramatic as those seen in version 5.0, it’s still an update worth knowing about.

In this post, we’ll discuss what’s new in WordPress 5.2, and what it all means for you.

Why WordPress updates matter

WordPress may have been around for more than 15 years now, but it hasn’t become stagnant. On the contrary, it receives regular updates to this day. Some add new and significant features, and others make small tweaks to existing functionality. There are also updates focused specifically on improving the platform’s security.

If you run a WordPress website for your business, it’s vital to make sure it’s always updated to the latest version. This is essential for maintaining consistent security and performance. Outdated versions of the software may have known vulnerabilities, and are more likely to cause conflicts with the plug-ins and themes you have installed.

What’s more, updating WordPress regularly ensures you have access to the latest features and improvements. Before updating your site, it’s a good idea to do a little research into what changes have been made, so you know what to expect.

In the rest of this post, we’ll be focusing on what you’re in for when updating WordPress to the latest version.

WordPress 5.2’s major additions

Version 5.2 of the WordPress software was released on May 7th, 2019. It’s codenamed “Jaco”, after the jazz musician Jaco Pastorius. If you haven’t updated yet, you can do so easily through your website’s dashboard.

This update doesn’t include any brand-new features, which may be something of a relief given how many changes the platform has been through lately. Instead, it makes some improvements to existing functionality.

For instance, version 5.1 introduced a new feature called Site Health, which is designed to let you know about particular issues with your site. Most significantly, it lets you know if the PHP version your site is currently running is outdated.

Now, with version 5.2, the Site Health feature includes two additional pages under Tools > Site Health:

Wp 52 2

Here, you’ll see recommend improvements you can make to your site, as well as an overall score that represents its current ‘health’. Under the Info tab, you can also find concise information about your site’s current setup:

Wp 52 1

These details will be particularly helpful for developers looking to troubleshoot websites and make improvements. Plus, they’ll come in handy as a tool you can use in ongoing site maintenance.

The other major addition, referred to as ’fatal PHP error protection’, is more passive in nature. However, it can be even more crucial to your site. If a fatal error is detected, you’ll see a new error message and have the option to put your site into a ‘recovery mode’.

This mode pauses whatever theme and/or plugin is causing the error, so it can be troubleshooted without affecting your site’s functionality. As an administrator, you’ll be able to access your dashboard and deactivate the offending theme or plugin, try and troubleshoot the error, or get in touch with your developer for help.

Previously, this type of error had a high likelihood of making it impossible to access your dashboard at all. With this new feature, it will be easier to handle fatal errors without needing your developer or negatively affecting your visitors.

Other additions in WordPress 5.2

The above two features make up the bulk of what’s new in the latest version of WordPress. Alone, they’re enough to make updating your site an excellent idea. However, it’s worth noting that there are also a collection of smaller changes, each of which brings its own improvements.

Let’s run through the other significant additions to WordPress in version 5.2:

  • Accessibility updates. This version brings a number of behind-the-scenes improvements that affect accessibility. These coding changes require no particular action on your part, but should make it a little easier for visitors using screen readers to navigate your site.

  • PHP version increase. As with many WordPress updates, 5.2 brings an increase to the minimum supported PHP version. If your site isn’t running PHP 5.6.20 or higher, you should be able to find out through the Site Heath tab. Then, you can get in touch with your developer or host to update it.

  • Plugin compatibility checks. This is another passive improvement. Your site will now check to see if its version of PHP is compatible with all of your site’s plugins. It will keep you from activating plugins that aren’t compatible, preventing errors that may otherwise have negatively affected your site and content.

  • New dashboard icons. Just for fun, WordPress 5.2 introduces 13 new icons you can use to customise the look of your dashboard.

  • Developer-focused improvements. Finally, there have been a handful of other behind-the-scenes changes made to make life easier for developers. This includes updates to the Privacy Policy feature, a new code hook, and even more improvements related to JavaScript.

Among these features, the only one you really need to be concerned about is the increase in the minimum supported version of PHP. The rest will work quietly in the background to improve your site’s functioning, helping you better serve your visitors and avoid potential errors.

Fortunately, WordPress 5.2 isn’t going to make a huge difference to how you run your website. At the same time, its new Site Health options, PHP error protection, and plugin compatibility checks will go a long way towards helping you troubleshoot and optimise your site.


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