What’s New (and Awesome!) in WordPress 4.7

What’s New (and Awesome!) in WordPress 4.7

WordPress 4.7 was only recently released in December and numerous user experience and developer, not to mention Twenty Seventeen, a brand new default theme.

If you haven’t already checked out this new version of WordPress, here’s what you need to know.

Introducing the Twenty Seventeen WordPress Theme

Work began on Twenty Seventeen shortly after last year’s theme, Twenty Sixteen, was complete and now we can reap the rewards. Twenty Seventeen is a theme that aims for simplicity while introducing a host of advanced features that showcase the powers WordPress has been endowed with since Twenty Sixteen.

The most noticeable of these features is the video header. You can now add MP4 videos, which will be used as header media, looped infinitely. This brings a widely-used feature to a core theme which is an important step in embracing more than just images as media.

Otherwise, the theme is pretty standard. I personally like it more than Twenty Sixteen, but I still favor Twenty Fifteen for its minimalist, yet effective approach.

Twenty Seventeen
The Twenty Seventeen default WordPress theme in action.

Twenty Seventeen does a great job of showing off some under-the-hood features. If you head over to the Customizer in the WordPress admin, you’ll see the editing guides – a welcome addition that allows you to click on what you want to modify, instead of guessing where the appropriate setting can be found.

In-Place Editing in Twenty Seventeen
In-place editing in Twenty Seventeen – a cool new addition.

Twenty Seventeen has a host of customizations available, just to name a few highlights (from the WordPress Codex):

  • Multiple sections on the front page, selected in the Customizer
  • A striking asymmetrical grid
  • Custom color schemes, built on top of a monochromatic foundation, and adjustable via a hue picker
  • Different headline placement for pages, changeable in the Customizer, via theme options
  • A great experience in many languages, thanks to language-specific font stacks
  • SVG icons (a first for a default WordPress theme)
  • Support for a custom logo, custom header image, and many post formats
  • The use of new functions in Core for making child theming easier

If you’d like to customize Twenty Seventeen further, we have a great guide that’s worth bookmarking: 5 Excellent Ways to Hack the Twenty Seventeen WordPress Theme.

User Experience Changes in WordPress 4.7

I’m extremely happy to see UX front-and-center, which has been a great tendency in recent WordPress development. We’ve already taken a look at the Customizer editing guides, which will take you to the controlling setting with a single click.

So what else is there in store for us?

Navigation Menu Building

I set up new test sites fairly frequently and making the menu is always a pain. My preferred method would be to map out a site structure using the menu, but until now this wasn’t really possible.

As of WordPress 4.7, you can now create a new page from the menu builder, making the site building process that much easier.

Creating a new page from the customizer
Creating a new page from the customizer

Custom CSS

I’ve been waiting for a custom CSS feature to be built into core for years. Almost all premium themes contain it and we use it for most tutorials where we touch the UI. Having a custom CSS box in the Customizer at all times is a great help for everyone.

Custom CSS in the customizer
Custom CSS is a new feature in the WordPress Customizer.

User-Specific Backend Language

Users can now select their preferred language. This is a great feature for websites employing an international crew. Everyone can now work in their own language, regardless of the site’s main locale.

User language selector
The new user language selector feature in the WordPress admin.

PDF Previews

This minor change will be a Godsend to those of us using WordPress for business purposes, perhaps even as a documentation engine or a place to store bills and other paper-based documents.

PDF previews now work just like image previews, you’ll be able to distinguish between documents a lot better from now on.

PDF thumbnail previews
WordPress 4.7 provides PDF thumbnail previews.

Minor Post Editor Changes

My favorite change in WordPress 4.7 is something very minor: the headings dropdown has been moved to the top row. In my eyes, this is the most telltale move because it shows a deep understanding of how content is created and action has been taken to make it easier.

Previously you needed to have the additional options open to switch between headings. This has now been placed in the top bar, along with the keyboard shortcuts needed to switch heading levels.

New Heading Selection Positioning
Now you can select headings from the top bar of the editing area in the Post Editor.

Image Search By File Name

This one has been a pet-peeve of mine for ages. Once you upload an image you can’t change the file name, yet you can’t search by filename. This glaring omission has finally been addressed and you can now find your media by filename. Yay!

Changes For WordPress Developers

Aside from numerous bug fixes, there have been a ton of additions for the developers out there.

REST API Content Endpoints

Yet more functionality has been merged into core, making the WP REST API a truly useful tool for maintaining a website, not just as a tech-demo for the future. Posts, comments, terms, users, meta, and settings have now been added to core allowing developers to do so much more right out of the box.

Take a look at the REST API Reference for more information.

Custom Bulk Actions

You can now register custom bulk actions on post list pages. Beefing up the CMS aspect of WordPress is always a welcome change in my book. You can now have custom actions like sending a list of posts via email, setting a custom post status and so on, built right in.

Learn more about custom bulk actions at make.wordpress.org (and we’ll have a post about it soon, too).

Post Type Templates

Page templates have been available for a long time. They’ve been put to good use by developers creating media galleries, about us pages, custom front pages and more. You can now create templates for each custom post type.

This could cause unnecessary headaches for developers who misuse it to create hoards of templates, but it could also make some websites’ life a lot easier.

A gaming website could use a post type template to create posts about a game pre-release, another template for the main review once released and yet another for a full walkthrough for example.

Learn more about post type templates on make.wordpress.org (and in an upcoming post right here on WPMU DEV).

WP_Taxonomy

A new WP_Taxonomy class has been shipped with WordPress 4.7, changing the global $wp_taxonomies to an array of WP_Taxonomy objects. The get_taxonoomy() function now also returns an instance of this class.

This is probably the first step in implementing further improvements to the taxonomy system, I’m eager to see what is built on this new, stronger foundation.

Learn more about WP_Taxonomy on make.wordpress.org.

WP_Hook

The underlying hooks system has been overhauled completely. This should weed out some known issues while making the system more robust and manageable. Most developers won’t be affected by the change, unless you manipulate $wp_filter directly.

Learn more and check if you’re affected by this change on make.wordpress.com.

Customizer Changesets

Not being able to easily collaborate during development is an issue all developers face. Tools like Github already exist for coding together but site setup is an entirely different beast. Changesets will make the process a little easier.

According to Make WordPress Core:

“Customize changesets make changes in the customizer persistent, like autosave drafts. Users can make changes to one theme and switch to another in the customizer without losing the changes upon switching. A customizer session can be bookmarked to come back to later or this URL can be shared with someone else to review and make additional changes.”

For now, this feature is only available through the query parameter in the URL but UI implementation is planned in a future release.

Learn more about customizer changesets on make.wordpress.org.

Happy WordPress 4.7 Updating!

I recommend updating as quickly as possible since using the latest WordPress version is important for security. While you’re at it, you may as well play around with some of the great features, right?

I recommend checking out the official announcement for more information and the core section of make.wordpress.org if you want to follow along future WordPress developments.

What are your favorite features in WordPress 4.7? What are you looking forward to seeing in the next release? Share your thoughts in the comments below.