WordPress 5.4 Field Guide

WordPress 5.4 is shaping up to be the best WordPress 2020 has seen!

As a user, you’ll see new blocks and enhancements in the block editor, new embeds, and improvements in the WordPress Admin experience.

As a developer, you’ll see 122 enhancements and feature requests, 210 bug fixes, and more! Of course, all those improvements mean code changes, which could in turn require you to make updates to your site, plugin, or theme.

So take a look through this Field Guide, and see what’s relevant to you and your users, among the many improvements coming in 5.4…


On the 14 updates related to Accessibility in 5.4, you’ll want to particularly note changes to the WordPress Admin Bar, to the calendar and recent comments widgets, on the Menu screen, and bugs reported by the WPCampus accessibility report.

Block Editor

The block editor has continued its rapid iteration since WordPress 5.0. Now it has Gutenberg version 7.5 bundled with WordPress 5.4; that’s ten releases all bundled into WordPress 5.4 (versions  and 7.5)! Bug fixes and performance improvements from Gutenberg versions 7.6 will also be part of 5.4.

The WordPress 5.4 Beta 1 post highlights a lot of new features and improvements across these releases, though you’ll also want to note the impressive achievement of 14% loading-time reduction and 51% time-to-type reduction (for a particularly long post of ~36,000 words, ~1,000 blocks) since WordPress 5.3.

Below you’ll find details on two new blocks, button component updates, block collections, default fullscreen mode for new installs/devices, custom keyboard shortcuts, general block editor API updates, new block variations API, a new gradient theme API, markup and style-related changes, and a new @wordpress/create-block package for block scaffolding.


On the 14 updates of the Customizer component, WordPress 5.4 improves accessibility of focused elements as a follow-up to WordPress 5.3 Admin CSS changes, adds documentation of existing Customizer functions and hooks, removes apple-touch-icon-precomposed deprecated meta tags, and improves Menu items selection logic.

Please note that some unused Customizer classes are now formally deprecated:


On the 5 updates in the Menus component, WordPress 5.4 improves keyboard accessibility of the Menu items selection tab panel and streamlines the user interface.

If your plugins add custom fields to menu items, you’ll want to update your code to use the new wp_nav_menu_item_custom_fields hook:


On the 15 updates in the Privacy component, you will want to specifically note:

  • Personal Data Export now includes Session Tokens, Community Events Location and Custom User Meta.
  • Personal Data Exports now include a JSON file and a Table of Contents
  • New filters for the headers of all Privacy-related emails
  • The privacy tables are improved for a cleaner interface
  • wp_get_user_request_data() function was replaced with wp_get_user_request() for better clarity

All those changes are in this dev note:


On the 22 updates related to the REST API, WordPress 5.4 now supports “OR” taxonomy relation parameter in Post Controller, adds selective link embedding and introduces some changes in the WP_REST_Server method. Read below for more details on these updates:


On the 3 updates to the Shortcodes component, WordPress 5.4 introduces documentation improvements and a new function: apply_shortcodes. This function is an alias of do_shortcode, which is still supported.


On the 9 updates to the Widgets component, WordPress 5.4 introduces accessibility and user interface enhancements on the Widgets Admin screen and changes in the Recent Comments and Calendar Widgets HTML markup.

Other Developer Updates

There are even more goodies in 5.4, like the new wp-env (a zero config tool for painless local WordPress environments), enhancements to favicon handling, better information about errors in wp_login_failed, a new site ID in multisite’s newblog_notify_siteadmin filter, a new TikTok video embed and removal of the CollegeHumor embed, storing the original URL of media attachments in _source_url post meta, improved accessibility by loading the Admin Bar with wp_body_open, avoiding duplicate IDs in the Recent Comments widget, a new parameter in the lostpassword_post action in retrieve_password(), theme headers supporting “Requires at least” and “Requires PHP” declarations, and the delete_posts capability won’t trigger PHP notices for custom post types. Read through the dev notes below to see details on all these changes coming in 5.4.

But Wait, There is More!

Over 198 bugs, 121 enhancements and feature requests, and 8 blessed tasks have been marked as fixed in WordPress 5.4. Some additional ones to highlight include:

  • Bootstrap/Load: Enhancement to favicon handling (#47398)
  • Bundled Theme: Twenty Twenty: Add social icon for WhatsApp (#49098)
  • Comments: Add “In response to …” before threaded comments in comment feed (#43429)
  • Comments: Add “in reply to” in comment moderation email notification (#43805)
  • Embeds: Embed support has been added for TikTok (#49083) (Gutenberg#19345)
  • Embeds: Removal of CollegeHumor embed as the service doesn’t exists anymore (#48696) (Gutenberg#18591)
  • Login and Registration: Clearer information about errors in wp_login_failed (#49007)
  • Login and Registration: new parameter passed into the lostpassword_post action in retrieve_password() (#38334)
  • Networks and Sites: Site ID has been added to the newblog_notify_siteadmin filter for multisite installs (#48554)
  • Networks and Sites: switch_to_blog() and restore_current_blog() reuse switch_blog action (#49265)
  • Media: store the original URL of the attachment in the _source_url post meta value (#48164)
  • Menus: Make tabs panels more accessible for keyboard users (#49211)
  • Posts, Post Types: Use delete_posts without triggering PHP notices in every post type (#30991)
  • Post Thumbnails: Make sure get_post_thumbnail_id() returns an integer, to match the documented return value (#40096)
  • REST API: Expose all theme supports and changed permissions in /themes endpoint (#49037)
  • Site Health: Theme headers support “Requires at least” and “Requires PHP” declarations (#44592)
  • Toolbar: The Admin Bar is now loaded with wp_body_open when available (#47053)
  • Widgets: Avoid duplicate IDs in Recent Comments (#46747)

Please, test your code. Fixing issues helps you and helps millions of WordPress sites.

Props to @jeffpaul and @marybaum for contributing to this guide.

#5-4, #field-guide