Help test WordPress 5.9 Features

With WordPress 5.9 slated to ship on January 25th, 2022, this post seeks to consolidate ways for folks to help test specific features that will be included in this release. This is meant to bolster and support overall 5.9 testing efforts. As a result, expect that FSE Outreach Program calls for testing will be on pause ahead of the FSE related features landing in WordPress 5.9.

Important note: Anything marked as [Technical] is best for those comfortable with more advanced testing steps. 

Testing environment

Please only test on a development siteDevelopment Site You can keep a copy of your live site in a separate environment. Maintaining a development site is a good practice that can let you make any changes and test them without affecting the live/production environment. and not on a production/live site. You can follow these instructions to set up a local installLocal Install A local install of WordPress is a way to create a staging environment by installing a LAMP or LEMP stack on your local computer. or use a tool like this to set up a development site

Once a development site is set up, please install and activate the WordPress Beta Tester Plugin before setting it to: 

  • Update channel to “Bleeding edge”
  • Stream options to “BetaBeta A pre-release of software that is given out to a large group of users to trial under real conditions. Beta versions have gone through alpha testing in-house and are generally fairly close in look, feel and function to the final product; however, design changes often occur as part of the process./RCRelease Candidate A beta version of software with the potential to be a final product, which is ready to release unless significant bugs emerge. only”

If you need more specific steps, here are more detailed instructions you can follow

Testing Tips

At a high level, there are a few tips to keep in mind to get the most out of helping to test:

  • Try testing across different browsers.
  • Try testing in different languages. 
  • See what features look like on different screen sizes.
  • Try using just your keyboard or a screen reader.
  • Explore using both blockBlock Block is the abstract term used to describe units of markup that, composed together, form the content or layout of a webpage using the WordPress editor. The idea combines concepts of what in the past may have achieved with shortcodes, custom HTML, and embed discovery into a single consistent API and user experience. and classic themes. 

Features to test

Twenty Twenty-Two Default Block Theme

When picking a theme to use for your test site, please try out the Twenty Twenty-Two theme. It’s the very first theme that’s block based and needs thorough testing as a result. Here’s where you can read more about this theme. You can test the theme by installing the Beta and activating Twenty Twenty-Two from Appearance > Themes. To report issues with the theme, you can do so here.

Block theme flows 

Since Block Themes open up the opportunity to edit more parts of your site, new flows have been added to make it more intuitive to access items, like a template editor, where you can make the changes you want to your homepage or 404 page. These workflows and new features need your help to test! 

For detailed testing steps around how best to test these workflows, please follow this call for testing that covers using Styles, Template Part focus mode, and more.

Theme blocks with a focus on the Navigation block

As Full Site Editing is a collection of features that allows more items to be easily edited without knowing how to code, new blocks were created to cover more parts of your site. These blocks are generally called “Theme Blocks” as they match the functionality that used to be in themes. While a number of theme blocks were introduced in WordPress 5.8, there’s always more work to be done, including shipping even more theme blocks in future releases!

For detailed steps around how to test the navigation block, please follow this call for testing that covers creating two different menus. 

For detailed steps around how to general test theme blocks and a complete list of blocks, please follow this call for testing

List View

List view has a few enhancements to keep in mind, including the ability to drag & drop blocks, and the ability to collapse sections to make it easier to navigate complex content. As you explore 5.9, try using List View in various situations to ensure it’s performant and easy to use. 

Design tools

The effort to bring better and more consistent design tools continues to progress with new options added, a more intuitive interface, and more. With just a few combinations of these settings, you can create vastly different layouts from a few simple slight changes to more radical and complex options. 

While a ton of tools have been added to various blocks, there are just a few to focus on for testing:

  • Buttons block: block gap, border controls, dimension controls (padding).
  • Columns block: block gap, dimension controls (padding).
  • Navigation block: flex layout, block gap, layout controls (vertical and horizontal, alignment).
  • Group block: layout controls, dimension controls (padding)
  • Cover block: duotone, dimension controls (padding, min height).
  • Social Icons block: layout controls (vertical and horizontal, alignment), block gap, dimension controls (margin). 
  • Featured imageFeatured image A featured image is the main image used on your blog archive page and is pulled when the post or page is shared on social media. The image can be used to display in widget areas on your site or in a summary list of posts. block: duotone, dimension controls (width, height, margin, padding).

Gallery block 

Thanks to a Gallery Block refactor, you can now use the same tools that are available for individual image blocks on each image in the Gallery Block! This added flexibility means you can do more customization – from adding links to each individual image, inline cropping to edit on the fly, apply unique styles for more visually compelling images and apply an array of duotone filters. You can read more about this change

The following items are a high priority to test:

  • [Technical] If you are a pluginPlugin A plugin is a piece of software containing a group of functions that can be added to a WordPress website. They can extend functionality or add new features to your WordPress websites. WordPress plugins are written in the PHP programming language and integrate seamlessly with WordPress. These can be free in the Plugin Directory or can be cost-based plugin from a third-party or theme author that has used the Gallery block previously, please follow the instructions here to ensure you’re prepared for 5.9.
  • Test backwards compatibility by creating a Gallery Block with WordPress 5.8.2 and switching to early releases of 5.9. 
  • Explore using the Gallery Block tools itself. Try cropping images, rearranging, adding alt text, and more. 
  • Test against third party plugins that you might use for galleries and ensure the transformations work. If they don’t, it’s best to contact the third party plugin to let them know.

For additional context, please note that the new Gallery block is included in Beta 1, but the auto migrationMigration Moving the code, database and media files for a website site from one server to another. Most typically done when changing hosting companies. of existing Gallery blocks will be in Beta 2. As a result, for Beta 1, you’ll be able to test the new Gallery block by adding a new Gallery, but, in order to migrate an old format Gallery block, you’ll need to do so manually using the Update button in the block toolbar.

Block pattern explorer

The experience of adding patterns from the Inserter just got a refresh with the introduction of a new modal that allows you to see patterns in a more organized way with larger previews. In terms of testing, the items to cover are quite simple:

  • Select and add patterns to your content. 
  • Scroll through different pattern options.

General updates coming to CoreCore Core is the set of software required to run WordPress. The Core Development Team builds WordPress.

Outside of these more specific features, there are also some general updates coming to this release that would be advantageous to have tested:

Where to report feedback

If you find any issues, it’s best to share them on the alpha/beta forums, or Trac if you are more technically savvy and comfortable. Please share feedback as soon as you can before the release on January 25th, 2022.

Thank you to @justinahinon @boniu91 @cbringmann @hellofromtonya and @webcommsat for reviewing and contributing to this post.

#5-9, #fse-outreach-program, #full-site-editing