If you’ve read our recent blog post last month about updating WordPress, you’ll be aware that version 5.2 was coming. You’ll need to have updated WordPress to version 5.1.1 first. The main improvements for version 5.2 involve the Gutenberg block editor, the site health check and then there are several bug fixes and minor enhancements.  

WordPress 5.2 introduces a new recovery mode for site administrators, so in case of a fatal error that would normally stop users from accessing the admin dashboard, you’ll see a message like this:  

‘The site is experiencing technical difficulties’

You’ll then receive an email with a special login link- using that link you’ll be able to login to the WordPress admin area and undo any changes that may have triggered the fatal error. This will be particularly useful for beginners. 

The Gutenberg block editor updates has shaved 35% off the loading speed of blocks especially on long posts and cut the keypress time in half. There’ll be accessibility improvements, that will make it clearer and consistent. They’ve also added some new blocks that used to be available as widgets, including an Amazon Kindle embed block, search block, calendar block and the Tag Cloud which allows you to display the most popular tags. 5.2 will also include a Block Manager tool, although there are lots of blocks available that come with plugins, the reality is that you’ll only use a few when writing and editing content so you’re now able to hide blocks that you don’t want to use.  

Importantly and linked to what we told you in our last post, this update will require a minimum PHP version of 5.6 (which is still old- the current version is 7.3.2), so if you haven’t updated it already we suggest you do so now. WordPress has supported older versions of PHP for so long because it’s used by so many people all over the world using different hosting companies and different hosting environments, but it has become problematic and can actually cause performance issues. The goal is to gradually increase the minimum required PHP version with every future release.  

The new website health check, is available in ‘Tools’ on the right hand side of your WordPress dashboard, this tool will give you an overall score for your website’s health, it’ll also check plugins, servers, php versions and many other performance indicators. You shouldn’t worry too much about the score but concentrate mainly on ensuring you do not have any critical or serious problems. A very useful part of this is that you’ll get a full description of the state of your website in the ‘info’ tab- this will be very useful to yourself or anyone supporting your website when something isn’t working as it should.

Of course, there’ll be other geeky enhancements and bug fixes as well, you’ll be able to find all of this information and more on WordPress’s blog.  

If you’d like help with updating your website to the latest version please get in touch, we’re happy to help!