Guess what, folks! It’s officially December. And you know what that means...WordPress 4.7 is only a few days away!
WordPress 4.7 brings a heap of exciting changes to both the Customizer and WordPress as a whole. Compared to the bit of a snooze fest that was WordPress 4.6 (at least as far as front-end features went), 4.7 is definitely a breath of fresh air.
To test things out, I’ve got the latest WordPress 4.7 Release Candidate installed on my localhost and am ready to dig in. So, if the high you got from snagging some amazing WordPress Black Friday deals is starting to wear off, then take a ride with me as I tour all of the new features you can expect when WordPress 4.7 ships on December 6th.
New Features in WordPress 4.7
As I mentioned, many of the new features in WordPress 4.7 focus on improving the Customizer and making it easier to get a new theme set up. WordPress 4.7 also brings a new default theme - as you might have been able to guess, it’s called Twenty Seventeen.
And another new feature is super easy to integrate, eye-catching video headers. This one is definitely my favorite.
There are some other minor front-end improvements like PDF previews and small changes to the WordPress Editor. And there are, of course, lots of updates under the hood as well.
Here’s a deeper look at all of the new features:
New Default Theme - Twenty Seventeen
Twenty Seventeen is a bit of a departure from previous themes in that it’s more focused on creating business sites than blogs. It features a big bold header with some cool business site features that I’ll get into in the next sections.
Don’t expect any massive changes to the normal Twenty XXX default theme style, but it’s certainly a nice looking theme. I confess I’ve never used the default theme for any of my sites, but that doesn’t mean I can’t appreciate it.
Theme Starter Content for wordpress.org Themes
This is a big new feature and one that many people have been clamoring for. Fresh installs of supported wordpress.org themes will now include starter content to help users get their site looking great.
What do I mean by starter content? I mean that if you go to the WordPress Customizer of a fresh install, you’ll see all these helpful placeholders:
This is massively helpful, especially for beginners. A common complaint is that beginners see beautiful theme previews but are unable to replicate those looks on their site. Starter content fixes that problem.
Big, big update. But again - it only works on fresh WordPress installs.
Quick Edit Shortcuts in the WordPress Customizer
Do you see all of those pencil icons in the screenshot above? That’s another really cool new addition to the Customizer. Those pencil icons are called Edit Shortcuts and they make using the Customizer much easier.
Currently, if you want to change something about your theme, you have to wade through the Customizer menus to find the tab that has the options you need.
With Edit Shortcuts, you just need to click on the pencil icon and it will immediately open the proper menu in the Customizer.
Here’s an example - if I click on the edit shortcut for the address widget starter content, it will instantly open that widget in the Customizer:
Mainly, this makes the WordPress Customizer a lot more friendly to new users. But it’s also handy even if you already know your way around. This emphasis on improving the Customizer is no surprise given that WordPress is banking on the Customizer for continued success against competitors like Squarespace.
Unfortunately, Edit Shortcuts need to be actively configured by developers. That means they won’t be available for every theme right away - only supported themes will have edit shortcuts.
Easy Video Header Set Up, Including Directly from YouTube
Another great new addition is a video header tool. Now, you can add video headers directly from the WordPress Customizer. If you want, you can upload your own video file to make a header. But this is the really cool part about the new video header feature…
You can pull in video headers directly from YouTube. Yup, all you need to do is enter a YouTube URL and WordPress will seamlessly pull in the video for your header.
For example, say you wanted to throw copyright law to the wind and make Psy’s Gangnam Style video your header, all you need to do is enter the YouTube URL and you’re good to go:
Video headers are definitely a design trend and this new feature makes them really easy to set up with WordPress.
Live CSS Preview in WordPress Customizer
You won’t be able to delete your child theme quite yet, but WordPress 4.7 adds a new Custom CSS box to the WordPress Customizer:
This does two things to make your life easier:
- You can preview custom CSS changes in real time, which is a huge improvement over the current system.
- You don’t need to use a child theme to add your custom CSS changes - you can just add them directly to the Customizer. Not a huge deal, but it’s a bit more convenient.
While you’ll still need child theme’s for other reasons (like functions.php), this new feature makes custom CSS much simpler to work with.
Other Small Front-End Improvements
There are some other minor front-end improvements that don’t really warrant their own sections.
First, individual users will now be able to change the language of their WordPress admin. So if you speak English but one of your users speaks French, they’ll be able to change just their version of the WordPress admin to French.
There is one catch - it only works for installed languages. Users won’t be able to choose any language they want.
Second, there are some minor changes to the WordPress Editor. The Underline button is gone and the paragraph and heading selector moved up a line. Nothing mindblowing, but you’ll probably notice these changes when writing your posts.
Third, you’ll now see live previews of your PDF files in the WordPress media library instead of the same generic PDF icon over and over. Again, this won’t change your life, but it is a nicer user experience.
Fourth, developers can now set up templates for individual post types, instead of just pages.
Under the Hood Improvements in WordPress 4.7
Of course, WordPress 4.7 includes tons of tweaks to under the hood elements that most regular users will never touch. There are changes to the REST API, locale switching, and lots more. Developers will, of course, want to check out all of these changes. I don’t think regular users need to worry too much, though.
I’m definitely excited for WordPress 4.7. I think it brings some massive improvements to the Customizer, especially for new WordPress users, and I’m excited to play around with it on my production sites.
Which feature are you all most excited for? Let’s get a discussion going in the comments.