Preview WordPress 4.0 Features, Beta 1 Now Available for Testing

WordPress 4.0 Beta 1 is now available for download and testing. This means that core developers are now onto the stage of bug fixes and inline documentation in preparation for the official release in August.

Helen Hou-Sandí, the release lead, announced the beta with an outline of user-facing features that need testing. The list offers a good summary of some of the exciting changes and improvements coming in WordPress 4.0:

  • Previews of oEmbed URLs in the visual editor and via the “Insert from URL” tab in the media modal.
  • Media library “grid view” added in addition to the “list view”
  • Refreshed plugin install and search experience
  • Select a language when installing WordPress
  • Improvements to editor resizing – its top and bottom bars pin when needed
  • Improvements to keyboard and cursor interaction with TinyMCE views
  • Widgets in the Customizer are now loaded in a separate panel
  • Improvements to formatting functions

When testing the beta, you’ll find that the grid view for the media library is on by default. You have the option to toggle back to the list view, but I’m not sure why you ever would. The new grid view is truly a thing of beauty and has evolved considerably since last October when we featured it during its initial development.


The bulk edit option allows you to quickly delete multiple images. Clicking on individual items launches a details modal where you can edit an attachment and even navigate between items directly in the modal.


There are a lot of changes packed into WordPress media in the upcoming release and any help testing would be beneficial to the core team.

The plugin search and installation process is another highly visible feature with a fresh new look. Check out the new plugin details modal as well as the new grid view when searching for an extension.


You can help by testing the plugin modals and cards on as many screens and accessibility devices as possible in order to hunt down any bugs with the new display.

As this is a major release of WordPress, developers would do well to test their sites, themes and plugins against the beta while it’s still early. Hou-Sandí encourages anyone who has found a bug to post in the Alpha/Beta forum or file a ticket on trac. The list of known bugs will show you what testers have already identified so far. Some of those bugs may have already been fixed. Your bug reports and patches will help to make WordPress 4.0 shiny and polished when it’s officially released in August. Download Beta 1 from the release announcement on


15 responses to “Preview WordPress 4.0 Features, Beta 1 Now Available for Testing”

    • I don’t think it’s ready for 4.0. Things are still in flux with the Frontend editor, especially with the changes to the theme customizer now becoming the customizer. I think we’ll see a experiment in the dev cycle to 4.1 of the editor using the customer in someway to provide the editing experience. But none of that is confirmed, just speculation on my part.

      There is this from May but I haven’t seen an official update on the status of the front end editor in awhile.

      • “theme customizer now becoming the customizer” — In terms of word choice, this is simply a small shift in what we call/consider things internally and during development. There is incremental work to generalize and improve the APIs, but I wouldn’t read too much into the diction here. There will always be experiments but I wouldn’t expect anything drastic as a core project anytime soon.

        As for the front-end editor, it is a cool experiment but it isn’t there yet as a fully flushed-out user experience. Not only is there a Google Summer of Code project, but as part of 4.0, we’re bringing in a number of lessons learned there, including embed previews in the editor, and the seamless editor scrolling. There’s always something in the hopper.

    • The pinned bar is a positive side effect of what we were really setting out to do, which was to eliminate the issue of scrolling an editor within a larger window that also scrolled. It was never an ideal experience. Being able to manually set the editor height was a symptom of a problem.

      We’ve been using this form of resizing for a few weeks now and you very quickly get used to how it works. Try going back — you’d wonder why WordPress ever worked that way to begin with. As someone else with OCD who lost their treasured resize handle, I feel your pain, but only so much.

      On occasion, people will want to shorten the height of the editor. But because it now simply grows and shrinks with the content, it’s a much nicer experience overall and you don’t actually lose anything by not being able to control it.

      • The pinned bar and having only one scroll bar is fantastic. I don’t mind the handle to make the window bigger disappearing now that the content window gets larger automatically as I add content. If I remember correctly, wasn’t this a big pet peeve of yours before the 4.0 dev cycle started?


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