The first beta for WooCommerce 4.3 was released yesterday. The team behind the popular eCommerce plugin added a new homepage screen, updated the product grid blocks, and is pushing users to update their version of PHP.
Users who want to test the latest beta version can do so by grabbing the ZIP file from WordPress.org and uploading it to their site. They can also install and activate the WooCommerce Beta Tester plugin to switch between versions.
The WooCommerce team plans to make the first release candidate available on June 23. If all goes well over the following two weeks, the official 4.3 release is slated for July 7. The timeline gives users a three-week window to provide feedback and test for bugs before upgrading.
The version 4.3 beta currently includes over 40 bug fixes along with dozens of enhancements, tweaks, and dev-related changes. See the 4.3 change log for a full overview.
New WooCommerce Admin Homepage
The largest user-facing change coming to version 4.3 is a new homepage screen. It is replacing the Dashboard screen introduced in version 4.0. Users should see a new item titled “Home” under the normal WooCommerce admin menu.
The previous Dashboard left a lot to be desired. It was essentially a set of customizable charts and stats for the user’s shop. When it was first released, some users experienced issues with data populating for the screen. It never felt right, particularly when much of the data shown on the Dashboard felt redundant — it could be found under the Reports and Analytics screens.
The new Home screen is a fresh take on what a “dashboard” should be. The primary focus is on displaying the latest messages from the shop’s inbox, which is displayed on the left side of the screen. To the right is a box with an overview of the shop’s stats that further links to the Analytics screen where more detailed stats can be found. Below that is a box with quick links for managing various aspects of the store.
Call me a fan. The old stats and charts Dashboard always felt a bit overwhelming and not exactly what I was looking for. The new Home screen is simpler, provides an overview of the important bits, and leads me to the places I might want to visit.
Upcoming Block Changes
Except for the All Products block, each of the grid-related product blocks now defaults to three rows of products on output. Unless the user changed the default block settings, this will also affect existing blocks used on the site.
Some of the blocks this change will affect include:
- Newest Products
- Hand-picked Products
- Products by Category
- Best Selling Products
- On Sale Products
- Top Rated Products
- Products by Attribute
In past versions of the plugin, the default number of rows was set to one. If three rows are undesirable, end-users should check their sites upon update to make sure the appropriate number of products is displayed where those blocks are in use.
The team has made some other important changes to blocks, such as improved handling of taxes for the Filter Products by Price block and adding options for the Filter Products by Attribute block. Some blocks also no longer support HTML editing. The reason for this is to prevent accidental breakage during editing.
PHP 7.2 Minimum Recommendation
As of WooCommerce 4.3, the plugin will be asking that users upgrade to at least PHP 7.2 with plans to make it a minimum requirement in the future. The team did not provide an exact date for when it will become a requirement. It will likely at least be WooCommerce 4.4 or later. However, shop owners should get ahead of this and upgrade their PHP version as soon as possible.
“As the world of WordPress is preparing for upgrading minimum requirement for PHP to 7.2+, we are following the suit,” wrote Peter Fabian, WooCommerce core team lead, in the announcement post. “We will be increasing the version required to run WooCommerce to PHP 7.2 soon as well. With WooCommerce 4.3, to provide enough lead time for merchants and store owners, we will start displaying a recommendation to update to PHP 7.2+.”
It is worth noting that WordPress itself is not moving to a minimum requirement of PHP 7.2 (this information was incorrect in the WooCommerce announcement post). It is merely moving to a minimum recommendation of PHP 7.2+ for now.
Nevertheless, this is a good move for the biggest eCommerce plugin in the world. WooCommerce should be a leader in making sure that end-users are on versions of PHP that are still receiving security updates. Given its massive audience and other plugins like it, it should be seen as a duty.