WordPress 4.0 RC 1 is now available for download. Helen Hou-Sandí announced the release candidate today with an update to the project schedule. The official release was targeted for the week of August 25th but will likely be arriving the following week.
“We hope to ship WordPress 4.0 next week, but we need your help to get there. If you haven’t tested 4.0 yet, there’s no time like the present,” Hou-Sandí said in the release announcement.
The easiest way to test RC1 is to put the WordPress Beta Tester plugin on a test site and start running through all the new features, many of which are highlighted on the 4.0 about page in the admin (wp-admin/about.php). If you want a more in-depth look at the new features, Hou-Sandí previewed WordPress 4.0 at a recent NYC Meetup and you can watch the video.
The good news is that plugin and theme authors still have plenty of time to test their extensions against the release candidate for compatibility. Since WordPress 4.0 adds icons to the admin plugin installer, plugin developers will want to put their custom icons in place to improve visibility among all the auto-generated ones.
Over the past month of four beta releases, WordPress 4.0 has incorporated hundreds of fixes and refinements that make it truly a joy to use. Watch for the official release to drop sometime next week.