WordPress 4.1 beta 1 was released into the hands of eager testers today, just in time for the weekend. John Blackbourn announced the beta and outlined a list of features and improvements that you’ll want to put through the paces. The most visible items include the following:
- The new Twenty Fifteen default theme
- New distraction-free writing mode for the editor, enabled by default for beta
- The ability to automatically install new language packs right from the General Settings screen (available as long as your site’s file system is writable).
- A new inline formatting toolbar for images embedded into posts.
The items listed do not include everything that’s coming in 4.1, but rather the features that require the most testing before the official release. There are also many improvements under the hood for developers to test:
- Improvements to meta, date, comment, and taxonomy queries, including complex (nested, multiple relation) queries; and querying comment types
- A single term shared across multiple taxonomies is now split into two when updated.
- A new and better way for themes to handle title tags.
The Focus project (the new DFW) was merged into core along with the user session UI. So far, reaction to the new distraction-free writing mode has been mixed, with the most vocal feedback coming from those who are not looking forward to turning the feature off on multiple sites. WordPress core contributors will be gathering feedback during the beta period in order to determine whether or not the new DFW mode will be shipped as “on” by default. Having it off by default decreases users’ ability to discover the new DFW mode, but it would also help it to be more universally well-received.
If you want to jump in and help test 4.1 beta 1 with all its exciting improvements, the easiest way is to get hooked up with the WordPress Beta Tester plugin. This will allow you to update your test install to use the “bleeding edge nightlies.” The other option is to download the zip file from Blackbourn’s beta 1 announcement post.