WordPress 4.2 “Powell” is Now Available for Download

WordPress 4.2 “Powell” has arrived and is now ready for download. It is named for Earl Rudolph “Bud” Powell, an American jazz pianist. This release, led by 10up engineer Drew Jaynes, offers a balanced mix of front-facing features that users will enjoy, as well as improvements for developers. Here is a tour of the highlights.

Press This Overhauled


WordPress 4.2 contributors have brought the Press This feature back to life with a completely revamped interface that makes it easy to share content from any website. It allows you to grab text, images, and videos, quickly add your thoughts, and publish. Any media is automatically added to your media library during the process. Add the bookmarklet from the Tools screen to your browser’s bookmark bar or your mobile desktop to jump start your publishing.

Switch Themes in the Customizer


WordPress 4.2 makes it possible to switch themes in the customizer. Users can now browse through themes that have already been installed and activate a new one without ever leaving the frontend. This further streamlines the UI for customizing your site and paves the way for the theme installation process to be added to the customizer in the future.

Expanded 4-Byte Unicode Character Support, Including Emoji


This release changes database character encoding from utf8mb3 to utf8mb4, which makes it possible for WordPress to natively support Chinese, Japanese, and Korean characters. The character encoding update also opens up a whole new world for using musical and mathematical symbols, hieroglyphs, and emoji. Emoji support has been added everywhere, and you can even use them in URLs, if you’re adventurous.

Enhanced Plugin Updates


After you update to 4.2, you will be able to update plugins on the plugins screen without refreshing the page and without being whisked away to a new update screen. This makes it a more intuitive process and cuts down on the clicking required to manage your site in the admin. It is also the first stepping stone toward improving the plugin installation process to provide the same convenient experience.

Improvements Under the Hood

In addition to all the front-facing improvements, WordPress 4.2 includes some equally exciting updates for developers.

  • Taxonomy Term Splitting – terms shared across multiple taxonomies will now be split when one of them is updated.
  • Complex Query Ordering – WP_Query, WP_Comment_Query, and WP_User_Query now support complex ordering with named meta query clauses.
  • JavaScript Accessibility – Send audible notifications to screen readers in JavaScript with wp.a11y.speak(). Pass it a string, and an update will be sent to a dedicated ARIA live notifications area.
  • TinyMCE views API improvements – this API is not yet ready for production but developers are welcome to test and experiment with it.

Check out Aaron Jorbin’s WordPress 4.2 Field Notes post for a more comprehensive overview of what’s new for developers.

Many More Small Improvements

WordPress 4.2 is also packed full of subtle refinements that make it more beautiful and easier to use. The default admin color scheme has been updated every so slightly to be more harmonious to the eyes and more consistent with WordPress’ branding.

Pretty permalinks are now automatically enabled for new sites on installation. In most cases, administrators on new sites will never be greeted with ugly permalinks again, saving a step in the setup process.

The oEmbed white list has been updated to include Tumblr.com and Kickstarter, so you can easily paste links into the post editor and have the content instantly appear.

WordPress 4.2 fixes 231 defects, thanks to the volunteer efforts of 283 contributors. A complete list of all the changes in this release is available in the 4.2 codex page. For a quick tour of all the highlights in 4.2, check out the video created for this release:

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    1. This particular “sir” will be using a 3 day old server snapshot to completely wipe out the 4.2 release, 4.3 alpha and everything else on the server along with them.

      Why? Because I wanted to work with the 4.2 release version, at least for a while, but a really weird thing happened here when WordPress updated from 4.2 RC4 to the 4.2 release.

      Within a few seconds of updating, the WordPress Beta Tester plugin updated my brand new 4.2 release version, to 4.3 alpha.

      When I saw the 4.2 welcome page, and right above it the words “4.3 alpha”, I did a double take. I thought somebody had dropped a clanger. And then I figured out what had happened.

      Now, I don’t think that this was what anyone intended; least of all me. But as a result, I will be spending the next half hour or so, rewriting this little bit of local WordPress history.

      Hopefully some kind code diver somewhere will read this and do some core diving, introduce a short delay, some logic or an on-screen warning, so that it doesn’t happen again in the future.



      1. The beta plugin has been talked about and generally know it needs a little love. It has been a workhorse for years, but time takes it toll on even the best code.


  1. Nice, just updated. Am always impressed how easy and fast that process is.

    The added features are kinda bleh imo. I guess if I were making some kind of social driven site, emoji might come in handy. I wonder how’s the compression on these remote png images and how it affects pagespeed.

    Looking forward to see the main directions 4.3


    1. Emojis isn’t the feature, its just a side effect. The real feature was opening WordPress up to letting people write native unicode characters to support more languages


  2. I like this update. a little bland for my tastes but I still like it.

    I would love to see part of core social media logins. I know we can log in with WordPress.com credentials, I would love to see facebook, twitter, G+ and the rest being an option admins can turn on for their websites.

    Overall 4.8/5


    1. That will never ever happen. Way too far into plugin territory because social media sites are constantly changing their API. Facebook changes theirs so often they abandoned their official WordPress plugin because they didn’t want to maintain all the api changes.


  3. I think theme support for html5 widgets didn’t make it to WP 4.2. Let me check if I can find the ticket.


  4. It looks like all of the twenty-xxx default themes were updated, but there’s no mention of that in the post. I so with that themes had changelogs like plugins.


    1. Links to the changelogs of each of the Twenty-** themes.


  5. Quite boring release in my humble opinion. The only interesting things are the taxonomy fixes and the complex query ordering. So thanks to Boone Gorges, one of the few core devs that is not afraid of getting his hands dirty to make cool things for developers happen.


    1. Thank god I even noticed this. This really should have been optional… oh well, as long as we can disable it via code.


      1. Yeah I already implemented the plugin’s function in my theme. 4 actions and 3 filters lol emoji overkill


  6. After upgraded to 4.2, I can’t login to my dashboard anymore. It is always redirect to this url http://www.xxx.com/wp-admin/upgrade.php?_wp_http_referer=%2Fwp-admin%2F and show notice of “No Update Required”. See screenshot: http://prntscr.com/6xganm

    When I click “Continue” it just go back to the homepage of my site, and I can’t login at all. Still working with my host, and just wondering if anyone has seen this kind of message.



    1. I’ve heard of that a couple of times. Both instances memcache (or another server-side cache, at least) was stuck and needed to be cleared.


    2. Had the same problem, but after flushing the memcache in my siteground cPanel account everything got back to normal!


  7. So, I just upgraded to 4.2 and now I can’t edit any of my pages or posts. The screen becomes unresponsive and then I get an error message telling me that it’s unresponsive because of a long running script. Stopping the script doesn’t help. Wish I had waited until the bugs were ironed out!


  8. I would rather have seen improvements in the Extensions for Chrome and Firefox then bookmarklet.


  9. Apparently they had to trade in shortcuts like Ctrl+2, Ctrl+3 for all those new goodies. Or am I the only one? I am experiencing this with Dutch and international version.


    1. Same here (Brazilian Portuguese version). I miss that so hard, these shortcuts used to save me lots of time and clicks…


    2. Before those shortcuts like Ctrl+ are replaced with Alt+Shift+ I am not sure what is the benefit, but a bit confusing at first.


  10. So with 4.2 the Soundcloud Shortcode plug-in no longer works — says it has fatal errors. Is anything being done to update the plug-in?


  11. They replaced link title on linking modal window. Now, instead we got linked text (the same that appears linked on editor). I wonder how this impacts SEO on links…


  12. “They replaced link title on linking modal window.” This is very annoying as I use the title tag to let people know what will happen if they click on the link. Nothing to do with SEO. And trying to find the right bit of HTML to add title=”blah blah blah” can be very time consuming.


  13. Just updated to 4.2.2. but now I can’t edit my posts anymore.
    If I select all I can see the texts still there but it seems the text color is white.
    The tools for text-editing are not there anymore.
    And it’s in text-mode, not in the visual-mode I usual work in.
    Does anyone know how to solve this problem?


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