WordPress 4.7 Introduces Twenty Seventeen Default Theme and WP REST API Content Endpoints

photo credit: Wikimedia Commons
photo credit: Wikimedia Commons

WordPress 4.7 “Vaughan” was released today, named in honor of American jazz vocalist Sarah “Sassy” Vaughan. This release makes significant improvements to the new theme setup experience, inspiring the tagline: “Your site, your way.”

Twenty Seventeen is making its debut in 4.7 as the first default theme designed for business websites. It beautifully showcases new features for theme developers and demonstrates many improvements to the setup process. Twenty Seventeen offers four customizable panels on the front page for displaying existing content, custom logo upload, fullscreen featured images, and brand new core support for video headers.

Starter Content and Edit Shortcuts

WordPress 4.7 gives theme developers the ability to provide starter content, such as a business info widget or a sample social icons menu. The content serves as a placeholder but doesn’t appear on the live site until the user has customized and published it.

New visible edit shortcuts display a pencil icon on areas of a theme that can be customized. Clicking the icons will automatically open the correct panel for the setting, which saves users time that might otherwise have been spent hunting around for the right setting to adjust. Theme authors will need to add theme support as well as support for selective refresh in order to take advantage of this new feature.

Visible Edit Shortcut Buttons
Visible Edit Shortcut Buttons

The new starter content and edit shortcuts features, especially when combined, give theme authors the ability to make customization easier and faster for their users. Themes with dozens of customizer options that may have previously seemed complicated to set up may now be more approachable.

Improved Menu Building and Custom CSS with Live Previews

WordPress 4.7 adds content authorship to menus in the Customizer. Users can now create new pages while setting up menus, without having to navigate back to the admin. This makes for a smoother workflow when setting up a brand new site.

Custom CSS with live previews is also new in this release. Users can now tweak the appearance of themes and plugins and see the results instantly. Those who have been using Jetpack’s Custom CSS module should have a seamless migration. The new feature is fairly basic but extensible so plugin developers can add additional functionality on top of it.

CSS Editor in The WordPress 4.7 Customizer
CSS Editor in The WordPress 4.7 Customizer

WordPress 4.7 is packed full of many other user-facing improvements that make managing and editing content easier:

  • PDF thumbnail previews for better document management
  • User admin languages
  • Media library is now searchable by file name
  • Improved Custom Background Properties UI (#22058)
  • Editor changes: easier access to most-used buttons, improved discovery for keyboard shortcuts in tooltips and dropdowns
  • Customizer sliding panels UI is now faster, smoother, and more accessible
  • oEmbed support for Facebook posts/activities/photo/videos/media/questions/notes

WP REST API Content Endpoints Added to 4.7

One of the most exciting improvements to WordPress for developers is the addition of the WP REST API content endpoints for posts, comments, terms, users, meta, and settings. This API opens up new ways of accessing and presenting WordPress content in themes, plugins, and applications – both inside and outside of the traditional WordPress interface. The WP REST API now has an official reference for documentation on WordPress.org.

A few highlights of additional improvements for developers include the following:

WordPress lead developer Helen Hou-Sandí led the 4.7 release with deputies Jeff Paul and Aaron Jorbin. A record-breaking 482 contributors had props on 4.7 and 205 of them were first-time contributors. More than 100 of those volunteers contributed to the Twenty Seventeen theme. Community translators made it possible for WordPress 4.7 to be available in 52 languages at release time and they also captioned the release video included below in 44 languages. Check out the 4.7 codex page for a full rundown of all the new features and improvements in this release.

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