WordPress 5.1 Improves Editor Performance, Encourages Users to Update Outdated PHP Versions

image credit: National Jazz Museum in Harlem

WordPress 5.1 “Betty” was released today, honoring American jazz singer Betty Carter. This is the first major release since Gutenberg came into core. As part of WordPress’ 2019 “tighten up” theme, this release was focused on improving performance in the editor and helping users update outdated versions of PHP.

WordPress 5.0 had been downloaded more than 35 million times prior to 5.1’s release. Users who have adopted the block editor will notice that it is much more responsive and writing posts should feel smoother. WordPress 5.1 includes the performance improvements from Gutenberg 4.8 – faster page initialization time, improved typing performance, and optimization of various background processes.

This release introduces new features from the Site Health project. WordPress will now detect if a site is running on an insecure, outdated version of PHP and display a notice in the dashboard with information about how to update PHP. It also includes checks for PHP version compatibility with plugins. WordPress 5.1+ will prevent users from installing plugins that require newer versions of PHP than they have running.

This release also introduces a medley of miscellaneous improvements under the hood for developers, including (but not limited to) the following:

  • New database table to store metadata associated with multisite networks
  • Updated Cron API with new functions to assist with returning data, new filters for modifying cron storage
  • New JavaScript build processes
  • Updates to values for the WP_DEBUG_LOG constant
  • Improved taxonomy metabox sanitization

WordPress 5.1 was led by Matt Mullenweg with help from Gary Pendergast and 561 contributors. Approximately 41% (231 people) were new contributors to the project.

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16 Comments


  1. Performance and PHP version are big deals today! I’m happy that the core team has been working hard to get it done. I hope the April milestone when PHP version required for WordPress is 5.6 will become true, without delays.

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  2. Finally no more old PHP versions!

    The number of users we get encountering problems installing Oxygen because they are trying to install it on a host running PHP 5.4 is shocking.

    We always ask the users to share the name of the host publicly in our Facebook group as a way of motivating their host to upgrade their default PHP version, but obviously we don’t have enough clout to make an impact the way WordPress can.

    Great move by the WP team.

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  3. The speed that the developers are releasing new versions is just blinding. No sooner than we have installed the “latest” version and become familiar with and updated all the rest of the crap on the site then we get ANOTHER new version. And it’s not just WordPress.. it’s every big and even smallsoftware company…. New version? Yeah that was so 5 minutes ago! Wait for it….. BAM! NEW VERSION – HAVE FUN! –

    Seriously people, why not develop with a little more permanence and let us breathe for a while. We’ve got enough crap to deal with without having to worry about updating our websites all the time!

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    1. Oh It is multi site indeed

      Too late.. I updated it; ;(

      But it’s good to know.

      Thank you

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  4. Performance and PHP version are new features today. I’m glad that the core team worked hard to accomplish it. Expecting the April milestone for the PHP version needed for WordPress to be 5.6 will launch as scheduled.

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  5. I Think Still More wait for one of Update. Right now i am using old WP Editor by install plugin. New Version Permalink Bug Not solve in this version.

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  6. The dreaded 5.x update is receiving much-needed attention and that’s nice.

    Gutenberg more and more turns out to be a viable option for modern WordPress publishing.

    The Site Health updates are also appreciated. Within a few months or years this could become a perfect solution for oblivious clients who want to tinker with their installation on their own.

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  7. But what about those TAG problems? They continue. It deletes the tags several times with no clue…

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  8. I wonder what they did to the editor to cause it to have this ‘issue’ now since 5.1; copying multiple paragraphs from the editor will copy it as a single text line. Instead of adding the ‘breaks’ to them (not actual ‘s or such)

    I say ‘issue’ because this also seems to happen with the official tinymce. If somebody knows how to remedy that … I would really like to know that.

    Thanks in advance!

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  9. I heard that wordpress supports PHP 7.3 well. But when I switched over, my truck website didn’t work. Does anyone know the reason! But anyway thank the WP community.

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    1. WP supports php 7.3 but your theme or extensions may not.

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    2. Make sure nd_mysqli PHP extension is activated.

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  10. If WP is moving through PHP versions and performance… why are so many hosting providers that still have notices for us not to update into WP5.0?

    My point is… if PHP version is correct, plugins and everything seems WP5 compatible… Is there anything else I am missing? Or with this performance improvements even the worst servers are capable to run WP without any issues?

    I know this is more a hosting-related issue, but I am confused with WP going through and hostings (at least mine) staying back.

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    1. It’s because WP 5.x is a pile of roadapples and smart hosts keep their clients’ sites on WP 4.9.9 until a viable alternative becomes available. It’s a classic!

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  11. Is there any problem if I upgrade from 4.9.9? I mean it’s about plugin, justify and the others.

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