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2019 “tighten up” theme, this release was focused on improving performance in the editor and helping users update outdated versions of PHP.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 WordPress will now detect if a site is running on an insecure, outdated version of PHP and display a notice in the dashboard with information about how to update PHP.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
- 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.
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.