WordPress 5.2 beta 1 was released this evening with an exciting lineup of new user-facing features that are ready for testing. The upcoming release introduces new blocks for RSS, Search, Calendar, Tag Cloud, and Amazon Kindle embed.
The proliferation of block collection plugins as a block distribution mechanism has caused some WordPress installations to become bloated with too many unused blocks. Version 5.2 includes new block management capabilities that will make it easy to turn blocks on or off and tidy up the block inserter tool for greater efficiency.
This release also introduces fatal error protection that catches errors before they produce a white screen, so that users can still log into the admin to attempt to resolve the issue. This feature was previously targeted for 5.1 but needed a few security issues ironed out before it was ready for core.
If you’re just getting started with testing WordPress, the 5.2 beta is a very approachable release with features that anyone can put through the paces. The easiest way is to install the WordPress Beta Testing plugin and select “bleeding edge nightlies.” Try out the new blocks, experiment with turning blocks and and off. Do the new features seem like they work as advertised? Are there any bumps in the road when trying to use them? You can report any issues to the Alpha/Beta area in the support forums or log a ticket on trac.
Developers have a few big items to test as well. Plugin authors can now specify a minimum PHP version that the plugin will support. WordPress is also adding the sodium_compat library, a libsodium-compatible cryptography API for PHP 7.2+.
According to the notes from today’s core developer chat, there are currently 116 open tickets that contributors plan to address in three betas. The goal is to slash that number down to 66 before beta 2. WordPress 5.2 is targeted for April 30, 2019.
The libsodium-compatible cryptography API is for PHP < 7.2. PHP 7.2+ has the original libsodium cryptography API built in.