On January 25, 2022, WordPress released version 5.9. Named in honor of legendary jazz singer Joséphine Baker, version 5.9 has been deemed the “most versatile” WordPress release ever, and is available via both the WordPress dashboard and the WordPress website.
WordPress version 5.9 includes various new and improved features and functions, including full site editing, the introduction of block themes, and improvements to the block editor.
Full Site Editing
Building on the site editing functions first introduced with version 5.8, WordPress version 5.9 adds more features, putting users even more in control of their entire site, right from the WordPress dashboard. If your website is using a theme that supports full site editing (such as the new default block theme Twenty Twenty-Two), you can now create customized styles for your WordPress theme without using any code.
If full site editing is available, the full site editor can be accessed via Appearance > Editor on the WordPress dashboard. As well, a “Style” icon will appear on the top right of the page/post editor window, allowing you to change the color schemes and typography, preview the changes, and apply the style(s) to specific templates, template sections, or globally across the website.
Twenty Twenty-Two and other “Block” Themes
Version 5.9 introduces block themes and includes Twenty Twenty-Two, the first default block theme. A block theme offers a wide array of visual options right from the site editor, allowing users to customize elements such as color and font schemes, page templates, and image filters. Along with Twenty Twenty-Two, other block themes are available in the WordPress Themes directory, with additional block themes to be introduced in the future.
Using a block theme eliminates the need for the Theme Customizer, which will be replaced by the site editor if you are using a block theme. Instead of having to navigate to the admin settings, the new Styles interface is entirely available from the site editor, where you can build your site’s look and feel, using a variety of tools.
The Twenty Twenty-Two theme comes stocked with a Pattern Directory, which can be used in both the site editor and block editor, and features useful block patterns designed to help customize the look of your site. A nearly full-screen view allows users to easily compare patterns to select the most suitable option.
Block Styling and Improved Block Controls
With the full site editor, you can now make changes to the styles of the individual blocks on your website. By clicking the “Style” icon and choosing “Blocks”, you can access a list of blocks that can be edited and customized and set styles for individual blocks, such as button colors and headings.
WordPress 5.9 introduces new typography tools, more flexible layout controls, and better control of details like borders, spacing, and more. 5.9 includes improved social icons and buttons, and the headings block now features a vertical drop-down menu for selecting a heading level, along with more options for custom typography, design, spacing, and margins for your headings.
New Site-Wide Blocks
WordPress 5.9 introduces 10 blocks specifically designed for full-site editing. These blocks are located in the “Theme” category, and can also be used inside a page or post:
- Template Part
- Post Author
- Next Post
- Previous Post
- Post Comments
- Term Description
- Archive Title
With the introduction of the new navigation block in the site editor, “Menus” under (“Appearance”) is now called “Navigation Menus” on the WordPress dashboard. The navigation block introduces some useful features, and will eventually lead to a more powerful navigation editor in the future. This flexible block allows you to choose from an “always-on” responsive menu, or a menu that adapts to a site visitor’s screen size.
The navigation block can also be used from within posts and pages, allowing you to manually create navigation menus anywhere in your page layout, such as on landing pages, or as a table of contents for an article or other post/page type. The block allows you to easily create re-usable navigation menus, saved as custom post types in the WordPress database for later use. You can also add new links, and customize aspects of the menus such as colors, fonts, spacing, and alignment.
Improved Gallery Block
In version 5.9, you can now customize each individual image you add to a gallery block, choosing to style each image differently, style all images the same, or varying the style on just one or two images in the gallery. A drag-and-drop feature has also been added to allow you to easily change the layout of the gallery block.
Updated List View
In version 5.9, users can now easily move sections of content via the List View on the toolbar, dragging and dropping a section to a new place. You can easily jump around your content, using simple controls to expand and collapse sections, and even add HTML anchors to blocks to help site visitors easily navigate around a more complex page or post.
Rich URL Previews in Block Editor
In previous versions, when you hovered over a link in the post editor, the site URL would just appear. With version 5.9, you will now see a preview of the URL’s front-end website.
In version 5.9, users with multiple languages installed on their site can now choose their preferred language on the login screen.
As with each new release since blocks were introduced with the Gutenberg editor in version 5.0, WordPress 5.9 further improves the block editor, building on existing features and introducing new ones, enhancing and enriching the user experience.