WordPress.org blog: WordPress 6.3 Beta 2

WordPress 6.3 Beta 2 is ready for download and testing. This is the first release of the 6.3 cycle, as there was no Beta 1 due to technical issues with packaging the release. Rather than further delaying a beta release, the release squad has decided to package and ship Beta 2.

This version of the WordPress software is under development. Please do not install, run, or test this version of WordPress on production or mission-critical websites. Instead, the release squad recommends you evaluate Beta 2 on a test server and site.

WordPress 6.3 demonstrates incredible progress toward achieving the goals outlined in the WordPress roadmap and is the final major release of Phase 2. Phase 2 has focused mainly on the Site Editor, enabling site creators to build websites, design compelling layouts, and manage content without toggling between multiple configuration areas or editing code.

Learn more about Gutenberg updates debuting since WordPress 6.2 by reviewing prior editions of What’s New in Gutenberg posts for 15.2, 15.3, 15.4, 15.5, 15.6, 15.7, 15.8, 15.9, 16.0, and 16.1.

WordPress is the result of contributions by users, developers, and extenders across the globe. As this community seeks new features, the platform will continue to evolve, including the site editing features and beyond. Get an overview of the 6.3 release cycle, and check the Make WordPress Core blog for 6.3-related posts in the coming weeks for further details.

A first look at 6.3

This latest WordPress release includes many updates spanning all platform areas, emphasizing the editing experience and polishing usability. This release contains more than 500 new features and enhancements and 400+ bug fixes.

Performance

Following the incredible performance improvements introduced in 6.2, the release includes more than 170 performance-related updates, including adding defer and async support to the WP Scripts API and fetchpriority support for images. Optimizations were made to block template resolution, image lazy-loading, and the emoji loader, all of which benefit LCP performance. Support for PHP versions 8.0, 8.1, and 8.2 has been improved. 

Site Editor

The Site Editor expands to include navigating and editing pages, styles, templates, and content. The unified site editing experience will include a distraction-free mode, enhanced navigation, and an improved loading experience. Additionally, you can use the Site Editor to preview a block theme and adjust your site before activating the new theme. This release includes style revisions so you can toggle between and preview different saved styles. Rounding out the changes, 6.3 ushers in a new Command Palette, enabling users to context switch and perform actions quickly across different sections of the site editing experience.

Prototype of the Command Palette in action

Blocks

New blocks for details and footnotes debut in this release, along with updates for better handling of image aspect ratios and improved fallback states. Spacer blocks now include presets, and the cover block gets updates for managing text colors and layout support.

The new height control for the Spacer block

Patterns and Design

Reusable blocks have been renamed to synced patterns. This change reflects the unification of reusable blocks and traditional block patterns (unsynced patterns) within the Editor. A new option allows you to assign patterns to templates, adding the ability to have starter patterns to speed up the creation process. Site creators can now easily create, save, and manage custom synced and unsynced patterns, as well as browse a directory of curated patterns. Additionally, the duotone filter and captions can now be edited in the Styles interface.

Style your captions in the new Styles interface

Usability

Some key usability highlights include toolbar updates, updated template descriptions, enhanced list view drag-and-drop, improved padding and margin controls, and a new area for managing patterns (including reusable blocks, now called synced patterns.) Link control receives some updates, rounding out high-level usability enhancements in 6.3.

Add and modify descriptions for templates

Accessibility

WordPress remains steadfast in making the site-building experience accessible to everyone. 6.3 incorporates over 50 accessibility improvements across the platform. Improved labeling, optimized tab and arrow-key navigation, revised heading hierarchy, and new controls in the admin image editor allow those using screen readers, keyboard navigation, and other assistive technology to navigate more easily. The login form, installation steps, and list tables (for sorting and selection) have all been updated. Additional accessibility tickets are viewable in the WordPress Trac.

Other notes

This release includes auto-rollback for failed manual updates of themes and plugins.

Please note that the features in this list may change before the final release.

Testing makes WordPress stronger!

Testing for issues is a critical part of developing any software, and it’s a meaningful way for anyone to contribute—whether you have experience or not. 

While testing the upgrade process is essential, testing new features is too. Review the many new features listed above and focus your testing efforts on those areas in particular.

If you encounter an issue, please report it to the Alpha/Beta area in the support forums. If you are comfortable writing a reproducible bug report, you can file one on WordPress Trac. You can also check your issue against a list of known bugs.

New to testing? This detailed guide is a great place to start if you’ve never tested a beta release.

Want to know more about testing releases in general? Follow along with the testing initiatives in Make Core and join the #core-test channel on the Making WordPress Slack.

Vulnerability bounty doubles during Beta 2

Between the Beta 2 release and the final release candidate (RC) for each new WordPress version, the monetary reward for reporting new, unreleased security vulnerabilities is doubled. Please follow responsible disclosure practices as detailed in the project’s security practices and policies outlined on the HackerOne page and in the security white paper.

Get WordPress 6.3 Beta 2

You can test WordPress 6.3 Beta 2 in three ways:

Option 1: Install and activate the WordPress Beta Tester plugin (select the “Bleeding edge” channel and “Beta/RC Only” stream).

Option 2: Direct download the Beta 2 version (zip).

Option 3: Use the following WP-CLI command:

wp core update --version=6.3-beta2

The current target for the final release is August 8, 2023, which is about six weeks away. Your help testing this version ensures everything in this release is the best.

The first haiku for 6.3

A chapter closes
Excitement yet much newness
Phase 2 finale

Thank you to the following contributors for collaborating on this post: @DanSoschin, @Meher, @JPantani, @CBringmann, @AudrasJB, @annezazu, @ndiego, @davidbaumwald, @desrosj, @priethor, @flixos90, @wildworks, and @JPantani for authoring the haiku.

This content was originally published here.