What’s new in WordPress 5.2?

Since WordPress 5.2 is being released today, let’s look into the details and see what this update brings to the table. The latest version continues on the theme from the last release and provides administrators with even more tools to detect and fix configuration issues and fatal errors.

Introducing… the Site
Health Check feature

The biggest addition of WordPress 5.2 is the long awaited Site Health Check. This feature brings two new pages to the admin dashboard to help users maintain their website and spot common issues such as configuration errors. It is now the de facto standardized location in WordPress for all debugging information.

Site Health Check feature
This site has quite a few issues that need to be addressed.

The Status tab runs a number of tests on the website and will categorize the results as either critical, recommended or good. These results in turn determine the health percentage that is shown at the top of the page. Each test can be expanded to see an explanation of the problem that needs to be addressed and may offer the option to automatically fix the issue for you.

The Info tab provides an abundance of information about the website and web server configuration, similar to what the Performance module in All in One SEO Pack does. There’s even a button to copy all non-sensitive data so you can easily share your debug information for support purposes.

These two new pages are located under the Tools menu.  Site Health Check also provides developers with an API to add tests or filter debug information.

Protection against fatal
errors in WordPress

Fatal errors
stop users from accessing the admin panel and can be a pain to resolve. This
usually means you need to use an FTP client to connect to the web server and
undo whatever changes were made or ask your hosting company for support.

Fortunately, WordPress 5.2 now introduces a new recovery mode for website administrators. When a fatal occurs, an error message will show that “This site is experiencing technical difficulties”. WordPress will then also send an email to all administrators with a special login link for them to access the dashboard in Recovery Mode and undo any changes that may have triggered the error. Of course, that doesn’t include changes to the database or wp-config file.

Improvements for the
Gutenberg editor

Since the
new Gutenberg block editor was introduced in WordPress 5.0, there has been continuous
development in order to improve it. As we expect from all releases in the near
future, WordPress 5.2 brings a number of new features and enhancements to the editor.

Even though the new editor is much faster than the older one, lengthier articles with dozens of blocks would load quite a bit slower in the back-end. This issue has now been addressed as the newest release reduces load times for long blog posts with about 35%. Also, typing feels much more responsive as the key press time has been cut in half.

Tag cloud block
Here’s an example of how the Tag Cloud block looks like.

5.2 also introduces a number of new default blocks. These are:

  • RSS
    block – easily fetch and display any RSS feed on your WordPress blog;
  • Amazon
    Kindle block – embed content from Amazon Kindle;
  • Search
    block – add the default WordPress search feature in your article;
  • Calendar
    block – display a calendar of your blog articles so that users can view which
    articles were published on each day;
  • Tag
    Cloud block – display a cloud of your tags in your content.

Other Under The Hood improvements

In addition, there are a number of other changes which are useful to developers including new Dashicons for the WordPress administrator area, an option to define the log file path for the WP_DEBUG_LOG function in the wp-config file and also a new minimum required PHP version. WordPress 5.2 sets the minimum PHP version to 5.6, which is up from 5.2.4 but still old compared to the current stable version of PHP which is 7.3.2.

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