The open source WordPress content management system (CMS) project issued its final major release of 2019 on Nov. 12 with the launch of WordPress 5.3 codenamed Kirk.
As with all recent WordPress releases the codename is a nod to a jazz musician, in this case, jazz multi-instrumentalist Rahsaan Roland Kirk. WordPress is one of the most popular and widely deployed CMS technologies in use today, powering over a third of the entire internet, by some estimates.
Among the improved features in WordPress 5.3 are enhancements to the core block editor which is used to edit and define page content. The block editor first landed in the WordPress 5.0 releasethat became generally available in December 2018 and has been steadily improved ever since. In WordPress 5.3 the block editor is faster by up to 1.5 seconds for large posts.
The improved block editor now also has additional layout options and style variations that further enable site customization. Making full use of the improved block edit is the new Twenty Twenty theme for WordPress which is the initial default fro new WordPress 5.3 installations.
Security also gets a boost in WordPress 5.3 in a number of different ways including improved site health checks which check the configuration and underlying infrastructure components.
"Of the 31 updates for Site Health in 5.3, you’ll want to particularly note changes to the grading indicator, recovery email enhancements, filters for completed Site Health status tests, and a new Admin email verification screen," WordPress developer Jeffrey Paul wrote in a blog post.
Site health shows administrators what version of the PHP programming language is used on their hosting provider, which is an important step, since there are many older versions that are no longer supported or secure. As part of keeping up with PHP, WordPress 5.3 is now also fully compatible with the latest PHP 7.4 update.
Another interesting security related improvement in WordPress 5.3 is an administrator email verification feature.
"You'll now be periodically asked to confirm that your admin email address is up to date when you log in as an administrator," Paul wrote. "This reduces the chance of getting locked out of your site if you change your email address."
Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at EnterpriseAppsToday and InternetNews.com. Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist.