WordPress 5.4: What Theme and Plugin Developers Need to Know

WordPress 5.4: What Theme and Plugin Developers Need to Know

The release of WordPress 5.4 introduces exciting new features and changes that theme and plugin developers need to be aware of. In this guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know to prepare your products for WordPress 5.4 compatibility.

Key Features and Updates for Developers

WordPress 5.4 Kirk comes with important updates to the Gutenberg editor, privacy tools, developer features, and more. For theme and plugin developers, some of the most notable changes include:

  • Enhancements to the block editor like gradients, variations, and namespaces
  • Deprecation of certain Customizer classes
  • New embed support for TikTok
  • Improvements to WordPress accessibility
  • Testing and compatibility considerations

Understanding these changes and what they mean for your existing products is crucial. In this guide, we’ll explore the key WordPress 5.4 updates and provide actionable insights to help you capitalize on new opportunities while avoiding potential pitfalls.

Gutenberg Block Editor Enhancements

The block editor introduced in WordPress 5.0 continues to improve with each release. Here are some of the most important Gutenberg updates in 5.4:

Block Variations allow different styles to be applied to blocks. For example, you can now have multiple button style variations like “”Fill”” and “”Outline”” for the Button block.

Gradients unlock more creative design options. Themes can opt-in to support gradients in blocks like Buttons, Columns, and more.

Custom Menu Item Fields allow additional fields like icons or other data to be added to menu items. This enables more customization for advanced menus.

Keyboard Shortcuts help improve productivity and efficiency when building sites. Keyboard shortcuts provide quick access to common block editor tasks.

Theme-Supported Gradients allow themes to add gradient presets that users can select from the editor. This provides easier gradient access without additional custom code.

Block Collections and Namespaces better organize blocks, especially those registered by plugins. This improves the editing experience and block discovery.

These updates demonstrate the continued evolution of the block editor. As a developer, leveraging them in your products will enable you to deliver more robust, flexible, and user-friendly experiences.

Additional Developer-Focused Changes

Beyond the block editor, other notable changes include:

Deprecation of Customizer Classes means several Customizer classes are now deprecated. This includes WP_Customize_Control, WP_Customize_Panel, etc. Developers should migrate to using WP_Customize_Block_Editor_Control going forward.

TikTok Embeds allow TikTok videos to be embedded and accessed via oEmbed. Themes and plugins can tap into this new embed possibility.

WordPress 5.4 Privacy Tools introduce new developer hooks like privacy_policy_content to customize privacy policy pages. Plugins can also leverage tools like the personal data exporter.

Accessibility Improvements continue to enhance WordPress compliance with WCAG 2.1 AA standards. Attention to accessibility is crucial for all plugin and theme developers.

Testing and Compatibility Checks

With new WordPress versions, thorough testing is always essential:

  • Test themes and plugins with WordPress 5.4 during the beta period to identify any issues.
  • Leverage testing tools like Theme Sniffer, the Theme Check plugin, and the Gutenberg Test Plugin.
  • Check for any deprecated functionality like Customizer classes and update code accordingly.
  • Verify compliance with WordPress coding standards and best practices.
  • Confirm integrations, compatibility, and functionality for any third-party services.

Resources like the Theme Developer Handbook, Plugin Developer Handbook, and Gutenberg Handbook provide excellent guidance for testing processes. Investing in robust testing now will ensure a smooth transition when WordPress 5.4 is officially released.

Opportunities and Best Practices for Developers

The changes in WordPress 5.4 create exciting opportunities for developers to improve their products. Here are some top tips:

  • Enhance designs by integrating block gradients, adding gradient presets, and leveraging block variations.
  • Streamline workflows by implementing keyboard shortcuts for commonly used actions.
  • Improve navigation through custom menu item fields to add icons and other metadata.
  • Boost creativity by using the new TikTok embed support.
  • Strengthen privacy by integrating 5.4 privacy tools and adhering to accessibility best practices.

Top developers recommend keeping all products updated to the latest WordPress versions. Staying up-to-date ensures continued access to new features, security enhancements, and improvements under the hood.

It’s also important to participate in the WordPress community through forums like the Theme Review Team, Plugin Review Team, and #core-editor channel on Slack. This allows you to keep your finger on the pulse for important updates and provides channels for feedback.


WordPress 5.4 delivers changes that both unlock new potential and require adjustments to existing code. As a theme or plugin developer, taking time now to understand and prepare for these updates will ensure your products continue meeting customer needs.

We’ve only scratched the surface in this guide – be sure to explore the WordPress 5.4 Field Guide and developer notes for fuller details. Also, for a broader perspective, you can refer to the previous release, WordPress 5.3 Kirk.

Stay tuned as we continue to cover WordPress 5.4 and future releases with actionable tips and insights. What changes are you most excited or concerned about? Join the conversation below!

Call to Action

  • Share your thoughts and reactions to the WordPress 5.4 updates – what are you most looking forward to?
  • Join the WordPress development community discussions happening on Slack, the Tavern, and other platforms.
  • Follow WordaThemes for more news on WordPress releases, tutorials, and resources.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is new in WordPress 5.4?

Key new features include block variations and gradients, custom menu fields, TikTok embeds, deprecated Customizer classes, and more accessibility and privacy enhancements.

When will WordPress 5.4 be released?

WordPress 5.4 is expected to be officially released on March 31, 2020. However, developers can already test it now during the beta period.

What steps should developers take to prepare for WordPress 5.4?

Essential steps include thoroughly testing themes and plugins, checking for deprecated functionality, verifying compatibility, integrating new features where beneficial, and participating in the WordPress community.

What resources are available for learning more about the updates?

Great resources include the WordPress 5.4 field guide, developer notes, handbooks, release notes, WordPress community forums and sites like WP Tavern, WP Engine, and Kinsta.

Where can I get help with any issues encountered?

The Theme Review Team, Plugin Review Team, and #core-editor Slack channel are excellent places to get feedback and assistance from the WordPress development community. Support forums for specific products are also helpful.”

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