WordPress 6.4, “Shirley,” was released today, marking the third major WordPress release of 2023 and a significant leap forward for the world’s most popular content management system.
Named for iconic jazz singer and pianist Shirley Horn, WordPress 6.4 has an impressive suite of enhancements and new features that further streamline the editor experience while offering greater creative flexibility.
In the following sections, we’ll unpack some of the most transformative additions found in the 6.4 release, from new editor enhancements to the “Twenty Twenty-Four” theme and everything in between. Let’s get started!
Note: In addition to testing 6.4 using a staging or development environment (like Local), it’s also recommended to use PHP 8.1 or 8.2 with the upcoming 6.4 release. Refer to WordPress 6.4’s PHP compatibility post for more details.
An Improved Editor Experience
Since the introduction of the Gutenberg or “block” editor with WordPress 5.0, the core editing experience in WordPress has continued to evolve at an exciting pace.
With the release of WordPress 6.4, the editor not only receives a facelift but also enhances the writing experience by introducing new keyboard shortcuts, improved list merging, and key fixes for a smoother workflow. Check out the following video from wordpress.org to see these updates in action:
Further enhancements to the editing experience include the introduction of custom categories for organizing block patterns and adding advanced filtering in the Patterns inserter, making pattern selection more intuitive.
Additionally, patterns now integrate seamlessly with Classic themes, and the consolidation of “Synced patterns” into a single tab promotes a unified user experience. Exporting and importing patterns as JSON has also been enhanced, paving the way for future development strides.
WordPress 6.4 takes the editing experience up a notch with:
- List View Upgrades: List View now allows deselection with the Escape key, offers a new shortcut for duplicating blocks (CMD/Control + Shift + D), and shows image previews in Image and Gallery blocks, with more previews to come.
- Unified Toolbar: Navigation, List, and Quote blocks now have a cohesive toolbar experience. Toolbars stay with parent blocks, avoiding content obstruction and providing a cleaner editing interface.
- An Upgraded Command Palette: Enhanced design and additional commands make for a smoother user experience.
WordPress 6.4 introduces an upgraded Command Palette, as seen above (source: wordpress.org)
Enhancements to the Command Palette, which was introduced in WordPress 6.3, are meant to further streamline your workflow with a sleeker design and new block-specific commands, enabling you to find features and execute tasks more efficiently.
Twenty Twenty-Four: A Canvas for Creativity
As is customary with all major WordPress releases, version 6.4 is accompanied by “Twenty Twenty-Four,” WordPress’s latest default theme.
Designed with small businesses and creatives in mind, this theme is a treasure trove of more than 35 templates and patterns, all ready to accommodate any site vision. The theme caters to various users, from writers to entrepreneurs, providing a versatile and intuitive editing experience. You can see the demo here:
Twenty Twenty-Four is genuinely a canvas for creativity and brings content to life against a backdrop of modern design, featuring the refined Cardo font for headlines and a crisp sans-serif for body text. It comes with a light and dark mode, alongside two sans-serif style variations, offering aesthetic flexibility right out of the box.
The theme is more than just visually compelling—it’s a seamless blend with WordPress’s latest editing tools, simplifying the website creation process. The design by Beatriz Fialho allows for easy customization, giving you the power to make quick yet impactful changes to color and typography.
Find out more about Twenty Twenty-Four, including the concept behind it, here.
Block Hooks Revolutionize Plugin Development
Block Hooks, formerly known as Auto-inserting blocks, are a game-changer for plugin developers who work with the Gutenberg editor.
This new system allows developers to enhance block themes through a hooks system akin to that of classic themes. The feature enables the automatic insertion of blocks relative to others, facilitating dynamic layouts. While it’s considered a developer tool, the Block Hooks feature is geared to adhere to your preferences and gives you complete control to add, dismiss, and customize auto-inserted blocks as needed.
Block hooks maintain the balance between visibility and user control, though it’s crucial to note their exclusive compatibility with unaltered templates and officially recognized patterns.
There are two ways to implement Block Hooks: through the block’s block.json file for straightforward, unconditional hooking or the more flexible hooked_block_types filter for conditional insertion based on the block’s context within templates and patterns.
Although current constraints prevent setting attributes for hooked blocks, Block Hooks represent a leap forward in block theme interactivity. Future updates promise to refine this feature, expanding developer capabilities in WordPress themes. Follow the progress of Block Hooks for upcoming enhancements and additional functionalities.
WordPress 6.4 is the third release of 2023, and it does not disappoint.
From significant features and design tools to UI improvements and under-the-hood refinements, this version serves up a feast of capabilities. The introduction of the new “Twenty Twenty-Four” theme adds to the allure, providing a lightweight yet versatile foundation for website customization.
WordPress continues to evolve, and with each iteration, it becomes more intuitive, powerful, and aligned with the needs of its vast community. Whether you are a developer, designer, or content creator, WordPress 6.4 offers the tools and flexibility to bring your digital vision to life with ease and style.