WordPress 4.9 Has Arrived – The Major Update Before Gutenberg

WordPress 4.9 is here! It’s the last major update before Gutenberg. The new content editor will be implemented into the platform with version 5.0 early next year. However, WordPress 4.9 is all about the Customizer. That makes us happy.

Organic Themes was an early adopter of the WordPress Customizer. We have been implementing theme options into the Customizer for several years. More recently, we released the Organic Customizer Widgets plugin that transforms the Customizer into a page builder using custom widgets. As a result, the latest WordPress update will only enhance any Organic Theme. The improvements to the Customizer include the following features:

Scheduling and Collaboration Options

Now, you can schedule the release of a new website design within the Customizer similar to scheduling the release of a new blog post. Additionally, you can save drafts and share new designs before they go live. This can be accomplished by clicking the settings icon next to the blue “Publish” button.

Customizer scheduling options using the StartUp Theme and Organic Customizer Widgets.

This new feature is very useful when collaborating with clients or a team. Essentially, it eliminates the need to setup a staging domain in many cases. For instance, if your client is updating their old existing site to a new theme, you can simply setup their whole site within the Customizer, and send the draft to the client for approval. Once approved, there is no need to fiddle with domain and DNS changes. Simply publish the new design within the Customizer.

Customizer CSS Syntax Highlighting

We were thrilled when the option to add custom CSS was implemented into the Customizer. In many cases, it eliminated the need for child themes. As theme developers, this change made providing support to our users much easier. However, actually writing the CSS within the Customizer was a bit cumbersome. God forbid, we were forced to use spaces instead of tabs.

With the WordPress 4.9 updates to the Customizer writing CSS is now a glorious experience. It feels like writing CSS within Atom. Additionally, the autocomplete works beautifully for adding properties — saving valuable time when making quick customizations.

Choose From Thousands Of Free Themes

The entire WordPress.org free theme directory is now available within the Customizer. This means you can preview thousands of available WordPress themes for your website before activating the theme of your choosing. Currently, Organic Themes offers 6 free themes within the WordPress directory — and counting. Our free themes have many thousands of active users, and hundreds of thousands of downloads. Try them today within the Customizer!

Beyond The Customizer

WordPress 4.9 introduces the new Gallery Widget, as well as enhancements to the existing Text Widget. The new and improved widgets are great news for our Organic Customizer Widgets plugin. We have implemented basic styles for the Gallery Widget within the plugin. Additionally, the updates to the Text Widget provide more flexibility within the plugin.

Organic Themes is very encouraged by the release of WordPress 4.9. It’s another step in the right direction. A step towards the simplification of the platform. Ultimately, leading to an admin experience where content and design are managed by the Customizer and Gutenberg as predicted. If you’re using an Organic Theme, rest assured your theme is prepared for the future of WordPress. If you’re a designer or developer, now is the time to begin familiarizing yourself with the Gutenberg editor. More good things are on the way from WordPress.

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David Morgan is the co-founder, designer, and developer of Organic Themes. He founded the company with Jeff Milone in 2009 on the Hawaiian island of Maui. David enjoys surfing, swimming, golfing and creating new web applications and products. Personal Site: http://dav.idmorgan.com