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Upcoming Changes to WordPress 5.5

WordPress 5.5 is set to release on August 11, 2020 and focuses on several game changing features for the CMS, including the starting phases of a default jQuery update, automatic plugins, new blocks for the Gutenberg editor, and more! Lets dig in.

Automatic Plugin/Theme Updates

5.5 will include a new feature that many have been awaiting for years: the ability to enable automatic plugin and theme updates. While this may very easily lead to issues of a plugin/theme breaking a site after an update, it will not be on by default and will hopefully be used in a way that facilitates good change management (and making backups beforehand). Of course, hooks have existed that allow you to update specific plugins since WordPress 3.7, which is what has allowed things like WP Engine’s Smart Plugin Manager and WPMUDev’s Automation to become so popular; but with 5.5, the need for such services may wane a bit (though it’s never a bad idea to have someone manage your updates if you are not a developer/technically inclined individual).

As expected, the ability to enable/disable auto update en masse will be made available from the dropdown menu.

New Block Mover

The block mover is evolving in WordPress 5.5! UI change and more intuitive functionality are on the horizon, along with more granular positioning options (the 3×3 grid you see on the left side of the image below).

5.5 (Left) block mover versus 5.4.2 (Right)

Updated Default jQuery Version

You read that right, jQuery updates are coming! While the default jQuery version update is not scheduled until 5.7, the conversion begins with 5.5 and the removal of jQuery Migrate 1.x versions. WordPress has long been plagued by outdated jQuery versions posing a potential threat to sites. This new core implementation promises to help alleviate much headache both in terms of overhead from updating jQuery manually, as well as further securing sites against attack.

For those not in the know, the current jQuery version of WordPress (1.12.4 as of WordPress 5.4.2) is about 4 years out of date (compared to core jQuery) and absolutely riddled with issues that make it a pain for many in the WordPress community and can be quantified by the sheer amount of bug reports relating to it. At present, many developers choose to enqueue a separate, newer version of jQuery in their themes/plugins to take advantage of options and stability that the default version does not offer. Hopefully with this update, that will no longer be required unless bleeding edge is needed. It’s important to note that the jQuery version bundled with WordPress is maintained as part of the core branch, so it is not inherently as insecure as the default 1.12.4, but there are also major features that have been introduced to jQuery since 1.x that are not present in WordPress ported version.

WordPress 5.4.2 bundled jQuery version.


WordPress 5.5 will be implementing some features that users and developers have been hounding after for years including automatic updates for themes and plugins, and working toward implementing a modern version of jQuery. WordPress 5.5 is set to release on August 11, 2020.

Learn more about how WordPress changes are implemented:

Want to learn more about WordPress 5.5 specifically? Adam from goes over details in the video below!