WordPress 5.9 Beta 1 and 2 released

WordPress 5.9 Beta 1 was released on 11/30/2021 and 5.9 Beta 2 on 12/7/2021. Alpha, Beta and RC versions should not be installed on live websites, only in test environments. There is still enough time for extensive tests before the final WordPress version is released (probably January 25, 2022), so that as many errors and incompatibilities as possible can be identified and corrected before the release.


To test, install WordPress 5.9 Beta 2 in a secure test environment, either with the zip archive or via the WordPress Beta Tester plugin. A third option is to use WP-CLI: wp core update --version=5.9-beta2.

The Make WordPress Core Blog will be posting major changes in development over the next few weeks.

To see all the features in Gutenberg versions since WordPress 5.8, read the What’s New In Gutenberg posts for 10.8, 10.9, 11.0, 11.1, 11.2, 11.3, 11.4, 11.5, 11.6, 11.7, 11.8 and 11.9.

Besides the mentioned changes, which include 580 improvements and almost 450 bug fixes, Beta 1 fixed 297 WordPress 5.9 tickets, including 110 new features and improvements. In Beta 2, 24 bugs were fixed. More bug fixes are on the way.

Full site editing

The styles interface

Combine all the features introduced in 5.8 with those added in 5.9 and you have Full Site Editing. Previously known as Global Styles, the Styles interface allows you to instantly interact with your blocks and elements right within the WordPress admin interface. From typography to color palettes, this cohesive design interface means that a design change—even a drastic one—can happen without a theme switch. No code is required for this.

file theme.json

Introduced in WordPress 5.8, the theme.json file has been overhauled to enable features and default styles for your site and its blocks. With 5.9, theme.json can support child themes and the duotone method. Coordinating style layers with theme.json reduces the required CSS for your theme.

Other features supported by theme.json are:

  • Border: color, style, and width extend the border-radius properties introduced in 5.8.
  • Flex layouts: block gap support, courtesy of spacing.blockGap.
  • Typography: font families, font style, font weight, text decoration and text transform.
  • Images: Duotones.

A new navigation block

Here are the features that need testing the most:

  • Responsive menu options that you can disable, always enable, or use only for small screens.
  • Integrated keyboard accessibility. For accessibility, for speed or for both.
  • Add additional blocks like search and website icon blocks (and customize them to your liking).
  • Submenu items with styling options.
  • Horizontal or vertical orientation.
  • Reusable cross-topic navigation. The created navigation block is saved as a custom content type.

An evolved gallery block

You can now edit each individual image from the Gallery block the same way you edit one from the Image block: with inline cropping or a duotone and changing layouts with drag-and-drop.

notice: Have you developed a plugin or theme based on the gallery block functionality? Then you should definitely read this dev note, which describes what you have to do to ensure the necessary compatibility.

Focused template part mode

Creating template parts can require a special level of focus as you are making site-wide decisions. Therefore, WordPress 5.9 offers a focus mode that only shows you the part you are currently working on (and you can return to normal view with a keystroke).

Block Template Directory

The Template Directory offers a range of ready-made block templates, from single blocks showing an image and text to a complete page layout with columns and sections. Since the release of version 5.8, the directory has become a repository for experimental user interfaces and templates, taking submissions (including yours) and making them available to the community.

New default theme: Twenty Twenty-Two

WordPress 5.9 introduces full site editing features and the first default block theme, Twenty Twenty-Two.

By using minimal CSS, the theme’s styles are stored in the theme.json file, so you can configure them in the styles interface of the WordPress admin interface. The theme can be individually designed with a selection of color schemes, font combinations, page templates, ready-made components and image editing options.

Some changes from beta 2

  • Block Editor: Remove Navigation Panes (#54506)
  • Block Editor: JavaScript error in navigation block view (#54456)
  • Block Editor: Block template theme error related to child themes (#54515)
  • General: fix existing links to customizer when site editor is activated (#54460)
  • Media: Media library only shows the selected image (#53765)
    Media: fatal error when uploading media on PHP 8 (#54385)
    REST API: Add Gutenberg Global Styles REST API endpoints to Core (#54336)

how you can help

Stay tuned to the Make WordPress Core blog in the coming weeks for 5.9-related development notes that will break down these and other changes in more detail.

Test, test, test

Bug testing is an important part of polishing the release during the beta period and a great way to contribute to the WordPress open source project.

Report an error

If you think you’ve found a bug, you can post it in the alpha/beta sections of the support forums. If you know how to write a reproducible bug report, you can create it in WordPress Trac, which also has a list of known bugs.

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