WordPress 6.5 Is Around the Corner; Test Beta 2 – WP Tavern

Ronny Shani
WordPress 6.5 Beta 2 was released yesterday, featuring exciting capabilities and dozens of updates and bug fixes.
The first major release of 2024, WordPress 6.5 will officially launch on March 26, 2024. Now’s the best time to start poking around, see what’s new, make sure your project(s) are ready, and help test the system so the team can get to the finish line with as few bugs as possible.
To experiment with the latest beta, try WordPress Playground; this no-code browser-based WordPress instance comes pre-installed with extra plugins and test content.
Click here to open a standalone Beta 2 window in a new tab.
Let’s see what’s new:
The results of the WordPress 2023 Survey revealed that users already rank performance and accessibility among their favorite things about the platform but would like to see even more done to enhance both. Ask, and you shall receive.
According to the announcement post, the upcoming version “contains more than 110 performance-related updates”, including improved loading speeds across the Post and Site Editor:
The loading time for translated sites gets a boost due to merging Performant Translations into Core. This greatly improves the load time of translated sites across the board by loading multiple locales simultaneously, making switching between them a faster and more enjoyable experience.
As an open-source software whose mission is to democratize publishing, WordPress adopted a set of Accessibility Coding Standards. These apply to the project’s core and official plugins, complemented by its long-term goal of achieving Authoring Tool Accessibility Guidelines (ATAG) 2.0 compliance.
To deliver on this promise, version 6.5 ships with over 65 accessibility improvements, including “fixes to contrast settings, cursor focus, submenus, positioning of elements, and more.”
Since you can never have too much of a good thing, 6.5 comes packed with design, UI, and UX:
If you clicked the Synced Patterns link above and visited the Gutenberg Times, you might have spotted the word bindings popping up at the end of Birgit Pauli-Haack’s post. An obvious segue into one of the most transformative features of 6.5: the Block Bindings API.
Automattic’s Mario Santos described the goal of the new API:
This API aims to connect block attributes to values, obtained from different sources, that might vary depending on the context. For example, a value like post_author that changes depending on the current post.
This will expand the capabilities of existing blocks […] For example, having a Heading block with the content of the Post Author without needing a new Post Author block.
The API already powers the Synced Patterns and the much-anticipated ability to connect custom fields to block attributes. The list of supported blocks and attributes is short, but that’s only the beginning:
Custom fields have been neglected in the Block Editor, hidden behind the Preferences window like a lost treasure. Let’s hope this is the first sign of their comeback. If you’re interested in what you can build with this powerful combo, check out Justin Tadlock’s tutorial on the WordPress Developer Blog.
Next on the finally list is the Font Library, aka the WordPress font manager. 
Soon, you won’t need to write any code or install any plugins—from now on, you can do it yourself, regardless of your active theme. The fonts are stored under /wp-content/fonts which makes it as theme-agnostic as the Media Library.
To access the Library, open the Styles sidebar, click on Typography, and click the icon next to FONTS. Try to upload, install from Google Fonts, activate, and, well, manage your fonts. Once installed, use it across the Editor, wherever the blocks’ Typography attribute is enabled.
Developers can access the Font Library programmatically, create custom Font Collections for their users, or disable it altogether. Take a peak at the still-WIP documentation for instructions.
The grand finale of this impressive lineup is the Interactivity API. James Giroux covered it here on the Tavern earlier this week, so we’ll only give you a taste of WP Movies Demo:
If you’re a developer interested in the nitty-gritty details and want to try what’s already possible, visit the WP Movies GitHub repository, where you’ll find a getting started tutorial.
That Playground link is tempting, so go experiment, and then come back to tell us which feature you’re most excited about. Have you tried the new APIs? Did you find (and file) any bugs?
The docs say that the Font Library can be accessed regardless of the active theme, but the reality is that this feature is only available for block themes, not classic/hybrid ones. Bummer.
Both performance and accessibility are at the top of my list! Looking forward to experimenting with this.
All these new things, especially the faster speeds are awesome, however, those who make blocks with ACF Pro will get a nasty surprise with WP 6.5, unless this bug is fixed – waiting for the devs. to call this a feature of course…
So far with the first 2 beta versions of WP 6.5, ACF Blocks are only displayed in the editor in Preview mode. Those who want to use in Edit or Auto modes are out of luck. WP Engine knows about this, and who knows if this is going to be fixed by March 26 – this is a huge setback !
BTW, the fonts feature are fine with hybrid themes, obviously not classic, as the Site Editor is required to access that feature.
Do you have the GitHub issue or trac ticket link handy for the bug, you mentioned?
Hi Birgit,
I have given up on reporting issues on GitHub, as sometimes things get totally ignored, unless someone “important” gets involved. I believe it was with WP 6.3 when I had reported a pretty major bug, that was ignored for days, until Anne McCarthy intervened, and surprise-surprise, it got the attention it deserved within hours, and the bug was eventually squashed. On the other hand I can understand the enormity of the problems they face, with thousands of bug reports, even though it seems that there are too many cooks in the “kitchen”, BUT, nobody seems to be in REAL charge. Some bugs, like the one not able to click and move blocks if the toolbar is set on top, they called that a “feature” when I reported it. Simply put, I don’t need the extra aggravation anymore. I am only saying these things, because I know you are involved with Automattic, and in some capacity with Documentation (I thing, sorry if I’m wrong), ONLY as a constructive criticism… just know how some people feel, or at least that’s the perception from the outside. You guys can say all day long, open source, EDI, etc… but the truth of the matter is slightly different. After saying all that, it is taking a long time, but Gutenberg, and especially the Site Editing are awesome, my entire workflow is around them along with ACF Pro.
Oh Nick, I appreciate the constructive feedback,.and I have had my share of GitHub issues waiting for attention. It is a huge project, indeed. I was just hoping to get some information from you “ACF Pro will get a nasty surprise with WP 6.5, unless this bug is fixed”
Given that Beta 3 is next week and you referred to ‘this bug’ that there is already something filed somewhere to get the release lead take look at it during triage.
You convinced me with your persistence, first thing tomorrow morning, I will do a quick search if there is something on file already, as I had reported this to ACF Pro at their Github page the day after beta 1 was released, and they (WP Engine) confirmed the issue.
Hey Birgit,
We’ve got Github PR #59105 open with a patch for this. It looks like it’s progressing, but if you can give whatever nudges needed to try and get this into the next beta, that would be great. 🙂
We’ll have this fixed before release!
We’re affected by a bug in WordPress that’s triggering this, but we’ve already submitted a PR to Gutenberg which should resolve it: https://github.com/WordPress/gutenberg/pull/59105
Worse case, we’ll patch it our side, but it looks like it’s progressing.
I hope the font library will be used by users with an essential awe:
Thank you, for the mention of the article on the Gutenberg Times, Ronny
Can’t wait to see PageSpeed Insights results. I hope to increase at leas on point for performance
WP also need a Menu and menu structure update; its very hard to manage large number of items
Prioritizing both performance and accessibility is paramount for me! Excited about delving into experimentation with these aspects.
I have developed a hybrid theme and I’m not sure how to use the new Font Library feature or its related API. Since hybrid themes don’t have access to Global Styles, do you have any tips or workarounds for incorporating the font library into hybrid themes?
Thank you!
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