WordPress 4.4 Will Revolutionize How We Publish

Ben Moss By Ben Moss  |  Dec. 10, 2015

WordPress 4.4, named ‘Clifford’ in honor of jazz legend Clifford Brown, has just been released. It’s available to download or can be updated from an existing installation’s dashboard.

The latest version of the Web’s favorite CMS is focused on responsive web design enhancements, connecting content across sites, and could signal a new way forward for WordPress.

As always, WordPress 4.4 ships with a new default theme, named ‘Twenty Sixteen’. The Twenty Sixteen theme is a stripped down version of a blog post. It’s a minimal, type-based approach that is ideal for blogging.

Designed by Takasho Irie, who designed the last two default themes for WordPress, it’s been available for a few months on GitHub. It has five color variations, an optional sidebar, custom features like header styles, and is of course fully responsive.

Twenty Sixteen…delivers a modern blog design right out of the box

Twenty Sixteen is inspired by rival platforms Ghost, and Medium, and delivers a modern blog design right out of the box. Expect to see plenty of WordPress users stick with the default theme in 2016.

As is frequently the case with WordPress updates, many of the new features were previously available as plugins, and have now made it into the WordPress core in a standardized and streamlined format. We have WordPress’ engaged community to thank for the platform’s continued advancement.

A great example of this are the fully responsive images built into WordPress 4.4. Implemented with the srcset attribute WordPress images will now provide alternate sizes for displays such as retina screens, allowing the browser to select the most appropriate file itself.

WordPress 4.4 includes expanded support for oEmbed. Previously WordPress users could embed YouTube and Twitter content. With 4.4 you can embed even more content — specifically content from Cloudup, Reddit Comments, ReverbNation, Speaker Deck, and VideoPress — allowing WordPress users to curate, almost syndicate, content from across the Web.

Interestingly, WordPress posts themselves will, optionally, be embeddable in this way. Meaning that the content of sites that choose to embrace the approach can be embedded in other WordPress sites.

oEmbed support…[heralds] a major change in the way we publish on the platform

It’s a revolutionary idea for WordPress because it opens the way for Medium-style collaborative blogging, with users embedding and then responding to posts on their own sites. Ultimately making WordPress publishing an open conversation.

Developers will also note a couple of big changes. Firstly the REST API has been built-in as a core feature. (API endpoints still require the WP API plugin, but they’re expected to make it into the core in a subsequent release.) Secondly, developers are being encouraged to move over from the wp_title() method to the title tag feature. Originally wp_title() was slated to be deprecated, but will continue to be supported for a short while yet.

WordPress 4.4 Clifford is a major step forward for WordPress. Whilst responsive images will receive the attention, the extended oEmbed support is the real story, heralding a major change in the way we publish on the platform.