Last November, we published a WordPress wish list for 2019, detailing 5 new features we wanted to see come to the WordPress platform this year. Now that we’re just over halfway through 2019, how has our list changed and what else would we love to see WordPress include this year? Let’s take a look.
1. Schedule updates to content
Our most-desired feature at the end of last year was to allow users to schedule updates to existing content, much like new posts can be scheduled now. And 8 or so months later, it’s still our most desired feature — by far.
As of the time of this publication, WordPress has not incorporated this feature into core or made any indication of a plan to do so. A plugin exists for scheduling content updates, but frankly, it’s a clunky solution and a first-party feature release would likely be a much more elegant solution. For now, we’ll have to hold out hope that this feature comes along some day.
2. Move site stats from Jetpack to core
A standalone, self-hosted WordPress site offers a lot of extra features that are unavailable on a free WordPress.com blog, but WordPress.com also has several unique features bundled into it that aren’t a part of the core of WordPress. As such, the Jetpack plugin offers the ability to add any of these extra features to self-hosted WordPress. It’s a great way to ensure self-hosted WordPress sites aren’t missing out on extra features, but some of them make so much sense that they should probably be built into WordPress. Site stats is one example. We mentioned last November that we’d love to see site stats moved to WordPress core, and it would still be a handy addition so stats are available to all WordPress sites, not just those using Jetpack. Of course, since Jetpack offers premium upgrades and that makes money for Automattic, it doesn’t make a lot of sense for them to do this from a business standpoint, but we can dream.
3. Simplify the process for automatically updating WordPress
As of now, WordPress automatically installs minor core updates, but theme updates, plugin updates, and major core updates must all be installed manually. While websites can be hacked in several different ways and there are several things you can do to help you protect your site from hackers, the majority of the hacked sites we’ve seen have been because an outdated plugin or theme was hacked. Possibly the most important thing you can do to protect your site is to simply keep it updated. Automatic theme, plugin, and major core updates would help simplify this process dramatically, but the process for enabling these automatic updates is currently complex and requires writing manual code. For people who don’t have coding skills, they’re either left to someone to do the job or try to remember to keep their site updated manually, neither of which is an optimal option.
Thankfully, this may change in 2019. In Matt Mullenweg’s 9 Projects for 2019, he outlines the need for users to be able to opt into automatic theme, plugin, and major core updates. Though this bulleted list is without any detail, one can assume this opt-in could take place through a check box either on the Settings or Updates tab of the WordPress Dashboard. Either way, this much-needed change would be especially helpful for people who don’t often make changes to their sites, and therefore don’t notice when components need to be updated.
Another similar change potentially coming to WordPress in the future is the ability for plugins and themes to be considered “unmanaged,” meaning they’re prone to elevated security risks. While not guaranteed to be implemented into WordPress in the future, this idea is being discussed.
4. Better compatibility checking
Sometimes two plugins should not be installed together on the same site because their features overlap. If you have two plugins trying to accomplish the same thing and give them different settings, it can lead to unpredictable results. WordPress should work to include compatibility checking to ensure a desired plugin will not overlap features with another plugin already installed on a website.
5. Merge widgets and blocks
Before WordPress 5.0, widgets functioned similarly to how blocks do now, although in much more limited fashion. Constrained to primarily sidebars and footers except for a few exceptions, the limitations of widgets render them virtually useless when compared to Gutenberg blocks. Therefore, it only makes sense for WordPress to allow blocks and widgets to become one in the same, bringing more power to widgets and allowing blocks to be used in more places on a WordPress site.
Thankfully, Matt Mullenweg has also hinted at such a change in his 9 Projects for 2019, suggesting that widgets will be “ported” to blocks. We don’t yet have a specific timeline on this change, but developers are discussing it as a likely addition to WordPress 5.3. Look for it to come to WordPress soon!