The First Impression Of WordPress 4.9 Features And Review

by Mustaasam Saleem  October 6, 2017

Continuing the tradition of testing new versions of WordPress in the very first place—today, I am going to test and highlights the features of WordPress 4.9 (beta 1). Although, it is expected that the final version of WordPress 4.9 will be released in the mid of November 2017.

WordPress 4.9 Features

WordPress 4.9 beta 1 is now available to get acquainted with the new features. The WordPress Core Team mainly focused on user experience by improving the following WordPress 4.9 features.

WordPress 4.9 Features

Save, Preview and Schedule Theme Changes in Customizer

With WordPress 4.9, users will be able to save theme customizations made using Customizer. It will also create a unique URL of the new preview that can be shared with anyone without requiring a login access to the WordPress admin dashboard. This will help in reviewing and approving the theme customizations for the respective client.

WordPress 4.9 is also going to provide a scheduled publishing for theme customizations. This feature will come handy to update when you have a very less traffic on the website.

WordPress 4.9 Customizer

Improved Theme Browsing Experience in Customizer

With WordPress 4.9, you will experience an improvement in the Theme Switcher tab within Customizer. WordPress Core Team has separated the installed themes and new themes from the repository.

WordPress 4.9 - Add Themes from Customizer

They have also introduced a wide range to filter themes.

WordPress 4.9 Theme Customizer Filter

Can’t See Active Theme Tab?

At the time of testing WordPress 4.9, I have also experienced the same. Thanks to Weston Ruter for a prompt response and helped me to find a workaround.

If you have made a few changes in the Customizer but didn’t discard or publish changes, you will not able to see Active Theme tab. You need to first discard or publish theme customizations to display Active Theme tab.

Currently, the WordPress Core Team is working to add a notification explaining this.

Following the new widgets for media and image introduced in WordPress 4.8, the new release will also contain the Gallery Widget. This will be the simplest way to add and show selected images in the sidebar.

WordPress 4.9 Gallery Widget

You can also select the number of columns, order and the size of images to be displayed in the sidebar.

WordPress 4.9 Gallery Widgets

Add Media to Text Widget

The Visual Editor in Text Widget was introduced with WordPress 4.8. Previously, you need to have a basic knowledge of HTML and CSS to use media in Text Widget. With WordPress 4.9, you will have the “Add Media” button so you could insert images, videos, audio or any kind of media in the Text Widget easily.

WordPress 4.9 Add Media in Text Widgets

Added Support for Shortcodes in Text Widget

WordPress shortcodes, as the name says, is a bit of code that can be used in WordPress. It plays a vital role in doing big things with little or no efforts. Just like a contact form plugin that provides a shortcode “[use-contact-form]” to be used on any post/page of a WordPress site. You just need to write the exact shortcode and the entire contact form will be displayed on the page/post.

Previously, the shortcodes were supported on post and pages only. With WordPress 4.9, shortcodes can also be used in Text Widgets.

Video Widget Now Supports Videos from Other Providers

With the previous version, the Video Widget was limited to display the videos from YouTube and Vimeo only. For example, if you insert a direct video URL from Facebook, the video thumbnail will be displayed in Video Widget but it will not properly appear on the live website.

With WordPress 4.9, the video thumbnail and oEmbeds options now support videos from other platforms.

More Better Coding Experience

As we discussed earlier, WordPress 4.9 will be providing a better user experience to end users as well as to the back-end users. CodeMirror has been added to Custom CSS, Customizer, and theme/plugin editor. If you navigate to Customizer > Additional CSS, you will observe a better coding experience there.

WordPress 4.9 Additional CSS

Not only this, if you regularly update the core files of theme/plugin, you can do it in a more better way now.

WordPress 4.9 Theme and Plugin Editor

WordPress 4.9 for Developers

  • Date and time control in Customizer
  • Added support for MySQL servers that connect IPv6 hosts
  • Upgraded MediaElement.js
  • Use max-width for default captions
  • Store video creation date in meta
  • Require a confirmation link in an email on changing an email address by a user
  • Core and the unit test suite is fully compatible with the PHP 7.2

Besides the above mentioned, there are a few improvements in WordPress Multisite and Rest API. A complete list of improvements can be found in the official announcement of WordPress 4.9 (beta 1).

Try out WordPress 4.9

Want to test WordPress 4.9 features?

I believe YES!

To test the features, you just need to have a staging site. We, at Cloudways, provide WordPress staging environment so that you could build and test any of your WordPress sites before making it live.

“It is always suggested to test the compatibility of themes and plugins with the newest WordPress version before updating a live site.”

Sign up with Cloudways to enjoy WordPress 4.9 features. Here is a short GIF on how to launch a WordPress site on Cloudways.

Launch WordPress on Cloudways

After the successful installation, Log In to your WordPress Admin Dashboard, install WordPress Beta Tester plugin, navigate to Tools > Beta Testing. Select Bleeding Edge Nightlies, save changes and update the existing version to WordPress 4.9

Personally, I love the better coding experience. And what about YOU?

Make Your WordPress Website 100% Faster.

Host it now on Cloudways WordPress Hosting Platform.

About Mustaasam Saleem

Mustaasam is the WordPress Community Manager at Cloudways - A Managed WordPress Hosting Platform, where he actively works and loves sharing his knowledge with the WordPress Community. When he is not working, you can find him playing squash with his friends, or defending in Football, and listening to music. You can email him at

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