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WordPress 4.2: What’s New & Exciting to Impress You

The release of WordPress 4.1 “Dinah” in December brought to you a plethora of enhancements, bug fixes, general updates and outstanding features, including a new default theme Twenty Fifteen, inline image editing, better session management, distraction-free writing mode etc. And now, prepare yourself to see “WordPress 4.2 is available! Please update now”. message in your WordPress Dashboard because the WordPress core team is planning to release version 4.2 – and we’ve already reached Beta 4.

No matter you are an experienced developer or ordinary user, the 4.2 revision of WordPress is ready to bring something for everyone. In this blog post, I’ll take you on a tour of new exciting features and improvements that you’ll be using in version 4.2.

Let’s start!

Browse and Switch Themes in the Customizer:

WordPress 4.2 has brought several invaluable improvements to the Theme Customizer, enabling you to install, browse, activate, switch and preview themes within the theme customization screen. Where in older versions of WordPress, people used to use the customizer for making a few minor tweaks to a theme; they now will use it for the purpose of live previewing, comparing and switching between installed themes.

It’s not an exaggeration to say that these significant updates made to the customizer would prove to be extremely useful for developers who always have a theme under development.


In versions prior to 4.2, before you apply customizations to a theme, you had to activate it via a separate theme section available in the Dashboard. As v4.2 has integrated themes directly into the Customizer with browsing and switching functionality, you now don’t have to leave the customizer screen to switch between your installed themes.

Additionally, taking advantage of the “Add New” button, you can quickly browse and install new themes in the same way you install a new plug-in. The new version is indeed the inclusion of the Customizer Theme Switcher plug-in into WordPress with the aim of streamlining the themes experience.

A New and Improved Press This Button:

Press This, a little-known tool available in the “Tools” section of Dashboard, has been completely re-worked to let users share external content on their WordPress site easier and faster than ever. It’s a bookmarked through which users can quickly add content – like text, images, and videos – to their blog posts from around the web.

Although the Press This feature is available in WordPress for a long time, it was yet being ignored because of not functioning as per users’ expectations. To make it more functional, noticeable and user-friendly than before, WordPress developers have made two major improvements to it.


The first one is the bookmarklet that you drag to the bookmarks bar of your web browser to make things work. It has been updated to include automatically media to your posts from the source site and have other things essential to publish your post correctly.

Not only would you be able to use this feature anywhere on the web but also get the embed code automatically fetched on oEmbed enabled sites like Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, etc. Secondly, this tool now correctly works on mobile devices. Just by following a simple link, you can add “Press This” button to your device’s home screen or bookmarks.

Built-in Cross-browser Support for Emoji:

Are you crazy for Emoji? Do you frequently use them in your Facebook statuses or WhatsApp messages? Well, with the release of WordPress v4.2, you would be able to use them nearly everywhere from post content to post slugs.

As of now, WordPress has support for basic emoticons that you can use in posts and also allows you to add Emoji support to your site via plug-ins like WP Emoji One. But since version 4.2, WordPress will natively support Emoji. Now, almost everywhere you can write text in WordPress, you can add Emoji.


No matter what device or browser you’re using, you now can easily add Emoji to most of the fields, including posts, categories, comments and post slugs, obviously without using any plug-in. Even, WordPress 4.2 can handle natively Han characters used in various Asian languages like Mandarin Chinese, Japanese, and Korean. However, you must change your MySQL database encoding from utf8mb3 to utf8mb4, which is supported only in MySQL v5.5 or higher, to take advantage of Emoji.

Updating Plug-ins is now a Breeze:

As an active WordPress user, you frequently update your plug-ins either to take advantage of newly added features or to keep your site up-to-date from the security point of view. Keeping this in mind, WordPress developers have totally changed the way how you update your plug-ins.

In WordPress 4.1, when you’re clicking on “update now” link to update a plug-in, you’re taken to a new page named “Update Plugin”. Once a plug-in gets updated, you need to go back to “Installed Plugins” page to update another plug-in. Though you may find the current interface easy enough to use, but the entire process is so time-consuming and tedious. Isn’t it?


Providing users the ability to update plug-ins in-place from the Installed Plugins screen, WordPress 4.2 makes the plug-in updating process as intuitive, user-friendly and hassle-free as possible.

Now, you can update multiple plugins with a single mouse click while staying on the same page. In WordPress 4.2, you would never be taken to another page or screen while you update a plug-in.

The same improvement was made to the plug-in installation process, but later WordPress core developers decided to push enhanced plugin installs to a future release, probably 4.3, due to some concerns about the auto activation of plug-ins after installation.

Changes to Default Admin Color Scheme:

WordPress 4.2 has brought some subtle updates to the grays and blues of the default color scheme for wp-admin. The image below gives you a close look of changes made to HEX color:


As you can see, to put colors together in a more harmonious fashion and make them easier on the eyes in WordPress 4.2, a slight blue hue is given to the grays and the red channel is almost entirely removed from the blues to achieve a purer blue. Below is a side-by-side comparison of colors used in old and new Admin area:

The updated color scheme not only has a perfect balance between brightness and contrast of colors but also introduces the Admin to a completely refined and carefully tuned Dashboard interface.

For Developers:

In addition to above noteworthy changes, a lot of improvements have been made for developers. I’ve mentioned them below:

  1. Query Improvements: Extensive enhancements have been made to complex queries. As a result, WP_Query, WP_User_Query, and WP_Comment_Query now support Named clause, allowing you to use specific meta_query clauses with order.
  2. Taxonomy Roadmap: In WordPress 4.2, taxonomy terms shared between multiple taxonomies will now be split into separate ones if any one of them gets an update. This change has totally revamped the taxonomy structure and would play a vital role in fixing one of WordPress’s most irksome bugs: duplication while updating shared terms across multiple taxonomies.
  3. New wp.a11y.speak() Functionality: With a brand new feature in wp.a11y.speak() function, screen readers will now have the ability to JavaScript-generated alerts and updates. Taking advantage of this new functionality, impaired users can easily get informed about what’s happening on-screen.
  4. Dismissible Admin Notices: Since WordPress v4.2, you’ll be able to add non-sticky admin notices that can be dismissed by users. To make core notices auto-dismissible, all you have to do is to include .notice and .is-dismissible as adjacent classes in your notice containers.

That’s all about WordPress v4.2!

If you’re interested in testing out WordPress 4.2, you may try the WordPress Beta Tester plugin that will let you play with its newest Beta version. Alternatively, you can try the Beta version on your local computer.

Ajeet is a senior web developer at WordpressIntegration - PSD to WordPress Coders - where he writes custom JavaScript code for WordPress themes. In his spare time, he writes about different topics related to JavaScript, WordPress, and HTML5 to share his work experience with others. You can follow wordpressintegration on Facebook

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