Plugin & Theme Updates

It’s been a busy year for the coders and contributors behind WordPress and WooCommerce. They’ve rolled out several significant updates this year, with lots of big and small bug fixes, tweaks, and new features. For the benefit of all Oakley Studio managed website hosting clients, below is a listing and summary of the biggest additions and improvements.

We’ve linked to the major WordPress release announcements (each named in honor of a famous jazz musician) below for additional details.

Most significant — with each new release, WordPress appears to be getting faster at processing and serving up pages. So your websites are generally quicker and “snappier” than ever.

Whenever these major WordPress and WooCommerce updates appear, they prompt additional updates from the many Theme and Plugin developers. These plugin/theme updates are usually providing compatibility and bug-fixs to work with the new version of WordPress. At times this flood of updates can create a backlog of new software releases that need to be installed and tested across all the client websites hosted here at Oakley Studio. We are typically all caught up and back to our more routine daily updates within a week or two. The December 2020 releases have set us back longer than usual because both WordPress and WooCommerce came out the very same day! But don’t worry about those red-number dots in your Dashboard; your website is running fine, and your webmaster is on it to get those updates tested and installed as quickly and safely as possible.

Here is a listing of the major WordPress and WooCommerce updates that were released in 2020.

Nina Simone” WordPress v5.6 – December 8, 2020

  • Greater layout flexibility with Mixed-Width Columns.
  • Additional built-in Block Patterns included in this update.
  • Better Video Captioning for accessibility.
  • Introduction new Twenty Twenty-One theme, a blank canvas for your ideas, where the block editor is your best brush. Includes a rainbow of soft pastel color palettes.

WooCommerce v4.8 – December 8, 2020

  • New Variations Report provides merchants with sales data on individual product variations.
  • Now choose from two different Home Screen Layouts.
  • Reduced memory requirement for AJAX product Search.
  • Added shipping, tax, and fee lines to Refund API responses.

WooCommerce v4.7 – November 10, 2020

  • Updated versions of WooCommerce Admin and WooCommerce Blocks.
  • Updated Category and Tags taxonomy templates for themes that use them.
  • Exclude draft pages from the Shop Page setting.

WooCommerce v4.6 – October 14, 2020

  • New Home Screen for all stores.
  • Product-level Tax Class assignment.
  • Old setup wizard has been removed.

WooCommerce v4.5 – September 9, 2020

  • New Onboarding Guide for new users.
  • Other fixes and improvements related to Shipping Cost Display, Coupons, and Variations SKUs,.

WooCommerce v4.4 – August 18, 2020

  • Improvements to WooCommerce Blocks.
  • New Centralized Coupon Management, moved to the Marketing Hub.
  • Stock adjustment now happens when on Save Orders (not just on Add to order.)
  • Added/updated Documentation.

Billy Eckstine” WordPress v5.5 – August 11, 2020

  • More powerful in Speed, Search, and Security!
  • New Lazy-Loading Images let above-the-fold page loading happen more quickly.
  • WordPress now includes its own XML Site Map for helping search engines discover and index your content.
  • Choose to enable (or not) Plugin and Themes Auto-Updating.
  • New Blog Patterns make it fun to create complex, beautiful layouts with a combination of text and media you can mix and match.
  • New Block Directory to make it easier to find the right block you need.
  • New Inline Image Editing. Now you can crop, rotate and zoom your photos right in the Image block.

WooCommerce v4.3 – July 8, 2020

  • New Home Page includes Inbox, quick-view of Store Metrics, and Shortcuts.
  • A new “DraftStatus for orders.
  • All Product Grid blocks default to 3 rows.
  • Added options to Filterable Product block using Attributes.

WooCommerce v4.2 – June 3, 2020

  • Primarily Stability and Performance improvements.
  • Some minor changes to a few hooks (for developers.)

WooCommerce v4.1 – May 5, 2020

  • Introduction of a new Marketing Hub for engaging with marketing tools.
  • Option to use WooCommerce Payments as a payment option for US-based online stores.
  • Three theme template files updated.

Nat Adderley” WordPress v5.4 – March 31, 2020

  • Two brand-new blocks: Social Icons and Buttons to add anywhere on your Posts and Pages.
  • Gradient options in Buttons and Cover blocks.
  • Toolbar access to color options in Rich Text blocks, and Group and Column blocks.
  • Better more consistent Placement/Replacement of Multimedia in every block.
  • Cleaner User Interface, clearer Navigation, addition of Block Breadcrumbs make it easier to find the blocks you need.
  • Improved visual distinction between Edit and Navigation mode.

WooCommerce v4.0 – March 10, 2020

  • Introduces the WooCommerce Admin Dashboard, with a new dashboard, new and improved reports, improved notifications, and new store management tools, and easy data export to csv.
  • New Onboarding Experience for store owners just starting up with WooCommerce.
  • Enhancements to Order Edit screen.

WooCommerce v3.9 – January 22, 2020

  • New, filterable All Products Block, for adding individual products or groups of products to pages or posts, with the Gutenberg editor.
  • Further MaxMind Geolocation Integration, providing customer country verification.
  • Introducing a new Payment Gateway API to support pay buttons, for easier button setup and customization.

And that’s it for 2020!

Best wishes to you and your families during this Holiday season, and here’s to a less crazy, and more prosperous 2021. As always, thanks for your trust and confidence in Oakley Studio.