WordPress 4.4: What’s new?


THE NEW RELEASE of WordPress 4.4 is nicknamed ‘Cliff ord’, after the jazz trumpeter Cliff ord Brown. Each major release of WordPress comes with a new default theme. This new theme Twenty Sixteen off ers a fl uid grid design, fl exible header, optional sidebar, selection of colour schemes and more. Some exciting changes and improvements and some noticeable new features are also in the latest update.

WordPress users will be happy to hear images will now be responsive out of the box. You will no longer need to crop images or supply mobile-friendly images. As soon as you upload images in WordPress, it will automatically crop them to size. All images will be included in the srcset attribute, browsers can now select the best size and serve the appropriate image without wasting bandwidth with improved performance.

Undoubtedly the biggest news for developers is the initiation of the inclusion of the REST API in WordPress core. This means developers can start working with the WordPress API with their own existing applications. Be aware that this is just the fi rst release of the infrastructure, the endpoints are being rolled out in the next release. There are major improvements to the taxonomy too – terms in taxonomy can now have metadata like posts and users. There are also under-the-hood improvements to multisite networks, performance improvements to the Customizer, and comment queries and output. Version 4.4 is now available for immediate download, so if you haven’t done so already, start updating your WordPress website now at wordpress.org/download.

The big new features

Responsive images

In WordPress version 4.4, users will no longer be required to use CSS or other techniques to serve appropriate images sizes to diff erent screen sizes. WordPress will automatically crop the correct image size and serve to the user’s browser. This is accomplished with two image attributes: srcset and sizes. Browsers now select the most appropriate size and downloads it. This conserves bandwidth and speeds up loading time.

Twenty-Sixteen Theme

This brand-new theme is built with mobile-fi rst and responsive in mind, so you can be assured it looks great on any device. It is a modernised approach to an ever-popular layout with its horizontal masterhead, an optional right sidebar and displays author details on the left on blog posts. Twenty Sixteen comes in four diff erent colour schemes. It is minimalistic, uses great typography, is well-structured and incredibly well-designed.

New embeds

Previously WordPress has allowed you to embed videos, tweets and other trusted sources using oEmbed. This can be easily achieved by copying and pasting the URL into the visual editor. With 4.4, all WordPress websites have become a trusted oEmbed source. This means any one can embed your posts onto any other WordPress[1]powered website. The embedded content on a website will pull across the complete title, excerpt, featured image if one is available, and it will also include sharing links and number of comments. Further oEmbed providers are now supported including Cloudup, Reddit Comments, ReverbNation, Speaker Deck and VideoPress.


One of the most exciting news of this release is that the REST API infrastructure has fi nally been integrated into the core. This will bring joy to theme authors and plugin developers. You can start using the API in your theme or plugin by replacing the existing admin-ajax .php endpoints.

Taxonomy term meta

WordPress has been working hard in the last release cycles to improve taxonomy. With WordPress 4.4 comes a major update to the taxonomy system. Terms can now have metadata associated with them, just like posts and categories. There is a new standard table called wp_termmeta.

Comment query

The comment form has gotten a lot of love for both frontend and backend. In the frontend the comment form outputs the comment textarea fi rst, followed by the name, email and website. This focuses on usability, making leaving comments easier and accessibility – it makes keyboard navigating smoother.

Multisite improvements

There have been further improvements to WordPress under the hood in version 4.4 especially for developers and multiple website owners. With a new introduction of WP_Network class and a function called *_network_options, it makes it easier for developers to use multiple networks.