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WordPress 5.9 Revised Release Date Confirmed for January 25, 2022

Last week WordPress 5.9’s release leads found a consensus for delaying the release after missing the deadlines for Beta 1 due to significant blockers. At that time they proposed a schedule for moving forward, and that is now confirmed. Beta 1 is planned for November 30, 2021, with subsequent betas in December. RC 1 is scheduled for January 4, 2022, and the official release is anticipated on January 25.

For the past decade, Matt Mullenweg’s deadlines are not arbitrary philosophy has guided core development, preventing releases from being delayed by the desire to squeeze in one more feature:

Deadlines are not arbitrary, they’re a promise we make to ourselves and our users that helps us rein in the endless possibilities of things that could be a part of every release.

Deadlines make it possible for agencies, product developers, and hosting companies with millions of WordPress customers, to prepare for upcoming releases in a predictable way that ultimately enables more sites to update regularly. The situation with WordPress 5.9 is unique, because the effort involves shipping a set of interdependent features that also provide the foundation for a new way of theming.

“As the FSE features are very closely intertwined, removing some of its pieces would risk making the release unstable,” 5.9 Core Tech Lead Tonya Mork said in a post announcing the new schedule. “To avoid delivering a sub-optimal experience, moving fixes to a 5.9 minor or 6.0 was ruled out.”

Mork said the team considered punting full-site editing (FSE) and the Twenty Twenty-Two theme that depends on it to 6.0 but saw more benefit in shipping the collection of features sooner.

“The 6.0 release isn’t due until April 2022—too long for the community to wait for them,” Mork said. “After processing this list of issues, Core Editor team saw the features could ship in 5.9 with the revised schedule.” 

Anne McCarthy, who is co-leading testing for the release, is in the trenches with FSE and wrote a summary of why she was proponent of delaying in this instance. She cited improved sustainability for contributors, and the value of users getting access to the whole suite of FSE features rather than smaller pieces, as factors in the decision.

“More specifically, if we were to push everything to 6.0, this would delay the Twenty Twenty-Two theme, hold back the launch of block themes in general, and delay a ton of user value in exploring ways to edit all parts of a site,” McCarthy said.

The decision to delay 5.9 to January 2022 has been met with positive feedback from all sides, and many following the progress have expressed their appreciation of the team’s transparency throughout the decision-making process. It’s reassuring to see the release leads acting in the interest of users and contributors, instead of forcing something half-baked forward.

In the meantime, if you want a sneak peak of some newer features coming in 5.9, check out the video the release team published today. It showcases the amazing flexibility of the upcoming Twenty Twenty-Two theme and how much more you can do with WordPress without having to change to a different theme. If you want to be part of the team making FSE better for everyone, jump in and start testing the new features ahead of the beta release.