WordPress 4.4 Includes Features for Images, Embedding, Extensibility

The WordPress 4.4 release includes a number of features that provide improved extensibility for content. Images are also getting more responsive.

WordPress 4.4

The open-source WordPress blogging and content management system (CMS) is being updated to version 4.4, code-named Clifford. WordPress is the most popular CMS on the Web today, powering approximately 25 percent of all Websites, according to the latest survey data from w3techs.

As an open-source development community, WordPress development is also growing.

"There are 471 contributors with props in this release (by far the most ever)," Matt Mullenweg, founder of WordPress, wrote in a blog post announcing the 4.4 release.

The WordPress 4.4 release includes a number of features that provide improved extensibility for content. WordPress has enabled users to embed content from other sources into WordPress sites for the last six years, thanks in part to support for the oEmbed specification.The oEmbed format is a standardized API for enabling content embedding.

"WordPress has been operating as an oEmbed consumer for quite some time now, allowing users to easily embed content from other sites," WordPress developer Pascal Birchler wrote. "Starting with version 4.4, WordPress becomes an oEmbed provider as well, allowing any oEmbed consumer to embed posts from WordPress sites."

Images are also getting more responsive in the WordPress 4.4 update with support for improved image handling attributes and the srcset tag, which defines available sizes for a given image. A key tenant of responsive Web design methodology is that Websites are responsive to the size and bandwidth capabilities of an end-user device or browser.

"WordPress 4.4 will add native responsive image support by including srcset and sizes attributes to the image markup it generates," WordPress developer Joe McGill stated.

McGill explained that WordPress already automatically creates multiple sizes of each image that a user uploads into a site's media library.

"By including the available sizes of an image into a srcset attribute, browsers can now choose to download the most appropriate size and ignore the others—potentially saving bandwidth and speeding up page load times in the process," McGill stated.

The extensibility of WordPress is getting a boost in the 4.4 update, thanks to the inclusion of the new API infrastructure set of code. WordPress developer Ryan McCue explained that the basic idea behind the API infrastructure is that it is an API construction kit.

"WordPress 4.4 will make it possible for everyone to build RESTful APIs in a much easier fashion, which will benefit people building custom APIs for their site," McCue stated. "The infrastructure handles the routing, argument handling, JSON [JavaScript Object Notation] serialization/deserialization, status codes, and all that other lovely REST stuff."

Among the many changes publicly reported in WordPress' developer trac bug management system for the 4.4 update is a minor security issue that was first reported five years ago. The issue is in the multi-site support component of WordPress that didn't properly check to see if a Secure Sockets Layer/Transport Layer Security (SSL/TLS) encrypted connection was available for a given page.

"Two functions in ms-blogs.php have issues due to hard-coding "http://" versus using the is_ssl() check," issue #14867 states.

Additionally, there is a style change that is now implemented across WordPress for how the word "email" is spelled.

"Email is more widely used than its hyphenated sibling (e-mail), and AP Style quit fighting it and has embraced "email" as the accepted spelling," WordPress issue #26156 states.

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at eWEEK and InternetNews.com. Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist.

Sean Michael Kerner

Sean Michael Kerner

Sean Michael Kerner is an Internet consultant, strategist, and contributor to several leading IT business web sites.