The Four Seasons of WordPress Core Updates — 2021

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Update 30 Mar 2021

The preplanning for WordPress 5.8 has a timetable and there is now a 21 day RC window (June 29 – July 20). WordPress 5.8 drops 20 July 21.

Update 13 Mar 2021

The roadmap has been updated this week. WordPress 5.8 will be released in July and 5.9 in December. So, we’ll only have three WordPress Core Updates this calendar year. Yes, breathe a collective sigh of relief. Thank you, Josepha, for listening to the community.

“Here are a few things that might make this communication more difficult. If you can think of other communication challenges (or solutions to the ones below), please share them in the comments. We don’t have established communication channels with theme and plugin authors.”

Josepha Hayden

Josepha Hayden
WordPress Roadmap Screenshot 13 Mar 21
WordPress Roadmap Screenshot 13 Mar 21

Just when you were getting used to WordPress 5.6 and all of the jQuery issues, you’ve got more work to do, plugin devs. Don’t stop testing your themes and plugins. The next WordPress Core Update (5.7) is coming on March 9, 2021.

In fact, there will be four three WordPress Core updates in 2021 according to the roadmap. This is a healthy, yet robust schedule for plugin and theme developers. I suspect mostly for plugin developers.

The best marketing for a WordPress plugin is smooth updates for your users.

The First WordPress Core Update of 2021

WordPress 5.7 is currently open for bug scrubs and alpha contributions. So if trac is your jam, now is the time to contribute.

For plugin developers, you’ll want to get ready for the beta which will be available on February 2, 2021.

The release candidate for testing will be available two weeks later (Feb 23) and the WordPress Core update launches March 9.

Yes, the release candidate will be out in 62 days or 39 business days.

It is hard to keep track of all of these updates, I know. You can subscribe to WordPress Core updates on

What About WordPress 5.6?

First the good news. WordPress 5.6 “Simone” dropped on December 8, 2020 and I’m happy to have been listed as one of the contributors. (Yes, this marketer has brackets.) I reviewed copy on a few Trac tickets as well as editing and rewriting the baked-in copy on a few default themes.

What went wrong for me?

For people who were hosted by companies like Pressable (I’m now on SiteDistrict), it was an irreversible auto update for major core. Meaning, 5.5.x automatically updated to 5.6 without the ability to roll back. Normally, I’d be fine with that until I started building a landing page.

But the website didn’t break, you may say. Or did it? So, to me something “not working as expected” is a break. I was creating my landing page for my new book, “How To Market Your Plugin,” and needed to clone a form. Something that should have taken 20 minutes copying my Beaver Builder template and cloning my Caldera Form took two hours.

To a visitor, my website was fine. I was frustrated. I tried clicking “clone” and nothing happened. So I clicked “create new form” and nothing happened.

I found out later that this was because of the changes in jQuery I had read about. You can read about the breaking changes in jQuery 3.0 on their blog. What’s the lesson? How people interact with their own websites also matters.

Finding the jQuery Migrate Helper Plugin

So, I spent about two hours the week WordPress 5.6 came out Googling and submitting support tickets to both Caldera and Pressable. I had no idea what was wrong. Pressable ended up installing the jQuery Migrate Helper plugin which solved the problem. Two days ago, Caldera rolled out an update that fixes that issue, so I deactivated and deleted the jQuery plugin (as per best practices).

Then I decided, I needed the option of, well, opting out of auto updates for WordPress Core. So, I moved my hosting to SiteDistrict, too. I’m fairly certain I lost four hours of billable time for that update and migration. It’s all part of supporting Open Source, right?

As an aside, you may want to read the WordFence article about the REST API application password vulnerability.

WordPress Core Updates Are A Good Thing

Hey, I’m all about software updates. I’m the first to update my iOS apps and Google Chrome and even WordPress. I have Updraft backing up my site and it’s all good. You know? I’m for it.

It’s better marketing for plugin developers to take an active role in ensuring their code works with the release candidates. Click To Tweet

You’ll have four, 14-day periods of testing to do in 2021. I suggest blocking out time in your production schedule and company calendar. You’ll be busy with support tickets if you don’t and your social media manager will be pinging you in Slack with all of the complaint tweets.

From WordPress Core

Proposed WordPress 5.7 Schedule

This cycle will have a similar timeframe than 5.6:

  • Alpha, 78 days – 5.6 had 84 days
  • Beta, 21 days – same as 5.6
  • RC, 14 days – same as 5.6

** This post as my affiliate link for Beaver Builder.