With it only being three months since the release of WordPress 4.0, 4.1 could be expected to be short and brief, however there are a lot of key features which are being greatly anticipated.

Due in December, the WordPress 4.1 release will feature several important changes, including a new default theme, improvements for theme developers, new modes available in dashboard and overall performance enhancements.

Default theme: Twenty Fifteen

WordPress has continued with its yearly tradition, by releasing a new default theme. Twenty Fifteen will be the next default theme, so what’s to talk about?

First impressions suggest that Twenty Fifteen could be the best default theme to date. WordPress describe it as ‘a clean, blog-focused theme’ combining content focused design, simple navigation with a clear focus on typography.

Twenty Fifteen will use Google’s Noto serif and Sans fonts, both of which support a wide variety of languages, removing the need for users to change fonts for multiple languages.

New features for the theme include the ability to add a custom header image and a custom background; users can set their own colour schemes and social buttons.

Dashboard features
Improved Distraction Free Writing mode

Focus is a new feature plugin, which is under development for possible inclusion in 4.1. Focus looks to improve the current Distraction Free Writing mode, which may be unheard of to some. Distraction Free Writing aims to improve beginner experience when editing a WP post by removing the sidebars, SEO help and Custom fields leaving just the text and editing tools.

Janneke Van Dorpe the lead developer of the project has stated the three main reasons for improvement:

  1. To incorporate the editor without it being distracting.
  2. To allow the same tools for both normal and DFW editing, without the need for switching.
  3. To improve awareness of the feature
Inline image editing

Beginners have often had problems with image alignment with corresponding text. In 4.1 users can now click on an image and alignment options will pop up in a floating panel above, with the pencil button for additional image editing.

Downloadable language packs

Recent releases have seen various improvements to language support. 4.1 looks to make this easier for users, by being able to download a language pack from Settings>General. WordPress will automatically download and install the chosen language pack for you.

Plugin recommendations

Due to the recent update to the API, users will have access to a list of recommended plugins available to them. Every user can find this new update, under the Featured and Popular tabs on the Add New plugin page.

For developers

WordPress 4.1 will see the addition of some new features, to help theme developers. The new features will try and reduce duplications and improve the speed at which themes can be created.

Customizer API

The Customizer is a JavaScript driven feature of WordPress core. In WordPress 4.1 the Customizer controls are now placed into the DOM with JavaScript, instead of being output directly in PHP. The new improvements will include contextual panels and sections as well as JavaScript templates for controls.

Adding titles to themes

WordPress has spent many years trying to make it easier to manage plugins and theme document titles, with the long term goal of allowing users to manage document titles outside of their themes. 4.1 will introduce a method to make document titles fully customisable. By adding the syntax below, themes will not define titles on their own, avoiding the chance of duplication.

function theme_slug_setup() {
add_theme_support( 'title-tag' );
add_action( 'after_setup_theme', 'theme_slug_setup' );

Template functions: archive titles and descriptions

Developers will have some new functions to archive titles and descriptions

get_the_archive_title( ) and the_archive_title( ) for returning/displaying the title of the current term, date, post type, post format, or author archive.
get_the_archive_description( ) and the_archive_description( ) for returning/displaying the title of the current term, date, post type, post format, or author archive.

Query improvements

The last and maybe most anticipated change in 4.1 will see new improvements for _Query classes. These will allow nested queries to be built, based on metadata, taxonomy and date.

Using the example taken from WordPress.org, let’s suppose that you have posts with ‘city’ and ‘state’ metadata, and you want to fetch all items that match eithercity=Miami&state=Ohio or city=Augusta&state=Maine.

The code should look like this:

$ $query = new WP_Query( array(
'meta_query' => array(
'relation' => 'OR',
'relation' => 'AND',
'key' => 'city',
'value' => 'Miami',
'key' => 'state',
'value' => 'Ohio',

‘relation’ => ‘AND’,
‘key’ => ‘city’,
‘value’ => ‘Augusta’,
‘key’ => ‘state’,
‘value’ => ‘Maine’,

) );