Doc Pop’s WordPress News Drop is a weekly report on the most pressing WordPress news. When the news drops, I will pick it up and deliver it right to you.

WordPress 5.2 is here and full of new features. In this week’s News Drop we talk about Site Health, Fatal Error Recovery Mode, and support for cryptographically-signed updates.

Love WordPress News but hate reading? My name is Doc and this is Doc Pop’s News Drop. Site Health section of the admin panel, support for a modern cryptography library, and support for cryptographically-signed updates.

WordPress 5.2 launches today, May 7th and it’s filled with a ton of new features including a Site Health section of the admin panel, support for a modern cryptography library, and support for cryptographically-signed updates.

One of my favorite new features is the Fatal Error Recovery Mode which offers improved system handling on catastrophic PHP errors… IE the “white screen of death”.

If you’ve never encountered this error screen, congrats! If you have, you know that it’s the result of a fatal error on your site that results on a totally blank page. This screen didn’t offer any troubleshooting messages to help you debug the issue and it often meant you were locked out of your site and unable to login to your admin panel to resolve the issue and thus needed to make tweeks via FTP or reloading a saved version of your site.

The new Fatal Error Recovery Mode in WordPress 5.2 fixes both of these issues. As Felix Arntz of the WordPress core team explains about the new tool:

“When a fatal error occurs, a user-facing error screen will display that informs the user/visitor that the site is experiencing technical difficulties. More importantly though, when such an error occurs, an email will be sent to the admin email address, informing about the issue and including a secret link to new feature called the “recovery mode”. Clicking this link will have the user enter this recovery mode, which works by placing a cookie on the current client.”

One of the most noticable changes in WordPress 5.2 is the new Site Health Check tool which is honestly more useful than I expected. When I first ran the health check tool I scored a 72 out of a hundred. The tool recommended I upgrade to PHP 7.3 and delete my unused themes. After following both of those suggestions I recieved another message saying that I should have at least one default theme installed in case some issues occurs with my custom theme. I hadn’t thought of that before.

You can find this new tool by going to Tools>Site Health.

There are a number of new security features added to 5.2 including a new offline digital signatures system for WordPress core updates. This means the core team will digitally sign its update packages with a public-key signature system so that a local installation will be able to verify the update package’s authenticity before applying it to your local site.

For many years now, security experts have warned about the potential for threat actors from carrying out a supply-chain attack on all WordPress sites. In other words, if sites had automatic updates available, it would be possible, though really difficult, for a malicious version of WordPress core to get installed by a third party.

Theres also been a number Accessibility Updates in this version, including improved contextual awareness and keyboard navigation flow for people using screen readers and other assistive technologies.

Now lets check in with our friends at WCEU to see what’s new:

Thanks for that wonderful update and thanks for watching. We’ll see you next week for another round of WordPress news.

Doctor Popular is an artist and musician living in San Francisco. As a full disclaimer, he is neither a doctor nor popular.

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