WooCommerce released version 3.7 of its popular WordPress based ecommerce integration.
This latest release has been in development since April 2019 and contains over 1290 commits from 22 contributors, and is the first release towards smaller, more stable, and more frequent releases.
WooCommerce 3.7 is a minor release which means everything should be backward compatible with previous versions of WooCommerce.
However, WooCommerce recommends that online merchants ensure all their plugins and theme are compatible before updating. Store owners should also confirm they have several days of backups available, just in case. Check this guide for more details.
WooCommerce 3.7 ships with Product Blocks 2.3 for the WordPress Block Editor which contains numerous enhancements and performance improvements since the introduction of Product Blocks in 3.6.
The following new features were added for stores running WordPress 5.1 and higher, or with the latest version of the Gutenberg editor plugin installed:
- A new focal point picker on the Featured Product Block.
- A new Product Categories List Block.
- A new Featured Category Block.
- A new Products By Tag(s) Block.
In addition to these new blocks, there were also performance improvements made in looking up products and loading block assets on frontend pages.
They also branded blocks for better discoverability, so it is easier to identify WooCommerce specific blocks.
WordPress & PHP Minimum Requirements
In efforts to stay up to date and offer the best experiences for stores, WooCommerce upped the minimum WordPress and PHP version requirements.
Starting with WooCommerce 3.7 stores are now required to have minimum WordPress 4.9 installed and minimum PHP 5.6.
They also added nudges to upgrade WordPress and PHP versions in WooCommerce 3.6 and will continue to evaluate the new minimum requirements with each release of WooCommerce.
Stores running a version of PHP less than 5.6 and WordPress 4.9 will not be able to update to WooCommerce 3.7. However, WooCommerce has put together a guide for those wanting to update their WordPress and PHP versions.
WooCommerce is continuously evaluating the performance of their ecommerce platform and as such shipped a couple of performance improvements with this release:
- Tax classes have moved from using the wp_options table to a new dedicated tax class table wc_tax_rate_classes.
- Reduced the number of queries to populate variations.
- Excluding Action Scheduler tasks from all comments queries speeding up page load times considerably on pages where comment data is loaded (product reviews, post comments, admin pages).
- Fixed a performance bottleneck on the persistent cart.
Additional Content Email Settings
WooCommerce 3.7 introduced new Additional Content sections to all email templates, which replaces the old hardcoded “Thanks” sections.
Store owners can now change this wording from the Email Settings for each type of email without the need to override templates.
Auto Coupon Code Generation
WooCommerce 3.7 also introduces new Coupon Code Generation functionality to the Coupons admin pages.
In the past, heavy coupon users had to take some time and creativity to come up with new unique coupon codes. WooCommerce 3.7 now allows merchants to generate coupon codes with the click of a button.
The coupon code generation algorithm is fully customizable via filters should merchants wish to alter the default behavior.
Package Management System
With WooCommerce 3.7, the developers made a significant fundamental change on how they handle inclusions of certain features that are developed outside of the WooCommerce core plugin.
The change in PHP minimum requirements has now allowed them to utilize Composer for including all their features developed outside of the core WooCommerce plugin, like the REST API and WooCommerce Product Blocks.
End users are not affected by this change and do not need to do anything in order to keep having the REST API and Product Blocks functional. WooCommerce will include these packages in all future releases.
Beyond these enhancements, the release also contains some tweaks, new hooks and, fixes – all of which are described in the readme.
Updating to WooCommerce 3.7
Since WooCommerce 3.7 is a minor version, it should be compatible with previous versions of WooCommerce. Again, online merchants should test and make sufficient backups before performing the update on a production site.
There are a few post-update database upgrade routines that need to run after updating. These may run for a while if a site has a large amount of data in the database.
On very large databases WooCommerce recommends running the upgrade routine with the WP CLI command wp wc update instead of through the admin interface.
Do you use WooCommerce and what do you think about the changes in this update? Please use the comments section below or head over to our Facebook Group for Small Business Sellers and interact with other small business owners.