My friend plays Minecraft on a PS4 and he has PS-plus. I recently got an Xbox.
Can he join my world or I join his, without an Xbox Live Gold account?
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If you want to play online with your friend, you will need to have Xbox live. Most, if not all, online Xbox games need you to buy Xbox live to access the online features. The same goes for Minecraft. You can actually play on local play, but your friend needs to be near you (around 5-15 feet away). You will also need to have a Microsoft account.
I don't think you ever needed XBox Live Gold to do this with Minecraft. This required that you are both using the Bedrock edition, and that crossplay be available.
Here is a guide of how someone with a Playstation 4 can join other games.
As a bonus, Microsoft has made a lot of multiplayer games which used to require XBox Live Gold free to play as of April 21, 2021.