WordPress 5.8 is rolling out right now and is available to all publishers. The new release is named after the innovative jazz musician, Art Tatum. It’s a fitting name for this new version of WordPress because it’s full of brand new features that makes it easier for publishers to innovate and express themselves creatively.
Support for Internet Explorer 11 Dropped
This is the release that drops support for Internet 11. IE 11 is a security risk.
WordPress now becomes a leaner and faster content management system as it reduces the amount of code in the core.
Blocks is a modern and updated way to edit the look and feel of WordPress. Editing with blocks has become a feature in bits and pieces across the WordPress system.
Widget Area Blocks
The blocks way to edit a site now is available in the Widget Area. The Widget section can now be fully edited with Blocks
“Now you can add blocks both in widget areas across your site and with live preview through the Customizer.”
WordPress notes elsewhere:
“This gives users powerful new ways to customise their sites using the rich library of core and third party blocks.
Existing widgets and third party widgets will continue to work and can be used alongside blocks.”
Query Loop Block
This new feature gives publishers the ability to display posts based on custom criteria.
For example, the display posts section can be limited to display posts from a selected category.
WordPress compares it to a Latest Posts functionality but more powerful.
Edit Templates from the Post Screen
This new functionality allows a publisher to toggle from the post editing screen to a block-based page editing screen.
This gives publishers more freedom to edit the template from the context of post editing where a publisher might decide that the post would be better if the template was edited to be different.
“Switch from editing your posts to editing your pages and back again, all while using a familiar block editor.”
List View is a new way to look at the structure of a web page. Publishers can now toggle between the regular view and the List View to get an overview of all the blocs on the page being worked on.
This can also allow a publisher to navigate to a specific block.
Pattern Transformations Tool
This is a feature that suggests block patterns. This feature is currently available in the Query Block and the Social Icon Block.
This is a new design feature that allows a publisher to colorize images or videos. It’s a way to add more creative flair to a page.
WordPress describes it as a black and white filter where the black and the white can be replaced by any colors for the shadows and the highlights.
Theme.json Global Styles and Global Settings APIs
This is a huge change that provides more control of the look and feel of a website. It allows theme developers and publishers to change the default style elements of web pages.
According to WordPress:
“This configuration file enables or disables features and sets default styles for both a website and blocks.”
In another article specifically about the the new Theme.json feature, WordPress explains it like this:
“By creating a
theme.jsonfile in the theme’s top-level directory, themes can configure the existing editor settings (the font sizes preset, whether custom colors are enabled, etc.) as well as the new ones as they are introduced (the duotone preset, whether margin and padding controls are enabled, etc.).”
One of the goals of the new theme.json file is to make the handling of CSS more efficient.
theme.jsonfile absorbs most of the common use cases for styling blocks with the goal of reducing the amount of CSS shipped to the browser, mitigating specificity wars, and providing current style info in the UI controls for users.
This is the first step in having a mechanism that consolidates all the three origins of styles (core, theme, user) and that will become more important once users can provide global styles in later phases of the project.”
Support for WebP
WebP is a new generation image format that can display images at lower images sizes.
WordPress support for the WebP format allows publishers to create websites that download faster. That’s a win for publishers and site visitors.
According to WordPress:
“From WordPress version 5.8 forward, you can upload and use WebP images in WordPress like you would a JPEG or PNG image today (as long as your hosting service supports WebP).
Switching to the WebP format for your images will improve your site’s performance and your site visitor’s experience. “
Make Better Websites with WordPress
The total amount of changes runs to nearly 300 bug fixes, new features and improvements.
“5.8 offers so much more! Over 170 bugs, 96 enhancements and feature requests, and 24 blessed tasks have been marked as fixed in WordPress 5.8.”
WordPress 5.8 represents a leap forward toward modernizing the content management system.
It empowers publishers who don’t know how to code to make changes to how the web page looks without having to know the code.
The latest version of WordPress makes it easier for publishers to express themselves creatively.
Some may decide to wait a few days before updating in case of bugs.
But WordPress thoroughly tests each release so it may be safe to update now.
The release methodology includes testing consecutively improved versions the release until the developers feel it’s ready to be used.
This article was originally published on SEJ.