Everything you need to know about the new version

The new WordPress version has many new features to offer. The most important: You can no longer only use blocks in the editor, but also in the widget area.

With WordPress 5.8, blocks become even more important. You can now use them as widgets and in the future you will even be able to place them in the header or footer. The so-called theme blocks are now available for this purpose. You can also look forward to WebP support and many improvements in the editor.

Blocks as widgets

You now have the ability to add any blocks to your website’s widget areas. This works the same as in Notepad: Under designwidgets click on the plus symbol in the top left or directly in the widget area and then select a block.

button in the footer? No problem in the new widget area

The existing widgets continue to work without any problems. They are displayed in the new view as so-called legacy widgets. To benefit from the additional features of the block editor, you need to convert the widgets. There are corresponding blocks for popular widgets such as “Recent Comments” or the categories. The widget blocks are also visible in the customizer so you can test your customizations before going live.

Important: Plugin widgets must be compatible with WordPress 5.8. If the developers don’t release an update, you should install Classic Widgets to continue using the plugin.

Template Editor

Another important novelty of WordPress 5.8 is the template editor. With this editor you will not only create the content area in the future, but the complete page structure with blocks. These templates can be saved to use later for posts and pages.

However, it is not that far yet. The template editor is still in its infancy and will be further developed in the upcoming WordPress versions. To test it out now, you need to install the Gutenberg plugin and a block theme like TT1 Blocks.

If you then create a new post or page, the template area will appear on the right-hand side. About the link New you can create a new template and then insert any blocks. So you have e.g. B. the ability to use the new Website Logo Block.

Screenshot of the new template editor in WordPress 5.8The new template editor in WordPress 5.8

New Blocks

The Query Loop Block is one of many new Theme Blocks being introduced specifically for the Template Editor. You can also insert these blocks into the content area – but their main areas of application are probably headers, sidebars and footers. These are the new blocks:

  • Website Subtitles
  • page title
  • post title
  • post content
  • post date
  • contribution statement
  • featured image
  • Post Categories
  • post tags
  • Sign in/out
  • page list
  • query loop

We already know the functions of most blocks because they are integrated in many themes. Only the query loop is really new. This is a block that allows you to display content types such as posts or pages based on specific criteria. The content and layout can be adjusted very flexibly.

Screenshot of query loop.  You can see the options for content and layout.The query loop has many options for content and layout.

Support for WebP

WebP is a graphics format with higher compression. As a result, WebP files are smaller than files in JPEG format with the same image quality. This has a positive effect on performance. And because most browsers can also display WebP images, WordPress has now followed suit.

“The Next Stop to Full Site Editing”

This is the title of the release note for WordPress 5.8. In fact, the introduction of the template editor represents an important milestone in this direction. Only a few themes still support the concept. But it’s only a matter of time before layouts are based on blocks by default. This makes complex page builders increasingly superfluous.

The same applies to the widgets. The block widgets bring the flexibility of the editor to the widget area. Colors, fonts and other design options are now available to you without plugins. Maybe this is the opportunity to clean out your plugin list. 😉

It remains to be seen whether the complex loop block will be used frequently. On the other hand, many users should be happy about the WebP support – after all, short loading times are an SEO factor. Conclusion: Updating is worth it!

To our WordPress offers Author Christian Lingnau

Christian Linnau

My name is Christian Lingnau and I am a freelance author for hosting topics, especially WordPress.

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