20/07/2021 Marcus CMS
The new WordPress version 5.8 was released on July 20, 2021 and again brings with it numerous innovations and bug fixes. A total of 96 new features and improvements, 170 bug fixes and 24 other changes are included.
The Gutenberg Editor is upgraded to version 10.7, which means that innovations from the last 8 versions are included.
One of the biggest innovations is the revision of the widget area. Blocks can now also be inserted here, the classic widgets are no longer necessary.
The new block-based editor is active by default from WordPress 5.8 and can be deactivated via the Classic Widgets plugin or functions.php if desired.
In this case, the classic widgets are retained and you also get a new block widget through which you can insert the HTML of a Gutenberg block.
Personally, I still don’t have the option to define different widths for different widget areas. But I am sure that there will be various optimizations in the future.
Another major innovation is the introduction of Theme.json. This is used by the theme developers as a kind of configuration file for the Gutenberg editor and will enable future styles and settings to be configured per block.
This makes it possible, for example, to define different color palettes for different blocks. In addition, various CSS classes no longer have to be inserted into the style sheets by hand, this is then done automatically. With the Theme.json, WordPress is now also paving the way for the use of CSS variables.
One of the first steps towards full site editing is the new template editor. However, this must first be activated via functions.php or is already active if you use a Theme.json.
In the future it will be possible to build complete post templates via the backend, the PHP templates in the theme will then no longer be used.
All in all, there is a whole series of new blocks which will be used primarily when structuring blog posts. The following new blocks are available (summary):
- Website logo, title and subtitle
- Archive title
- Post categories and tags
- Article title, content, date, excerpt and image
- List of Posts
- Sign in/out
- query loop
The most interesting thing here is certainly the query loop, which allows posts and other post types to be displayed in different ways with various settings.
Together with the Template Editor, this could become a powerful tool in the future.
Of course, there are also a whole range of improvements for various blocks and for the editor itself.
Select parent blocks
Until now it was a bit cumbersome to select the parent blocks of nested blocks. There is now an icon for this with which you can easily navigate from the inside to the outside. This is especially useful for groups and columns.
The list view of the blocks used on a page no longer opens above the content but in a sidebar similar to the right sidebar. In addition, anchor names for individual blocks are now also displayed here if used.
Duotone effect for images
Images can now be provided with chic duotone filters. Here you can choose from a total of 8 color combinations and thus easily set pictures to black and white.
From WordPress 5.8 it is possible to upload and use images in WebP format directly in the Media Manager. This eliminates the need to convert JPEG or PNG files and the loading times of images are significantly optimized.
A current browser and server-side support of WebP are required.
In addition, there is no “endless scrolling” in the Media Manager. Images are no longer automatically reloaded when scrolling, but only when you click on the corresponding button. In addition, the total number of images is now also displayed in the tile view.
Internet explorer 11
The latest version of the legacy browser is now being used by less than 1% of users.
Microsoft itself has already discontinued support and refers to its new Edge browser.
WordPress is now officially discontinuing support and will no longer support Internet Explorer 11 on the back end. Template developers are still free to make their themes compatible. However, WordPress still provides the appropriate polyfills for this.
Overall, there are of course a whole range of other innovations. As always, these can be found in the official Field Guide.
For example, developers have more control over how a block’s resources are loaded. Using block.json, you can develop your own blocks more efficiently and simply submit them to the official library.
For editors, it is certainly interesting to have the option of removing several navigation points from a menu at once (multiple selection).
Outlook on WordPress 5.9
Since WordPress also sees itself as a pioneer in terms of web design, the focus is on full site editing. The topic of “intrinsic web design” will also become more important, a further development of “responsive web design”.
The navigation block is on the home straight and may now find its way into the core with version 5.9.
Anyone who wants to test the latest Gutenberg version can do so with the official plugin. However, this is not recommended for use in productive environments.