WordPress 5.8 – Key Features & Improvements with Screenshots
The final release of WordPress 5.8 is due mid-July, with the beta version already out for testing. After the release of WordPress 5.7 “Esperanza” in March, WordPress 5.8 will be the second major release of the year and the first step toward enabling Full Site Editing via Gutenberg editor.
Dubbed “Gutenberg Phase 2”, the new version of WordPress comes with many new features and improvements that change the way you build sites and use the Gutenberg editor. If you’re wondering what’s new and what’s changed in WordPress 5.8, here are the highlights with screenshots.
- A New Template Editor
- Blocks in Widgets Area
- WebP Image Support
- Improvements to the Block Editor
- Improvements to Existing Blocks
- A New Theme Configuration File for Developers
- Ability to Embed PDFs
- End of IE11 support
A New Template Editor
WordPress 5.8 introduces a new template editor to facilitate an early version of Full Site Editing through the block editor, which will improve with future releases.
Using the template editor, you can create, edit, and save custom block templates to use for specific pages and posts on your WordPress site. You can also combine your existing content with new templates to give your pages and posts a unique look.
When you switch to the template editor, it allows you to add Site Editing blocks, including:
- Site Title
- Site Tagline
- Site Logo
- Post Excerpt
- Post Title
- Post Featured Image
- Post Content
- Post Date
- Post Categories
- Post Tags
- Page List
- Query Loop
The template editor inherits your active theme’s styles and is enabled for all themes by default. However, theme developers and users can easily disable it using the following line of code:
remove_theme_support( ‘block-templates’ );
Blocks in Widgets Area
Using the all-new Widgets screen and updated Customizer in WordPress 5.8, you can now use any block in your theme’s widget areas. Bringing the flexibility of the block editor to widget sections is another significant step towards the full-site editor experience.
If you’re not ready to make a move yet, you can either use the Classic Widgets plugin to revert to the traditional widgets or use the following code to disable the block widget:
remove_theme_support( ‘widgets-block-editor’ );
WebP Image Support
WebP is Google’s recommended image file format for the Web. According to Google, WebP images are on average 25-34% smaller in file size than JPEG and PNG images. Currently, if you try to upload a WebP image to your site, WordPress shows the following error:
Starting WordPress 5.8, you’ll be able to upload WebP images to your WordPress site without any plugin. However, other image formats such as JPEG and PNG still cannot be converted to WebP.
Improvements to the Block Editor
Every WordPress release brings new features, improvements, and bug fixes to improve the editing experience and WordPress 5.8 is no exception. Following are some improvements that the block editor screen got in the new version of WordPress.
WordPress 5.8 introduces 14 new blocks in the block editor, including Site Logo, Site Title, Page Lists, and Tagline, to unlock new ways of content creation.
Among the new blocks, the most noticeable is the Query Loop block. It offers various ways for displaying a list of posts from a particular category and is packed with new identical block patterns.
#Easily Select Parent Block in Nested Blocks:
Nested blocks like groups and columns let you easily group blocks. However, selecting the parent block inside a nested block is often challenging. To address this issue, WordPress 5.8 introduces a permanent toolbar button to select the parent easily.
#Introducing the List View:
The new version of WordPress introduces the List View panel that can be toggled and displays you the complete list of blocks on your page or post. This would make it easier for you to navigate complex layouts and patterns.
#New Duotone Filters:
A fascinating new duotone block in WordPress 5.8 allows you to add a pop of color to your media blocks like galleries, images, and cover images. Supported by even third-party blocks, it comes with a few presets, and you can also create your own presets to match theme color schemes.
In the upcoming version of WordPress, searching through the “Add block” panel will recommend patterns that you can instantly add to your designs.
A collection of new Patterns available and pattern transformations allow you to convert a block or a group of blocks into different patterns. Additionally, the initial work has been laid for integration with the upcoming WordPress.org pattern directory.
#Improved Select Tool:
The select tool in WordPress 5.8 facilitates better block highlighting as you hover over the different block type buttons. On the other hand, the new Block Handles allow you to move blocks up and down easily.
Improvements to Existing Blocks
Enhancements have been made to several existing blocks to improve the overall editing experience. These include:
Styles, Spacing, and HTML element – These three options have been added to the group block.
#Social Icon Block:
You can now change the alignment position of social links.
In WordPress 5.8, you can evenly allocate and place space in button blocks.
You can now specify color and spacing for column blocks.
WordPress 5.8 makes it possible for you to change the text color in the table block. You can also set the background color if required.
A New Theme Configuration File for Developers
WordPress 5.8 will ship with a new theme.json file. It is a new configuration file for classic themes and block themes. WordPress developers can control and configure styling with this file, including layout configuration, color palettes, block supports, default block settings, fonts, editor settings, and more. They can also use it to reduce the CSS needed to create themes drastically.
Ability to Embed PDFs
WordPress doesn’t have PDF viewer capabilities and requires installing a PDF viewer plugin to display PDFs. To eliminate this problem, WordPress 5.8 supports embedding PDF files into file blocks. You can also specify the height of embedding, preview the PDF file in the post and give your visitors the option of downloading the PDF file.
End of IE11 support
Given that the Internet Explorer user base is rapidly shrinking, WordPress will officially end support for Internet Explorer 11 (IE11) by the end of this year. WordPress 5.8 has merged most of the changes needed to drop support for IE11. Meanwhile, IE11 users are already getting a warning about the same for the last 17+ months.
That’s all about WordPress 5.8. If you face any trouble upgrading to the new version of WordPress, feel free to get assistance from our WordPress development experts right away.