Changes Are Coming to WordPress 5.8

The biggest changes in recent years are coming to WordPress on July 20, 2021. The update is WordPress 5.8 and the following paragraphs briefly outline the changes users can expect to see.

In fact, the WP 5.8 version is currently available for testing. There is a WordPress Beta Tester plug-in available that allows users to test the new version on their computers or on a staging site. In six months, the full version will release, and the changes will impact every WordPress user and every WordPress website. According to WP, there are 91 new functions and enhancements to existing functions as well as bug fixes.

WordPress 5.8: What You Need To Know

A few of the changes are:

  • WebP imaging — WordPress 5.8 supports WebP imaging. WebP is a new format for images on the web. The WebP format reduces the size of images by 25%-34% smaller than JPEG or PNG, and it does it all without sacrificing quality. The current WordPress version does not support WebP files. An error will pop up if a user tries to download WebP images in the current WP version. In 5.8, users can download WebP images without having to download a plugin. WebP will replace using JPEGs and PNGs.
    • One caveat: many users are still on unsupported browsers. In this case, you will need an image compression plugin. Without it, the compression won’t happen automatically. For example, Safari versions prior to 2020 will not work with WebP by itself.
    • Compression means that users can add images natively to their websites without a plugin.
  • WordPress 5.8 includes a full-site template editor tool that allows the users to create and save templates for their own websites and use them again later for future posts and pages. This is a theme builder for users and is the dynamic content change that is available for users while waiting for the complete theme building function releases. The template editor uses the site’s template themes and styles. Users can create site editing blocks, such as for the sites:
    • Logo
    • Tagline
    • Title
    • Query Loop
    • Log in/out
    • Page list
  • WordPress 5.8 template editor also provides editing blocks for posts, such as the posts:
    • Title
    • Date
    • Content
    • Excerpts
    • Images
    • Categories
    • Tags
  • The new template works with blocks as widgets by customizing them or clicking on Appearance and Widgets. Using blocks as widgets means the WordPress sidebar widgets can sport colors and design tools all without downloading plugins. The best part is if you do not want this new feature, you can down the Classic Widgets plugin to disable the features of the new widget.

Improved block editor

In addition to the changes noted above, the WordPress 5.8 version comes with improvements to the block editor function. In a nested block, it may prove difficult to select the parent block. The new and improved 5.8 makes the parent block always easy to find with a parent block button that resides on the toolbar. Users can also name reusable blocks to save and use later.

The new Gutenberg list panel

The new list panel shows all the blocks on a post or page. This function makes it simpler to move to a particular block in a complicated arrangement of blocks in a post or page. This new function makes it easier to select the right layer for the blocks you want to edit.

The select tool with handles

The block outline now has a handle to make it easier to shift blocks up or down. The block outline also benefits from improved highlighting as the user navigates among the blocks.

Duotone filters

Customizing is the key. Version 5.8 comes with Duotone filters for use in images as well as media blocks. Some Duotone filters are preset, but users can also design their own presets by selecting the colors they want to appear. Or users can create their own presets to coordinate with color schemes. There are also shadows and effects that provide design options in addition to the original WordPress options.

Pattern ideas

When using the add block feature, the new editor throws out ideas for patterns that are easy to add. This will be a public library of beautifully designed pattern suggestions that users can copy and paste to their own sites.

Existing blocks just got fancier.

The new 5.8 has more color options for text, background, and links. And gradient color is an option for the background in the table block. There are new fonts, new sizes in fonts,

The PDF viewer

This function is brand new with version 5.8. The PDF viewer block makes it easy to embed PDFs on a WordPress website. In addition, not only can website visitors view the PDF, there is an option that permits viewers to download the PDF to their own computers.

Other developer changes

Here are some ways WordPress will change in the coming year:

  • WordPress will no longer support Internet Explorer by the end of 2021.
  • WordPress administrative screens will include context-aware filters for block editor APIs
  • A fatal error message will only show up if the email was sent

Steps to take to prepare for the 5.8 release

The first step is to back up your data so, in the event, anything goes wrong while you update your website with the latest and greatest version of WordPress, you will have a restore point with saved data.

The second step is to test 5.8 on a beta testing site. Users can do this by downloading the WordPress Beta Testing plugin. Alternatively, users can directly download the beta testing version. Testing helps users become familiar with the recent changes and comfortably using them before the final version releases in July.

The third step is to consult with an IT professional to guide you on how best to upgrade your website to WordPress 5.8. IT professionals can help make your transition an untroubled one.

If you want to discuss anything related to this topic, please contact us to arrange an appointment with one of our WordPress experts. We look forward to helping you grow your business with WordPress.

If you would like to learn more about what to expect from WordPress 5.8, you may enjoy the June 2021 article from wptavern.com entitled “WordPress 5.8 Beta 1 Released: New Blocks, Widgets Screen, and Pattern Directory on Deck.”

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