Good morning WordPress warriors! It’s an exciting day for us as our favorite CMS is getting a brand new update with tons of new changes. Named after jazz trumpeter, Nat Adderley, WordPress 5.4 was released on 31st March, and it’s the first major release for the year 2020. So, let’s dig into all the features, new and redesigned, added to WordPress 5.4.
Major Additions to the Gutenberg Editor
It’s no secret that Gutenberg is the future. As such, this version of WordPress adds another set of tweaks and additions to the Gutenberg editor. As all the Gutenberg plugins release compatibility updates for WordPress 5.4, we’ve already tested and updated Qubely for the newest version, and rest assured, your sites built with Qubely will be stable after the update. So, let’s check out the changes in the Gutenberg editor.
New Welcome Guide for New Users
New WordPress users might find the Gutenberg editor a little daunting and confusing at first. As such, the folks at Automattic have added a welcome guide to quickly teach the new user some of the basics. This will help them hit the ground running when it comes to creating with Gutenberg.
This Welcome Guide will be prompted the first time you launch the Gutenberg editor, but if you need a refresher, you can always relaunch it from the Gutenberg settings on the top right.
2 Brand New Blocks
Two new blocks have been added to the Gutenberg editor:
- Social Icons Block: This simple, yet functional block adds social links to all your social media pages. There are around 40 available at the time of writing. The Social Icons block comes with three predefined styles for visual customization: Default, Logos only, and Pill shape. It does not come with vast customization available in the Qubely social links block, for example, but it’s simple enough that anyone can use it.
- Buttons Block: Just like the social icons block, this is also a simple and effective block. It will allow you to add more than one button side-by-side. You can change color, pick two styles, and add custom URLs top open. For the simplest of use-cases, this Gutenberg block is good enough, but Qubely’s button block does so much more while being more elegant.
More Color Options
Cover, Group, and Column blocks contain a new option to change the background color. These settings are located on the block sidebar of Gutenberg.
You can also change all the text colors inside these blocks using the Text Color field. This will make things more comfortable as you don’t need to change each text color individually.
Other Improvements in Gutenberg
WordPress 5.4 also comes with some minor changes to the Gutenberg editor. These changes range from aesthetic to functional and hope to positively affect the user’s experience.
- Change Text Color in Paragraph Block: You can now change the color of specific parts of the text in a paragraph block. Just pick the text using your cursor, and in the context menu for the paragraph block, you will find a “Text Color” field. You can use that RGB color picker to change the color of the selected text.
- Drag and Drop to Upload Featured Image: Up until WordPress 5.3.2, you would have to insert the image from a separate pop-up. To make this process easier, now you can quickly drag and drop an image on the featured image section to add it to the page or post.
- Select Tool For Easy Multi-Block Selection: Back in the day, selecting multiple blocks was a huge pain. Now with WordPress 5.4 adding the selection tool, it’s super simple. When enabled, the tool will allow you to multi-select blocks effortlessly!
- Block Breadcrumbs for Easy Navigation: Now you’ll have access to a block breadcrumb on the bottom of the page. This will allow you to navigate through the block hierarchy easily.
- Table Blocks Now Have Caption Field at the Bottom: Now you can label your table with captions to let the users know.
- Sticky Toolbar for Mobile: While on mobile devices, the block toolbar will now stay sticky while editing a specific block.
- Improved Load Times: 14% faster loading, 51% faster time-to-type in the Gutenberg block editor.
- Select Gallery Image Size: You will be able to select an image size on a per-image basis with this field on the gallery block.
- Improved Latest Post Block: With WordPress 5.4, the latest post block gets a fresh new coat of paint. You will now be able to add featured images to the latest post blocks.
- TikTok Embed Block: Now you can add TikTok videos to your WordPress website using the embed link.
WordPress 5.4 also comes with some improvements for developers. Let’s have a look at what the new changes are:
- Developers can now add their own keyboard shortcuts to the Gutenberg block editor
- New hooks will allow you to add custom fields to menu items
- apply_shortcode() function acts as a replacement of do_shortcode(), as do_shortcode() is planned to be deprecated in the future
- 3 new APIs and tools related to blocks added to help block plugin developers (NPM Package, Block Collections API, and Block Variations API)
Improved Personal Privacy Practices
The personal data export tool now adds new data points as well as accessibility improvements. Here’s a list of what the changes are, right from WordPress 5.4’s introduction page:
- Now personal data exports include user-session information and users’ location data from the community events widget. Plus, a table of contents!
- See progress as you process to export and erasure requests through the privacy tools.
- Plus, little enhancements throughout give the privacy tools a little cleaner look. Your eyes will thank you!
WordPress 5.4 is set to be released on the 31st of March, and if you’re reading this after that date, the update should be ready for download on your admin dashboard right now. Don’t forget to make a backup of your site and database, and update PHP to its latest version.
Apart from all the aforementioned changes, Automattic has made a lot of new under-the-hood additions to WordPress’s core. If you want to read the official news about this update, check out this post from WordPress.org. To understand some of the developer-oriented changes as well as a deep-dive into WordPress’s inner workings, be sure to check out WordPress 5.4’s field guide. As our favorite CMS grows, we also want all of us to grow with it. Therefore, we will be paying extra attention to the changes, so that we can deduce where WordPress as an industry is headed and provide you with the right products you need at the right time. And as always, thank you for being a part of the Themeum family!