WordPress 5.8 beta is out with an expected release date of July 20th, 2021. It will be the second major release of the year and comes with lots of new features and improvements.
We’ve been following the development closely and trying out the new features on our test sites.
In this article, we’ll show you what’s coming in WordPress 5.8 with features and screenshots.
Introducing Template Editor
WordPress 5.8 will ship with the new template editor. It is a step towards creating a full site editing tool using the block editor, which means you can expect it to get better with future releases.
The template editor allows you to create and save templates for your WordPress website and use them later for any post or page.
Switching to the template editor will allow you to add Site Editing blocks. A number of essential blocks are available including:
- Site Logo
- Site Tagline
- Site Title
- Query Loop
- Post Title
- Post Content
- Post Date
- Post Excerpt
- Post Featured Image
- Post Categories
- Post Tags
- Page List
The feature is optional, theme developers and users will be able to easily disable it.
The template editor still relies on your WordPress theme and inherits its styles.
Blocks As Widgets
Another big step towards full-site editor experience is the new blocks as widgets interface.
Users will be able to access the new widget experience by using the Customizer or by visiting the Appearance » Widgets page.
Blocks as widgets will bring the flexibility of the block editor to your WordPress sidebar widgets. You’ll be able to use colors, spacing, typography, and other design tools without installing any plugins.
There is even a Widgets block that will let you use the classic widgets that are not available as blocks yet.
Not ready to make the move yet?
Don’t worry, you can turn off this new feature by using the Classic Widgets plugin. Simply install and activate the plugin and it will disable the new Widget Blocks feature.
WebP Images Are Coming to WordPress
WebP is a new file format for images to be used on the web. By using the WebP image format, your images will be 25-34% smaller in file size than PNG and JPEG without losing quality.
Currently, WordPress doesn’t support WebP images and users see an error when they try to upload a WebP image.
With WordPress 5.8, you’ll be able to upload WebP images to your WordPress website without using any plugins.
However, one downside is that it will not automatically replace the image with JPEG or PNG if a user is on an unsupported browser.
If majority of your users are using an unsupported browser, then you may still want to use an image compression plugin.
For more details, see our article on how to properly add WebP images in WordPress.
Editor Improvements in WordPress 5.8
The block editor screen is where users spend most of their time creating content. Each WordPress release comes with many improvements, bug fixes, and new features to improve the editing experience.
Following are some of the editor improvements coming in WordPress 5.8.
Easily Select Parent Block in Nested Blocks
Nested blocks like columns and groups allow you to easily group blocks. However, it sometimes becomes difficult to select the parent block inside a nested block.
WordPress 5.8 will now show an always visible parent block button in the toolbar.
Improved List View
WordPress 5.8 will come with an improved list view panel. It will show you the complete list of blocks in your post or page.
This would make it easier for users to move to a specific block in more complex layouts. For instance, if you have multiple paragraphs in a specific column then you can navigate using the list panel.
Improved Select Tool with Block Handles
The select tool will now show a better block outline with a handle to move blocks up and down.
In WordPress 5.8, you’ll also notice better block highlighting as you move your mouse around different blocks.
New Duotone Filters for Images and Media Blocks
Another exciting upcoming feature in WordPress 5.8 is the Duotone filters. You’ll be able to use these filters over your media blocks like images, galleries, and cover images.
It comes with a few presets and you can create your own presets as well by choosing the colors you want to apply.
WordPress themes will also be able to add their own presets to match theme color schemes.
Pattern Suggestions in Add Block Panel
Using the add block panel if you search for a block, the editor will also suggest patterns that you can instantly add. There are some new patterns available and initial work has been laid for integration with the WordPress.org pattern directory.
Improvements to Existing Blocks
There are several improvements to existing blocks. For instance, more color options to choose text, background, and link colors.
There is a new option to adjust padding among columns.
You can also choose gradient background for table block.
Under The Hood Changes
WordPress 5.8 will also bring many changes for developers to explore and use in their own themes, plugins, and projects.
Following are some of these under the hood changes.
WordPress will end support for Internet Explorer by the end of this year. 5.8 has merged most of the changes needed for that. (See details)
Context aware filters to use block editor APIs on multiple WordPress admin screens. (#52920)
WordPress recovery mode email message will now only be shown when email can be sent. (#52560)
We hope this article gave you a glimpse into what’s coming in WordPress 5.8. Let us know what features you find interesting and what you’d look to see in a future WordPress release.