The second major release of 2021, WordPress 5.8 is set to hit dashboards on July 20th and brings with it myriad new features and improvements for both casual site users and developers alike. With a number of beta versions already out in the wild and the first release candidate now available, there’s still time for users who want to make their own tests to get involved.
So, what can we look forward to seeing in WordPress 5.8?
New and Improved Template Editor
WordPress 5.8 comes complete with a new template editor which has generated a great deal of buzz in the community, with the feature heralded as a step towards a full site editing tool.
The new template editor allows users to create, save and edit templates for future use for posts or pages within the editor itself. Switching to the Template option in the post editor will allow users to add Site Editing blocks, which include site logos, titles, and taglines, as well as a plethora of post options – including titles, content, excerpts and categories.
It’s worth noting here that the template editor does observe the styling rules of the existing WordPress theme, and is an optional feature, should developers wish to disable it.
A feature that has been requested for a long while, WebP images are now coming to WordPress core. A great tool for optimisation, WebP images result in smaller file sizes than PNG or JPG images without losing any quality.
Up until now WebP images have not been permitted without the use of a third party plugin but WordPress 5.8 brings with it the ability for users to upload WebP images with ease.
One note here is that image compression plugins will likely still be needed for sites where the majority of traffic comes from unsupported browsers, as WebP images won’t automatically be replaced with a supported file type in these cases.
Use Blocks as Widgets
A new interface is arriving to allow users to use blocks as widgets, which will give users all the flexibility of the block editor in site sidebars. Colours, fonts, and spacing will all be customisable without the need for any extra plugins. To access the new widget functionality users can visit either the Customiser or Widgets page.
By now, users are well-versed in how to use the block editor screen, where content is brought to life. In WordPress 5.8 we’ll see a number of editor improvements, including an improved list view, improved ability to select a parent block in nested blocks, an improved Select tool, and new Duotone filters for both images and media blocks.