WordPress

WordPress 5.5: First Look

We’re big fans of WordPress here at Greyhawk Digital. For nearly 15 years we’ve been using WordPress for all of our content management needs. Over the years, WordPress has evolved from a simple blog to the mega-CMS that people know and love thanks to a multitude of regular updates – and the next one (WordPress 5.5) is right on the horizon.

On August 11th, 2020, WordPress 5.5 will be released. The beta is already out – and if you’re feeling frosty you can test it right now – but with the release date closing in, it’s time to take a look at what’s going to make WordPress 5.5 shine.

(Keep in mind, all features are subject to change before the final release – this is just what we know SO FAR).

The Block Editor

WordPress’ Gutenberg editor has been released with mixed reviews, but WordPress is dead-set on making it the best editor it can be.

WordPress 5.5 enhances the editor even further with new UI improvements such as borders, icons, and ‘focus highlighting’ – making sure you know what area you are working on. Small, subtle changes have been made to make the user experience as good as it can be.

WordPress 5.5 Beta Block Editor
The block editor has small improvements made for users to have a better overall experience.

The Block Directory

WordPress 5.5 will have a new feature called the Block Directory. Acting similarly to the plugin directory, it will show blocks that are available for use, but not necessarily installed. Users can pick the blocks they need and WordPress will take care of the installation process – all you have to do is pick your block and go!

The Block Directory is a one-stop shop for Gutenberg blocks.

Pattern Library

I am personally very excited about this feature. WordPress 5.5 will include a “Block Pattern” library that will allow you to add commonly used ‘patterns of blocks’ quickly to your website.

There are new patterns being planned, available to add from themes, plugins, and WordPress Core as they are developed.

WordPress 5.5 Block Pattern Library
The Block Pattern Library will contain groups of commonly used blocks assembled into common layouts.

Image Editing – Inline

WordPress 5.5 will also expand upon the built in image editing scripts. Before, to edit an image you had to go into the Media Library which took several extra clicks. Now, you can scale, crop, resize, and rotate images directly from the inline-block editor.

WordPress 5.5's Inline Image Editor
Save clicks by doing basic image editing functions directly in WordPress 5.5’s inline image editor.

Included XML Sitemap

Plugins like All-In-One SEO and WordPress SEO have included XML sitemaps since the beginning of their development. WordPress 5.5 will now include sitemap with support with all post types and taxonomies.

If you’re already using one of the other plugins, never fear – that functionality is still allowed (and recommended, since they give you finer controls over what your sitemaps are showing). But if you just want the bare necessities, the built-in sitemap will do just fine.

WordPress 5.5 Built-In XML Sitemap
This no-frills XML sitemap is perfect for people who just want the basics.

Performance and Package Changes

WordPress 5.5 also brings along several performance and “under-the-hood” changes that are important for developers, such as:

  • Images are now set to ‘lazy load’ automatically with the ‘loading’ attribute – all browsers except Safari support this out of the box.
  • You can now update themes and plugins by uploading a zip file. WordPress will recognize that it’s a currently-installed plugin and will take the steps to make sure it’s installed correctly.
  • Several new libraries such as SimplePie, Twemojji, and phpMailer – all of which can be disabled as needed through functions
  • Auto-Update options for themes and plugins – also with options to disable.
  • More Dashicons.
  • Better PHP compatibility scanning.

There’s other updates that may be coming, but we won’t know the full list until WordPress 5.5 releases. If you can’t wait, head over to the beta site and give it a go – otherwise, expect WordPress 5.5 to drop on August 11!

Have any updates you’d like to see in WordPress? Any of the above updates sound awesome… or terrible? Tweet mitch @thatmitchcanter and let him know!


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