WordPress 5.5 – More Powerful Than Ever

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Everything You Need to Know About the Latest WordPress 5.5- A Major Release

Are you a professional website developer or a startup looking for an e-commerce website for your business? Well, then you must be aware of WordPress. Nowadays, with over 60 million websites all over the world uses this popular CMS solution for developing their websites. Due to its high-end functionalities and easy to use interface, this content management solution is used by millions worldwide.

Well, if you are also excited to know about the latest WordPress version then your wait is finally over. The most awaiting WordPress 5.5 is finally out! This major update released on August 11, 2020, makes it the second major WordPress release of the year. As expected, this new, official release comes stuffed with some advanced and innovative features and improvements.

With the release of WordPress 5.5 “Eckstine”, now the time has come to introduce us to its updated features. So, what’s new in it? Well, this updated version comes with tons of new changes and multiple additional features have also been added to the WordPress core.

But due to several unresolved issues, some of the most awaited features of 5.5 versions have been delayed and finally deleted from this version. A few of them are navigation screen, full-site editing, and widget screen.

So, let’s take a look at this article to know what the readers can expect from this release. Here we have discussed some exclusive features that this new WordPress 5.5 release comes along with.

1. Gutenberg Updates

The final release of WordPress 5.5 brings tons of updates to the block editor unexpectedly. One can find an additional ten versions of the Gutenberg plugins to its core that altogether brings a huge number of improvements in the UI, features, bug fixes, and enhancements. Thus, it affects every aspect of the block-based editing environment, ranging from usability to performance and functionality.

It is next to impossible to discuss each and every change that the final release has brought along with it right on this post. So, here we will just cover up some of the hand-picked selections of our favorite improvements and features that have been added to the block editor.

1.1 New UI Improvements

One of the most exciting features of WordPress 5.5 is UI improvements. Each and every version of the Gutenberg plugin brings some major or minor improvements in the user interface and WordPress 5.5 is not an exception. Most of the changes that it comes with like block movers, device previews, improved drag and drop options, ability to format multiple blocks at a time, etc. are now merged into the WordPress core.

While using WordPress 5.5, when you will first try to launch the block editor, you will get to see a slightly different interface that will for sure grab the attention of the readers. You can even get to see a simplified Block toolbar, new icons, a unified and improved block focus styles, stronger color contrast, and undoubtedly better performance.

Apart from those mentioned above, there are some additional changes that affect the editing experience, like:

  • Parent Block Selection: The existence of this entirely new toolbar button is found while hovering to the left side of the block toolbar. Meanwhile, it also allows you to choose parent blocks in nested contexts.
  • Subscript and Superscript Options: In the Rich Text controls, you will find the availability of these formatting options for texts.

1.2. Block Patterns

Block patterns are actually ready-to-use block layouts that allow users to add complex nested blocks structures quickly to their pages. These design elements assist the content creators as well as website admins to speed up and optimize their editing experience by offering them professional layouts.

Earlier, the block pattern existed in a sidebar plugin, but with WordPress 5.5, these block patterns are now shifted to the panel situated on the left side of the editor. Currently, these block patterns come with a handful of patterns that helps in customizing WordPress themes and plugins. Also, it serves as a huge enhancement in editing.

These block patterns come handy and help in setting up the layout of your page quickly. Though the patterns are limited right now, in the future, the number will keep growing.

1.3. The New Block Directory and Block Plugins

WordPress 5.5 brings back life to the new block directory. Now, simply by implementing the block directory, the finding, installing, and adding of any third-party blocks from the block inserter has become easier.

The new block directory also works as a built-in block search tool. Thus, if you look out for a block that you have not installed earlier or that matches your search, then it will display you a list of plugins present in the Plugin Directory. These plugins are also termed as “block plugins”, so just by clicking on it a single time; you can easily add them to your editor.

With this awesome feature, you can now build and customize your own blocks. You can also add gradients and backgrounds to many types of blocks, like, columns, media, texts, groups, etc. Moreover, you can also make them available to the entire WordPress community by publishing them directly to the Plugin Directory. The best part is that for creating custom blocks, you just need some working knowledge of JavaScript and no need to be an expert in PHP.

1.4. Inline Image Editing

With this brand new editing feature that has been already added to the block editor, you can edit your images as per your requirements directly from the Image block. With the release of WordPress 5.5, as this feature has been merged to the WordPress core, it allows the users to rotate, crop, zoom and adjust the position of the images and also results in a faster editing experience, that too without launching the Media Library.

You will surely enjoy this feature if you have to publish thousands of photos. It’s also so simple and easy to use. To get access to these new editing functionalities, all you need to do is just go to the Image Toolbar and click on the Crop button. Make the customization as required and when you are done with it, just click on the Apply button to apply the changes you have made.

Once you do so, WordPress will save this image in the Media Library as an attachment and it will provide you with complete control over new versions of images.

1.5. New Block Inserter Panel and Block Categories

With the release of WordPress 5.5, you get a completely redesigned block inserter panel that displays blocks and patterns through categories. This helps in finding the patterns and blocks easier and also significantly improves the editing experience.

2. Enables Lazy-Loading in WordPress Core

‘Lazy-Loading’ is a popular technique that optimizes the loading speed of your site. While loading a site it instructs the browser to load only the visible content on the page and restrict the downloading of images, until they scroll down to the images to view it. This technique not only saves bandwidth but also helps the users to browse the web using a slow internet connection.

Once the lazy loading became a standard, now the web developers need not use JavaScript libraries or any more or have to write custom code. Even the implementation of the Lazyload images can be done using the new loading attribute in an iframe and img tags.

Earlier, lazy loading was done in WordPress with the help of any optimization plugins like Autoptimize, etc. But with the release of WordPress 5.5, it does not need installation of any additional plugins as now Lazy loading has become a part of WordPress core.

3. Streamlined Block Navigation and Movements

The updated version of WordPress streamlines the movement of blocks both inside and around the content editor. You can also seamlessly move it by clicking on the block handle and dragging it to take to the area where you want to place it.

Another improvement that it comes with is to choose the parent block in the nested blocks like the group and the column blocks.

Apart from these, there are other significant features that come with WordPress 5.5, these are:

  • Multi-Select Formatting: This feature allows users to edit multiple blocks at a time.
  • Expanded Design Toolset: This feature is exclusively for themes and allows you to customize your themes as per your needs and requirements.
  • Device Preview Feature: It allows you to visualize how your page will look on various devices of different screen sizes.
  • It supports more types of measurements like percent graph, rems, ems, and many more.

4. Get Auto-Updates for Themes and Plugins

WordPress comes with an advanced update management system, known as ‘WordPress Automatic Updates.’ This was enabled by default for providing better security to websites and preventing it from hacking. With WordPress 5.5, this functionality of auto-updates has been extended to plugins as well as themes.

It also allows the site admins to enable this feature by just a single click through the WordPress admin dashboard. What you need to do is, visit the Themes or Plugins pages, then hit the “Enable Auto Updated” button present beside the plugins or themes that you want to update automatically.

Moreover, it also allows the developers to fine-tune their update preferences by either ‘using a filter in a plugin’ or by ‘defining one or more constants in wp-confg.php.’

5. XML Sitemaps

WordPress generates sitemaps for making your content more visible to search engines. Earlier, sitemaps can be only added to WordPress websites by using any other tools or simply by using a plugin. But with WordPress 5.5, the feature of brand new XML sitemaps is being added to the WordPress Core. It also brings some enhancements to its basic functionality.

It comes with a good number of filters and hooks, thus allowing the plugin developers to extend the built-in functionalities further. These XML sitemaps are by default enabled on your site. It has the ability to grasp a maximum of 2,000 URLs and its index is available at /wp-sitemap.xml. Once it reaches the maximum limit, a new sitemap to be added.

These XML sitemaps make the following types of contents indexable:

  • Homepage
  • Author archives
  • Posts page
  • Core post types (Pages and Posts)
  • Core taxonomies (Tags and Categories)
  • Custom post types
  • Custom taxonomies

6. Passing Data to Template Files

Earlier, in order to pass arguments to template files, you need global variables or some other non-optimal options. But with WordPress 5.5, a certain parameter is added to the template loading functions. This allows the theme developers to set a variable in the template file. 

Furthermore, now simply by passing an array of arguments, you can make the variables accessible.

7. Update the Plugins and Themes from a .Zip File

Previously, site admins could only update themes or upload plugins via a file manager or FTP/SFTP. But now, with the updated beta version of WordPress, you can easily update your themes and plugins by uploading a .zip package from your computer within the WordPress dashboard.

Summary

Every WordPress release comes with loads of surprises and this is the reason why users keep waiting whenever they find that a new version is going to be launched. This time also WordPress does not fail in surprising its users by offering them a feature-enriched version. 

WordPress 5.5 comes flooded with new features and enhancements. With this single release, we can get an idea of what amount of work is happening behind the scenes. As WordPress has become more advanced and powerful than ever before, you can create customized websites using this CRM solution. So, what are you waiting for? Launch your professional website and take your business to another level.

Hope you have enjoyed reading this article! For any queries, you can comment on the comment box below this post.

The extreme sophistication of modern technology - wonderful though its benefits are - is, ironically, an impediment to engaging young people with basics: with learning how things work. -- Martin Rees

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