As promised, WordPress 5.5, the newest iteration of the world’s most popular CMS, was released on August 11th, after two release candidates and four betas made available in July. This upgrade is nicknamed “Eckstine” to honor an American jazz and pop singer, Billy Eckstine.
What’s new in WordPress 5.5? Read on to find out about the new features this version brings!
WordPress 5.5’s Focus Areas
In the August update, the team focused on three major areas to improve: speed, search, and security. They all significantly contribute to a better and more comfortable service.
WordPress 5.5 introduces lazy loading for images to give your website a sense of more speed. Instead of trying to load everything on one page at once, the system will now wait until you’re just about to scroll into an image. This not only improves site speed but also saves your mobile users’ money by reducing data usage. Not to mention it preserves battery life!
With WordPress 5.5, your website will work even better with search engines. A default XML sitemap makes it more crawlable for bots, allowing them to discover your crucial pages as soon as you release them. It means that you’ll get more traffic - and sooner!
One of WordPress 5.5’s key features is the automated plugin and themes updating. The plugin section in the admin panel now includes an extra column for enabling or disabling auto-updates without compromising its well-known design. You can adjust the settings for each add-on individually.
If you prefer to update your plugins and themes manually, WordPress 5.5 introduces bulk-updating in ZIP format, together with a comparison tool for maximum clarity.
Block Editor News
Once again, the newest version of WordPress brings quite a few new features to the block editor. See some of them below or follow here for the full list of updates.
Inline Image Editing
This upgrade allows you to crop, rotate, and zoom your images within the image block - this streamlines the editing process and saves you time!
WordPress 5.5 introduces new block patterns in a handful of plugins and themes, with more and more being added every day. With this update, you’ll have your users wondering where you got that gorgeous, complex layouts combining text and media and how much time it took to code it - while in fact, it’s nothing more than adding a pattern from a convenient library and editing it to meet your needs.
New Block Directory
Searching for the perfect block has always been somewhat a hassle - until now. WordPress team has worked on an entirely new block directory built into the block editor for ultimate accessibility. Finding your one true block is now a breeze!
Other new features in WordPress 5.5’s block editor include enhanced accessibility. The team has worked on enlarging the single primary toolbar with fewer tab stops and higher contrast. This is another step towards reducing the admin panel’s complexity.
WordPress 5.5 Accessibility
To improve the accessible publishing experience, the WordPress team has added a couple of new functionalities, including:
- a button for copying links in media screens and modal dialogs,
- moving meta boxes with a keyboard,
- and assistive device-friendly image editor.
Development Updates In WordPress 5.5
On top of the front-end changes, WordPress 5.5 comes with several changes from the developers’ perspective. The full list of changes can be found under the link above, and here’s a few of them:
- server-side registered blocks in the REST API,
- final update to the Dashicons library,
- a standardized way to define environment types,
- PHPMailer library updated to 6.1.6,
- SimplePie, Twemoji, Masonry, imagesLoaded, getID3, Moment.js, and clipboard.js libraries are now updated,
- Default terms can now be specified for custom taxonomies,
- passing data to template files.
The Team Behind WordPress 5.5
Kudos to everyone behind the WordPress 5.5 - from developers to community translators who made it possible to release the update fully-translated to 46 languages at once!
This time, we’re even more proud than ever to say that one of our very own devs has contributed to WordPress 5.5 as well! Thanks to his input, a ticket dating back to 2016 has been resolved and included in the newest version of the CMS. Congrats, Bart!
Remember To Update!
Make sure you update your WordPress as soon as possible and review your plugins and themes - an outdated CMS is an open invitation to hackers. Before you run an upgrade, back up your website just in case - better safe than sorry ;)