WordPress 5.5 “Eckstine” is out, and it’s time for us to introduce the most noticeable changes and features added to Core with the second WordPress release of the year.
These days, we are used to seeing many additions to the block editor at each WordPress release. WordPress 5.5 is no exception!
This version also brings tons of changes not related to the editor that should have a great impact on the way we use the content management system.
While WordPress 5.5 brings many changes to WordPress Core, several features awaited with 5.5 have been delayed and removed from this version because of many unresolved issues.
This means full-site editing, navigation block, navigation screen, and widget screen aren’t part of WordPress 5.5.
What’s New With The Block Editor
With the final release of WordPress 5.5, ten versions of the Gutenberg plugin have been added to the core, bringing a huge number of UI improvements, features, enhancements, and bug fixes affecting every aspect of the editing experience, from usability to functionality and performance.
It would be close to impossible to mention all these changes here, so in this post, you’ll just find a hand-picked selection of our favorite new features and improvements.
New UI Design
Each version of the Gutenberg plugin brings small and not-so-small improvements that are silently changing the overall editing experience. A lot of these changes are now going to be merged into WordPress core. So, when you first launch the block editor in WordPress 5.5, a slightly different interface should grab your attention.
Inline Image Editing
A new editing feature has been added to the block editor with Gutenberg 8.4 allowing users to edit images directly from the Image block.
Now it’s been merged to core and, as of WordPress 5.5, you can crop, rotate, zoom and adjust image positions without the need to launch the Media Library resulting in a faster editing experience.
If you use to publish tons of photos, no doubt you’ll enjoy this feature.
Easier Navigation & Movement For Blocks
With WordPress 5.5, moving blocks from inside your content area is now much easier. You can hold and then drag and drop the blocks anywhere on your post. You also get a new parent block selection feature and multi-select formatting to change several blocks at once.
A redesigned block inserter panel shows up blocks and patterns by categories, significantly improving the editing experience and making blocks and patterns easier to find (Gutenberg 8.3).
Image Lazy-Loading in WordPress
Lazy loading is an optimisation technique that defers loading of non-critical resources. This means that the browser is instructed to load visible content on page load and defer the downloading and rendering of images placed below the fold until they are actually needed.
At the time of this writing, native lazy loading is supported by Microsoft Edge, Firefox, Google Chrome, Opera browser, Android browser, and Chrome for Android.
Before WordPress 5.5, lazy loading was only possible in WordPress with optimisation plugins. Now it’s part of WordPress Core and won’t require additional plugins to be installed!
Preview Your Site On Different Devices
Besides all of these features, you can also preview your website on different devices and check how responsive your site is on mobile, desktop, or tablets.
Auto-Updates for Plugins and Themes
One of the greatest concerns for site owners is site security and keeping your software up to date is a common recommendation every site owner should take into account.
WordPress Automatic updates have been available as a feature since WordPress 3.7. Now, the problem here is that while automatic updates are enabled by default for core maintenance and security releases, before WordPress 5.5, many site owners didn’t take advantage of auto-updates for plugins and themes.
Reason being that this feature required basic knowledge of WordPress development. In fact, developers could fine-tune their update preferences by defining one or more constants in wp-config.php or using a filter in a plugin.
Now with WordPress 5.5, site admins can toggle plugin and theme auto-updates on and off with a single click directly in their WordPress dashboard.
Plugin auto-updates can be enabled and disabled by clicking on the link appearing in the Automatic Updates column now available in the Plugins screen.
If you want to enable automatic updates for your theme, browse to Appearance > Themes, then hover over your theme and click on Theme Details. Then, click on the new Enable auto-updates link and you’re done.
Sitemaps To Improve Visibility
A sitemap is simply a list of URLs allowing search engines to quickly crawl your website.
Sitemaps are quite similar to robots.txt, with the difference that a robots.txt file excludes content from being indexed, while a sitemap provides a list of URLs to be indexed by search engines.
Before WordPress 5.5, sitemaps could be only added to WordPress websites using a plugin or other tools. Now, WordPress 5.5 brings a brand new XML sitemaps feature to WordPress Core.
The new feature adds basic functionality, but it comes with a good number of hooks and filters allowing plugin developers to further extend built-in functionalities where required.
We are thrilled about all these new features and enhancements WordPress 5.5 brings in a single release.
It shows the huge amount of work happening behind the scenes and we appreciate all the effort and commitment from every core contributor.
What are the features and / or improvements you like the most in WordPress 5.5? And what features would you like to be added to WordPress 5.6? Share your thoughts in the comment section below!