WordPress 5.8 is due to be released on July 20th.
Version 5.8 is bringing some big changes, especially in regard to the Gutenberg Block Editor.
Here’s my take on the top 7 things to get excited about in Version 5.8.
Full Site Editing
Up to now, Gutenberg has enabled us to use the Block Editor for creating content within Pages and Posts.
With version 5.8 you’ll be able to use Gutenberg to build templates using the Block Editor, and in WordPress 5.9 (coming out in December 2021) we’ll see the logical conclusion of Full Site Editing where you’ll be able to edit the Header, Menus, and Footer using Blocks.
Full Site Editing functionality in 5.8 will enable you to create and modify templates using the Block Editor. So you’ll be able to create custom Post and Page Templates using Gutenberg.
Here are a few ideas of how you could use this new functionality
- Custom Landing Pages
- Custom 404 Pages
- Custom Headers per Page
- Custom Post layouts
- Custom Blog Layouts
- Custom WooCommerce Layouts
You can use the familiar block editor to edit templates that hold your content—simply activate a block theme or a theme that has opted in for this feature. Switch from editing your posts to editing your pages and back again, all while using a familiar block editor. There are more than 20 new blocks available within compatible themes.WordPress 5.8 release notes
The Query Loop Block
Version 5.8 comes with 20 new Blocks, most aimed at facilitating Full Site Editing.
In my view, the most exciting Block is the Query Loop Block.
In simple terms, the Query Loop Block is like a much more powerful version of the existing Gutenberg Latest Posts Block.
The Query Loop Block lets us display dynamic lists or grids of posts, pages, or custom post types.
The Query Loop Block makes it possible to display posts based on specified parameters; like a PHP loop without the code. Easily display posts from a specific category, to do things like create a portfolio or a page full of your favorite recipes.WordPress 5.8 release notes
Here are a few examples of how you might use the Query Loop Block
- Recent Posts – Show recent posts on your home page
- Custom Blog Page – Create a custom blog page with Categorised Sections
- Testimonials – Design and display a unique Testimonials layout
- Portfolios – Design and display a unique Portfolio layout
Improved Block Navigation
With Version 5.8 it’s now easier to navigate around your Blocks as the Block List View has been improved. List View gives us an easy way to navigate between content and nested blocks. List View now opens in its own panel that remains open as you navigate and make changes to Blocks.
List View is the best way to jump between layers of content and nested blocks. Since the List View gives you an overview of all the blocks in your content, you can now navigate quickly to the precise block you need.WordPress 5.8 release notes
The new List View panel
Suggested Block Patterns
Block Patterns are collections of Blocks in pre-designed layouts.
With WordPress 5.8 when you add either the Query Loop Block or the Social Icon Block you’ll see different layout options – these are called Block Patterns.
Starting in this release the Pattern Transformations tool will suggest block patterns based on the block you are using. Right now, you can give it a try in the Query Block and Social Icon Block. As more patterns are added, you will be able to get inspiration for how to style your site without ever leaving the editor!WordPress 5.8 release notes
Suggested Block Patterns for the Query Loop Block
Block Based Widget Area
WordPress Widget Areas have been Blockified in WordPress 5.8. This means you have full access to all WordPress Gutenberg Blocks for your Widget areas, and also any 3rd Party Blocks can be added.
Now you can add blocks both in widget areas across your site and with live preview through the Customizer. This opens up new possibilities to create content: from no-code mini layouts to the vast library of core and third-party blocks.WordPress 5.8 release notes
Block-based widget area
Duotone Filter – style Images
WordPress 5.8 brings a duotone filter icon to Gutenberg. Duotone lets you style your images, without having to use third-party software like photoshop.
Colorize your image and cover blocks with duotone filters! Duotone can add a pop of color to your designs and style your images (or videos in the cover block) to integrate well with your themes. You can think of the duotone effect as a black and white filter, but instead of the shadows being black and the highlights being white, you pick your own colors for the shadows and highlights.WordPress 5.8 release notes
The new Duotone Filter
WebP image support
WordPress 5.8 introduces WebP image support – this is great news when we are all trying to improve the speed of our websites.
WebP is a modern image format that provides improved lossless and lossy compression for images on the web. WebP images are around 30% smaller on average than their JPEG or PNG equivalents, resulting in sites that are faster and use less bandwidth.WordPress 5.8 release notes
Although 5.8 is a really exciting update, it’s an update that sets the scene for what’s to come. Specifically I’m talking about Full Site Editing and the new Query Loop Block. Although these are both included in version 5.8, my view is that they are not yet quite ready for production sites, and Themes will need some time to add support for them. But they give us a tantalising glimpse of the future direction of WordPress.
WordPress 5.8 is a really big update, with some really great improvements to the Gutenberg Block Editor. Once Full Site Editing has matured, and Themes fully support it, it’s going to have a profound effect on how we build websites with WordPress, and I’ll be exploring that more in a future post.