In mid-August, we should be able to upgrade WordPress to version 5.5. Let's take a look at the most important new features that will appear in the upcoming version.

You can already use WordPress 5.5 if you can't wait. There is a beta version available, but I don't suggest installing it on your production sites. Let the latest version mature and update only when it is officially released.

Further development of the Gutenberg block editor

As you can easily guess, the new WordPress is all about further intensive development of the Gutenberg editor. For those of you who don't know this, I'll add that this editor came natively to WordPress at the end of 2018 - WordPress 5.0. A lot has changed in it since then, with each successive release of WP bringing further improvements to the Gutenberg interface and features.

WordPress 5.5 will include significant improvements to the user interface. To the extent that these will be distinct changes, I've decided to catch up with the lessons in the WordPress coursewhere I discuss the editor based on its upcoming release: New lessons - The Gutenberg editor.

New block list interface and revised buttons for adding blocks in content

Of course, while the change regarding the button itself is not something worth dwelling on, the left sidebar with the available blocks will certainly make it easier to navigate through them.

WordPress 5.5 Gutenberg

In the block bar we can find a search engine, a list of blocks, a list of ready-made arrangements and a place where the blocks we have saved land. What you don't see is another novelty, namely block catalogue. If you enter the name of a block that does not exist, the search engine will automatically suggest possible blocks available for installation in the form of an additional plug-in if only such are available.

Gutenberg Block Catalogue

I mentioned list/catalogue of ready-made arrangements. In the latest version of the editor by clicking on the Patterns tab you will see ready to use arrangements. Just click on the selected one to immediately appear in the workspace. There are not many of them at the moment, but this will surely change with time.

Gutenberg Patterns

There will also be a cosmetic change the way the blocks are moved. You can move them by grabbing and dragging or by using the arrows. Depending on the object you select, you can move it higher, lower or sideways.

Block repositioning

Another new feature that I think will please all of you who post photos on the site is possibility to perform basic operations on the image directly in the editor. By this I mean things like cropping, scaling, changing proportions or rotation.

gutenberg05

Automatic updates

Changes to the Gutenberg editor, however, are not everything. The functionality that will come with WordPress 5.5 is the ability to decide which plugins you want to update automatically, and which you don't. Going to the list of installed plugins we will see an additional column with a link to activate automatic updates or disable them.

wp5501

Functionality pleasant, but use it wisely. Automatic updates do not always serve the site well because you are not able to react quickly when an update generates a problem. Keep this in mind!

You can also activate the automatic update for the theme you are working with. By going to Appearance > Themes and further into the theme details, you can decide about it.

Automatic theme update

XML Site Map

XML Site MapThis is a file that lists all of your site's content in XML format. This makes it easier for search engines such as Google to find and index the content you publish.

It plays an important role in WordPress SEO optimisation. All the top SEO plugins have this functionality built in.

WordPress 5.5 will also include a site map feature that will be enabled by default. It will create a new site map index file called wp-sitemap.xmlwhich will contain links to all other map files that will be generated.

Site Map

The default map functionality supports all post types, taxonomies (categories, tags, custom taxonomies) and author archives. However, it will for the time being only provide the basic required functionality of the XML map protocol.

Lazy Load for images

Downloading images takes longer than loading plain text on your site, increasing load times. Optimising images can help improve the speed and performance of your WordPress site, and jOne of the most commonly used techniques is their delayed charging. This technique downloads only those images that are visible on the user's browser screen.

WordPress 5.5 will make this the default option by adding a "loading" attribute to the IMG tag. This attribute is supported by all modern web browsers, although Safari is the exception.

bbb

This feature should please most users, especially those who installed separate plugins to support lazy loading of graphics. It will also probably please hosting providers, because leniwe image loading available as standard, will save a lot of bandwidth and improve the performance of servers with a lot of WordPress-based sites.

Update plugins and theme from the zip archive file

If you want to do this now, you will get a message that such an operation is not possible, because the directory of the plug-in you are trying to upload already exists. So you have to deactivate the plugin, delete it and only then you can upload a newer version.

WordPress 5.5 will carry over a significant change in this area. When you upload a plugin or theme file, you will no longer get an error message that will lock you out, but information about what you are trying to do, such as overwriting plugin X version 1.1 to version 1.2. All you need to do is confirm that this is the operation you want to perform and the plugin will be updated. You can also upload an older version of a plugin or theme this way.

Theme override

Summary

Quite a nice set of novelties, isn't it?

WordPress 5.5 will also bring changes that developers will be interested in. BIt will be equipped with updated external libraries such as phpMailer, SimplePie and others. Developers will be able to control automatic update options by disabling, enabling or selectively blocking it for specific plugins or themes. The Dashicons library will be updated to include 65 new icons and the WordPress 5.5 will offer more effective scanning for PHP compatibility issues.

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