Meetup group resources: Talking points for WordPress 5.8

WordPress 5.8 is shipping soon! Beta 1 and Beta 2 are available for testing. 5.8 is a major releaseMajor Release A set of releases or versions having the same major version number may be collectively referred to as “X.Y” -- for example version 5.2.x to refer to versions 5.2, 5.2.1, and all other versions in the 5.2. (five dot two dot) branch of that software. Major Releases often are the introduction of new major features and functionality. with some exciting new features coming with it! As we approach the release, we ask that all our community members and meetupMeetup Meetup groups are locally-organized groups that get together for face-to-face events on a regular basis (commonly once a month). Learn more about Meetups in our Meetup Organizer Handbook. organizers contribute:

  • Meetup Organizers can plan release-focused meetupsMeetup Meetup groups are locally-organized groups that get together for face-to-face events on a regular basis (commonly once a month). Learn more about Meetups in our Meetup Organizer Handbook. to share the latest features in 5.8 with their community.
  • Meetups can organize 5.8 testing sprints to test the release features.
  • Organizers can email their local groups to inform members about the upcoming release.
  • Contributors can individually test 5.8 release features, share their feedback, blog about release features, and amplify them on social media. 

This post highlights some of the most exciting features of WordPress 5.8 that local meetup organizers might want to highlight to their local communities. 

Updates for Publishers and Users

New Theme Blocks and The Query BlockBlock Block is the abstract term used to describe units of markup that, composed together, form the content or layout of a webpage using the WordPress editor. The idea combines concepts of what in the past may have achieved with shortcodes, custom HTML, and embed discovery into a single consistent API and user experience.

With WordPress 5.8, you’ll now have the ability to edit even more aspects of your site with the following new blocks: Site Logo/tagline/title, Query LoopLoop The Loop is PHP code used by WordPress to display posts. Using The Loop, WordPress processes each post to be displayed on the current page, and formats it according to how it matches specified criteria within The Loop tags. Any HTML or PHP code in the Loop will be processed on each post., Next/Previous post, Post title, content, author, date, excerptExcerpt An excerpt is the description of the blog post or page that will by default show on the blog archive page, in search results (SERPs), and on social media. With an SEO plugin, the excerpt may also be in that plugin’s metabox., featured imageFeatured image A featured image is the main image used on your blog archive page and is pulled when the post or page is shared on social media. The image can be used to display in widget areas on your site or in a summary list of posts., categories, and tags – along with login/out blocks and the page list block. When combined with creating custom templates, these blocks will unlock several possibilities for content creation that was not possible before! You can read more about theme blocks here.

Image showing list of new WordPress 5.8 blocks

The most powerful amongst this set of new blocks is the Query Loop block. It unlocks the ability to easily display posts from a specific categoryCategory The 'category' taxonomy lets you group posts / content together that share a common bond. Categories are pre-defined and broad ranging., allowing you to quickly create a portfolio or a favorite recipe page. Think of it as a more complex and powerful Latest Posts Block! You can read more about the Query block in GitHub.

Block Pattern Directory

Block Patterns are a streamlined way of setting up layouts of blocks through themes and plugins. With WordPress 5.8, everyone will now access a Block Pattern Directory, similar to the PluginPlugin A plugin is a piece of software containing a group of functions that can be added to a WordPress website. They can extend functionality or add new features to your WordPress websites. WordPress plugins are written in the PHP programming language and integrate seamlessly with WordPress. These can be free in the Plugin Directory or can be cost-based plugin from a third-party and Theme directories. This will let anyone create and share a Block Pattern with any WordPress user and for any WordPress user to use these patterns to make beautiful content. You can find new patterns in the Block Inserter or by browsing the patterns here: For now, patterns previously bundled with CoreCore Core is the set of software required to run WordPress. The Core Development Team builds WordPress. are the only patterns available in the Inserter; in the future, all patterns in the directory will be searchable from the Inserter too!

Dropping Support for IE 11

With WordPress 5.8, Internet Explorer 11 will no longer be supported. For anyone currently using IE11, it is strongly recommended that you switch to a modern browser, such as Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Safari, or Microsoft Edge. IE11 users have been shown a warning that IE11 is considered outdated in the WordPress dashboard for the last 17+ months.

Template Editing Mode

Template Editing Mode is a feature of Full Site Editing that unlocks the ability to switch between editing the content of a post/page and the template elements that the post/page uses. Essentially, this allows you to switch between the Post Editor and the Template Editor. 

  • For block themes, users will be able to create a new block-based template and edit existing ones. 
  • For classic themes, users will be able to only create new block-based templates. 
  • Any custom block template created is theme-dependent and won’t transfer across themes.

You can read more about Template Editing mode in this dev note.

Block Widgets Editor & Widgets in CustomizerCustomizer Tool built into WordPress core that hooks into most modern themes. You can use it to preview and modify many of your site’s appearance settings.

WordPress 5.8 brings blocks to both the Block Widgets Editor and the Customizer. Users will now be able to directly edit widgets just like how they would edit blocks in a post/page. Widgets in the customizer have additional features such as live preview, schedule, and sharing – all using blocks and widgets. This feature opens up several possibilities, from no-code mini layouts to tapping into the vast block library to create content. Developers are encouraged to phase out their widgets in favor of blocks, which are more intuitive and can be used in more places. Developers can allow users to easily migrate a Legacy Widget block containing a specific widget to a block or multiple blocks. 

Widgets screen within the customizer
WidgetWidget A WordPress Widget is a small block that performs a specific function. You can add these widgets in sidebars also known as widget-ready areas on your web page. WordPress widgets were originally created to provide a simple and easy-to-use way of giving design and structure control of the WordPress theme to the user. customizer
Widgets screen in WP-Admin
Widgets screen in WP-Admin

Other features and UIUI UI is an acronym for User Interface - the layout of the page the user interacts with. Think ‘how are they doing that’ and less about what they are doing. enhancements

Updates for Site Builders and Developers

Dev Notes in the Make/Core blog are a great place to start learning more about the technical details related to WordPress 5.8. Here’s a summary of the advanced features shipping with the release:

Theme.jsonJSON JSON, or JavaScript Object Notation, is a minimal, readable format for structuring data. It is used primarily to transmit data between a server and web application, as an alternative to XML.

WordPress 5.8 introduces theme.json, a configuration file used to enable or disable features and set default styles for both websites and blocks. It can be used to control the editor settings, available customization tools, and style blocks. The release comes with Global Styles and Global Settings APIs, which facilitate these changes. Theme.json provides a consolidated and canonical way to manage default styles as opposed to theme support flags. Theme.json support will be more robust in the future. WordPress 5.8 includes the following options: 

  • Set Color and Typography block presets.
  • Add custom colors to the color palette, gradient options, and Duotone presets.
  • Register font families and font sizes for blocks.
  • Add or remove support for specific block settings that were previously set via the add_theme_support function via PHPPHP PHP (recursive acronym for PHP: Hypertext Preprocessor) is a widely-used open source general-purpose scripting language that is especially suited for web development and can be embedded into HTML.
  • Set specific block properties supported by that block, including typography, color, width, borders, etc.

Developers can enable theme.json by including it in the active theme’s root directory. You can learn more about theme.json from the developer handbook.

Next Iteration of Block Supports

The block support mechanism allows block authors to make their blocks customizable via adding support for style properties: font size, color, etc. Under the hood, this mechanism bounds UI controls to the block sidebarSidebar A sidebar in WordPress is referred to a widget-ready area used by WordPress themes to display information that is not a part of the main content. It is not always a vertical column on the side. It can be a horizontal rectangle below or above the content area, footer, header, or any where in the theme. & toolbar, creates an implicit attribute for the block, and casts the implicit attribute to some DOM characteristic of the root element of the block (a style attribute or a new class). Developers working on WordPress 5.8 are encouraged to use block.json file metadata as the canonical way to register block types and define block supports.

This next iteration allows block authors to have a finer-grained control of how block supports work. As part of this, block authors don’t need to fiddle with controls and attribute flow. 

Block Design Tools

WordPress 5.8 introduces new block design tools that can be enabled through the block.json metadata file and are supported in the new theme.json configuration file:

  • color.__experimentalDuotone UI controls that allow adding duotone filters to blocks.
  • Adds block controls that allow the user to set link color in a block.
  • typography.fontSize. Signals that a block supports font-size CSSCSS CSS is an acronym for cascading style sheets. This is what controls the design or look and feel of a site. style property. When it does, the block editor will show a UI control for the user to set its value.
  • typography.lineHeight. Signals that a block supports the line-height CSS style property. When it does, the block editor will show a UI control for the user to set its value.
  • spacing.margin, and spacing.padding. Shows that a block supports some spacing CSS properties. When it does, the editor will show UI controls for the user to set values. 
  • layout. Simplifies the way themes define and style alignments. Theme devs can add layout config in theme.json and specify which containers inherit the config.

Duotone effect for images in blocks

WordPress 5.8 allows you to colorize your image and cover blocks with duotone filters! Duotone can add a pop of color to your designs and style your pictures (or videos in the cover block) to integrate well with your themes. The duotone effect is similar to a black and white filterFilter Filters are one of the two types of Hooks They provide a way for functions to modify data of other functions. They are the counterpart to Actions. Unlike Actions, filters are meant to work in an isolated manner, and should never have side effects such as affecting global variables and output., but instead of the shadows being black and the highlights being white, you get to pick your own colors for the shadows and highlights. This feature is accomplished with the help of a new customized color filter using an SVG filter. This is available as a “block supports” feature by default in the core Image and Cover blocks for both images and videos. You’ll be able to find it in the block toolbar settings. This can be supported in blocks from third parties and the color presets can be customized by themes within theme.json! More details in the WordPress blog.

WebP Support

WebP is a modern image format that provides improved lossless and lossy compression for images on the web. WebP images are usually 30% smaller than JPEG or PNG images and are supported in all modern browsers. From WordPress version 5.8 forward, you can upload and use WebP images in WordPress like you would a JPEG or PNG image today (as long as your hosting service supports WebP). Switching to the WebP format for your images will improve your site’s performance and your site visitor’s experience. Developers or plugins can use the wp_editor_set_quality filter to set the quality setting. You can read more about WebP support in this Make/Core blog post and Trac.

Request for feedback

What have you planned for sharing WordPress 5.8 with your local meetup group? Are you organizing an outreach meetup, or would you be interested in scheduling a testing sprint? What can we do together to help people learn all about the release? Let us know in the comments! 

The following people contributed to this post: @angelasjin @annezazu @cbringmann @daisyo @evarlese and @priethor

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