What's New in WordPress 5.4

On March 31st, the latest version of WordPress was released, number 5.4 and named after Nat Adderley, an American trumpet player, continuing the tradition of naming WordPress releases after jazz players.

I had the honor to be involved once again as the release co-lead, in the role of coordinator. This was possible with the support of SiteGround, donating my hours to the project.

By now, depending on the settings of your auto-update function in the SiteGround user area, your version of WordPress should be updated to 5.4, so let’s check the most exciting new features from the WordPress end-user perspective. 

Two new blocks

You can now add social media widgets in your post. By clicking on each icon you can add your link and show them inside a post.

The second one is the button block: now you don’t have to fiddle around with CSS to create your own buttons to use in those Call to Actions at the end of your sales page. Just add the button, or the buttons, you can have multiple inside the same block, adjust the settings (background color, text color, border width, link) and hit publish!

More Coloring options 

You can now selectively color parts of a text within a block. Gradients were added to the button and cover blocks and you can now apply color options to  Group and Columns blocks.

Fullscreen Editing 

New WordPress installs now open the block editor in fullscreen mode by default for a distraction-free writing session. The W logo in the left corner is the shortcut to going back to the admin area, Posts list. If you want to switch off the fullscreen mode, click on the three small buttons to the right of your screen and unflag “Fullscreen Mode”. 

Improved navigation and accessibility

It is now clearer to see what block you are using with block breadcrumbs: you will notice them on the very bottom of the screen.

With each new release, the block editor becomes more accessible for people that rely on screen readers or keyboard navigation to use WordPress. The tabbing across elements has been improved and your screen reader will tell you if you are un Edit or Navigation mode.

What’s next

WordPress 5.4 has just been released, but the Core team is already working on preparing for the next two planned releases for 2020, 5.5 and 5.6. Josepha Haden, the WordPress.org Executive Director, wrote an update on the status of some upcoming projects and these are some of the features I am most excited about:

  • A block directory, so you can discover blocks and easily install them on your website like you would do for plugins. This is an opportunity to experiment with blocks and think of new ways to organize and show your content.
  • Support for blocks in the Customizer to make it easier to change the appearance of your website. This is another step towards full site editing via blocks. Endless possibilities!
  • A navigation block that will allow you to add a menu inside a post or a page. For example, you could create a “Where to start page” with links to relevant sources that might help your visitor move around easily.

Passing the mic to you

What do you like the most about the new release? What are you excited about in terms of future features. Let us know in the comments!

Francesca Marano

WordPress Community Manager

Francesca is a passionate speaker and you can find her in Italy and around the world talking about WordPress, community, open source, women in tech, small businesses. She is a part of the WordPress community team, organizing meetups and WordCamps in Torino and taking part in many other WordPress events worldwide. She is now also the SiteGround WordPress Community Manager.

WordPress

Comments ( 12 )

Cindy Black

Apr 09, 2020

Thank you for organizing and explaining these updates! I work on my own website (not a tech person) - now I am more inspired and confident to try things out.

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Francesca Marano Siteground Team

Apr 14, 2020

Glad the article could help Cindy!

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Denis Taylor

Apr 09, 2020

As a newbie to the WP block system of writing and editing posts - I still find it 'bare' and lacking in control 'Visually' - I have tried it several times - but always revert to the classical WP edit to finish my work on new posts . Maybe a new interface design is needed- Stronger typefaces would help.

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Slavi Rudenko

Apr 10, 2020

Totally agree. I'm an advanced user and WP developer and still prefer the Classic Editor as it is SUPER unfriendly to my customers. Nobody has the patience to learn that editor. There are other much user-friendlier editors. So I resort to disabling Gutenberg almost all the time for them.

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Abi B

Apr 13, 2020

Yes agreed. Not sure why they continue to put so much time into gutenberg. They're reinventing the wheel. We already have a huge range of excellent pagebuilders while gutenberg is fighting to play catchup. For the few clients I have who actually want to manage their content the classic builder is far easier for them. A few have tried gutenberg and can't work with it. It's neither a word processor (which many less techy people want) or a decent page builder (which occasional site tweakers want). Really sad how automattic railroaded everyone who uses WordPress for their own agenda. Look at the install rate of of the classic builder plugin... 5 million! Shouldnt that tell them something.

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Francesca Marano Siteground Team

Apr 14, 2020

Hi Abi, thank you for your comment. The block editor is the first step towards full site editing done with blocks, this is why there are a lot of efforts put into Gutenberg. And it's not only Automattic. A lot of companies and individuals are working tirelessly on it. You are right, this is not a word processer, this is a lot more and the team is working tirelessly on refining the user experience and introducing new features. I hope in time you will like it. The Classic Editor plugin is definitely a solution for the writing.

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Francesca Marano Siteground Team

Apr 14, 2020

Hi Slavi. Sorry to hear that the block editor is not working well for you and your customers. I think it's a process: the more you use it, the more you get used to it. In fact, last week I tried to write in the Classic editor and actually couldn't! The thing that I find most useful, for simple blog posts, with only paragraphs and lists, is the ability to find them easily because they are in blocks which can be spotted at a glance. The Gutenberg team is working very quickly and with every release the product gets better, maybe you could try it again to see if something has improved from the last time you use? In any case, the Classic editor plugin is available :)

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Francesca Marano Siteground Team

Apr 14, 2020

Sorry to hear you aren't enjoying the block editor Denis. If you install the plugin, you will see a stronger typeface and contrast, as shown in the above example about the Buttons Block. I hope it will make it more usable for you :)

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Lonnie Charles Wormley II

Apr 09, 2020

I like the button features.

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Francesca Marano Siteground Team

Apr 14, 2020

Super useful! I am glad you like it Lonnie :)

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Tanya

Apr 20, 2020

Other than the updates to the blocks, were there any other important updates to Wordpress at this time? I'm wondering because it seems there was an automatic push for this update when it released but I ran into a couple of theme function challenges on some of the older sites I maintenance for a couple of clients and we've not been able to resolve since the push.

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Denzil Walton

Apr 23, 2020

Buttons and coloring options. I really like the block editor and I think it gives me more flexibility to customize while keeping within guidelines.

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