With over 41 million downloads and counting, WordPress 5.3 was the last major release of the year 2019. While 5.3 was primarily focused on expanding and refining the block editor with more intuitive interactions and enhanced accessibility, work on version 5.4 has already been started to improve the CMS further.
As a result of the active development, WordPress 5.4 Beta 2 was recently released with a host of new features and improvements that are available for testing. Slated for release on March 31, 2020, WordPress 5.4 will be the first major release of 2020 with the primary goal of facilitating users to edit the full-site using the block editor.
Let’s check out in detail what’s new coming to WordPress 5.4!
While Gutenberg is not yet the fastest editor, the block editor team has successfully managed to achieve a 14% faster loading and 51% time-to-type reduction, for a particularly sizable post (~ 36,000 words, ~1,000 blocks) in version 5.4.
The New Welcome Guide Modal:
WordPress 5.4 will offer new users a welcome guide popup to introduce them with the block editor. It’s a simple slide-show that shows information about blocks, directs first-time users to the Block Library to get started, and provides a link to block editor tutorial.
Want to relaunch the guide? Simply click the three-dot menu on the top-right corner of the editor and then select Welcome Guide.
Two New Blocks:
WordPress 5.4 brings two new blocks to the library.
- Social Icons Block: Using this, you can easily add links to your social media profiles inside your pages and posts. It offers three styles – default, logos, and pills. Social icons are available in their brand colors and there is no option to change their colors.
Buttons Group Block: The Buttons block replaces the previous Button block and now allows you to add multiple buttons side-by-side.
There are two different styles to choose from: you can use text with background colors, and can also add gradient background colors.
More Color Options for Blocks:
WordPress 5.4 will bring more color options for the button, cover, group, and column blocks.
Inside a group block, you can now set text and background colors for all the blocks.
Likewise, you’ll be able to choose background and text colors for the columns block.
Drag and Drop to Upload Featured Image:
While the current version of WordPress doesn’t allow you to drag and drop an image to the featured image section, WordPress 5.4 lets you drag and drop an image file to set it as a featured image.
Change Text Color Inside Paragraph Block:
While the current version of WordPress allows you to change the text color for the entire paragraph block, WordPress 5.4 facilitates users to change the color of selected text inside a paragraph.
Caption Below Table:
If you use the Table Block, you can add a caption below it to display additional information.
Fixed Block Toolbar on Mobile:
Currently, if you edit a page or post using a mobile device, then you may have noticed that the toolbar moves around blocks as you type.
WordPress 5.4 fixes this by offering a floating toolbar at the top. The new toolbar shows or disappears depending on the block type you’re editing.
Easily Select Gallery Image Size:
In version 5.4, you can easily choose an appropriate size for all your images under Gallery settings.
Improved Latest Posts Block:
Starting version 5.4, you’ll be able to show featured images in the latest posts block.
Easily Select Blocks:
WordPress 5.4 offers a ‘select’ tool to help you easily select a block that you want to change. This feature will prove quite handy when you have nested blocks, such as columns or groups.
The TikTok Embed Block:
Given the growing popularity of the video-sharing social networking service TikTok, WordPress 5.4 offers an embed block to help you easily add TikTok videos to your WordPress pages and posts.
Accessibility has always been a serious topic for the WordPress Core Team and therefore various accessibility improvements have been made to the Block Editor, including:
- Easier multi-block selection.
- The ability to change the title of an image within the Image block.
- With easier tabbing, tabbing now works with the block’s sidebar.
- The ability to visually switch between Edit and Navigation modes and options to enable screen reader announcements.
Accessibility Improvements in the Admin Dashboard
Along with the Gutenberg editor, the WordPress Core Team has also focused on bringing several major accessibility enhancements to the admin dashboard:
- Better focus state management in the Menu, Customizer and Site Health screens to fix several existing keyboard navigation issues.
- Better keyboard navigation in the Media modal for better semantics.