What's Coming in WordPress 4.8 – See New Features in Action

Excited for the first major WordPress release of the year – WordPress 4.8? The launch is set to happen on June 8-9, which is basically just around the corner (and just before WCEU). No wonder there’s a lot of talk going on in the community already as to what sort of improvements that new version is set to deliver.

Speaking of which, we too want to look into all that craze, but do so in a bit different manner – by showing you the new stuff in action. And “in action” is the keyword here.

What follows is our run-through of all the new features coming in WordPress 4.8 + how they actually work:

(By the way; earlier this year, we published a roundup post titled, Our Hopes and Fears for WordPress 4.8. It’s a compilation of answers that we got from the community during the last WCUS 2016 in Philadelphia. Wondering how much of the community’s hopes and fears have been addressed in the new WordPress? – check it out.)

WordPress people

Here’s the most exciting stuff coming in WordPress 4.8

1. New and improved text widget

Like it or not, the current default text widget in WordPress is not the most useful thing for the regular user. It supports only raw text (or HTML code) and gives you no formatting tools at all.

What's Coming in WordPress 4.8: new text widget
The new text widget is set to change that with the inclusion of (nearly the same) visual editor that we’re used to from the post/page editing screen. Quite similarly, you will be able to switch between Visual and Text when editing widget content. And, yes, you get some standard formatting tools in both modes.

I personally believe that this will finally make the text widget a usable tool for the non-code-savvy user who wants to include some custom content into a widget area. This is overall a great step towards putting the spotlight on the end user and their needs!

One additional thing about the new text widget that hasn’t been advertised but is actually possible is that shortcodes are now executed by default within the widget’s content. (Something that’s been pointed out by our teammate.) The only thing the widget doesn’t do is support oEmbed. Maybe someday.

“Can you share the no.1 thing you’re excited about that’s to come in WordPress 4.8 + why?”

[…] the new text widget and video widget. Before, you needed to have a theme that allows shortcodes in text widgets or add the do_shortcode() function to the widget’s filter.Uriahs Victor, ThemeIsle
text shortcode

2. New image, video, and audio widgets

The text widget is not everything that’s getting changed in the realm of basic WordPress features, so to speak. We’re also getting new image, video, and audio widgets.

In the current version of WordPress, the only way to put an image in a widget area is to either use some plugin or do it via the default text widget – the old one – through raw HTML code.

Actually, it’s quite stunning that it took WordPress 33 individual major releases to finally deliver something as seemingly basic as an image widget. Overall, this is another great step towards making the experience better and more streamlined for the users.

The new widget perks are really nice … took some time for these – image widget, formatting, etc.Claudiu Dascalescu, ThemeIsle
As you can see, the new widget allows you to pick an image from the library or upload a new one. And since the button triggers the WordPress Media Library, this means that you can also insert your image from a URL.
What's Coming in WordPress 4.8: new image widget
The same goes for the video and audio widgets, too:
What's Coming in WordPress 4.8: new audio widget
Audio widget
What's Coming in WordPress 4.8: new video widget
Video widget

3. New “WordPress Events and News” dashboard widget

The original WordPress News dashboard widget is kind of useful, provided that you’re interested in WordPress.org news – new releases, or whatever else gets published on the official blog.

The new widget improves on that by adding nearby events to the list. To make this feature work, WordPress will attempt to get your current location (customizable), and based on that will display nearby WordCamps (according to the schedule), meetups and other events as listed via Meetup.com.

This new widget replaces the old one.

news dash widget

4. Improved link boundaries

Link boundaries are meant to help us navigate – move the cursor in and out – between elements like links and normal text. This is not the most straightforward thing to describe, so let’s just see it in action. Here’s what happens when you try to edit some text near/inside a link in WordPress 4.7:

WordPress 4.7 link boundaries

Here’s the same in WordPress 4.8:

WordPress 4.8 link boundaries new

Overall, I consider this a nice improvement for anyone creating a lot of content in the WordPress editor. Editing the anchor texts of your links vs the raw text that’s alongside can be frustrating at times.

5. Setting the foundation for Gutenberg

Gutenberg is the next-generation editor that will soon be introduced in an attempt to make editing WordPress content even more intuitive to the end user. (One of the things that Ionut talked about in the recent transparency report.)

Now, what does “setting the foundation” actually mean I don’t know. 🙂 I can only assume it probably has to do with rewriting some of the code to then make integrating Gutenberg into the interface easier in the future versions of WordPress.

I think that the most interesting is that, this release, will set the ground for the new editor, Gutenberg.Marius Cristea, ThemeIsle
One thing that’s for certain, though, is that WordPress 4.8 will not yet be the version to come with Gutenberg included. Maybe 4.9?

Some important dates

The complete roadmap for WordPress 4.8 is available here.

Here’s an excerpt listing some of the important dates (adjusted for changes):

WordPress 4.8 Roadmap
Milestone Expected Comment
WordPress 4.8 release candidate May 31 (originally May 25, moved by six days)
WordPress 4.8 final release candidate June 8 (originally June 1, moved by one week)
WordPress 4.8 June 9 (originally June 8, moved by one day)
If you want to try out the newest beta versions, the easiest way to do so is to get a local or dev WordPress install ready, and then install this plugin:

Once activated, go to Tools → Beta Testing and select “Bleeding edge nightlies.” Then, go to your Dashboard → Updates and click the main WordPress update button. You should get the latest beta.

So what do you think of all these changes? Which do you like the most? Do you enjoy this user-focused direction overall?

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