What’s Coming in WordPress 5.5 (Options and Screenshots)
The beta version of WordPress 5.5 has been released and is expected to be released on August 11, 2020. This is the second major WordPress release of the year and includes many new features and improvements.
We’ve been following development closely and testing the first beta to try out new features that are on the way.
In this article, we’re going to show you what’s coming in WordPress 5.5 with features and screenshots.
Note: You can try the beta version on your computer or in a staging environment with the WordPress Beta Tester plugin.
WordPress 5.5 is still under development, which means features are still subject to change and may not be included in the final version.
Let’s take a look at what’s coming in WordPress 5.5.
Subscribe to WPBeginner
If you prefer written instructions, just read on.
New functions and improvements in the block editor
At the end of 2018, WordPress introduced a new writing experience with WordPress 5.0. This new writing interface is known as the block editor (also known as Gutenberg).
Since then, every new WordPress version has brought tons of updates to the editor. WordPress 5.5 will come with many such improvements and new features that will improve your writing experience many times over.
Below are just a few of the improvements you might want to try.
UI improvements in the block editor
WordPress 5.5 comes with major improvements to the block editor’s user interface. You’ll notice borders around toolbars and buttons, new icons, and focus highlights as you move over blocks as you write.
The button (+) to add a new block has also changed and is now more noticeable and more like a button.
The new block directory
WordPress 5.5 brings the new block directory to life. These are just WordPress plugins that add new blocks to the block editor, and dozens of new blocks are already available.
The block directory is also integrated into the “Add new block” search. You can just search for a function. If there is no block that matches your search, matching results from the block directory are automatically displayed.
The block directory contains individual blocks. It doesn’t include block library plugins that come with several useful blocks that you can install.
Block pattern in WordPress 5.5
WordPress 5.5 introduces block patterns. They are ready-to-use blocks with frequently used settings that you can use to quickly add them to layouts.
A handful of samples are currently available. This will increase as plugins, WordPress themes, and the core keep registering more patterns.
Optimized block navigation and movement
WordPress 5.5 also makes it easier to move blocks around in the content editor. You can just click the block handle and drag it up and down.
Another improvement is the ability to select the parent block in the nested blocks such as the group or column block.
Inline photo editing
WordPress allows you to do some basic image editing like cropping, resizing, rotating and scaling. To do this, however, you need to open the image in the media library.
WordPress 5.5 allows you to edit images inline without leaving the block editor. You can scale, crop, rotate, and resize an image in-place.
Automatic updates for WordPress plugins & themes
WordPress comes with a powerful update management system. You can also enable automatic updates for WordPress plugins and themes by changing your WordPress configuration or using a third-party plugin.
With WordPress 5.5 you can activate automatic updates for plugins and themes via the admin dashboard. You can go to the plugins page and click “Activate automatically updated” next to the plugins you want to update automatically.
You can also activate automatic updates for topics. Just click on a topic Appearance »themes Click the “Enable automatic updates” link.
The new standard WordPress XML sitemaps
An XML sitemap is a file that lists all of the content on your website in XML format. This helps search engines like Google to easily discover and index your content.
It plays a very important role in setting up WordPress SEO. All of WordPress’ top SEO plugins have a built-in XML sitemap function.
WordPress 5.5 comes with a built-in Sitemaps feature that is enabled by default. A new sitemap index file named wp-sitemap.xml is created that contains links to all of the other sitemap files it has generated.
The standard sitemap feature supports all post types, taxonomies (categories, tags and custom taxonomies) and author archives. However, it will still only provide the basic required functionality of the sitemap protocol XML.
If you’re already using a WordPress SEO plugin that comes with its own XML sitemaps, you don’t have to do anything. The two biggest SEO plugins, All in One SEO Pack and Yoast SEO, have decided to keep providing their own sitemaps as they offer advanced customization features that can help you get higher rankings.
By default, Lazy Load Images in WordPress
Images take longer to download than plain text. This increases the loading times of the pages. Optimizing images for the web can help you increase the speed and performance of your WordPress website.
One of the most commonly used techniques is image delay loading. This technique only downloads images that are visible on the user’s browser screen. Other images are downloaded when a user scrolls down your website.
WordPress 5.5 makes it a default option for all websites by adding the “load” attribute to the img tag. This attribute is supported by all modern web browsers (except Safari).
This is a major performance boost not just for your WordPress site but for the entire internet. WordPress is the most popular website builder and is used by more than 35% of all websites on the internet.
Delaying image loading saves a lot of bandwidth and improves WordPress hosting server performance. It will also make websites faster, which is always good.
Update themes and plugins with a zip file
Sometimes WordPress plugins or theme updates don’t work as expected. In this case you have to update a theme or plugin manually. Currently you can do this using an FTP client.
With WordPress 5.5, you can do this in the WordPress dashboard. You can go to Plugins »Add new Page and click the Upload button.
Now upload the zip file that you downloaded for the plugin update. WordPress automatically recognizes that this plugin is already installed and offers you the option “Replace current with uploaded” option.
You can also install updates for WordPress themes. Just go to Appearance »themes Page and click the “Add New” button. Then click the Upload Topic button to upload your zip file for the topic.
WordPress will recognize that you’ve already installed this theme and will give you the option to replace the current version with the version you uploaded.
Changes under the hood in WordPress 5.5
WordPress 5.5 will also bring many changes that developers can explore and use in their own themes, plugins, and projects.
WordPress 5.5 comes with several updated external libraries like phpMailer, SimplePie, Twemoji, and more. (See details). If you are using our WP Mail SMTP plugin it will already be updated with the new phpMailer library.
Developers can control auto-update options by disabling, enabling, or selectively blocking them for specific plugins or themes. (See details)
Dashicons are updated to include 65 new icons. (See details)
WordPress 5.5 offers the ability to search for PHP compatibility issues more effectively. (See details)
We hope this article has helped you get a good idea of what’s coming in the WordPress 5.5 version. Let us know which features you find interesting and what you would like to see in a future WordPress release.
If you enjoyed this article, please subscribe to our YouTube channel for WordPress video tutorials. You can also find us on Twitter and Facebook.