WordPress 5.5 Release Notes

Scheduled for release on August 11, 2020, WordPress 5.5 is the second major release for WordPress in 2020, with WordPress 5.4 releasing in March. WordPress 5.5 will include several major features, which are highlighted below.

Automatic updates for themes and plugins

Perhaps the most important change coming to WordPress 5.5 is the introduction of an auto-updater for themes and plugins. As we’ve shared before, if you want to turn on automatic updates for themes and plugins, you’ve had to manually edit the code in your wp-config.php file up until now. Thankfully, WordPress is now introducing a simple new way to do this. In your Plugins page on the Dashboard, you’ll see a new Automatic Updates column beginning in WordPress 5.5. Simply click “Enable auto-updates” next to any theme or plugin you want to automatically update, and WordPress will do the work for you.

Lazy image loading

Another major change coming to WordPress 5.5 is the introduction of lazy image loading. We covered lazy loading in detail back in March, so feel free to read our article on lazy image loading for details on how it works.

Block directory

WordPress 5.0 brought with it the Gutenberg block editor, and WordPress has been consistently upgrading the experience ever since. In WordPress 5.5, the block editor gets a major boost with a block directory. WordPress already features a directory of blocks on WordPress.org. However, with this new directory feature, if you search for a block you don’t have installed, WordPress will recommend a plugin to give you the type of block you’re looking for. It all happens straight from the editor and you won’t have to leave the page you’re working on. It looks to be a great new addition to WordPress.

Other block editor improvements

The new directory isn’t the only new feature coming to the block editor. The editor is also gaining a new feature known as patterns. Patterns are pre-made configurations of commonly-used settings. For example, a pattern might contain two buttons, matching a configuration you have used around your site. That way you won’t have to create the two buttons separately.

A new inline image editor is coming to the block editor as well. This will enable you to scale, crop, rotate, and resize images from within the block editor. You’ll no longer have to go into the media library to make these changes.

WordPress 5.5 will also add other minor block improvements, including the ability to move blocks around more easily by dragging them and new borders around toolbars and buttons in the editor.

XML sitemaps

To help with your SEO, WordPress will now automatically create a site map for your site. This helps search engines to discover every page and post on your site and index them correctly. If you use an SEO plugin to create site maps, that method will also continue to work, as Yoast SEO and several other SEO plugins have indicated that they will continue to create site maps.

Other minor improvements coming to WordPress 5.5

The new WordPress 5.5 release also includes several other minor improvements. Themes and plugins can now be manually updated with a .zip file instead of needing to upload updates via FTP. Several code library updates are coming as well, which will help with tasks like sending email.

WordPress 5.5 is set to release on August 11, 2020. Because it is a major release, you’ll have to install it manually.