WordPress 5.8, the second major WordPress release of 2021, released to the public on Tuesday, July 20. What’s new in this release? Let’s take a look.

Numerous new block options

Perhaps the most substantial new feature of WordPress 5.8 is the plethora of new block options, many of them quite powerful. Here are the new available blocks:

  • Page lists
  • Site title
  • Logo
  • Tagline
  • Query loop: Offers multiple ways to display a list of posts and comes with new block patterns
  • Duotone:  Add duotone effects to an image
  • Post title
  • Post content
  • Post date
  • Post excerpt
  • Post featured image

The site title, logo, and tagline blocks are likely additions to prepare WordPress to use the Gutenberg block editor to create a website’s header. That feature is coming to a later version of WordPress, but they’re paving the way for it now.

WordPress 5.8 also includes a new List View, a panel that can help navigate complex blocks and patterns. WordPress 5.8 also includes a new list of recommended Patterns, leading to an upcoming Pattern Directory that will be added to WordPress in the future.

Template editor

WordPress 5.8 also includes a new template editor, making it easy for you to create a reusable starting point for your posts of pages. Not every theme will support the template editor, but for those that do, you create a block layout and save it for future content. You can use the new blocks for posts above — post title, post featured image, etc. — to help cover some of the basics in your template.

Blocks for widgets

Eventually, WordPress has a goal of allowing you to modify any aspect of your site with the block editor. As mentioned previously, the addition of the site title, logo, and tagline blocks pave the way for a website’s header to be modified with blocks. This isn’t available yet but it’s coming. WordPress promises full-site block editing by the end of 2021.

However, the next itineration of sitewide blocks comes to widgets. Now, any area built with widgets can also be built with blocks. This includes sidebars and footers, namely. What’s changing here?

  • The Customizer has been updated to support blocks in widget areas.
  • WordPress includes a new Legacy Widget block to allow third-party widgets to continue to work seamlessly.
  • WordPress has released a new Classic Widgets plugin you can install if you aren’t ready to migrate to block-based widgets yet.

Support for WebP images

WebP is an image format that makes your images about 30% smaller in file size. Using WebP images will make your site load faster, and all modern browsers support the WebP file type. Read more about the WebP image format on Google’s developer site.

Other miscellaneous improvements

As you can probably tell by now, WordPress 5.8 is packed with updates. Here are a few other things to watch for:

  • The media browser will include an easier way to share media URLs
  • Many small enhancements to the block editor have been made, including easier ways to change text, background, and link colors in text blocks; gradient backgrounds for tables; better control over column spacing and padding; easier block selection and movement; and more
  • For developers, WordPress 5.8 includes a new method to register third-party blocks
  • WordPress 5.8 includes fixes for 170 bugs and 96 enhancements and feature requests

WordPress 5.8 is available to install through the WordPress Dashboard, or you can download it from WordPress.org.