WordPress 4.8 was released just a few days ago. It is the first major release of 2017, with some long awaited new features and enhancements. In this article, we will show you what’s new in WordPress 4.8 and which features you should try after updating your websites.
4.8 is a major WordPress release, and unless you are on a managed WordPress hosting service, you will have to manually initiate the update.
Important: Don’t forget to create a complete WordPress backup before starting the update.
The All New Media Widgets
There are three new default widgets in WordPress 4.8. Users had been asking for these widgets for a long time, and they are finally here.
Previously if users wanted to add an image to the WordPress sidebar, then they had to either use a plugin or write custom HTML.
With WordPress 4.8, you can just drag and drop the image widget to a sidebar. Simply click on the ‘Add image’ button in the widget settings, and it will bring up the familiar WordPress media uploader.
You can upload the image from your computer or select a previously uploaded image from the media library. Once uploaded, click on the ‘Add to widget’ button, and you will be able to see the image in the widget preview. Don’t forget to click on the save button to store your widget settings.
Similar to the image widget, WordPress 4.8 also includes a video widget. It allows you to easily upload videos to the WordPress sidebar or display any video from YouTube, Vimeo, or any other oEmbed provider.
Note: we recommend that you should never upload videos to your WordPress site. Instead, you should use a video hosting provider like YouTube or Vimeo.
The video widget makes it super easy to embed videos from popular video hosting providers. You need to click on the ‘Add video’ button in the widget. This will bring up the media uploader popup.
Next, you need to click on the ‘Insert from URL’ and then paste the video URL. As soon as you paste the URL, WordPress will fetch the video thumbnail and display it.
Click on the ‘Add to widget’ button, and you will see the video thumbnail in the widget area. Don’t forget to click on the save button to store your widget settings.
Similar to the video and image widgets, Audio widget allows you to easily add audio files to your WordPress sidebar. Just click on the ‘Add audio’ button to upload your audio file.
The widget will nicely embed the audio file in a HTML5 audio player. It supports MP3, OGG, and WAV audio file formats.
Visual Editor in Text Widget
Previously, the default text widget was just a plain text area where you needed to add your own HTML even for very basic formatting. WordPress 4.8 ships with the new and improved text widget with visual editor support.
It is the light version of the same visual editor that you use to write posts and pages. It contains buttons to make text bold or italic, add lists, and links. Advanced users can still switch to the text editor to write HTML manually.
Visual Editor Enhancements
When using the visual editor to write posts, many beginners found it difficult to move the cursor away from the link. WordPress 4.8 fixed that issue and now users can just press right or left arrow keys to move the cursor away from a link.
WordPress News and Events Dashboard Widget
WordPress 4.8 also introduced the new ‘WordPress News and Events’ dashboard widget. It appears on the dashboard screen of your WordPress admin area and displays WordPress news as well as WordPress events near your location.
If you have multiple users on your site, then each user will see events near their own location. The widget automatically tries to guess user’s location by sending their IP address, timezone, and locale to api.wordpress.org. If you are using a VPN service, then you will see the events based on the sever location you are using.
You can also change the location manually to see events near you or from any other place in the world.
Under The Hood Changes
WordPress 4.8 brings some exciting changes for developers as well. Here are some of those under the hood improvements.
Changes in the editor API
A new api for TinyMCE editor to be dynamically instantiated via JS. (#35760)
Variable customizer width
If you have used live theme customizer on large screens, then you may have noticed that the sidebar looks too narrow. WordPress 4.8 makes the customizer sidebar width to be proportional to users screen size. (#32296)
User’s name prominently displayed on edit user screen
Since WordPress 4.8, edit user screen will now prominently display user’s name in the heading. (#28182)
Tag cloud widget will not use title tag
Previously tag cloud widget showed the number of posts filed under a tag in the title popover. The title tag in the code is now replaced with more accessible aria-label attribute. (#35566)
We hope this article offered you a good scope of what’s new in WordPress 4.8. We are particularly excited about the new media widgets. What are you excited about?