WordPress 4.8 is now available to download and update directly from your dashboard.
The first major release of 2017, WordPress 4.8 adds several new features that allow users to freely express themselves and beautifully portray their brands.
The version has been codenamed “Evans” in honour of jazz pianist and composer William John “Bill” Evans.
WordPress 4.8 version release was led by Matt Mullenweg and Jeff Paul with contributions from 346 WordPress professionals around the world. Worth mentioning that it was the first time for more than 30% of the contributors for WordPress 4.8.
Updating to WordPress 4.8
Updating to the latest version of WordPress 4.8 is really easy. You should see an update notification for version 4.8 in your WordPress Updates.
Head over to Dashboard > Updates, and you will see that an updated version of WordPress is available and that you can update to WordPress 4.8 automatically.
Click on Update Now, and the process should start immediately.
New Features in WordPress 4.8
WordPress 4.8 doesn’t have several new features as compared to the previous version 4.7, but some features can be definitely exciting. There are also several developer related updates packed in the release.
Some of the major noteworthy features in WordPress 4.8 include;
- Widget Updates for Multimedia and Rich Text
- Link Improvements
- WordPress Events and News Dashboard Widget
- Developer related updates
Let’s look into some of the major updates of WordPress 4.8 in more details.
Widget Updates for Multimedia and Rich Text
Although this sounds really simple, adding images and videos from widget areas weren’t that intuitive as of now. The latest update takes away that hassle of users having to copy an image and video code from the text editor.
With WordPress 4.8, you can easily add images, videos, audio, and rich text widgets (no need to remember you HTML skills) directly from the respective default widgets available for each of them.
This definitely makes it easy for those who are not comfortable with writing code within the widgets.
You will now see an Image widget available by default, which makes it easy to upload or add an existing image from your WordPress media library. You can add the image widget to your sidebar or any other widget areas on your website.
Previously, it wasn’t possible to upload images directly from the widget settings. Users either had to upload it through media library or using editor tools on posts and pages.
The new image widget comes with all standard options similar to the media library upload options letting you define the link, size and caption for the image.
While videos are getting really popular all around social media websites, more and more users want to add them to their own WordPress websites. With WordPress 4.8, it has become really easy to insert any video content from your Media Library directly to your sidebar.
The video widget again provides with additional settings making it friendly for those users who are less comfortable with code.
The new video widget also comes with additional options letting you embed video from external sources such as YouTube and Vimeo. Embedding videos from external sources such as YouTube or using Jetpack’s video module is a better than uploading videos directly to your website.
The new audio widget will be greatly appreciated by podcasters as they can easily embed their audio files from Media Library directly in their sidebars.
Users can either directly upload and add files from their Media Library or embed audio from external websites.
Rich Text Widget
This is one of the essential widgets added to the WordPress latest version. I wonder why it took this long for the WordPress team to make this available by default.
The rich text widgets bring all the editing capabilities natively within the widget. For less code friendly users, this will be a great addition.
Rich-text editing capabilities such as creating lists, adding and inserting links are now possible within the widget. The best part is that it even caters to the advanced users who want to still add HTML and code within the Text tab.
Inserting links has become significantly easier in the latest versions of the WordPress. While the recent feature of inline links editing has vastly made the process easier, few complications prevented users from editing the link correctly.
The latest update now includes a boundary around the links that make it easier to edit your links. The boundary can be entered or exited with the use of right and left arrow keys giving you more precise control for editing the links.
WordPress Events Dashboard Widget
If you are part of the WordPress community and regularly attend WordCamps and meetups, you will love this feature.
WordPress 4.8 adds an additional default widget that shows all nearby WordPress events. Isn’t it cool to be able to see the details of all events around you that you might be interested?
The listings in the new dashboard are shown from Meetup.com listing for WordPress meetups, upcoming WordCamps schedule, and the WordPress News blog.
WordPress meetups are held around 400 cities around the world, so there should definitely be something of your interest nearby.
WordPress shows the list of these events based on your geolocation. The list also updates according to the location for those that have multiple users on the blog. You can also change the location manually to see the events around the location of your interest.
This is what I can see for WordPress events around my location – London.
Developer related updates in WordPress 4.8
There are several developer related under-the-hood updates in WordPress 4.8.
Updated Customizer Sidebar
The Customizer sidebar has been updated in WordPress 4.8 to be more responsive depending on your screen size. Previously, the sidebar had a fixed width of 300px irrespective on screen sizes.
Developers should now use percentage-based widths instead of pixels for Customizer controls. This adds new responsive breakpoints in the Customizer sidebar making it wider on bigger screen sizes. More technical details.
WMV and WMA Files No Longer Supported
Embed support for Support for WMV and WMA Files have been removed following less and less support from major browsers. Such files will now display as download link following the depreciation of the core support. More technical details.
New capabilities for Multisite
The latest update also introduces new capabilities for the multisite version of the WordPress. Few new hooks and tweaks allowing for more granular control of sites and user counts in the network blogs have been introduced. More technical details.
New base Media Widget REST API
A new base media widget REST API schema has been introduced along with the addition of new media widgets in WordPress 4.8. This API will make it easier to build other media widgets such as playlist and galleries in the future. More technical details.
Improved and Accessible Admin Panel Headings
WordPress 4.8 introduces new CSS rules that prevent developers adding extraneous content (like “Add New” links) to be included in admin area headings. This makes the admin panel headings more accessible. More technical details.
What do you think of the new updates in WordPress 4.8? Which feature do you like the most?
Edit 19th November 2017: Another major version WordPress 4.9 was released in November 2017.