Over the past year there have been many changes to life … and WordPress. I know the details of each update haven’t been a priority. It can be overwhelming to go back and find out what changed, and next week version will see 5.7 released. To help, I’ve worked through the past year of releases and summarized a few changes.
Summary of Recent WordPress Updates
Version 5.4 (31 March 2020). This release included two new blocks for social media icons and buttons. It also improved the privacy tools and keyboard navigation.
The next major release was Version 5.5 on 11 August 2020. It brought automatic updates for plugins and themes, a feature I was very happy to see. The organization of blocks changed to make them easier to find. It continued improving block accessibility.
The current release, Version 5.6 occurred on 08 December 2020. Blocks now have even more options for fine tuning font sizes and developing patterns. In addition, there’s improved video captioning, something that may make me try video. There’s also a new core theme that includes a dark mode option.
My Favorite Features
I have two new features that have made WordPress easier for me to use and to manage for my clients.
I appreciate automatic plugin and theme updates, and that they aren’t enabled by default.
While the changes to the blocks interface have frustrated me at times, I like the work toward greater accessibility, usability, and to make them easier to reuse.
Yes, the feature I was surprised to find myself using more frequently are Reusable blocks. I discovered how useful they are for repeating similar text on blog posts, for example I use it for my “Please contact me” paragraph found at the end of many posts. Or for more intricate layouts, such as a newsletter signup form. I no longer have to keep text files and copy and paste from elsewhere.
Two features coming to 5.7
There will continue to be more improvements to blocks, the ability to control typography (aka font size) will be possible in more places and the usability of reusable blocks will continue to improve (I hope).
If you are frustrated with site support and password management of your users, soon you will be able to send a password reset link to existing users.
In addition, there is continued work on what’s called FSE, Full Site Editing, but you won’t see many changes yet.
I hope this brief review helps you feel more confident with recent changes to WordPress. Please contact me if you would like additional help and support.