These big changes are coming to WordPress 5.5

In the first week of July, WordPress 5.5 Beta 1 available for testing. While this is still under development, there are some pretty big changes coming when it is released.

As you might expect, many of the features are around improving the block editor – better known as Gutenberg.

The device previews and the inclusion of XML sitemaps are two of the most notable changes that will roll out with WordPress 5.5.

Why you should care about device previews coming to WordPress

Of course it is already possible to test device adaption with WordPress. Sure, you can use Chrome’s dev tools to do similar, but isn’t it just so much easier to click a button? Just ask anyone who uses Elementor.

This is a hugely useful addition to the toolkit, especially considering just how much emphasis is being placed on sites being mobile friendly by search engine giant Google. The move to switch sites to mobile first indexing and the Core Web Vitals ranking signals rolling out next year will have a huge impact on how websites are developed for mobile users.

 XML Sitemaps as part of the WP package  

Away from the Gutenberg-specific updates coming to WordPress 5.5 in August is the addition of XML sitemaps being part of it out of the box. This is worth noting if you currently use third-party plugins for this purpose – not just because of a potential conflict causing issue when you upgrade, but in case you want to consider switching to the WordPress version instead.

WordPress 5.5 will also include lazy-load for images – another feature that might potentially conflict with some of your existing plugins or theme features. 

The feature list also includes automatic updates for themes and plugins – with the user selecting which plugins should be trusted with such benevolence.

When is WordPress 5.5 being released?

It might still change, but at the time of writing, it was set for release on 11 August 2020. 

If you want to test WordPress 5.5 in  beta before it is officially released,  you can get it from the official WordPress site. Just remember that you should not install the beta on a production site. Well, you could, but it’s not the brightest idea – especially if that production site is the portal to your business.

Below is the full list of features coming to WordPress 5.5, as listed on the official site.

Gutenberg block editor changes coming with WordPress 5.5

  • Inline image editing – Crop, rotate, and zoom photos inline right from image blocks.
  • Block patterns– Building elaborate pages can be a breeze with new block patterns. Several are included by default.
  • Device previews– See how your content will look to users on many different screen sizes.
  • End block overwhelm. The new block inserter panel displays streamlined categories and collections. As a bonus, it supports patterns and integrates with the new block directory right out of the box.
  • Discover, install, and insert third-party blocks from your editor using the new block directory.
  • A better, smoother editing experience with: 
    • Refined drag-and-drop
    • Block movers that you can see and grab
    • Parent block selection
    • Contextual focus highlights
    • Multi-select formatting lets you change a bunch of blocks at once 
    • Ability to copy and relocate blocks easily
    • And, better performance
  • An expanded design toolset for themes.
  • Now add backgrounds and gradients to more kinds of blocks, like groups, columns, media & text
  • And support for more types of measurements— not just pixels. Choose ems, rems, percentages, vh, vw, and more! Plus, adjust line heights while typing, turning writing and typesetting into the seamless act.

Other changes coming to WordPress 5.5

  • List tables now come with extensive, alternate view modes.
  • Link-list widgets can now be converted to HTML5 navigation blocks.
  • Copying links in media screens and modal dialogs can now be done with a simple click of a button.
  • Disabled buttons now actually look disabled.
  • Meta boxes can now be moved with the keyboard.
  • A custom logo on the front page no longer links to the front page.
  • Assistive devices can now see status messages in the Image Editor.
  • The shake animation indicating a login failure now respects the user’s choices in the prefers-reduced-motion media query.
  • Redundant Error: prefixes have been removed from error notices.
  • Plugins and themes can now be updated by uploading a ZIP file.
  • More finely grained control of redirect_guess_404_permalink().
  • Several packaged external libraries have been updated, including PHPMailer, SimplePie, Twemoji, Masonry, and more.


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