On June 8, 2017, WordPress released version 4.8, the first major WordPress release of 2017. Named “Evans” after jazz pianist and composer William John “Bill” Evans, version 4.8 is now available for download via your WordPress dashboard or via the WordPress website.
Version 4.8 includes a number of enhancements that allow users to better express themselves, represent their brands, and interact with fellow members of the WordPress community, including some great widget updates, improved link editing, and the addition of a News and Events widget on the WordPress dashboard.
Image, Video, Audio & Text Widgets
The widget updates are probably the most exciting part of the version 4.8 release, which introduces several new and enhanced widget features, including updates to text widgets, and the long-requested addition of image, video, and audio widgets. These new widgets allow users to add content from your Media Library and media stored in other locations (such as Google Drive, Dropbox, and Amazon S3).
In previous versions, you had to use a plugin or HTML to add images to your widgets, but in version 4.8, you can now drag and drop an image widget to the sidebar of your website, and then insert your image right within the widget settings.
If you want to add a video or audio widget to your website’s sidebar, these are also simple tasks in version 4.8 – as with adding images, you can simply insert your video or audio file right into the widget settings. Bring in video files from your Media Library, YouTube, Vimeo, or any other oEmbed provider, or external storage location. Bring in MP3, OGG, and WAV audio files from your Media Library, and easily embed the files in the WordPress HTML5 audio player.
In previous versions, WordPress text widgets were plain text by default, and users had to add HTML even for the most basic formatting. In version 4.8, text widgets now come with visual editor with native rich-text editing capabilities, so that users can easily format any text that they add to a widget without any HTML knowledge. Advanced users can still use the text editor to manually insert HTML if they prefer to do so.
In previous versions, users have had some issues formatting hyperlinks – especially, finding it difficult to move the cursor away from the link, and when they try to edit the text beside a link, the text ends up part of the link, or when they try to edit the text inside the link, the text ends up outside of the link. Version 4.8 introduces link boundaries, which correct such issues by creating a “shield” around the link text and helping to streamline the link editing process. When a user is on a link, they can now just press the right or left arrows to move the cursor away from the link.
News and Events Dashboard Widget in WP Admin
While there is a great online presence for WordPress support and discussions, many WordPress users also enjoy the offline WordPress community, which is thriving with more than groups meeting in person regularly in more than 400 cities around the globe. At such meetings, users gather to share their experiences, improve their skills, network, and even make friends. In the version 4.8, the WordPress dashboard includes a News and Events widget, which displays the latest WordPress news, along with upcoming WordCamps and official WordPress Meetups in your area.
Removal of Support for WMV and WMA Files
Along with all of the advancements in version 4.8 comes the removal of core support for aging audio and video formats requiring the Silverlight plugin. As fewer and fewer browsers support Silverlight, these file formats are being removed from core WordPress support, and will no longer be automatically embedded in WordPress content, but can still be displayed as a download link for those still wanting to use such formats.
Version 4.8 continues to further enhance the WordPress experience for users of all levels, enabling even beginners to design and format their websites. Responding to user requests, the introduction of the image, video and audio widgets is another great sign that the WordPress team is actually listening to their audience, and continues to make improvements based on what they hear. The addition of the News and Events widget encourages users to engage in both the online and the offline WordPress communities, interacting with each other and discovering better ways to use the program. The further development of WordPress communities can only serve to benefit the WordPress team, as such user interactions can yield valuable feedback about the program, and how WordPress can continue to evolve to best serve its entire user base, all around the globe.