On March 31, 2020, WordPress version 5.4 was released, and is available both in your WordPress dashboard or for download on the WordPress site. Named “Adderley” in honor of American jazz trumpeter Nate Adderlely, many features in version 5.4 are focused on enhancing the “Gutenberg” block editor that was introduced in WordPress version 5.0.
Improved and Enhanced UI and Navigation
WordPress version 5.4 features more efficient and quicker processes, providing users with a faster workflow. With a 14% faster loading time for the editor, 51% faster typing times when adding your content, and faster times for building new sections and galleries, you will notice and appreciate the quicker pace.
For those users who rely on keyboard shortcuts, enhanced tabbing allows you to navigate with your keyboard more intuitively, and you can now tab to the sidebar of most blocks. The introduction of block breadcrumbs at the bottom of every screen allows you to quickly see which block you are currently in, and a new block selection tool makes for easier selection. There are also streamlined procedures for adding and replacing multimedia in most blocks, new options for customizing blocks, and even a couple of brand new block types.
Version 5.4 also removes the “tips” that used to appear on various places, replacing those with a Welcome Guide window which can be brought up as needed. Also, the block editor is increasingly more accessible for users that rely on screen readers to use WordPress, with the screen reader now advising if you are in Edit or Navigation mode.
New Blocks Added
Version 5.4 introduces two brand-new blocks, Social Icons and Buttons, making it even easier to quickly add such interactive features to your website.
As evidenced by its name, the “Social Icons” block allows you to easily add icons for various social media networks to your pages and posts, then link those icons to your social network pages. One thing to note, is that this is only a linking feature which doesn’t allow for social media sharing – if you wish to include sharing options on your site, you’ll need to install a social media plugin with sharing features.
The “Buttons” block replaces the previous “Button” block – noting the pluralization of the block name, this feature allows you to now add multiple buttons side by side. Each button can be customized individually, with varied styles, background or gradient colors, and font colors set for each button.
More Color Options for Blocks
New functionality allows you to apply text colors to specific sections of content. Rather than being forced to apply one color to all of the text within a paragraph block, you can now customize any selection of text within that paragraph. You can now apply text and background colors with gradients to your Cover blocks, and you can even set background and text colors for all of the blocks within a Group block. Within the Columns block, you can now use colors to distinguish your columns from regular paragraphs.
Block Selection Tool
The toolbar now features a block selector button which allows you to easily select blocks – a particularly useful feature when you have nested blocks within a Group block. Simply click the select tool, then click on the block that you want to select.
Drag and drop featured images
Replacing the previous manual upload and selection of featured images, you can now drag and drop an image into the featured images section. This better aligns with the drag and drop features used elsewhere in WordPress. The Media+Text block has also been enhanced, now allowing you to link an image to open or download a related document.
Better Mobile Toolbar for Block Editor
In previous versions, when a user edited their posts via a mobile device, the block settings toolbar moved around, making the mobile editor fairly difficult to use. In WordPress 5.4, this has been addressed, with the introduction of a fixed toolbar on the top of the editor.
Set Image Sizes in the Gallery Block
In previous versions, users couldn’t select image sizes for an image gallery block. In version 5.4, you can select the image size in the gallery block settings.
Improved Latest Posts Block
In previous versions, the Latests Posts block didn’t include featured images. This is addressed in version 5.4, where you can also choose the size and alignment of the featured image.
Embed TikTok Videos
Since TikTok is the latest craze in social networking, WordPress version 5.4 includes oEmbed support for TikTok videos – allowing you to embed them on your posts and pages just as you would with your YouTube videos. All you need to do is copy/paste your TikTok URL, and WordPress will automatically embed it.
Updated Privacy Tools
With an enhanced focus on maintaining user privacy, personal data exports in WordPress version 5.4 now include session tokens, community events location, and custom user meta. Export files now comes in two files, in HTML and JSON, and the HTML file includes a table of contents, allowing for easier navigation.
Developer Changes in Version 5.4
WordPress 5.4 also includes several improvements for developers – mostly directed at theme and plugin developers. These changes include the ability to add custom fields to navigation menu items, and the ability to add keyboard shortcuts to the block editor.
Continuing to build on the “Gutenberg” block editor introduced in WordPress 5.0, version 5.4 enhances, streamlines, and quickens the block editing experience, allowing users even greater control over the customization of their WordPress sites.