Hey there and welcome to WordPress Wednesday!

We’re just a couple of weeks away from the next major release of WordPress with WordPress 5.4 coming out on March 31. This is the first major release of WordPress for 2020, and while it’s mainly focused on improvements to the block editor, there are still a few things that are kind of exciting for this new update.

So today, let’s go over what you can expect when you update to WordPress 5.4 on March 31.

Site Health Dashboard Widget

The first thing you’re going to see when you come into WordPress 5.4 is this new site health status dashboard widget. It essentially just tells you if your site’s health is good, bad and then it links off to the site health screen where you can take care of these issues.

It’ll be a good way to make sure that your site health is top of your mind.

New blocks

So with 5.4, we have two new blocks that we can use.

Social Icons Block

So our first new block with WordPress 5.4 is the social icons block. And this allows you to add links to your different social media profiles right inside the post. Now the one thing with this is that it’s not a social sharing block. So when people click on the link, they go to your profile; they’re not sharing that post. For that you’re going to need a different plugin or block.

Buttons Block

Also new is the buttons block. This is basically similar to the button block, however, you’re able to add more buttons in that same row.

And you have different styles. It can be filled in, it can be outlined. Like so and you can change colors and all of that.

Text and background color controls for cover, group and columns blocks

Also, now with the cover, group and column blocks, we can now change some of the colors. So with the cover block, which I have here, you can change our background color pretty easily. And we can also do some sort of gradient if we wanted. Like that. And we can also change the text color.

Also with the columns block, we can change the text color and also the background color.

And then finally with the group block, we can also change our text color and our background color.

This will be really cool to help people do really cool things with their blocks and the page layouts. Just one thing: just make sure that your text color and your background color have the right color contrast.

Featured Images for Recent Posts Block

Also new for the block editor is the ability to add featured images in your recent posts block. So you just hit this button. You can pick the thumbnail size. And this really can help make this block pop to help people sort of read more posts on your website, especially if you have beautiful images.

New “Select” Block Cursor

And then next, we now have a cursor that can help us to select different blocks. So we go in here and where you see the pencil icon for edit, we’ll just hit select, and this basically allows you to select the different blocks.

And this is really handy when you have group blocks and column blocks to help select that parent block so you can make changes.

Structure changes for calendar widget

Finally, we have two sort of smaller changes but there probably something you should be aware of, especially if you’re a developer.

5.4 introduces a change to the calendar widget. It moves that month-to-month navigation out of the table footer and into its own navigation element. This will likely affect both users and developers because it might break the calendar widget styling for some themes.

So theme developers should be checking their calendar widgets to make sure they’re styled right and to fix them before 5.4. And if you’re a user and you’re able to test 5.4 and you use that calendar widget, just make sure it looks right.

New apply_shortcode function

And finally one more for the developers. There’s a new function, apply_shortcode, that basically does what do_shortcode does. It brings it more in line with, sort of, how we use apply_filters. You can still use do_shortcode; it’s not deprecated. But it’s encouraged to use apply_shortcode.

Finally, I do want to remind you that it is possible to test WordPress 5.4 with your website. I talked more about how to do this in a video I’ve linked to down below, but basically use the WordPress Beta Tester plugin on a development or staging website, and you’re able to download a release candidate version of 5.4.

You can then go through your website to see what’s changed, what’s broken and just make sure you’re ready to go for that March 31 release date.

So that’s it for WordPress 5.4.

Again, it is more focused on the block editor and improving the blocks and the experience, but it’s still a pretty good release, and I’m fairly excited for it.

Of course theme developers might feel differently about that calendar issue, but for the most part it’s going to be a big improvement for the end user, that’s really what’s important.

So what are your thoughts on WordPress 5.4? What are your questions? Be sure to leave them down in comments below and I’ll do my best to answer them. Or you can also reach out on social media.

But until next time, happy WordPressing!

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