WordPress Update 5.8

Version 5.8 is now out, named "Tatum" in honor of Art Tatum (a legendary Jazz pianist.) A lot of what's new in this version of WordPress relates to the native block editor for page content. (We use a custom page builder for websites we develop, so if we built your website for you, the block updates won't be relevant for you.)

Some other changes are a drop of support for IE11 (Internet Explorer, which is now very old) and the addition of support for WebP, a modern image format that allows for images to be smaller in file size than JPEG or PNG.

One of the more controversial changes (in my opinion) is the inclusion of the beginning of what's being called "Full Site Editing". The idea is to allow the native WordPress block editor to work everywhere on the page - including the header and footer. The reason I'm a little less than fully on board with this particular change, is that it essentially removes the need for WordPress themes. It will also likely result in less coherent and clean websites, harking back to the ancient MySpace days. This is not an issue for personal websites, where personal expression is more the point than appearing professional, but for business websites it will likely mean a general downward direction in overall quality.

A WordPress website utilizing the Full Site Editing capabilities would essentially become similar in result to sites commonly found on Wix or Weebly. In the later cases, the issues result from their promotion of "professionally designed templates" that are advertised to make the design process supposedly an almost instant thing. However, this often ends up frustrating people, when their content doesn't look as good as the template content originally did. If it sounds like I'm being a bit emotional about the subject, it's because I am - having worked with small businesses and websites for a long time, I've seen a lot of misleading claims and frustrated people. Our service has been built around helping people avoid those things and recover from them. We began using WordPress as a platform for websites that we built because it represented the perfect compromise between a professional design and setup, and easy access for non-technical individuals to update their content. My hope is that those benefits won't be lost as things progress.

If you'd like to learn more about this WordPress update, you can check out the WordPress field guide at make.wordpress.org/core/2021/07/03/wordpress-5-8-field-guide.

We have already updated the websites that are opted in to our maintenance plan, and for those of you who are not, we recommend updating your WordPress software as soon as you're able to.

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Posted on by Nathan Lyle in General News, Software Updates and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

About Nathan Lyle

Nathan is a father of four, an amateur musician, and an aspiring photographer. He started programming in 4th grade on an Apple II+ and many years later spent much of his college years freelancing website design for college departments. Nathan is a veteran of the Browser Wars, and will gladly talk at length about the changes he has seen in Web technology if you accidentally ask him.

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