Everything you need to know about WordPress 4.8’s new features, including detailed write-ups about all the changes, and tutorials on how to use the new features.
WordPress 4.8’s new features:
- New media widgets
- WYSIWYG text widget
- Editor: Link boundaries
- Dashboard widget now includes WordPress events
- Other small updates
- Developer updates
In a hurry? Watch this quick 2-minute video showcasing all the new features:
Subscribe to our YouTube channel for more videos like this one.
Let’s start with the front-end changes that will impact everyday WordPress users, bloggers and content producers.
Three (3) new widgets were introduced in WordPress 4.8. All of these new widgets are focused around adding media to your sidebar, whether that be images, video or audio.
All 3 widgets use the media library, so you can…
- Choose an existing file from your media library
- Upload a new file from your computer
- Add a file by entering its URL (especially helpful for YouTube videos)
The image widget will be a welcomed addition for many users. Gone are the days where you had to edit HTML code in a text widget, or install a plugin, just to get a simple image in your sidebar.
The image widget works in very much the same way as you’re used to inserting images into posts.
Alt text, captions & links
Just like images within your main content area, you can update the alt text, add captions and insert a link when someone clicks on the image. If provided, the caption will display beneath the image.
Watch our video tutorial on how to use the new WordPress image widget:
The new WordPress video widget allows you to add a video to your sidebar. You can upload a video to your server, or the more recommended option is to embed a video from a provider like YouTube or Vimeo. Just enter the URL for a video from any supported third-party video service, and WordPress takes care of the rest.
When inserting YouTube videos in your sidebar, you’ll get a playable preview in the media dialog. The same goes for all WordPress oEmbed providers.
Video Widget Options
There are a few additional options for the video widget. These include:
- Alternate sources (
- Preload (auto, metadata, none)
- Add subtitles
I couldn’t find any information about these options, but as soon as I do, I’ll provide an update.
The new audio widget allows you to easily add any audio file (song, podcast, etc.) into your sidebar. You can even play a preview of the file before it appears on your site.
Audio Widget Options
Just like the video widget, the audio widget has a few additional options, which I’m still trying to dig up exactly what they all mean.
- Add alternate sources
Here’s what all of WordPress 4.8’s new widgets look like in the sidebar of the default Twenty Seventeen theme:
WYSIWYG Text Widget
The text widget got a makeover in WordPress 4.8. You can now use a WYSIWYG editor.
You don’t have all the same options as when you’re editing your main content, but the simplified visual mode is a nice addition. The following TinyMCE buttons are available to make editing text widgets much easier.
- Lists (bulleted & numbered)
You can also switch between Visual & Text mode, so custom HTML is still available.
Learn more about the technical details of the update on the WordPress blog.
Editor: Link Boundaries
This update may go unnoticed by many, but for anyone who’s tried to edit their link text, this is an excellent usability update. The WordPress editor now provides visual feedback as to the location of your cursor. Is it inside or outside of the
Link editing is now much more user-friendly.
Dashboard Widget: Events & News
WordPress has always had a dashboard widget displaying recent news, but it got revamped in version 4.8. The dashboard widget now includes both news & events in the WordPress community.
Events are pulled from two main sources:
WordPress will attempt to automatically detect your location, and display events close to you. This will be unique for each user that logs in. You can easily change your location if WordPress gets it wrong.
The widget still includes the same news that it always did.
News is pulled from several sources:
3 links were added to the bottom of the widget, linking out to:
Other Small Updates
A few smaller updates were also included in 4.8.
Editing User’s Names
Before WordPress 4.8, the “Edit User” screen used to just say “Edit User” at the top. Now you’ll also see the user’s display name.
Tag Cloud Widget Updates
The tag cloud widget now provides an option to show how many posts contain each tag. Tag counts are not shown by default, but can be easily turned on with a checkbox in the tag cloud widget.
Customizer Pane adjusts width based on screen size
The left sidebar containing the customizer’s options used be set at 300px wide. Now it can be anywhere between 300px and 600px wide, depending on the screen size.
Now we’ll take a look at the new features in WordPress 4.8 for developers.
These are updates to the WordPress core code that won’t affect most users, but give developers more flexibility when working on WordPress projects.
TinyMCE updates to version 4.6
For the Editor, WordPress has updated to TinyMCE 4.6. You can read more about these updates in the posts below.
- Provide API for TinyMCE editor to be dynamically instantiated via JS (#35760)
- Editor API changes in 4.8
- Full TinyMCE changelog (with version 4.6 updates)
Foundation for Gutenberg
Gutenberg is the codename for a current project underway to improve the WordPress editor. The new editor experience is not available in WordPress 4.8, but the groundwork for future updates has begun.
For all you hardcore developers out there, you can view the full list of all 300+ changes.
Multisite Updates in WordPress 4.8
There are over 50 multisite updates in WordPress 4.8. Most of them are smaller updates geared towards developers, but you can learn more here.
For anything else I might have missed, WordPress has put together a 4.8 Field Guide, to go along with their official video.
What do you think of the WordPress 4.8 release?