WordPress 5.4 arrives with new blocks, 14% faster editor, and privacy improvements

WordPress.org today launched WordPress 5.4, which focuses on “more ways to make your pages come alive” as well as “boosts in speed you can feel.” Version 5.4, which was developed by 552 volunteer contributors, includes new blocks, clearer navigation, a faster editor, privacy improvements, and developer additions. You can download the new release now from WordPress.org/Download.

WordPress is a content management system (CMS) that powers over 30% of the web (including VentureBeat). There’s therefore a massive ecosystem of website administrators and developers watching out for what’s changing in every release. The latest version is dubbed “Adderley,” in honor of American jazz trumpeter Nat Adderley.

New WordPress 5.4 features

WordPress 5.4 continues to expand the widely-hated block editor. There are two new blocks (Social Icons and Buttons), gradients in the Buttons and Cover block, toolbar access to color options in Rich Text blocks, and color options in the Group and Columns blocks. The process for placing and replacing multimedia in every block now works the same “in almost every block.” Finally, images in the Media+Text block can now link to something else.

Speaking of blocks, they now have breadcrumbs, for better or for worse. If you’re using the keyboard, there are promises of “better tabbing and focus” as well as the option to tab over to the sidebar of most block. Best of all, WordPress.org says you can expect 14% faster loading of the editor and 51% faster time-to-type. Tips have been replaced with a Welcome Guide window and it’s now easier to distinguish when you’re in a block’s Edit or Navigation mode.

In terms of privacy improvements, personal data exports now include users session information and users location data from the community events widget. You can also see the progress as you process export and erasure requests through the privacy tools. WordPress.org is also promising a cleaner look for the privacy tools overall.

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Developer features

WordPress 5.4 also brings the following for developers:

  • Natively add custom fields to menu items: Two new actions let you add custom fields to menu items, without a plugin and without writing custom walkers. On the Menus admin screen, wp_nav_menu_item_custom_fields fires just before the move buttons of a nav menu item in the menu editor. In the Customizer, wp_nav_menu_item_custom_fields_customize_template fires at the end of the menu-items form-fields template.
  • Simpler block styling: Negative margins and default padding are gone. Now you can style blocks the way you need them. And, a refactor got rid of four redundant wrapper divs.
  • If you build plugins, now you can register collections of your blocks by namespace across categories.
  • Let users do more with two new APIs: block variations and gradients.
  • In embeds, the block editor now supports TikTok. Meanwhile, CollegeHumor is gone.

WordPress 5.4 was released over four months after its predecessor. The team did not mention WordPress 5.5, but it’s likely already in the works.

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