Block Editor updates for the WordPress 5.4 release

Update April 29, 2020 – Security release and bug fixes WordPress 5.4.1

This week the core team released 5.4.1  with a few fixes to the latest update that came out on March 31, 2020. 

We looked at the release notes for the Block Editor fixes that were back-ported (6) to WordPress core.

There were also 7 security fixes and additional non-editor related updates. Justin Tadlock at the WPTavern comprehensively covered all those changes.

WordPress 5.4 release notes

The About Page of the new release informs content creators about the updates in the block editor:

Two new blocks. And better blocks overall.

  • Two brand-new blocks: Social Icons and Buttons make adding interactive features fast and easy.
  • New ways with color: Gradients in the Buttons and Cover block, toolbar access to color options in Rich Text blocks, and for the first time, color options in the Group and Columns blocks.
  • Guess a whole lot less! Version 5.4 streamlines the whole process for placing and replacing multimedia in every block. Now it works the same way in almost every block!
  • And if you’ve ever thought your image in the Media+Text block should link to something else—perhaps a picture of a brochure should download that brochure as a document? Well, now it can.
Video: Text Color in block editor since WordPress 5.4 / March 2020

Here is a list of links to the various details for new WordPress 5.4 features for the block editor and beyond. For a list of all Release notes on Privacy, REST API and other updates for WordPress 5.4 use the Tag link #5.4 #devnotes for the Make Core Blog and JB Audras compiled the Field Guide for 5.4

Mark Uraine and I talked through theses updates in our latest Gutenberg Changelog episode. Listen in on your commute or during workout…

Navigation block exclusion from WP 5.4
Although stable in its form, the team decided to leave it out of the Core updates, as it only would make good sense in connection with a Full-Site-Editing Experience. Outside, that use case, it might be just confusing to end-users.

New or Updated Blocks
Refactored Social Links Block – breaking change from plugin implementations + Buttons Block

Introduce block variations API
A way to declare style variations when registering a block.

Miscellaneous Developer Focused Changes
It mentions the new Embeds for TikTok and removal of CollegeHumor embeds 

An updated Button component
The buttons for WordPress UI can also be used outside the block editor, on admin and settings pages.

Block Editor Keyboard Shortcuts
With this API WordPress now centralizes registration and removal of Keyboard shortcuts for the editor and its extensions and plugins

New @wordpress/create-block package for block scaffolding
Inspired by WP-CLI this new tool assists in creating single block plugins for the future Block directory.

General Block Editor API Updates
This is collection of new APIs available for the block editor and beyond and review the information about the deprecation of Meta attribute sources.

  • Shortcode Transformations
  • AsyncModeProvider API
  • custom media upload handler
  • Easier drag-and-drop
  • New Guide component

and a few more.

Markup and style-related changes
Simpler block margins, Blocks and rich text components lose redundant wrappers, and remove legacy “editor-” class name compatibility

Gradient Settings for Backgrounds in WordPress 5.4
Gradient Settings in WordPress

New gradient theme APIs
One of the most popular feature from the Gutenberg plugin is coming to WordPress 5.4 – using gradient backgrounds for buttons and cover block. Learn how to add them and also how to turn them off.

Full screen mode enabled by default in the editor

With WordPress 5.4, the block editor will slightly change its default behavior and turn on by default the Fullscreen mode. Personally, I would have thought it would make more sense to turn on by default the Top Toolbar. Most writers find the overlapping toolbar on each paragraph quite disconcerting.

End User documentation is available on how to get back to the WP Admin Menu and how to switch off the Fullscreen mode

Marius Jensen from the support team built a small plugin: Block editor Full screen Mode Control

  • This plugin makes the default remain as it was prior to this update, making the full screen editing an opt-in feature.
  • This plugin provides you a per-user profile option to enable or disable the full screen editing which persists between devices and sessions.

JB Audras has a code snippet for disabling the default full screen mode via your child theme’s function.php.

Actually, I would have taken it a bit further and also enable the TopToolbar by default:

const isfixedToolbar = 'core/edit-post' ).isFeatureActive( 'fixedToolbar' );

if ( isfixedToolbar ) { 'core/edit-post' ).toggleFeature( 'fixedToolbar' );
}Code language: JavaScript (javascript)

WordPress 5.4 Release Schedule

At the moment WordPress 5.4 is available in Beta 3. The first Release Candidate is schedule for tomorrow, March 3rd, 2019

3 March 2020
Release candidate 1, publish Field Guide with Dev Notes, commit About page, begin drafting release post, and hard string freeze. (Slack archive) (Zip download)
10 March 2020
Release candidate 2, update About page images, and continue drafting release post. (Slack archive) (Zip download)
17 March 2020
Release candidate 3, update About page images, and continue drafting release post. (Slack archive) (Zip download)
24 March 2020
Release candidate 4. (Slack archive) (Zip download)
30 March 2020
Dry run for release of WordPress 5.4 and 24 hour code freeze. (Slack archive)
31 March 2020
Target date for release of WordPress 5.4. 🎉

Help with Testing

You can use the WordPress Beta Tester plugin to test beta and RC version in a local or staging environment.

Featured Image: “Walking in Merida, MX” by Birgit Pauli-Haack (2020)


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