I love how WordPress addresses all the big release emails with the subject line “WordPress x.x is imminent! Are your plugins ready?” It’s dramatic and catches your attention at the thought of everything you wrote breaking into bits after an upgrade. The answer right now is no, my WordPress plugins (in the official repo anyway) are completely covered in dust and need a big fat spring cleaning. But I digress.
What’s Cool about WordPress 4.8
There are a couple of neat things to get excited about with this new release that will be deploying June 8, 2017. Accessibility, graceful degradation, and robust core widgets are three areas to note in this version.
The primary area that’s going to get the boost here is the Tag Cloud, which up til now has been relying on title tags to show how many posts when the user hovers over a tag. Title is going away to comply better with the ARIA Standards (Accessible Rich Internet Applications) whose mission is to make browsing the web just as available for people with disabilities.
Tag Cloud now will come with the option to show post counts in parenthesis alongside the tag. This is useful if you have some tags that are highly relevant to your content library, and others with just a few articles/posts. Your users can clearly discern your most used tags at one glance. The title attribute will no longer be used for this information, so you do lose mouseover info, but it has been added back in the form of an ARIA tag.
Old Video File Support Removed
As a step away from Microsoft Silverlight, WordPress Core will no longer have built in play support for WMV and WMA files. Generally speaking when proprietary technologies are knocked down a notch, open web (and web standards) gets a win. Since browser support for Silverlight is declining, WordPress is following suite and will now serve links to any of these files instead of embedding them in the page.
WYSIWYG Text, Image, Video, and Audio Widgets
Can we just say FINALLY? This release will be great because now sites will no longer require third party plugins to do things that WP should just handle naturally. It’s had TinyMCE editing for years and yet you still have to type raw HTML into a widget field, or patch this with a third party plugin. These plugins were small and inobtrusive but still, the more you can accomplish with Core alone, the better. There are some great third party plugins but tons more that are terrible and vectors for malware. Keep your plugin count very low and your headaches will decrease. This release can boot one (a wysiwyg widget editor) from your list.
The other nice thing is that these widgets make life so much easier on Admins. As developers we can of course put these things together but when the client goes to administer their site, things can be daunting if they are staring down pasted HTML (like a video embed perhaps) in the textareas. That approach had to be done but thankfully soon it will be dated. This is another area where third party plugins reigned, and can now be retired.
If you’re keen to see all the changes in the newest version, hop on over to the official WordPress Field Guide and see them all.
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