WordPress 4.8 “Evans,” was released last week on the 8th of June. It includes a multitude of new widgets and improvements, along with a handy improvement to how links work in the visual editor. It is the first major release of 2017, with some long awaited new features and enhancements.

In this article, we will show you what’s new in WordPress 4.8 and which features you should try after updating your websites.

Exciting Changes to Widgets

There are three new default widgets in WordPress 4.8: Audio, Video, and Image  widgets. In the previous version, shortcodes and HTML codes were necessary for adding audio or video. It is now possible to insert audio, video or text on sidebars and footers without the use of codes.

Audio Widget

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Audio widget allows you to easily add audio files to your WordPress sidebar. Just click on the ‘Add audio’ button to upload your audio file.

Image Widget

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Previously if users wanted to add an image to the WordPress sidebar, then they had to either use a plugin or write custom HTML. With WordPress 4.8 you can simply click on the ‘Add image’ button in the widget settings, and it will bring up the familiar WordPress media uploader.

Video Widget

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Similar to the image widget, WordPress 4.8 also includes a video widget. It allows you to easily upload videos to the WordPress sidebar or display any video from YouTube, Vimeo, or any other oEmbed provider.

Visual Editor Now Available on Text Widgets

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Now you can use a simplified version of the visual editor on text widgets. Previously you were only able to enter text or HTML. It is the light version of the same visual editor that you use to write posts and pages. It contains buttons to make text bold or italic, add lists, and links. Advanced users can still switch to the text editor to write HTML manually.

Visual Editor Enhancements

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The visual editor is now more user-friendly and hassle-free. TinyMCE features have been included in the latest WordPress update to improve the visual editor. Previously when you would select a link and edit it, sometimes you will end up linking the word next to it, or not being able to move the cursor outside the link element. Anyone who writes a lot in WordPress will know what we are talking about. It wasn’t a bug, but rather a small annoying thing every publisher had to deal with.

To help better resolve this issue they have added what they call link boundaries. Links in WordPress 4.8 now have a blue border around them when they are selected. Navigating through links is now easier as compared to previous versions of WordPress.

WordPress News and Events Dashboard Widget

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Previous versions only featured news on the dashboard. WordPress 4.8 also introduced the new ‘WordPress News and Events’ dashboard widget. It appears on the dashboard screen of your WordPress admin area and displays WordPress news as well as WordPress events near your location.

If you have multiple users on your site, then each user will see events near their own location. The widget automatically tries to guess user’s location by sending their IP address, timezone, and locale to api.wordpress.org.

Changes For Developers

Customizer Sidebar Width is Now Variable

Previously the appearance customizer sidebar was limited to a fixed width of 300px. On larger screens, this could be a little frustrating. This has been changed and it will now be proportionally sized on larger screens.

New APIs for Widgets

Along with adding the visual editor to text widgets and the other video/audio widgets, also comes the ability for developers to now more easily use APIs to hook into these areas. Read developer documentation on the TinyMCE text widget and image and audio widgets.

New Multisite Changes and Functions

New meta capabilities have been added for multisite which allows for more fine-grained control of access to specific areas. A new function, get_term_parents_list() has also been added.

These were some things that were added to the new version of WordPress 4.8. To see the entire list of changes, we recommend you to visit the official page: WordPress 4.8