What to Expect in WordPress 4.8

WordPress 4.8 Beta 1 is available for testing and has a couple of features that will likely have a big impact.

New Image, Video, and Audio Widgets

WordPress 4.8 has three new core widgets and adds a visual editor to the Text widget. Adding video, audio, or images to text widgets typically involves using custom HTML.

Each of the new widgets in 4.8 takes advantage of the WordPress Media Library. Because the widgets use the media modal, users can insert content from a URL. This is particularly convenient for the Video widget as most videos are not stored locally.

Here is what the core widgets look like on Twenty Seventeen after they’ve been configured.

Core Widgets on Twenty Seventeen
Core Widgets on The Frontend

The text widget now has a visual editor with a couple of basic formatting tools available. The visual editor supports Keyboard shortcuts. However, it does not support oEmbed. Like the post editor, you can switch between Visual and HTML mode. The HTML version of the editor benefits from the upgrade as it provides users with the same formatting tools that are available in the visual editor.

Text Widget HTML Mode
Text Widget HTML Mode

Link Boundaries

Link boundaries are a byproduct of the ongoing work to Gutenberg, WordPress’ new block-based editor. If you’ve ever written links in the visual editor, you may have noticed that sometimes it’s difficult to move the cursor outside of the link element.

In WordPress 4.8, link boundaries provide a visual cue of when the cursor is inside a link element. This video recorded by Matias Ventura provides a visual demonstration of how link boundaries work.

Inside Link Boundary
Inside Link Boundary
Outside Link Boundary
Outside Link Boundary

During testing it felt like this was more of a bug fix to how the visual editor behaves rather than a new feature.

Dashboard News Widget Includes Upcoming Local WordPress Meetups

There are 1,180 WordPress meetups registered on Meetup.com and close to 100 WordCamps scheduled for this year. In an effort to remind users of the WordPress communities that exist around them world-wide, the WordPress News Dashboard widget has been modified to include Meetups and WordCamps near a user’s location.

News Widget Shows Upcoming Meetups and WordCamps
News Widget Shows Upcoming Meetups and WordCamps

The widget will try to guess your location automatically. If it’s incorrect, clicking the Pencil button opens a box where you can type in your city. The bottom of the widget includes links to the WordPress Meetup landing page, WordCamp Central Schedule, and the WordPress.org news blog.

WordPress 4.8 Sets the Stage for Gutenberg

It should be noted that WordPress 4.8 will not include Gutenberg. It does, however, lay the foundation for Gutenberg to arrive in a future release.

The easiest way to install and test WordPress 4.8 Beta 1 is to install and activate the Beta Tester plugin on a staging site. Once activated, visit Tools > Beta Testing and select Point release nightlies and then update WordPress.

If you believe you’ve encountered a bug, you can report it to the Alpha/Beta section of the WordPress support forums. Please provide as much detail about the bug as possible. WordPress 4.8 is tentatively scheduled for release June 8th.

18 Comments


  1. Wow. What a YAWN! Without the new Gutenberg editor, this release is a snore. A couple of new widgets (without using a plugin)…whoop-de-dooooo!

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  2. Actually, what to expect seems to be a bunch of security patches, vulnerabilities, and problems. 5 security updates to 4.7 already.

    Skip 4.8 – how about taking some time to pour a new foundation for wordpress, call it 5.0. Do a general cleaning and get rid of all of the legacy stuff. Keep 4.8.x as a LTS and move forward with less problems.

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    1. That’s a great idea, especially if 4.7.x became a LTS release with at least 2 years of support while 5.0 launched with minimal requirements bumped to php 5.6, (with the promise of dropping it for php 7.1 within a year, to give plugins and hosting providers time to adapt), MariaDB 10.1.x and other current technologies. Damn, maybe they could even drop Apache…
      It would become safer, faster and easier to code for, while also forcing hundreds of hosting providers to embrace the current year instead of being stuck in the 2000s.

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    2. Do a general cleaning and get rid of all of the legacy stuff.

      Yeah because huge rewrites are easy and never go wrong… Wait, they almost always do.

      I agree with you on the spirit of the comment but piecewise rewrites are almost always the best way to do these things, esp when you have a large base of users. Look at 4.7… 5 patches already and it was a minor release. Imagine what would happen with a large-scale rewrite.

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  3. WordPress is kinda getting like my Android when it comes to updates these days. Like Rob and Alex mention, maybe skip such frequency and actually wait for a major push that really takes WordPress to a new level?

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  4. For the non-developer, the image, audio, and video widgets will be welcome. Adding an image to a text widget is pretty confusing for someone at the technical level of most of my clients.

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    1. Only there is a plugin (and has been in the repo for many years already) that does that job excellent.
      Since the “new” widget is based on that existing plugin, there really is nothing new under the sun!

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  5. While I agree in spirit with dropping legacy code, bumping minimum requirements, pushing hosts to advance their technology stacks, etc… I think we have to keep in mind just how many average, everyday, non-technical users WordPress has.

    When you’re dealing with this many users, sometimes even the smallest changes leave people in utter confusion. With so many variations amongst hosts, and so many non-technical users spread across a bunch of different platforms, a complete re-write of the codebase could cause widespread issues across hundreds of thousands of sites (if not millions).

    There’s no question that we all want more, bigger, better features. But can you really fault them for wanting to ship these couple of enhancements, instead of sitting on them for another couple of months? Like Sallie mentioned, for many users, the new media widgets are a big deal.

    At times, I also get frustrated with the pace at which WordPress introduces new features. I have to remind myself of its user base. And the vast sea of plugins that add 100x the functionality of WordPress itself. And the fact that all of it is available to me for free. And how I’ve been able to make an entire career for myself because of it.

    I appreciate the efforts of the 4.8 team, as well as everyone in the community who continues to move WordPress forward… regardless of its pace.

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    1. There’s no question that we all want more, bigger, better features.

      Actually we don’t.

      We want a safer, more modern and less bloated version of WordPress!

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  6. UGH I just updated to 4.8 and I hate having the visual editor in the text widget! It automatically opens in the visual tab and messes up all of my html coding. Is there any way around this?

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    1. Haven’t updated yet – just to clarify, it messes up your existing HTML, or are images/videos, etc, left untouched? If it’s the former, that’s not good. :/

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      1. Yeah, it messes up my existing html when I go to edit it. :( So far it looks like my biggest issue is with it stripping my paragraph tags and inserting line breaks, which totally messes up my whole design as I use widgets in my header, footer, and home page.

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      2. Crap, that’s what I do too. Saw Weston reply to you, will dig into that.
        Looks like it can be fixed/avoided?

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      1. Oh thank goodness, hopefully they’ll add an html option! Right now I use a plugin to handle html issues in my post editor, but it doesn’t work for widgets. I do everything in html, and I need to keep it spaced out with line breaks so I can easily read it, but the visual editor turns them into visual breaks which sucks!

        I saw you posted there a link for how to prevent stripping, but I can’t view it as I’m not a slack member. Can you share how to do that?

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      2. As it stands right now, the Text widget’s behavior has been made to align with the post editor.

        Curious why the “Disable the visual editor when writing” setting via the User Profile is not respected for these widgets as it is with the post editor. That would be helpful.

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