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.
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.
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.
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.
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.