WordPress 5.4 “Adderley” Includes Improved Editor, New Blocks, and Developer APIs

WordPress 5.4 “Adderley”, named in honor American jazz musician Nat Adderley, was released today and is now available for download. The update includes new social icons and buttons blocks, usability improvements to the block editor, and new APIs for developers to use in plugins and themes.

This release saw contributions from 168 new volunteers. There were 552 contributors in total.

The release was led by Matt Mullenweg, Francesca Marano, and David Baumwald. They were joined by the following contributors in supporting roles in getting version 5.4 released:

Users can update directly from their WordPress admin or grab a copy from the download page. For more information on updating, view the WordPress 5.4 support guide.

New Block Editor Features

Screenshot of the cover block with a gradient background and an inner social icons block.
Cover block with new gradient background and social icons block.

Users who have not been running the Gutenberg plugin, the project behind editor development, will enjoy an improved editor experience. A slew of features were developed in the past several months. This release will include features from Gutenberg 6.6 through 7.5. Bug fixes from more recent versions of the plugin are also included.

The development team refined the user experience with updates such as making it easier to select multiple blocks and pinning the toolbar to the top of the screen on mobile devices. They introduced a Welcome Guide modal to familiarize end-users with the block editor. Block breadcrumbs are easier to navigate.

The biggest user-facing change is that the block editor now defaults to fullscreen mode. Users who do not prefer fullscreen mode can revert this change by clicking the tools and options button (vertical ellipsis icon) and uncheck the “Fullscreen mode” option.

WordPress has added a gradient background feature to the button and cover blocks. Users can change the color of individual bits of text within all rich text fields (e.g., paragraphs, lists). Plus, the featured image box supports dragging and dropping an image.

The block editor has two new blocks: social icons and buttons. The social icons block allows users to add a group of linked icons to their social networks. This feature will become more useful once WordPress moves to full-site editing in the future. For now, usage may be limited by being able to place them only in post or page content. The buttons block lets end-users create a group of buttons. The existing button block is allowed only within the buttons block now.

With a few exceptions, WP Tavern has covered every major release of the Gutenberg plugin that will be included in this WordPress update. You can catch up all the details of each update via the following links:

Changes for Developers

WordPress 5.4 introduces several changes, some of which break backward compatibility, for plugin and theme authors. For a full overview, see our coverage of the most important code changes in our version 5.4 developer preparation post.

Theme authors now have access to the Gradients API for the cover and button blocks. They should also make sure their theme block styles handle the new social icons and buttons blocks.

There are some breaking changes that theme authors may need to account for. Several CSS classes have been renamed within the block editor. The core team also rewrote the HTML markup for the calendar widget and updated its classes.

Block developers can now use the Collections API to group collections of blocks by namespace. The Variations API allows developers to create variations of an individual block. The new social icons block makes good use of this API to create variations for each of the social icons.

Plugin and theme authors have new hooks for adding custom fields to nav menus. WordPress 5.4 also introduces the apply_shortcodes() alias for the former do_shortcode() function.


25 responses to “WordPress 5.4 “Adderley” Includes Improved Editor, New Blocks, and Developer APIs”

  1. “Improved Editor” …

    Let’s try this:

    Have the Toolbar on top
    Now Try to put a block, any block, inside a container, such as a Group, Cover, Columns, etc…

    Impossible, right?

    How is this an Improved Editor? Yes, things are getting better, but it’s 2 steps forward, 1 step backwards, and with dozens of contributors, nobody is seeing the obvious “craziness”? I reported this obvious bug on GitHub a month ago, and the initial response I got was that it was done on purpose (???), then it was tagged as a must have for WP 5.4, then they changed their minds, and we are left with this… So those of us who like having the toolbar on top, we have to change that behavior, just to move the blocks inside containers, and then switch back to having the Toolbar on top.

    Here is the reference I’m talking about: https://github.com/WordPress/gutenberg/issues/20078

    • Two steps forward and one step back is still one step forward. :)

      I’m not going to argue that everything is perfect with the block editor. It’s not — not by a long shot. However, I will argue that the editor in 5.4 is an improvement, on the whole, in comparison to 5.3.

    • I’m with you Nick.

      How is anyone but a power user who has the toolbar docked to the top supposed to know that drag and drop is only available when the toolbar is not docked to the top?

      I ought to know. I could not figure it out and after a few frustrating days I found out by asking someone.

      This is progress?

  2. I come from Việt Nam. My customer like classic editor than Gutenberg. Because it’s easy to use for writing a post. Gutenberg is good for a page. It’s the same as a builder.
    I hope in 5.4 version keep classic editor.

      • It’s good practice to test any major updates against a staging site, regardless. This way, you can test for any breakage, particularly with your theme and plugin setup, before updating your live/production site. Other than the theme styling issues discussed in the post, which have been known for a while, I have not run into any problems with the update.

    • Can you describe some of the issues you’ve experienced or what you would like to see happen as the block editor progresses?

      I am kind of the opposite. I disliked the classic editor so much that I never used it other than to paste in what I wrote in an offline editor. I use the block editor a lot more today. There are still a few things I find frustrating from time to time, but many of the major issues for me have been fixed in the past year.

      I also use the Gutenberg plugin, which is usually several releases ahead of WordPress. The latest updates have some nice UI improvements over what you will see in WordPress 5.4.

      • …”what you would like to see happen as the block editor progresses?”

        I love Gutenberg conditionally. I love it when used with my 51 custom made ACF Blocks, along some important plugins like the Editorsit, Getwid, etc… On it’s own, it’s near garbage in terms to what a page builder is supposed to do (more on this below). I can code and make my own blocks function exactly how I want them too, but have no control over other blocks, without some CSS hacks, like the core blocks. We need Gutenberg, or a third party plugin, like Editors kit for example to have some controls added universally on all blocks, such us:

        Max. width of a block.
        Paddings and Margins of a block

        I am keeping my list simple and not complicating things like animations, etc…

        The only way right now to have some sort of control in terms of max width, pad. and margins on blocks that do not have these features, is to create custom CSS classes for the blocks, and manually code the CSS in whatever I want to do. I can (and) do create and code these custom CSS classes manually, but how many people out there can do the same, including the so called professional web designers?

        • I think the OP is probably more interested in using it as a content editor as opposed to a page builder, at least based on what he said. Classic editor is not cut out to be a page builder either. I find the block editor to be a superior content editor.

          The block editor feels light years away from being a true page builder at this point. I think we’d agree on some of the things that need to happen in the more immediate future.

          Right now, full-width and wide-width theme support does not handle near enough max-width use cases. I also dislike that they are grouped with alignment classes. In design, I typically have a larger range of max-width classes. The current system needs to be re-thought.

          Padding and margin classes need to be available for themes to opt into. Currently, users are stuck with faux margin/padding using the spacer block, which is based on set pixels instead of theme-defined sizes. That’s one of the most irritating things to me right now.

  3. Since updating, I can’t edit any of my posts anymore and the following error occurs all the time: The editor has encountered an unexpected error.

    Installed Plugins: Yoast, Optimus, Cache Enabler.

    Recovery options do not work. Has anyone else encountered this issue?

  4. I started using the block editor a little while ago on main projects and for the most part have been finding it an enjoyable experience, despite my initial scepticism a year ago. I have been testing the various iterations in the form of the Gutenberg plugin, so what’s in the WP5.4 version is a bit of a blur right now. I will say though is, the UI demonstrated in the latest version of the GB Plugin will be a big big improvement when it gets rolled into WordPress.

  5. Recently I updated my WordPress to 5.4 and it seems it a nice update. I didn’t do a detailed check, but it seems it’s working fine. Keep developing the Gutenberg Editor, because it is one of the most important parts of WordPress.

  6. I have the problem that when i want to use the Code Editor – i cannot switch to Fullscreen Mode. I can check it but it didn’t work. My Code Editor Window has the same size as the Visual Editor. I have noc possibility ti change the size – this sucks. Why i am forced to this size?? What is it good for?


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