This is likely not the only post you are going to see about WordPress 4.8, but I wanted to take it from a different approach. And that is why this widgets are so freaking cool with this release.
What Widgets You May Ask?
Well, before I get into my two big reasons these widgets are a welcome addition to the collection of default widgets in WordPress 4.8, let’s take a quick look at them.
Text Widget – Improved
Finally, a simple way to format you text widget. In the past, to do this you needed to add some HTML. I had written posts in the past that showed you how to get around that if you didn’t know HTML. Those posts will now be outdated except for one reason I will mention shortly.
Now it is obvious this is a good start and of course they couldn’t fit in all the other options in the editor. So you may have your missing favorite one that, who knows, may or may not end up there in the future. I particularly would like to see the headings and also the ability to insert an image easily here. So maybe after all, my old posts on making it easy to format your text widget will continue to be useful.
Image Widget – New
This is yet another widget that I have share over and over again with users, but you always had to add a plugin or if you were using Jetpack, you had one there. But again, it’s so useful that I am glad there is default one now.
The only downside is that unlike other widgets, you cannot set a linked URL or control the size of the widget in the settings itself, but you can click on the image to edit and add them as you would normally in any image in your WordPress media library.
Video Widget – New
Again, a new widget and very handy. Not a ton of controls that you might find in a 3rd-party widget/plugin, but simple enough to add a video to a widget area.
What I did here was simply insert a video via YouTube via HTML, rather than a direct upload to my media library. This will be a good thing to keep in mind, as you will want to stream in larger videos vs. uploading them to your media library. Instead of uploading it to your media library, just choose Insert from URL.
Audio Widget – New
And lastly, now you can add audio just as easily. So hey, I can add one of my podcasts to a widget area. And the same thing goes for audio as well. For shorter files, you can upload to your media library, but for larger ones you can stream it in.
2 Reasons These Widgets are a Big Deal
Some of you may be asking now, Why these new widgets? Can’t we just use the text widget as we always have?
Maybe haven’t trained WordPress users in the past. Or worked with bloggers and site owners that want things easy. Well, I have and for that very reason, this makes WordPress a bit more easier for the new user and even the long-time user. Not all people spend half of their lives or more in the WordPress dashboard. When they need to make a quick change or addition, even something like remembering that they used the text widget for a video can be added stress. Or even more, how about the person who wants to now add video to a widget area. They don’t have to go searching for a new one.
These widgets make life easier for the casual user (and I’m guessing even for some seasoned users)
And others may be asking, But seriously, do we need to cram more stuff in the sidebars?
Okay, no one should really be asking that. Why? Because widget areas are more than freaking sidebars. Not only do most themes have widget areas in the footer as well, but there are many that the entire homepage is built with widgets. A lot of Genesis child themes are a perfect example of this.
And what about all those page builder that allow you to add widgets where you want them, for example Beaver Builder.
Yes, these little widgets can be used beyond the sidebar.
And yes, those are the two big reasons that this is such a big deal.
Oh, and Two Other Cool Things About WordPress 4.8
Well I can’t leave without mentioning a couple of other things.
Link Boundaries – Or No More Hassles
If you have ever edited a link in your visual editor, you might notice that sometimes it can be a pain to move the cursor outside the link. It’s been kind of wonky and frustrating. So in the end, it actually fixes something rather than it being a new feature.
You will notice that when I click on it to change the link, it create this boundary just for the link to make life easier to change it.
Look! WordPress Events Near You
Well, this may not be something useful to you, but on your dashboard you can now put in your city, or closest city and see what meetups and WordCamps are happening near you along with the WordPress news.
So that’s it. WordPress 4.8 in all its glory. Of course there are changes under the hood that constantly make improvements that you can learn about elsewhere. But for you, I figured these are what would interest you.
So a big thanks as always to the contributors that have helped to make this happen.