Major innovations in WordPress 5.5

By my count there are seven major innovations that are contained within the release of WordPress 5.5:

  1. Improved Gutenberg editing experience
    The “chrome” around the Gutenberg editor has been improved with higher contrast, flatter design and a better experience adding and moving blocks. It is now more intuitive finding the “parent” of a block group, and in many cases the individual block controls have been enhanced particularly in reference to typography controls and background colors.
  2. Code editor is now easier to read
    Switching to “code view” in Gutenberg is now a slightly less alarming experience with better padding between elements and a more favorable font – still you’ll want to drop this code into a proper code editor if you really need to make sense of anything complicated.
  3. Lazy Load for images & Videos
    This is now a core code behavior which should greatly improve site loading speed – still there is no excuse for uploading un-optimized images!
  4. XML Sitemaps
    Another core addtion, but if you use Yoast or something else these plugins have adapted to either disable or augment this default sitemap.
  5. Block Patterns are now part of core
    I have already written two pieces covering the power of block patterns, this is now available without using the Gutenberg plugin. Block patterns are a functional path to building page templates – and coupled with reusable blocks could become a way to build a “gutenberg-only” site configuration.
  6. Gutenberg based image editing
    There is now a way to manipulate and crop images via zoom, aspect ratio and rotation right in the image block. Once saved the manipulated image will be saved in the media library as a unique image (preserving the original image).
  7. Automatic updates for Plugins & Themes
    The plugin array page now has a link for each plugin to activate/deactivate automatic updates and each individual theme detail page will have a similar link (when relevant). Some plugin authors have not opted into this behavior, while at least one other (Gravity Forms) has made the automatic update the only available behavior.

Addendum (Thanks to Steve Stern!)

“With the update to WordPress 5.5, a migration tool known as jquery-migrate will no longer be enabled by default. This may lead to unexpected behaviors in some themes or plugins who run older code. This plugin serves as a temporary solution, enabling the migration script for your site to give your plugin and theme authors some more time to update, and test, their code.”
Enable jQuery Migrate Helper