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One of the most exciting parts of Matt Mullenweg’s session at WordCamp Europe 2020 Online was the live demo of the new image editing tools that will land in the next release of the Gutenberg plugin. The video is already available on (and embedded below). At the 8:30 mark, Mullenweg and Matías Ventura, lead architect of the Gutenberg project, unveil a collection of the latest block editor improvements.

The six-minute demo shows a handful of new features that are coming in WordPress 5.5, which is scheduled for release in August. These include more polished interactions, copying and pasting blocks, block patterns, and new design tools for the cover block.

Ventura also highlighted the team’s progress on adding rich image editing capabilities to Gutenberg.

These new tools allow users to easily rotate, flip, and crop the image inside the block. Cropping with zoom mode (shown in the image below), is particularly useful with the live preview showing the results in context of the rest of the content on the page.

The current iteration only allows for cropping with fixed aspect ratios but contributors are working on adding free-form crop to the lineup. They are also discussing refinements such as adding snackbar notices and queuing up image edits to only apply once all edits are complete.

In the past, WordPress users have frequently had to seek out alternative applications to perform quick image edits, taking them outside of the content editor and interrupting their workflow. With the new inline image editing tools in place, most simple edits can now be handled by the image block, making WordPress a more compelling place for writing content.

Ventura confirmed that these tools change the source image – they do not not just apply CSS changes. He also said the API for image editing will be available in other parts of the editor. The Gutenberg team is working on making the tools more extensible so developers can add things like image filters.

Contributors are hoping the new image editing tools will be ready for inclusion in WordPress 5.5. Users who want to test them ahead of the release can install the Gutenberg plugin and watch for the upcoming 8.3 update.