So “Smith” the newest WordPress update was released earlier this week which means some changes for a few people. Most of the updates were back-end ones that dealt with editing images as well as a few admin functions as well. They improved their visual editor, media play lists and widgets, just to name a few changes.
Below are the major changes that every one who uses WordPress should know:
Improved Widget Interface: While the old widget interface set the standard for drag-and-drop UI when it was introduced, it was time for an overhaul. The developer team took the Widget Customizer plugin and essentially built it into the core. The biggest changes that come with the new widget interface are live previews, among others:
- Editing existing widgets
- Adding a new widgets
- Widget reordering
- Entirely remove Widgets
- Adding a new widget
Updated Visual Editor: The visual editor has received a major overhaul (both under the hood and on the UI end), adding a horizontal line button, updated Plupload, and an updated TinyMCE. Small visual changes seem to have been applied to many different button icons. The new visual editor brings with it gallery previews, meaning no more place holder boxes for galleries! You’ll have a live preview of your gallery, just like you do with images and other media. TinyMCE has also been updated to version 4.0 for WordPress 3.9. Plupload 2.x has made it’s way in, as well. It handles most of the file upload interfaces in WordPress. The updated visual editor also brings drag & drop functionality, allowing you to drag images from your desktop, and drop them right into the post. They’ll be automatically formatted to fit the post.
Live Theme Preview Additions: Live theme preview gives you a way to see how your site would look using a different theme. This has been around for a while and WordPress is finally adding new features to the framework they’ve built. Apart from the usual customizations options like color, title and whatever else is defined by the theme, you can now add widgets and rearrange them, seeing exactly how they will look once saved. In addition, the header image facility has received an overhaul and now provides even more flexibility.
Easier Theme Installation: The new theme installation interface is a vast improvement over the old. It will be blatantly obvious to anyone who’s ever seen the pre-WordPress 3.9 theme installation screen. Installing new themes is even easier now, too. The theme installation interface has been totally redone. Some of the most popular themes are displayed immediately in the “Featured” tab, for quick installation. There are also tabs for popular themes and latest themes. The feature filter has been moved into it’s own tab, and has been generally cleaned up.
Audio & Video Playlists: Users are now able to create audio and video playlists with WordPress 3.9. They work as a shortcode, just like the image galleries do currently. Uploading audio and video is handled through the usual media uploader, with images and everything else. From there, you have the option to add them to a playlist. A neat little feature is that WordPress 3.9 will try to automatically fetch album cover artwork using the ID3 tags in your media file.
Key Points For Developers: The database layer has also been improved, making it more fault-resistant and bringing improved compatibility with PHP 5.5 and MySQL 5.6. For example, PHP’s mysqli library is now used when PHP 5.5+ is available. Autosave functionality has been improved, as well. Your themes can now make use of HTML5 galleries and captions. Adding
add_theme_support( 'html5', array( 'gallery', 'caption' ) );to your theme’s functions.php file will enable HTML5 galleries and captions. Symlinked plugins are a new thing to WordPress 3.9. While it was technically possible in the past, it’s now fully supported:
“One of the cool little features included with 3.9 is the ability to symlink plugin directories. While it has been possible to symlink plugins in the past, functions such as plugins_url() return the wrong URL, which causes breakage in most plugins.”
If you’re a theme or a plugin developer, don’t forget to update your repositories. For some items you may just need to change your “Tested Up To” strings, in other cases (especially if you utilize heavily modified editor or upload configurations) you may need to look at the core changes in more detail.
If this new update is causing you any problems, simply try removing some old plugins you no longer need or use. Otherwise it should be compatible with most themes and newer plugins.
Have you noticed a difference on your WordPress page and do you like it better? Why or why not?
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