So WordPress have just released their latest update, WordPress 4.0 or ‘Benny’. We thought that we would take a quick look at see what the latest version of WordPress has to offer. I think the upshot is that there is nothing ground breaking here. As a WordPress theme developer we are mainly interested in additions and changes to the API and underlying functions. How the new WordPress update has effected building themes, time will tell, we will only find out as we update older versions of WordPress and try and come up with more interesting bespoke solutions for clients. For us the interesting aspect is the further development of the Customisation API. As a user/site manager of WordPress websites we don’t expect there to be much of an impact.
The Key features can be summarised as:
- Slicker looking Media Library
- Expanding WYSWYG text area to fit your content
- Embedded content handling
- UI upgrade for the WordPress plug-ins search facility
- Upgraded the Customiser API
- The ORDER_BY facility has been upgraded for WP_QUERY
- External libraries have been updated
Media Library GUI
Essentially the update allows for a Grid view or List view (the classic view we are all used to). Its not ground breaking but a nice touch to the GUI.
Again, just a little tweak to make our lives easier. As I am writing this the post content is scrolling, I haven’t updated, but in WordPress 4.0 the content text area expands to the content of the pane. Personally I am not too sure if this is a good thing. I am not too sure that I want to be having to scroll up and down the browser window to get to the Post edit functions. I think I am happy being able to scroll up and down the contents of the WYSIWYG text area independently of the browser window.
The other addition to the WYSIWYG editor is that it will visualise your embedded content better. e.g. in the “visual” tab of the WYSIWYG pane you can see the YouTube video. They claim to have added support for a lot of embedded material. We have yet to investigate further.
WordPress plugins search UI
Basically in WordPress 4.0 they have added some short cut links for, example, most popular plugins and they have changed the view from a list based view to a grid layout. So the Plugins search page looks slicker, there is a bit more information on each plugin like number of times they have been download, compatibility with your WordPress version.
A nice addition though is that if you mark plugins as a favourite on your WordPress.org account then you can go directly to a tab only showing them.
New Customiser API features
The Customiser API allows developers to add easy to manage switches/changes to the look and feel of a WordPress theme. A ig new addition is the new Panel functionality, that lets you group content on the sidebar. Panels are used to group customiser sections and sections group controls. Panels slide over to the side, rather than expanding down, and contain vertically-expanding sub-sections. All the core customiser controls will now support descriptions as well. Also more core customiser controls have been added so that less functions need to be written by developers to implement common core features. But rather than go down a complete route of Geekdom listing all the new Customizer API code why not read about them on the WordPress.org website.
Thats about it, so nothing too revolutionary, mostly cosmetic changes to WordPress. We can experiment with WordPress updates on our development servers, we can test things out before we upgrade but not everybody has this capability so be careful if you are thinking of upgrading to WordPress 4.0. It is entirely possible that something may not work on upgrade, it depends on your theme and how it was built although generally WordPress is OK. The Golden rule is BACK EVERYTHING UP BEFORE YOU UPGRADE and then when you have done that CHECK THAT YOU HAVE BACKED EVERYTHING UP then upgrade if you want to.