WordPress 3.5 – New Features, Fixes & Addons
Today saw the release of WordPress 3.5. This version is the latest release of WordPress and introduces a lot of new features, and unusually for WordPress, a removal of a feature.
I'm going to talk you through some of the new features of WordPress 3.5.
Removal of Link Manager
Interestingly, one of the more controversial features is the removal of the "Links" down the side. This was discussed in length and in the end the process of removal is done during installation. If you currently use the Links Manager, it will be still there when you upgrade. However for new installations it will not be present. To re-include the Link Manager for new installations you have to use the Links Manager Plugin.
It's an interesting move by WordPress, as I cannot remember the last time a feature was removed from WordPress, and I've been using WordPress since Wordpress 1.5! It is an interesting removal as well, as from an SEO perspective sitewide links aren't great, but I think it's a move for WordPress to distance themselves from a blog system to a full content management system.
It also sets a precedent for how features are removed from WordPress once they become largely redundant. Could we see other core functionality being removed at a later date? Also, what happens when the links manager needs an update, and how does it work with older blogs? Only time will tell.
New Media Manager
One new feature is the rather slick looking new interface for the Media Manager. Instead of being rather sequential like the old one, this version is a lot more fluid, akin to displays seen on tablet apps. You can drag & upload multiple images at once (as usual), but now you can change their details and - thank goodness - you can now 'insert' multiple images at the same time. This is a feature I'm most excited about, as it saves time when writing posts.
Twenty Twelve Theme
One of the new features and probably the most visible features is the brand new Twenty Twelve Theme. It was going to be introduced in a previous version of WordPress, earlier on in the year, however it has finally been given the go ahead in 3.5.
Interestingly, unlike the other iterations of the" Twenty x" themes, many of the in built features of Twenty Twelve (such as the header images) are by default switched off. I think the reasoning behind it is that it will encourage users to edit the theme via the WordPress administration, rather than hack the core theme files.
Also, Twenty Twelve is a responsive theme as well, which looks great, and uses HTML 5 as well.
Installation via Favourites
Another interesting feature (one which I think could be very useful) is an addition to the "Add New Plugin" section of WordPress - the option to easily list your favourite WordPress plugins and install them as per each install. For developers and those who create multiple WordPress sites, this is a huge timesaver, and really is my favourite new update. If you use WordPress, either to develop affiliate sites, for clients or even testing, you really should use this new feature.
To use this new feature, log into Wordpress.org and browse to the WordPress plugins section. Find the plugin you wish to favourite and click on "Favourite", located beneath the download button.
Return to WordPress and click on "Plugins > Add New" in the back end of WordPress and then click on the "Favourites" button located along the top navigation. After inserting your WordPress username you will get a list of all your favourite WordPress plugins, that you can install quickly and easily.
It's an interesting move for WordPress, probably so more people interact with their site (which I think is a great thing, as WordPress is stronger with a strong focused community, as with my plugins I've started using the WordPress Forums for support). Much of the site is slightly lacking and the support forums and plugin feedback sections could do with improving. As this feature requires you to browse the WordPress forum, it is hoped that you in turn rate plugins and give compatability feedback (Matt Mullenweg, in his State of The Word 2012 Address - stated that he wished to improve the Plugin Directory, giving "Amazon Like" reviews for plugins, rather than simply clicking on stars).
From a developer standpoint, I'd love some way to see how many favourites you have for each of your plugins. If for sheer curiosity if nothing else.
New Welcome Screen
Another new feature which is great for new users or those new to WordPress is a brand new Welcome Screen on the dashboard. As well as a welcome screen that appears when WordPress is updated, a larger dashboard appears at the top with links to the key pages within your WordPress Installation.
As an advanced WordPress user, I'm not sure if I'm too keen on this, but it's easy to switch off. It's good for those who aren't familiar with WordPress, so keep it on if you are installing WordPress for a client, as well as learning how to switch it back on! (click on the "Screen Options" tab at the top).
New Reading Settings Interface
A fascinating feature is reading settings. Previously in WordPress if you wished to have a front page and a blog page you had to create two pages, one of which - the blog page - had to be blank. In WordPress 3.5 the blog page can be automatically generated with a new interface, or if you are using WordPress as a content management system you can disable posts altogether, instead just displaying pages.
It'd be interesting to see in later versions if this feature is expanded. One way I could see it expanded is that if an administrator doesn't tick the "Show latest posts on a separate page", then the "Posts" menu link is automatically disabled for all users below Administrator Level.
Other New Features
Other new, but less significant features are the following:-
- The administration interface is now retina display ready, so icons on a variety of retina display devices are crystal clear. They don't look too bad on old monitors as well.
- A variety of accessibility changes have been made, making it easier to use with screenreaders and tablet devices.
- There's a new colour picker (see the picture).
- XML-API (the WordPress API) is switched on by default, so less fiddling setting up your blog if you use apps to blog.