Hot on HuffPost Tech:

See More Stories
Free Switched iPhone app - try it now!
AOL Tech

WordPress 2.6 released

Only a few months after its last major release, the WordPress crew has just unleashed WordPress 2.6 into the wild. While the changes with this update aren't as visually sweeping as those ushered in with 2.5, but they do add some great new options and optimizations. WordPress encourages users to upgrade, as the old 2.5 branch will no-longer be maintained, and they have outlined the upgrade process here or you can use the fantastic automatic-update plugin.

We've been playing around with 2.6 on our local installs since the first beta was released, and we think this is a very, very solid release.

The WordPress team posted video showing off some of the new features:

Read on for our take on the new WordPress!

What's the same

First things first, the new admin interface introduced in 2.5 is here to stay. While we think the new interface is an improvement, there are alternative design schemes for those that are unhappy with the layout (note: not all of these themes have been updated to 2.6). There have been some minor UI changes and plugin management has been vastly improved (we'll get to that later), but for the most part, the "look" of 2.6 is identical to that of 2.5.

What's different

For us, one of the biggest improvements included with WordPress 2.6 is better plugin management.

In WordPress 2.5, when you selected the "Plugins" tab, this is what you saw:

WordPress 2.5 plugin screen

You had the option of deactivating all plugins, but no way of selectively activating plugins. Historically, WordPress has also always required users to manually remove inactive plugins by deleting the files from their own FTP servers.

Both of these situations have changed in WordPress 2.6. You can now selectively activate and deactivate plugins (using a check box system) and deactivated plugins can be selected and deleted. WordPress also automatically sorts your plugins into "active" "inactive" and "recently active" groupings for easier management.

WordPress 2.6 plugin screen

Another importan behind-the-scenes change in WordPress 2.6 is the default support for remote publishing. In the past, all new installations had XML-RPC and Atom publishing enabled by default. Remote publishing is typically taken advantage of by users who prefer a tool like Mars Edit or Ecto or Windows Live Writer to compose their blog entries, but it can also be used by services like Google Docs, Flickr, and YouTube, for direct-publishing.

As we said, in the past, this was enabled by default. In 2.6, the feature is disabled for new intallations (upgraded installs are grandfathered in). This was purportedly done to limit potential security holes, and while most users probably won't even notice a change, we want to point it out, so that anyone doing a fresh-install won't be alarmed when their blog client can't connect to WordPress.

To enable or disable remote blogging, a new setting exists under "Writing" called, you guessed it -- "Remote Publishing."

The new Remote Publishing setting for WordPress 2.6

What's new

The bulk of the front-end changes to WordPress 2.6 come in the form of new features. One of the most useful features for blogs with multiple authors is the introduction of post-revisioning. Now, you can have a record of each version of a post (kind of like a Wiki) and can compare the differences between versions so that information can be added, removed or reverted. So if you edit a post you originally wrote on Thursday, Friday night after a few too many drinks, you can revert your drunk-blogging with the click of a button, minimizing embarassment.

WordPress 2.6 has also reintroduced the posting bookmarklet, but this time it is improved. Press This! brings some of Tumblr's functionality of easy posting to WordPress. Click the bookmarklet and a window pops up:

Press This! bookmarklet

From this point, you can add text to the link or add a photo, a quote or video. The cool thing is that when you click on "Photo" for instance, you get a link to every image on the page in question, and you can choose to embed that photo in your post.

Press This! photo insertion

Also new to 2.6 is immediate theme previews. Just like, when you click on a theme, you now see how your blog will look rendered in that theme.

WordPress 2.6 has also started integrating Google Gears into WordPress, for Firefox and Internet Explorer users. Right now the support is basic -- just integrating some caches so that pages on the backend load faster -- but there is a lot of potential for the future.

WordPress 2.6 is available now, as as always, is free.

Tags: blogging, blogging platforms, blogging tools, BloggingPlatforms, BloggingTools, google gears, GoogleGears, wordpress, wordpress 2.6, Wordpress2.6, xml-rpc