WordPress 2.7 is released
I'll give Brad a pass on being a tad premature with the WordPress 2.7's announcement, because I know that he -- like many of us who use WordPress to power our self-hosted blogs -- was just super-excited about the new release. Well, the wait is over and the official release for WordPress 2.7 is now available from WordPress.org.
WordPress 2.7, named "Coltrane" in honor of the Jazz legend, is a pretty significant step forward in WordPress's history. As Brad noted in his first look at the 2.7 beta, most of these changes are on the backend, but they are designed to greatly enhance your productivity and speed in maintaining your blog. On the front-end side, threaded comment support and support for "sticky" posts make it easier for readers to communicate with one another and access important information.
You can check out the WordPress Codex for 2.7 to see some of the technical details behind the new changes. I had a chance to talk to Mark Jaquith, one of the lead developers for WordPress .org, about the new release and some of his favorite features.
Download Squad: WordPress 2.7 is a pretty radical change from WordPress 2.5/2.6 and the 2.x series before it. What went into the development and what are some of your favorite UI features?
Mark Jaquith: We did a series of user tests on the 2.5/2.6 admin as well as on an experimental branch nicknamed "Crazyhorse." It involved eye tracking and timing and other nerdy goodies. We got a ton of data from this, as well as a new UI resource in the form of Jane Wells, now an Automattic employee. Jane came in with a lot of UI and usability knowhow, but relative unfamiliarity with WordPress, at least compared to the core developers.
That turned out to be a really good combination, as she challenged a lot of things that we had just sort of taken for granted, or written off as too difficult to fix properly. She was able to tell us exactly why those things needed to be fixed, and back it up with real data. This was a huge change from before, where we'd do things based on instinct or bow to the loudest voices shouting about a problem they were having. I found myself looking at UI issues from new perspectives, and I think the quality of our UI work improved measurably. Everyone seemed really excited about 2.7 development. We had over 150 people contribute code to the release, and many in the core team put in long hours sweating the details together.
My favorite UI features are the customizable post screen and the menu system. I'm especially proud of the new Publish module on the post screen. It's a small thing, but it's an essential and powerful area. I spent a lot of time on that, figuring out ways to make it more intuitive. One example: if you set a post date to a time in the
future, the "Publish" button changes to "Schedule," on the fly. That way you're absolutely certain of what happens when you press that button.
DLS: What are your favorite WordPress 2.7 features or additions?
Mark: My number one favorite feature is the comment moderation keyboard shortcuts. Dealing with comments has always been tedious. Anyone who has ever moderated more than ten comments in one sitting has gotten
mouse fatigue trying to click those "Spam" and "Approve" and "Delete" links over and over. Now, you can moderate comments -- even reply to them -- all without touching the mouse. It's fast, it's efficient, and anyone who gets more than ten comments a day is going to fall in love with it.
My second favorite feature is probably the built-in core upgrades. Too many people are running old versions of WordPress, and a big reason for that is not lack of knowledge, but fear of the upgrade process. This makes upgrading really fast, and really simple. I hope it means that more people will be keeping their WordPress site up to date!
DLS: Auto-updating of the WordPress core is a huge, huge addition. Is there anything (that you know of) that users need to check with their host or server configurations to use this feature?
Mark: The WordPress documentation has a list of compatible hosts
(http://codex.wordpress.org/Core_Update_Host_Compatibility) but there
are certainly things you can do to make things go smoothly. They're a little geeky, but once you get them sorted out, you should be good from then on.
There are two upgrade methods:
The first, and the fastest, is the direct method. This happens only if the server has the ability to overwrite your WordPress files. You'll have to check the "ownership" of the files as well as their permissions. Check with your host about these settings.
The second method is FTP, which is slower, but the only option for many people. For this, you'll usually want the "owner" of the files to be your FTP username. If you can edit your WordPress files via FTP, you're probably good to go here. With this method, you'll get asked for your FTP information.
We hope that web hosts will help their users get any initial permissions tweaks done -- it's in their interest to keep WordPress installs on their server secure and up-to-date!
DLS: Are there any backend code changes you guys are especially proud of or happy with?
Mark: The bulk of the effort was focused on the admin UI, but some backend
stuff was changed. The number one "hidden" backend change was the addition of the comments API. Wouldn't it be cool if you could moderate your comments from your iPhone or from your desktop blogging application? Stay tuned!
DLS: Is there anything for users upgrading to be aware of in advance?
Mark: Any plugin that modifies the administration interface (like custom admin themes) is certainly going to break, but that's to be expected. The good news is that while a lot changed visually, not that much
changed as far as API functions and core WordPress functions. Fewer things are going to break that you'd expect.
Remember that 2.6.5 is still secure -- so if you want to wait a few days to see if your favorite plugins come out with updated versions, you could. Of course, we'll all be partying without you!
I'd like to thank Mark for taking the time to talk to me about WordPress 2.7. WordPress 2.7 is free and available from WordPress.org. If you're hesitant about the upgrade (mine went perfectly from 2.6.5 to 2.7), check out these plugin, theme and host from the WordPress Codex.
And check out our gallery of WordPress 2.7 screenshots that highlight some of our favorite features!