I use WordPress to power this blog so I always like to take a close look at new versions to see if they will help or hurt my workflow. Over a year ago I wrote extensively about WordPress 2.5, which was a drastic overhaul of all aspects of the admin tool. I failed to write about the changes that came with WordPress 2.7, despite it also being a pretty massive interface redesign — the foundation of which was set with 2.5. I have really loved the change, though it did take some time to get used to.
WordPress 2.8 became available today, bringing with it some very nice improvements, and so far as I can tell, no drawbacks.
First and foremost: you can now upgrade through the admin tool (I think this is new, but I’m not 100% sure).
The upgrade message appears at the top of the page as usual:
When you go to the upgrade screen, it provides you with the option to upgrade automatically:
The whole upgrade takes place behind the scenes without you having to do a thing:
Previously I would have to: Backup my database. Download the zip file. Unzip it. Open up my FTP software. Navigate to the right directory. Pull over the individual files and folders that I’d want to upgrade (in fear of replacing a file that I’d fine tuned on my own). Go to the admin tool. Activate the upgrade. And cross my fingers.
This time the whole process took less than a minute and everything on my blog still looks beautiful. Yippee!
Another big change is the Widget management interface. It’s a lot cleaner to scan and better compartmentalized.
They’ve separated out Inactive Widgets from the rest of the pack so you can save your settings without having to publish the widget on your blog, and now allow you to have multiple instances of the same widget — big improvement.
Most notably, now you can now edit widgets on the fly without having to constantly hit the Save Changes button. Previously when you made any changes to a widget, you would first have to hit Save for the single widget, then you’d have to submit changes for the whole page. It was an annoying process if you were making lots of little tweaks to a widget and wanting to quickly view the changes on your blog. I’m really glad that’s been fixed.
Another major upgrade is the ability to search the entire Themes directory from within the admin tool and install a theme with one click.
You can toggle between the Manage Themes page and Install Themes page here:
Search for themes by name, author, or specific feature. You can also see featured themes or recently updated ones:
I’m pretty much married to Cutline for now, but for someone just setting up their blog this is a really simple and useful way of finding the perfect look and feel.
And so much more
Read the WordPress blog for more highlights on this release, and check out the release notes to see every last detail (180 updates and 790 bug fixes), as well as a peek into what’s coming next.
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Livia Labate says
Hey Whitney, I was just upgrading and was wondering, what widgets do you use? And what other non-widgets have you added to your blog to enhance what it does?
(one weird thing about the new install to me is that once it's done, it's a dead end “install successful” no call to action for a next step. Not a big deal, but just felt weird once I was done.
Whitney Hess says
Yes I'm glad you mentioned that. I noticed it but forgot to write it down.
It would be clearer, and more in line with their plugin upgrades, if there
was a simple link at the bottom to bring you back to the Dashboard.
I'll write up a post on the widgets I use in the next couple days. Thanks
Lisa Rex @lisarex says
Thanks for the informative post, and really glad to hear that the upgrade is done behind the scenes. The newly designed to widget area sounds interesting. Setting up seven different widgetized sections was my major frustration — hope it's better now.
Dorelle Rabinowitz says
Any advice on a web host? (Am setting up a blog to go with my site – with a custom theme – and on my current host its awful.)