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With three release candidates available at the time of writing, and a bleeding edge build of the software released nightly, WordPress version 3.1 is steadily gaining hype within the WordPress community. With the WordPress brand having shown a considerable increase in popularity during 2010, version 3.1 of the software is fast becoming one of the most anticipated software releases of early 2011.
Several months ago, Memeburn explored the features users could expect from WordPress version 3.1. Today, we’ll look back on this list, observe how each feature has developed and discuss some new features that made it into this release.
Originally, I perceived this feature as making use of some kind of shortcode to link to URLs within the same WordPress installation. It seems that, in its current state, this functionality serves more the purpose of finding the content and linking to the correct URL rather than my original perception. It’s still incredibly useful, especially if you have plenty of content to sift through when linking from one article to another.
AJAX-ified Admin Screens
Browsing through page after page of themes has become considerably easier (and quicker) with the new AJAX-ified admin screens. This functionality, as far as I can see, is on all pages that have pagination of some kind (the posts “manage” page, for example). Here’s to many more AJAX-ified functionalities within the WordPress administration system. This definitely goes a long way to enhancing the user experience and makes updating your website even more of a breeze than it already is.
The admin bar is undoubtebly one of the hot topics of this season. Some love it, others hate it. I reckon it could greatly ease the user experience in that the user is able to navigate his or her administration area while viewing their website’s frontend. This is particularly useful on WordPress.com (where the admin bar was originally implemented), as well as in a WordPress Multisite installation, where all the websites are listed for quick navigation and access.
… and a quick word on how to disable it.
If you don’t like the admin bar (remember, it’s only visible to logged in users), add this to your theme’s `functions.php` file to get rid of the admin bar once and for all:
Custom Post Type enhancements
WordPress 3.0 introduced a feature called “Custom Post Types”, which was release in it’s purest form, allowing for user feedback and discussion. This feedback was received and the team have delivered. Amongst the numerous enhancements to Custom Post Types is a facility to create an archive page (via the new `has_archive` parameter when creating the post type), allowing users to easily display an archive of their custom post type data for that post type, as well as the ability to move the administration menu for the post type around within the WordPress admin menu (they could, for example, be grouped under a main post type).
Look out for more enhancements to this popular feature when version 3.1 arrives. I’m almost certain there will be many more features to experiment with.
Advanced taxonomy queries
Attention: This feature is not for the faint of heart.
Taxonomies are means of categorising information. For example, we’re used to the default post categories and post tags. These are both taxonomies. In addition, it is possible to create custom taxonomies (for example, artists or genres) and sort posts or custom post types within them. This functionality makes querying the database for these taxonomies a lot easier. It is now possible to create more advanced queries, not unlike a generic MySQL database query, using the WordPress database abstraction layer. A welcome new feature for developers, for certain. More information can already be found in the WordPress Codex on the WP_Query page.
Post Formats (originally referred to as “Post templates / Post styles”)
Easily one of the most anticipated features in WordPress 3.1 are post formats. Post formats are a means of classifying your post as a particular type of content (for example, an image or a quote) without needing to “disturb” the categories, tags or other taxonomy relationships for that post, as well as being able to customise the output of that post depending on it’s format.
This functionality has a strong tumblog feel to it, as this seems to be the use that has sky-rocketed the hype around post formats. We should see many tumblogging themes rising out of this functionality. I’m interested to see what other uses developers find for the functionality.
QuickPress template tag
Based on the WordPress Trac, it looks like this functionality may be pushed to an early version 3.2 release. I’m looking forward to seeing how this functionality changes the way theme developers work, as it would greatly ease frontend posting (such as in the popular P2 theme) and change the way theme developers approach their theme’s user experience…
But wait, there’s more!
New default data – “Sample Page”
When installing WordPress, I’m sure we’ve all seen the “Hello World” post, the “About” page and the comment from “Mr. WordPress”. With version 3.1, the “About” page seems to have been given the boot, in favour of a fresh, savvy “Sample Page”, with a few paragraphs of somewhat more relevant data than the original “About” page. This change echos the constant streamlining and enhancing which the WordPress team seem to be doing with the user experience.
Another example of this is moving all the notes and tips on the admin screens into the “Contextual Help” tab for that page, which is where they should be. This frees up the screen real estate for more valuable information, while also keeping it neat for advanced users and providing a one-stop shop for all the help a new user may need for the screen they’re working on. This gets a definite thumbs up from me.
While 3.1 is only a point release and not a major, it certainly feels like a major release, with all the excitement and hype around it at present. Here’s to version 3.1, we look forward to your arrival.
If you’re keen to test out the latest WordPress version 3.1 release candidate, you can find it here, on the WordPress website under the Release Archive.