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What's New in WordPress 3.5

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WordPress 3.5 is about to drop, the 80th version of WordPress to be released since May 2003, it brings with it some changes to help maintain its dominant position as the CMS of choice for bloggers and developers all over the world.

There are some obvious changes that we will all notice immediately and then there are some that maybe not everyone will notice, it is however shaping up to be a great release. Let's take a look at some of what's new!


Responsive, Minimal Twenty Twelve

Twenty Twelve actually became available as a download in October so we have had plenty of time to download it, install it and have a good poke around. It features a very minimal and responsive design and doesn't feature any header image like the previous themes. It is just simple and beautiful. You can modify a few things using the theme customiser however I see this less as an install it and you're up and running theme and more of a create a child theme and use that to extend and customise. It is a welcome change to see something a bit more developer focused and should help developers new to WordPress.

Twenty Twelve

It's a really nicely put together theme and is well commented so should be easy to go through and understand what each bit of code is doing and how you might use it yourself. Remember if you are using Twenty Twelve as your theme create a Child Theme to use for your customisations so your changes don't get wiped out in future updates!

A review has already been posted back in October all about Twenty Twelve so go check it out!


My Admin Looks Better Than Yours

The whole WordPress interface has had some love! First up is the welcome screen, it has received a bit of an update to make it a little more useful. Great for new users to get them started it takes you through some first steps, after you've hidden it though you get the same old WordPress Dashboard (which could do with love as well!). Next up is something a bit more subtle. Everything is a bit more... modern. Text fields look a bit nicer and all the buttons now have a familiar rounded square look much like Twitter Bootstrap.

WordPress 3.5 Welcome Screen

Everything looks a lot slicker especially the Edit Post screen. First up it's clean, the slight changes to the design seem to just work, the "HTML" tab has been renamed "Text" which I don't neccassarily agree with and we now have a single "Add Media" button, but more on that later. The colour picker has been updated in the theme customiser but not it seems in the edit post screen and still no date picker when scheduling posts.

The whole WordPress Dashboard and administration is now also HiDPI (Retina) friendly. Apple have really thrown a spanner in the works for web developers and designers over the last couple of years, seriously increasing the resolution and PPI that screens are using. First with the iPhone and iPad and then with their Retina Macbooks. The WordPress team have put some work into making sure that the WordPress Admin areas all look beautiful on these larger resolution screens.

New Post Screen

TinyMCE has been updated and now also supports HTML5 tags! Finally, a nice little addition, is some new hooks on the edit screen. You now have 3 extra hooks useful for displaying extra branding or instructions to your users or clients.

add_action( 'edit_form_after_title', 'myprefix_edit_form_after_title' );
function myprefix_edit_form_after_title() {
	echo '</pre>
<h2>This is edit_form_after_title!</h2>
<pre>
';
}

add_action( 'edit_form_after_editor', 'myprefix_edit_form_after_editor' );
function myprefix_edit_form_after_editor() {
	echo '</pre>
<h2>This is edit_form_after_editor!</h2>
<pre>
';
}

add_action( 'edit_form_advanced', 'myprefix_edit_form_advanced' );
function myprefix_edit_form_advanced() {
	echo '</pre>
<h2>This is ye olde edit_form_advanced!</h2>
<pre>
';
}
Edit Form Hooks

Media Becomes Fun Again

One of the single biggest changes in WordPress 3.5 is the way media is handled. The media libray has had a much needed overhaul, when you edit an image you now get an edit screen more like the edit post screen. From there you can edit the caption, alternate text and now you can add some new content in the "Attachment Page Content" box. This allows you to add whatever you want and then would be rendered when viewing the attachment page for that particular image. This makes a lot of sense and could make those attachment pages a little more usable.

Media Library

Image manipulation has also been completely changed, Imagick is now the default engine for manipulation and gives better image quality for automatically resized images especially if you have images with extended colour profiles as GD discards these. If you don't have Imagick 2.2.0+ available on your host then WordPress will fall back to GD. You can get more information on this on the WordPress Core Blog that only went up in the last day or so!

The Media Uploads Folder can no longer be set from within Settings->Media. You will now have to define it in your wp-config.php file if you want to change this location.

The media library isn't the only big change, the media uploader has had some major love! As I mentioned before in post screens you now have a single "Add Media" button which brings up a lovely new modal box with a much clearer workflow on how to upload, edit and insert your images. You can add Featured images from within the Add Media screen now and insert a gallery directly as well. No more uploading, saving, moving tabs and hoping it might appear. Things work a lot more how you would expect them to, much more like Facebook or Flickr. With the gallery you can now drag and drop images to change the order in which they are displayed and adding images from the media library to your post or gallery is much more intuitive.

Gallery

If you are using the media uploader in your theme or plugin you should probably check for compatibilty, whilst things should work the same, there may be some issues.


oEmbeds Get Smarter

oEmbeds are one of those nice little features that not everyone knows about. Certainly I wasn't aware until about WordPress 3.4, you can read my reaction to oEmbeds on my site. In a nutshell it allows you to simply paste a URL from one of the supported third party services (YouTube, Vimeo, Twitter, Flickr, etc.) and it will automatically grab the media content and embed it on your page without you having to touch a single line of code.

Three new services have been added to WordPress 3.5. Soundcloud, Slideshare, and Instagram. Simply paste in a URL and watch the magic! oEmbed is enabled by default so if you do want to turn it off you will need to use the relevant hook in your theme's functions file as below:

remove_filter( 'the_content', array( $GLOBALS['wp_embed'], 'autoembed' ), 8 );
Instagram

Also the maximum size for embedded media will be inherited from your theme's CSS with no options in the media settings page. As a final note you can also now use SSL links.


Where's My Links Gone?

You know that Links menu that you never use? It hails back to a time when we all had a Blogroll (apparently), it's been hanging around for no real reason with very few people actually using it. Finally it's gone! The Links Manager will be disabled by default on new WordPress installs, however upgrades from a previous version to WordPress 3.5 will keep the menu in place. If you do, for some reason, want to add the functionality there will be a plugin available. I have never used the Links Manager so am glad it is going, as it often just confuses clients!

Links Manager

All the Other Stuff

Well those are the bigger changes however there are some things that you may not see people jumping around and shouting about:

  • Plugin Favourites - I really like this one. On the plugin installation screen you can now see a list of plugins you have favourited on wordpress.org. This can save so much time as we all have plugins we always use on sites, now we can see them all and click install!
  • Remote Publishing Changes - Atom is gone as of 3.5 and if you are using it you will need to use a 3rd party plugin going forward. The XML-RPC protocol is now enabled by default, if you want to switch it off you will need to hook into the action in your functions.php file. It makes sense to have this enabled, it allows you to connect your site to 3rd party tools and mobile apps like the Official WordPress iOS App.
  • Consolidated Options - You will notice a few options have moved. Settings->Privacy has gone, with a single checkbox now located on the Settings->Reading page.
  • External Library Updates - TinyMCE is updated to 3.5.7, SimplePie is 1.3.1 and jQuery gets updated to 1.8.3. jQuery UI is now 1.9.2. Backbone and Underscore are also in there and you can now use protocol-relative links when enqueuing scripts and styles.

There are lots more features I haven't even touched upon, performance improvements and changes that might not even be documented yet. If WordPress 3.5 hasn't been released yet, but it's now only days away. In the meantime, download the latest Release Candidate and give it a try for yourself!

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