Today we take a look at the all new WordPress 3.3, which after months of beta testing, is expected to be released in late November.
Compared to the milestone WordPress 3.0 release — which introduced important new functionalities, such as custom post types and built-in multisite mode — version 3.3’s improvements may seem less groundbreaking. But, in fact, the impact of this release may be felt by more people than ever.
Most of the improvements are aimed toward improving the user experience for all users, not just those of us building WordPress websites. Your clients will immediately see the changes in 3.3, which are bound to improve their experience too.
Here are the major improvements coming to
1. Redesigned Admin Bar
The redesigned admin bar brings a handful of strategic enhancements.
There are less links/elements shown, and the ones that remain are carefully placed for a reason. The search box and appearance menu were removed, and the user menu moved to the right side, similar to Google’s user bar.
By making it a shade darker and bolder, the admin bar is now more prominent in the WordPress back-end.
3. Improved Help Section
First, the “Help” link is no longer relegated to an awkward corner of the admin where nobody knows it exists. Now it’s prominently shown near the center of the new admin bar.
Click it to reveal a restructured help area, complete with tabbed navigation and easy readability. Developers can tap into this area to add their own support documentation right in the admin, which could be great for giving clients personalized help docs.
4. New Tooltips
This may seem a bit annoying to more experienced users, but it can prove quite useful for most.
Tooltip popup bubbles now display to help guide users through the new features found in WordPress. You’ll see one of these immediately upon upgrading, which points to the new admin bar.
Developers are able to use these popups to add their own feature tours. This will prove useful for theme and plugin authors who need an easy way to walk their customers through their WordPress products.
5. Yoast Using New Tooltips
The popular plugin developer, Yoast, recently updated his WordPress SEO plugin to include one of these new tooltips.
6. New and Improved Media Uploader
Many have been waiting quite a while for this. The all new media uploader makes it super easy to drag and drop media uploads like images and PDFs right from your desktop into WordPress.
The uploader no longer relies on Flash and now utilizes HTML5 and Silverlight technology to make file uploading more broadly supported across platforms.
7. Flyout Menus
The new flyout menus save you a click when trying to access a sub menu link. This may seem inconsequential, but when working inside WordPress for hours at a time, you’ll quickly notice how click-heavy the dashboard can be.
The flyout menus also clean up the visual experience. How many times have you logged into your client’s WordPress site to find eight menus expanded and crowding the screen? Now only the active menu is expanded.
Other Noteworthy Improvements in WordPress 3.3
Now that we’ve covered the most visible improvements, here are some under-the-hood enhancements, particularly of interest to developers.
- Responsive Layout: This is really just setting the groundwork for a fully responsive layout, which is expected in version 3.4. But in WordPress 3.3, the left side menu automatically collapses on smaller screens.
- Postname Permalinks: Before you had to set
/%postname%/as your custom permalinks setting, but now it’s a selectable option. More importantly, performance issues have been fixed, so this setting is now usable for sites that have a large number of posts and pages.
- jQuery 1.7 and jQuery UI 1.8.16: Updated jQuery and now the full jQuery UI toolset are now packaged and ready to be enqueued in WordPress 3.3.
- WordPress Editor API: Plugin developers can now customize the post editor, including the TinyMCE buttons. You can even add additional editors.