The WordPress 3.8 release dropped late last week. Named “Parker” in honor of Charlie Parker, the great bebop saxophone player, the latest WordPress version features a major update of the admin area. The WP development team seems determined to crank out releases on a schedule. Version 3.9 is already scheduled for early 2014, although to my knowledge a firm date has not been set.
New Admin Dashboard
The new version of WordPress features a revamped administration dashboard which will be a bit of a shock to those used to the old version. The newly redesigned admin area is quite different from the version we’re used to and like most redesigns has good and not-so-good elements.
The good news is that there are now 8 color schemes to choose from instead of the previous two. The design is more modern and less “clunky” than the previous design. It retains many of the functional features of the old interface which will make getting used to it easier.
That said, the new look is going to take some getting used to. For whatever reason, the designers decided to make the Dark color scheme the default. This color scheme is a black background for the left sidebar and top navigation bar with white text. Evidently, the news that white on black is difficult for many to read didn’t reach the WP design lab. There is a Light color scheme that has dark grey text on a white background, and several others to choose from, so you should be able to find something that works for you.
When Will We Update?
Those of you who have been with me a while know that I don’t update immediately when a new major release of WP hits the street. Historically, there has been a patch released within a few weeks of the point release. In the case of WP 3.7, the patch was released the next day. Oops!
As a result, I typically wait until the first patch is released unless there is some feature a client cannot live without. Because the patch for 3.7 was released so fast, I have been anticipating another patch release, however, that did not happen. As a result, some sites are still on WP 3.6.1 and will be skipping right to 3.8.1 whenever that patch is available.
In some cases, I will be updating sites to 3.8 prior to a patch release. The most likely scenario for this is when a site has been compromised. I have several such sites now that had malware injected into them and have been cleaned up. They are being carefully monitored. One of the primary monitoring tools requires that the site be on the latest version of WP to work properly, so in that case I will be updating to 3.8 very soon. The risk of problems with the new version is outweighed by the greater risk of re-infection.
Those of you on Bluehost have been getting emails telling you that your account will be upgraded to PHP 5.4. A number of you have already been upgraded and some have not. If you are on Bluehost and have not received an email from them about the PHP 5.4 upgrade yet, not to worry, you will.
The good news is that the upgrade has been largely a non-event for most of my clients. A few have had problems primarily with standalone applications. WordPress itself has not had any issues with PHP 5.4, although some plugins and themes have. If the software authors don’t keep up with the state of PHP and use deprecated functions, they will have issues. In cases like that, if there’s no update available to fix the problem, we simply deactivate the plugin and find a better one. If it’s a theme, that’s a bit bigger problem, but again, we work with the author to determine whether there’s a fix available and proceed from there.