Named for the great jazz organist Jimmy Smith, WordPress 3.9 was released today. Mere days after the brouhaha over Heartbleed and two emergency patches, the new version of WordPress hit the streets pretty much on schedule. Some of the new features are listed below.
Clients in my Website Management Program will not see an update to WP 3.9 immediately. It is my normal policy to wait for the first patch release which typically occurs within a few weeks after the initial release. As with all major software releases, despite the best efforts of beta testers and developers, bugs are to be expected and I’m content to let the pioneers get the arrows in their chests.
This release has some changes that affect a number of existing plugins which is yet another reason to wait for the dust to settle before upgrading. The track record of plugin developers with WordPress 3.8 was not great. Many of them seemed to wait a while after the initial release to update their software despite the beta and release candidate versions having been available for some time prior to the release.
WordPress sent out emails to all the developers who have plugins and themes in the respective repositories recommending that they test their software against the new version and make sure there were no issues. This is a huge step in the right direction and welcomed by many plugin developers.
Improved Visual Editing
It remains to be seen how much improvement has taken place, but one of the big features of WordPress 3.9 is a series of improvements to the visual editor. Among other things the “Paste from Word” button goes away and it will now be possible to paste directly into the editor from Word without ending up with a muddled mess. Speed improvements and mobile support are also in the feature list.
Improved Image Editing
Images are much easier to edit within the editor due to better accessibility of the various editing tools. Images can be scaled (resized) directly in the editor now, as well.
Drag and Drop Images
Images can now be dragged and dropped directly into the editor instead of having to upload them to the Media Library first. This eliminates several steps and will make creation of posts and pages much quicker.
Galleries now show in the visual editor just as they will in the final post. No need to preview the post to see what the gallery will look like.
Audio and Video Playlists
Previous versions of WordPress allowed direct embedding of audio and video files. WordPress 3.9 takes it a step further and allows simple playlists so that there is only one player on the page.
Widget and Header Previews
In previous versions, widgets were a bit of an adventure in that you had to preview the site to see what the widgets actually looked like once they were dropped into place. Now, widgets and headers can be arranged, added, and edited in the theme customizer and previewed in real time before saving.
Browsing through the WordPress theme repository just got a lot better with the ability to preview the themes without having to install them first.
Ever Closer to WYSIWYG
While we’re not there yet, the WordPress development team has moved a big step closer to having a true WYSIWYG experience when creating content in WordPress. The editor has long been a sore point for many and these improvements should ease a lot of that pain.
Check out the video below for a quick rundown of the new features: