WordPress 3.2, or “Gershwin”, is now available on WordPress.org. Odds are you’ve already run over to update your install or to download it fresh to check it out. If you haven’t done that yet, well, why not? Get to it.
Once you have 3.2 in hand you might be wondering just what the new version brings to the table. We’ve reviewed all of the new bits and bobs and have summarized them all below. If you aren’t sure of everything in WordPress 3.2, or aren’t completely up to date, this post is for you.
We’ll walk you through literally everything we know about WordPress 3.2. If you’re already using and enjoying 3.2, be sure to jump down to the comments and describe you experience so far.
Many of the lead developers for the WordPress project have described their desire for WordPress itself to fade into the background. The goal is to achieve the ideal writing and publishing environment, without even needing to know it’s WordPress that’s powering it.
In pursuit of that goal, the theme for this release was “faster and lighter”. This release included a multitude of under the hood improvements to remove unneeded code, rewrite queries for speed, and in general make WordPress much lighter on its feet.
Did it work? Try it out and see for yourself.
User interface design update
WordPress saw its last major interface design update in version 2.7, which was released in December of 2008. That version saw the big changeover from the blue Dashboard first introduced in version 2.5 to the one we’re much more familiar with today.
Do you remember that transition?
WordPress 2.5 is on the left and 2.7 is on the right. Original screens via Mashable.
The update this time around isn’t nearly that drastic, though it does shift elements around a bit and streamline the overall aesthetic. To compare 3.1 and 3.2:
That’s 3.1 on the left and 3.2 on the right (click to enlarge). As you can see, the changes are slight but meaningful. Examining each and every change is a bit outside the scope of this post, so watch for our full WordPress 3.2 redesign walkthrough for a more thorough treatment of the redesign.
Distraction Free Writing
Without a doubt one of the most anticipated features in this release of WordPress is Distraction Free Writing (or DFW). This feature replaces the previous Full Screen mode, with a new mode than fades the Dashboard completely into the background like many popular writing applications do.
The best way to understand the new writing screen is to look at this:
That’s what it looks like to write using the new Distraction Free Writing mode. For realz. You can also see an early build of DFW in a preview we made for it a few weeks ago.
Twenty Eleven is the new default theme
Twenty Ten brought a new WordPress tradition: once each year a new default theme will be released to replace the old one. Last year Twenty Ten replaced Kubrick, which had held the default theme title belt for a long time. This year Twenty Eleven will take over for Twenty Ten.
Here’s a copy running, for example:
Eleven was developed in large part by the group of “Recent Rockstars” credited on the new Credits screen in 3.2 (and mentioned below, with a screenshot). It draws a good deal of inspiration from Twenty Ten, but stands on its own as well. Twenty Eleven also drew inspiration from the Duster theme, created by the Automattic Theme Team.
Enhancements to the upgrade process
The automatic upgrade process has been improved as well. Previously when WordPress updated itself it would download the entire WordPress install and replace every old file. With 3.2 the upgrade process will be able to only replace modified files since the last release.
This will mean faster upgrades for everyone, which is awesome.
Of course, this new upgrade process will work the next time WordPress is automatically upgraded, not this time around.
Now requires PHP 5.2.4 and MySQL 5
This one has been coming for quite some time. With WordPress 3.2 the minimum requirements have been bumped to require PHP 5.2.4 and MySQL 5. What does that mean, exactly? Well, it doesn’t mean that any features have been added that require PHP 5—that was made clear in the initial plans for 3.2. No, this is just the version where support for previous versions of PHP and MySQL are dropped.
If you’re not sure whether your server supports those, then you should probably check. Like, now. There’s a handy plugin called WordPress Requirements Check that will let you know if you’re ready for WordPress 3.2 or not.
The move away from PHP 4 dependency is also a message to hosts that it’s time to update. Well, the time for hosts to update was probably 2004 when PHP 5 was released. But hey, progress is progress.
End of support for IE6, launch of Browse Happy initiative
Along with upping the PHP and MySQL requirements, 3.2 also drops support for everyone’s favorite browser, Internet Explorer 6. This means that the WordPress Dashboard will most definitely look real bad if you’re using IE6. But, more importantly, this means that less code needs to be written to make exceptions for IE6, and other cool stuff can be done since IE6 doesn’t need to be supported.
In short, if you still use Internet Explorer 6: stop doing that.
In addition to dropping IE6 support, Browse Happy has also been integrated into WordPress. Browse Happy is a site dedicated to driving awareness for up to date browsers. Specifically WordPress will drop in a box to remind users to upgrade their browser if the version is old, no matter what browser is in use.
Funny enough, we’re not the only ones excited to see the end of Internet Explorer 6 for WordPress. Microsoft itself thanked the WordPress team when the news broke.
Contributors receive credit on a new screen
If you contributed to this new version of WordPress, you’ll especially like this addition. The new Credits screen (linked to from the footer of your 3.2 Dashboard) credits each person who contributed to the latest release of WordPress, along with a link to their WordPress.org profile.
First up are project leaders, then the extended core team, then a specially selected group of “Recent Rockstars” who have contributed a significant amount that release, and are hand chosen as rockstars.
Below the rockstars group is the list of all remaining core contributors for that version release, which for 3.2 is a great number of people!
This new screen also credits the external libraries that WordPress ships with.
Freedoms proclaimed on new screen
There are two new screens linked to from the footer, actually. The first is the Credits screen described above, but the second is the Freedoms screen.
On the Freedoms screen you will find a description of the rights that you are granted when using WordPress, as seen below.
As a side note, we mentioned these two new screens when they first popped up back in May.
Improved Dashboard comment reply behavior
This one could be minor, or awesome, depending on how often you respond to comment within your Dashboard. I’ll admit, this is one of my favorite enhancements to WordPress this version. When approving and replying to comments from the Dashboard, the act can now be combined into one step: Approve and Reply.
If you reply to many comments via the Dashboard, this enhancement will likely be welcome. I’m looking forward to using it often.
Admin Bar enhancements
One of the first changes you might notice to the Admin Bar is the link to the Dashboard has been moved from under a drop down to a top level link.
In addition, the Favorites menu (on the upper right on 3.1) has been removed and its functionality relegated to the Admin Bar.
In general the Admin Bar has stayed a priority, and influenced the user interface of the Dashboard as well.
jQuery 1.6.1 is now included
In another upgrade, jQuery 1.6.1 is now packaged along with WordPress. Previously 1.4.4 was included. This one is most important to developers, who will want to make sure their scripts are up to date with this version of jQuery.
WordPress Lead Developer Andrew Ozz posted about the news on the WordPress development blog, if you’d like to learn more.
What’s your experience like so far?
WordPress 3.2 has arrived after two betas and three release candidates, which means it’s definitely ready for you. Assuming you’re updated by now (and you should be) what’s your experience with it so far? Do you have a favorite feature, or is there one that we missed here?