What’s new and exciting in WordPress 3.1


WordPress 3.1, or “Reinhardt”, is now available in its full release. As you run over to download it, or run the automatic update through your Dashboard, keep this page open in a tab. We’ve reviewed what’s new in the latest (and greatest?) version of WordPress, and give you all of the most up to date information.

We’ll walk you through what’s notable and new, and give you links to the initial resources we’re aware of. If you’re already using WordPress 3.1, jump down to the comments and tell us about your experience so far.

Post formats

Post Format Meta BoxProbably the most anticipated and most debated feature for 3.1, post formats allow an author to specify one of ten standard formats for a post to be displayed. The ten post formats to be supported by 3.1 are default (the post format we all know), aside, chat, gallery, link, image, quote, status, video, and audio.

The custom formats are really no more than taxonomies that get a special seat under the “publish” meta box of the post editor.  Originally the post format selection was going to be made within the publish meta box.  The big question to me is what features, or lack of, will each format be boxed with? A partial (and subject to change) description of how WordPress will handle the standard formats can be found in the new codex page on post formats.

The basis of the post format debate is whether theme authors should be allowed to extend post formats beyond the standard ones. Suggested examples for additional formats have been for things like code, lists, events, generic media, “blog” posts ( rather than default ), products and more.  Whether these ideas have merit or not, the point is the concept of extensibility.  It appears themes that extend non-standard formats with the post format markup will not be approved for the .org theme repository.  The main idea behind strict standardization is to encourage developers to broadly support a smaller set and to allow for portability from theme to theme.

It may also be worth noting that post formats are not the same as custom post types. However, formats will undoubtedly replace a tendency by many users to use custom post types in circumstances where a post format is more applicable.  On the other side of that coin, some of the non-standard format ideas listed above may be better suited as custom post types.

To get going on using post formats, try going here, here, here, here, and here just to start.

Custom post type archives

By default WordPress 3.0 does not index custom post types.  For instance, let’s say WPCandy created a ‘product’ post type (which is not the case) that can be accessed via wpcandy.com/sells/product-x.  Well that’s great, but if you just want to see all things WPCandy sells, WordPress doesn’t index wpcandy.com/sells unless the theme developer creates a specific page template for that query.  3.1 generates this type of “archive” for custom post types without a custom template.

Custom post type admin menu handling

One handy feature that’s going into 3.1 is the ability to customize the way admin menus are handled for custom post types.  In 3.0 a custom post type standardly gets a top level menu location, but 3.1 will allow you to customize where they go and how to handle them.  Andrew Nacin, a WordPress core contributor, used the example that a developer may want to create a custom post type called ‘Slideshow’ and include it under the already existing ‘Media’ menu rather than its own new one.  Read more about this feature in his blog post about it.

Query multiple taxonomies

Custom taxonimies are awesome. Now we can filter posts using them in an awesome way. Suppose we wanted to set up a query to allow users to see posts about Automattic that aren’t about Matt on WPCandy?  Because WPCandy has the ‘people’ taxonomy and the ‘company’ taxonomy, we can now query posts about ‘Automattic’ AND not about ‘Matt’.  Otto has put up a nice post to go into further detail on multiple taxonomy queries.  Are you imagining like I am all the fun ways you can now filter your content using this feature?

Sortable columns and admin ajaxification

This is a very nice enhancement of the interaction with the WordPress admin.  Columns are now sortable.  Search and admin pagination were going to be ajaxified, but got caught up and have been put off for 3.1.  This project was a GSoC project of Cristi Burca, who has even shared how to make our own columns sortable as well.

Super admin network dashboard

Multisite users will get a new super admin dashboard with its own menu.php and pages.  It declutters the regular admin dashboard for individual sites.

User admin dashboard

In the spirit of the super admin dedicated dashboard, it was suggested to create a user admin dedicated dashboard.  Ryan Boren described its purpose on the trac ticket:

Some of the same fixes are needed for both network and user admin. The user admin part of this is purposefully limited to offering a way to get rid of the dashboard blog stuff. If a user does belong to a blog, then all user related stuff happens there and not in the user admin.

Internal linking

Also know as: tab overload prevention.  Everyone should love this. There is now no need to open new tabs and search your own blog externally to link back to an old article.  The new internal linking system is integrated into the existing button.  The new display has the traditional linking methods on top and a search posts / list of posts on bottom for internal linking.

WordPress.com-style admin bar

The admin bar from WordPress.com is shifting to .org.  Some wanted to keep this functionality as a plugin, and some development delays almost got it pushed to 3.2.  However, everything seems in order and ready to go for a 3.1 release.  The bar comes standard with 5 parent menu items plus a search box on the right hand side.

WordPress 3.1 admin bar


A few highlights for 3.1 are cleanup projects to make WordPress more user friendly or just better put together.  Tiny MCE is getting a facelift.  Theme searching will become more like the .com experience.  The admin css files were obliterated and redone by John O’Nolan and the WordPress UI group.

Enhanced QuickPress

QuickPress enhancements to handle custom post types and be front-end ready have been moved to 3.2. This was a cool feature that was planned for 3.1, but Nacin described it in Trac like this:

Ultimately, a group of contributors needs to run with something like this to truly make it properly flexible. This didn’t see much traction beyond the fine work by jorbin.

Have you updated yet?

There are a number of other cool changes that you can check out on the 3.1 codex.

After two beta releases and four release candidates, WordPress 3.1 is finally here. It should be pretty darn stable.  It has also been running on WordPress.com since mid November of 2010.

If you’ve braved the newness of WordPress 3.1 and installed either the branch version or a beta / release candidate, comment and let us know what your experience has been like. More importantly, is there a 3.1 update you love that’s not included here? What’s new and exciting to you?

42 thoughts on “What’s new and exciting in WordPress 3.1

  1. I haven’t written about it yet, but the post meta got the same kind of treatment as the taxonomy queries did too. You can use meta_query in a similar manner to tax_query for making complex queries based on post metadata (aka, custom fields).

    • I see many websites with the info on how to get rid of the admin bar, but i like it. What i would like to do however is customize it a bit to my needs (remove links i don’t need and and others like theme options). I haven’t seen info about how to edit the contents of the bar yet, would help if anyone knows any article or discussion about i t, if not i guess i’ll just take a look and try stuff by myself 🙂

  2. Just updated about 45 sites that I’m responsible for managing – all without a hitch. Everything running nice and clean! My favorite part is the new ice blue dashboard theme. Love seeing that on all my blogs!

  3. It’s almost like they released too many post formats at once, don’t know which one to start with 😉 Thanks for to the 180 contributors for all their hard work…

  4. I’m probably most excited about the Custom Post Type Archives and the ability for multi-taxonomy queries. Although I did like the admin bar when I previewed WP 3.1 for a local user group a couple days ago.

    I’m not sure yet how I will use the different post formats. I don’t know if I have a need for them, but I’ll play with them soon.

    Big thanks to WP Candy for bringing all this delicious information together in one place.

  5. I instantly love the internal linking and the .com style admin bar. I think that’s what the average Joe will like most about this release. But I think Post Types and the really nifty query updates should open up all sorts of new possibilities for theme shops!


  6. About the new “Custom Post Type Archives” feature,
    is the same true for custom taxonomies?
    right now if you have custom taxonomy
    will list all apple posts
    will return a 404 error

    • to answer my own question,
      I just updated to 3.1, seems that custom taxonomies are out of luck.
      I think there is a plugin for that though.

      • There’s a ticket to add indexes to custom taxonomies, however, it’s a bit ambiguous as to how it should be implemented.
        A lot of people expect a list of terms within the taxonomy.. which most themes cannot handle.
        A lot of people expect a list of posts within the taxonomy.. which is not as simple (or as efficient) as one would expect..

        • Yeah, just over a year ago now, I sparked a(nother) discussion on the WP-Hackers Mailing List where a number of people chimed in voicing their opinion; mostly for, but some against the idea! — I know I got a lot of ”stick” from some people, and was basically told to shut up about it by another, but it’s something a lot of people would like (just like the Custom Post Type Archives added in 3.1!) Maybe it’s about time I wrote an article on the subject, with possible ideas, and see what happens from there…?

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    • You’ll probably find thats down to your theme not supporting Post Formats just yet. If you take a look at Twenty Ten, you’ll see it has support for Asides and Gallery! Hope that helps? 🙂

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  12. I HATE this new version! What is going on? I have it on 3 sites, and they are all behaving badly. When creating a post and working with images, it’s all “jumpy” and not scolling right. Is anyone else having this issue??

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