30+ Things That Should Be Changed for WordPress 2.6

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I have been using WordPress pretty frequently for about a year now. I’ve written two plugins and counting for the blogging CMS, ran a site dedicated to customizing themes for a while, and have been working hard with the rest of the WPCandy team to create the third version of the site, which I’m sure will be a huge hit among the WordPress community. I haven’t been using WordPress nearly as long as other people, but I have a good feel for the system, both front-end and back-end, and I have compiled a list of 30 things I think should be changed, added, or built in to WordPress.

The following suggestions are in random order. Some things may be able to be accomplished by plugins, but I believe these things should be built in. This list was created on April 28, 2008. If you see something outdated, let me know in the comments.

Admin

1. Customizable Color Schemes
WordPress 2.5 allowed users to change the color scheme of the admin area. This was a great change, except it gave you two options: the old colors, and the new ones. Give us a way to set the four main colors with a cool little AJAX color picker. What would be even better is if it supported PNG files from ColourLovers.com, where it automatically detects the colors in order and puts them into the scheme.

2. Cleaner Admin Source Code
The admin source code is disgusting, with its table-based structure and un-semanticness. Please clean it up and make it easier for us code ninjas to customize.

3. Login Form Tabbing
This will probably change soon, but something is screwed up with the admin login form tabbing – at least in Safari. You can easily tab from username to password, but the next thing it goes to is the address bar. Looking at the source the tab indexes are 10, 20, and…90?! Both “Remember Me” and “Login” are completely missed.

4. Add Hovers to Admin Tabs
I hate having to load a new page to access the subpages in the admin area. Just make them appear below on hover.

5. Plugin Installation and Options
When I install a plugin that has an options page, take me directly to it. Make the plugin options pages third-level so they don’t clog up my settings screen.

6. That ****ing WYSIWIG Editor
I’ve had enough. That WYSIWIG editor WordPress comes with has to go. It screws up my HTML, de-paragraphs my paragraphs, and twenty other things I don’t care to name. Believe it or not, some WordPress users are actually HTML ninjas, so let us talk in geek when we want to. For some reason, turning off the visual editor doesn’t seem to do much for anyone.

7. The Tag
While on the topic of the WYSIWYG, let's make the tags tell WP to ignore the code inside them so they work like they should.

8. Better Theme Editor
When I am forced by a client, friend, or my brain's password memorization sector to use the theme editor instead of FTP, at least try and make it a somewhat pleasing experience for me. I guess making the tab key usable for semantic gurus isn't a reality, but maybe make the text slightly smaller and add a quick-save option or something.

9. Customizable Login
This is somewhat related to issue number one, which suggests color palette functionality. Much like 37Signal's Basecamp software, it'd be nice to have a way to edit the login screen to add your own logo and customize colors.

10. Dashboard Customization
The WordPress Dashboard still sucks. I don't care about the latest comments, community news, or what theme I'm running. I'd love to see the Dashboard become more useful, with additions such as a quick post form and a bulletin board available for higher-level logged-in users.

11. Admin Bulletin Board and Private Messaging
I think the bulletin board is such a good idea it deserves its own number. It'd rock to have a way to post notes and stuff to other users. A private messaging system would also be sweet to have so you could easily communicate with other admins.

12. Admin Options When Logged In
There's a few plugins to do this, but the "admin bar" should be standard with the next version of WordPress. This bar is located at the top of the page that, when logged in, gives the user admin-related options such as posting, managing comments, etc. right from the page.

13. Quick Posting from Mobile Phone
It'd be nice to see a mobile-friendly page for WordPress that lets you write and edit posts, approve or delete comments, and perform other administrative options over your site. Matt Mullenweg's mentioned it, so let's see it come into reality.

14. Where'd the IDs Go?!
What happened to the IDs in the manage panel?? They used to be there, now they're gone. Let's catch the ID monster...

Themes

15. Theme Library API
This larger feature suggestion is 100% my original on-the-spot idea. Develop an API for the theme library. The current theme respiratory for WordPress is full of crap templates that are great for blogging about your 2001 expedition to a remote area somewhere in Asia and sharing it with your grandparents. With an API, "premium" theme websites, such as WPDesigner's Theme Club, PremiumThemes.net, and iThemes.com can let subscribers add their site to the WordPress admin for quick browsing of awesome themes. Granted, these themes obviously won't be able to be modified since they aren't on your server, but hey, for five bucks over at WPDesigner, what do you expect?

16. New Default Theme
This is something I've heard a lot of users comment on. Kubrick - the default theme shipped with every copy of WordPress - has been around for a while and by now it's outdated. Replace it with a sandbox-type theme, with admin options for less experienced users. ThemeShaper.com has gathered some nice ideas for a new sandbox theme.

17. Easy Plugin Integration
There are hundreds of great plugins out there for WordPress. There are also thousands of themes, and I've seen some that are made to work with certain plugins. Why not add a way for theme developers to package free plugins with their themes?

18. Theme Live Preview
It's sad we're taking this example from MySpace - and their version of this feature really sucks for advanced customizers - but the ability to preview your site with a new theme before activating it would surely be welcome.

General Suggestions

19. More Flexible Post Display Options
One of my favorite things about Expression Engine is how much flexibility you have when listing posts on a page. The query_posts function isn't a very good option because it ruins pagination. Things I'd like to see include post count (number of posts per page), category and particular post exclusion (including its date, category, etc.), and filtering options. The less PHP needed to do these, the better.

20. Multiple Weblogs
WordPress doesn't do it at all, and the multi-user version doesn't do it well enough. Just the simple ability to manage multiple weblogs would make WordPress an excellent option as a CMS for a simple website.

21. Fix the Freaking Blogroll
The typical WordPress sidebar includes a list of categories, archives, latest posts, and a list of links, which with WordPress is known as the Blogroll. Why in the world is the Blogroll always formatted differently? The categories and archives always list so nicely, but with thefunction, you can't seem to get rid of that title list item (which incidentally is wrapped in an

instead of

) and the formatting of unordered lists is different than the rest. The widgets seem messed up too - please make all of the sidebar functions a bit more uniform.

22. Universal Date/Time</strong
I am not a PHP guru, and therefore, I do not have all the date functions memorized. Instead of making us look up the PHP date/time functions each time we're displaying a date on the page, just make the option in the admin set the default date and time format, so every time is used, it'll be the same every time. The date formatting option is there, it just doesn't expand into that particular tag.

23. Burn My Feed.
The first thing many serious bloggers do after starting a new blog is burn their feed at Feedburner. Even when that's done, the theme assigned to WordPress is still the default feed URL that comes with the site. Either enable feed burning from the admin or provide an easy way to change the link to your feed without entering the theme editor.

24. Built-In and One-Click Caching
For those of us who've been hit by the Digg effect, we all know what it's like to lose your site to thousands of eager readers. There's a caching plugin out there, but this should be built in and allow one-click caching of individual posts to avoid losing your site to heavy traffic.

Comment System

25. Comment Notification
Beginning with version 2.0, Askimet, the popular comment spam filtering plugin, was shipped with the system. Of course, spam comments still float through my various blogs, so I keep the e-mail notification on for new comments, whether they're up for moderation or not. This may be a bit nit-picky, but please, don't send me an e-mail about a new comment after I've just moderated it myself. I'd like one when there's a new comment from a trusted author, but not after I've already clicked, read, and approved.

26. Auto-Run Askimet
What's up with the developer code that's needed to activate Askmet? This thing should begin running as soon as you install WordPress with no activation needed.

27. Comment Subscriptions
There's an excellent plugin to do this, but this should be built in.

28. Threaded Comments
There's another good plugin for this, but it's another feature that should just be built in.

29. AJAX Commenting
This would be freaking awesome - built-in comment posting with AJAX. It shouldn't take a whole lot of work, really.

30. Cleaner comments.php File
Right now it's a little hard to find your way around comments.php - the code is poorly organized. Please, clean it up.

That's all. If there's anything else you can think of that should be changed or added to the next version of WordPress, sound off in the comments and we might add it to the list. Thanks!

48 thoughts on “30+ Things That Should Be Changed for WordPress 2.6

  1. Wow, this list is amazing! This might as well be the “to-do list” for WordPress 2.6. 🙂

    I totally like #15 (theme library API). I’ll add this to my “plugin ideas” list (but, of course, WP integration would be even better).

    Here are some ideas for options to add to WordPress 2.6’s “Settings” section:

    – Add “nofollow” to the “Register” and “Login” links
    – Remove “nofollow” from comment links

    These settings (and others) are already possible with my WordPress Tweaks plugin, but I think it would be great for those two to be integrated.

  2. Great list. I can’t say I disagree with anything you have to say. My biggest issue with WP right now is the WYSIWYG editor. Such a pain. Same with the <code&#62 function. Hopefully WP fixes those issues in 2.6

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  5. The only one I disagreed with (naturally) was #20, for obvious reasons. I think it does it well enough, just not for casual users; ie – one admin who wants a handful of blogs.

    The rest I leave a hearty “hear, hear!”.

  6. Nice article. You’ve really hit the nail on the head with many of these.

    One more – spam defence like Textpattern. TP users don’t have any spam issues at all.

  7. I would also like a file which tells you excatly which file to upload and replace from the previous version. Its too much guess work…

    I also agree with the plugins directly going to the settings. It would be nice for them to have their own sub-menu.

  8. Some of the problems can be overcome by plugins, but it will be more optimized if integrated.

    I’m very frustrated about the pagination problems caused by query_posts.

    As for theme library and API, it would be very messy and too much work for Automattic.

    Akismet requires an API key because
    a)WP.com will get an extra user, and
    b)there might be database reporting that requires identification (even Defensio requires API key).

    The code mess-up in WYSIWIG editor can (mostly) be escaped by encoding codes. Postable is a good AJAXed tool for it.

    Archive headings can be empty by specifying ‘&title=’ (without value), can’t the same be done for blogrolls? I don’t bother with them, because blogrolls are (mostly) obsolete now.

    Many of these things – AJAX comments, admin bar, customizable color schemes for admin panel and login page – can be done by modifying core files. The only problem is that you might lose the changes during an upgrade (using WinSCP to compare files for change is a way, but it won’t work if there have been architectural changes).

    PS: You’ve left unnecessary links to this very post with words ‘plugin’ towards the end of the post.
    Also reconsider the styling for code tags – the yellow bg and border-bottom look bad for inline codes.

    The current theme respiratory for WordPress is full of crap templates

    Hate to nitpick, but I think you meant respiratory repository.

  9. I would not recommend to activate Akismet or any other Antispamplugin from the start. I had to many false positives due to using Akismet and related Plugins in the past so i no longer trust such plugins. The Admin should have always a choice which plugins he will use after installation. Some integrated plugins sure make sense, but built-in ore Autostartet Antispamplugins could be a shot in the back!

  10. I have another suggestion: Put the category selector back to the sidebar before I kill ya! Of course, that’s not a proper way to ask for it, but I wanted to tell it like that because I created a plugin which does exactly what I want. Here.

  11. Very nice list I must say. I haven’t used wp in a while, but I must agree, if these were taken into effect, WP would become a hell of a lot better!

  12. Wow.. awesome list. I myself generally don’t put that much energy into what could be better or fixed, but if I would be, this list could just as well have been my list.

    One thing I would add, but this one needs input from both the designers and WordPress.org, is a way to incorporate widgets on whatever place you like in your theme without having to transform all those places into ‘sidebars’.

    Also I’m with John on the nofollow correction 🙂

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  14. Interesting list. I don’t agree with all of them though.

    In particular:

    2. What is wrong with it exactly? I’ve spent a lot of time delving into the new admin panel code and it seems fine to me. There’s lots of ID’s to hook into, but this is just to make it easier for plugin themers to modify the look of the admin panel.

    5. I would rather a plugin take me directly to it’s options page as I may want to activate other plugins before doing that.

    The position of the options pages is controlled by the plugin. I supposed WordPress could recommend placing options pages in certain areas, but they shouldn’t enforce anything.

    17. Plugin developers can already package most plugins with themes via the functions.php file.

    23. That seems like code bloat. And how would they decided which feed burners to support and which not to? All you need to do is edit the feed location in your theme and possibly redirect the WordPress feed to your new one.

    27. I haven’t tried, but it seems like something you could easily add via a theme.

    29. This definitely seems like a theming issue. You shouldn’t need to alter the core software to enable this.

    30. Again, just a theming issue

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  17. There is a chicken and egg principle with plugins and their functionality making it into the base. If WP canibalizes the efforts of plugin authors too much, they won’t want to write future ones because WP steals their credit.

    Perhaps shipping with a few more useful plugins you mention out-of-box with the default state set to activate when performing a new install (not upgrade) might go a long way on this front.

  18. I’m totally with you about the admin tab hovering thing. I dread when I realize that I have to edit a page because I have to click manage then wait for my posts to load so I can then click page to get to edit the page I need.

    What’s wrong with WordPressMU? I have plans to use it for an upcoming project and am just curious as to what some of its downfalls are. If I remember WordPress.com uses it so I assumed it was pretty legit.

    Thanks for the list of wishful thinking. Hopefully we can see some of these changes.

  19. Quote from Jeremy Davis:

    What’s wrong with WordPressMU? I have plans to use it for an upcoming project and am just curious as to what some of its downfalls are. If I remember WordPress.com uses it so I assumed it was pretty legit.

    @Jeremy Davis: I’m not quite sure what the post author means by “the multi-user version doesn’t do [multiple blogs] well enough” (I personally think it does), but you might find this article of mine relevant: WordPress vs. WordPress MU: A Comparison — as the title implies, it discusses the pros/cons of WordPress MU as compared to regular WordPress.

  20. Good post. A few points:

    20. I like having WordPress MU (the link to which is broken by the way, it’s mu.wordpress.org) seperate. Frankly most people don’t have multiple blogs, and what a waste of bandwidth for them to download multiblog capabilities which they don’t need.

    1. You can create your own custom colour schemes — although yes, I agree that it could be made simpler, and perhaps better documented as well.

    25. Isn’t this attended to in the “settings” section?

    21. The standard for sidebar headers is h2.

    23. What about the FeedBurner feedsmith plugin.

    27. I’m not sure what you’re talking about — you randomly link to this post — but is there not a “comments RSS feed for this post” already?

    I think — as some previous commentators have said before me — that some of the features you hanker after will not be loved by all the WP userbase. A lot of novices use WP.

  21. The widget page in the dashboard sucks. If you have 3 sidebars and you want to to rearrange widgets by moving a widget from sidebar 1 to sidebar 3 you have to completely reload the page 3 times. Remove the widget. Save that sidebar. Load sidebar 3. Add that widget. Save the sidebar.

    Dashboard does suck butt. Theres nothing there I want to see at all, except every now and then I want to see WordPress news. Why would I want it to take up 3/4 of the damn page in huge blocks? Stuff it in a box and give me some widgets on the dash without requiring a plugin that might screw something up.

    And, maybe a Twitter form on the dash. Love that.

  22. Unfortunately, I have to disagree with about 20 out of the 30. It’s a no-brainer that bugs should be fixed. That’s why there is a bug tracking system for the WordPress Project.

    But there’s something we all need to understand about the idea of integrating cool plugin features into the core: WordPress is currently a 1.2MB download. Matt wants to keep that number as small as possible. There is a reason WordPress is a plugable system.

    In order for something to be integrated into core, it should meet 2 criteria:
    1. It must be beneficial, almost necessary, for the vast majority of WordPress users.
    2. It must be possible without the addition of too much new core code.

    (FYI, this is also the reason why you will not see a new default theme any time soon).

    I could reply to many of these as either:
    1. already possible with a plugin
    2. theme issue

    You make a lot of good, common sense points though. I think a lot of this is already in the feature request repo, so I’d expect to see a lot of this added in the next feature release.

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  26. #6 AMEN!

    I have learned a whole new way of writing and developing posts due to this damn editor. I finally just started writing posts in TextMate and copy-pasting them into the HTML editor and clicking POST without going back to the visual editor. It works *most* of the time. I would love to see a switch here – especially for us coders here!

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  29. Not trying to do a self promotion here, but there is a solution for the 1. Customizable Color Schemes already — Baltic Amber Colour Themes & Schemes. You need to specify only two base colors to change the whole admin color scheme.

    The “new” colour scheme feature is actually nothing more than an option for the plugin authors to specify a new colour CSS file, which by default (the Fresh scheme, for example) consists of more than 40 (!) different colours, including ~15 different shades of the base colour and around 10 grays. And they are not grouped but spread around different CSS indentifiers. Find/replace clearly is not the best solution.

    Therefore the Baltic Amber plugin does the following magic — algorithmically creates around 10 shades from those two base colours specified by the user and replaces them in the CSS file.

    There is a random colour generator as well 🙂

  30. you forgot the use of albums within the gallery feature, great list though!! But should we not be trying to think of how we can improve the readers experience?

  31. It’s my opinion that they need us to have to create a WP.com account in order to get a key for Askimet so that they can say we have 2,000,000,000 accounts. But I do wish it would be auto matic. I have to create email accounts each time I set up a new wordpress website just to get the key and it gets to be a pain in the behind around the 10th website.I donot need a wordpress.com blog if I am downloading a self hosted one right? There’s an option to just get the key or have a blog and a key but not everyone sees this when signing up.
    I noticed that a lot of your ideas for 2.6 are handled with plugins, and you state that.I think if 2.6 were to include all of your points many plugin authors might be angry since essentially their plugins would be redundant.That’s a lot of hard work down the drain.
    I 100% disagree with your statement that most WordPress users are html ninjas-you perhaps ought to state that most Theme Developers are html ninjas. My clients don’t know how to use html at all and I am glad WP cleans up after them or my themes would look sorry indeed.

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  33. Great list, I agree with most the points you’ve made – especially the dashboard. I know what theme I’m running, so why do I need to be told every time I open up my dashboard?

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  37. While I agree with a good many you named on there, I am leery of any existing plugins being implemented directly into WordPress (#27, #28, *but particularly #24!!!*). Personally, I would still prefer to choose which ways I want to handle this (in other words, I want the functionality of another plugin implemented instead!).

    I’m all for making WP better, but I don’t want to give it TOO much control!

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