WordPress 3.6 Released – Update Now

WordPress NewsThe long awaited WordPress 3.6 is out and ready for download for self-hosted WordPress users.

Those on WordPress.com or managed WordPress installs, you should not have to do anything. WordPress.com has been using many of the new features of WordPress 3.6 already and is automatically updated. Managed WordPress hosts will advise you as to a system update or notify you that you will need to update WordPress with a notification in the Administration Panels. All self-hosted versions of WordPress will feature an update notification encouraging you to update to the new version. Don’t wait. Just do it now.

Dedicated to Jazz great Oscar Peterson, “Oscar” has some very exciting new features in WordPress 3.6, most of important to many is the improvement to multimedia handling such as native support for audio and video embeds with an HTML5 media player that needs no third-party services or tools, audio and video previewing on the Media Edit Screen, and much improved integration with Spotify, Rdio, and SoundCloud, making video and audio publishers jump for joy. Does this mean you need to say good bye to your WordPress Plugins that handle media? Maybe, maybe not. Check in with the Plugin Authors to see if they are adding more features or expanding upon the improvements native to WordPress.

Another exciting improvement is how WordPress is embracing HTML5 markup, and many external libraries have been updated for jQuery, Backbone, and JavaScript libraries.

For those of us dealing with multiple contributors, the new Post Locking and Augmented Autosave features will be a blessing. When there is more than one author editing a post, their “autosave stream” is saved separately so you may track what each has done. The new timeline feature of revisions and autosaves makes it easier to track who did what when and where and what to keep. There is also an interface for warning or taking over writing and editing a post when someone else is working on it, or has it open on their computer. I’ve played with this already and it is sweet, though a little intimidating at first.

The release includes some fantastic new features and is worth the update. The team took extra time to ensure this release was compatible with most WordPress Plugins and Themes, and Theme and Plugin authors have had months to ensure compatibility. Along with upgrading WordPress, upgrade those.

The “cast of professional actors” is better described as a cast of colorful characters, but they do a fun job showing off some of the fun features of WordPress 3.6 for WordPress.tv.

As I write this, I keep putting WordPress 2.6 instead of 3.6, another version of WordPress that brought massive changes to the interface of WordPress, some good, some not so good, but it started the trend of UI design we have today with the menu over on the left side of the screen rather than across the top. How far we have come in those few short years since WordPress 2.6.

What Was Fixed and Improved in WordPress 3.6

There were more than 700 closed tickets resolving bug fixes and feature improvements, and the full list of improvements can be found on the WordPress Codex for Version 3.6, a seriously impressive list. Examples include improvement for foreign language alphabets, improvements to shortcode handling, Author name sort on the Media Library, Post Formats to be set by default for those using a specific post format extensively, a darker Administration Panel menu to improve readability (though some argue the darker gray background with white letters is harder to read), improvements in web accessibility of the Administration Panels for screen readers and keyboard users, and so much more.

A few things are missing that were expect, which may come in later versions.

They removed the ability to edit the Post Formats from the Quick Edit and Bulk Edit features, something my students use all the time as they experiment with the different post formats, and I use to correct many client sites who make the mistake of choosing the wrong post format or thinking they have to choose a post format when their site does not support them, making things complicated when they switch WordPress Themes to one that does and they don’t like the results.

I was really hoping that media tags would be introduced in this version along with greater improvements to the Media Uploader and Library. Trying to track down images, especially when they are poorly titled, and the inability to sort by date, tag, post, or album, continues to be a challenge, as is the inability to quickly select and add images already in the Media Library similar to the ease of the File Gallery WordPress Plugin I adore on my self-hosted sites and many client sites. However, most people put one image in per post and not 25, so such improvements are for the power users.

This is one of the most important updates to WordPress. We’ve been using many of the new features on WordPress.com, so I’m eager to learn about your experience.

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Copyright Lorelle VanFossen.

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