It has taken a little while to get to this point, but WordPress 2.5 was released earlier this weekend. The biggest thing about the new version is the completely revamped administration area (pictured to the right). It not only has a new color scheme, but has also been reworked to make you even more productive. And the cookie system has been made more secure, and so any of our users will need to login again to our site.
Note: I noticed that you can switch back to the old color scheme by pulling up your profile page. The new layout will remain intact, but the colors will be changed.
I upgraded our site to WordPress 2.5 yesterday, and I have to say that it handles itself quite well. Performance is better according to some early benchmarks I’ve done, productivity will definitely increase, and best of all WordPress is now able to upgrade plugins for you. Since nearly all of the changes have been made to the administration section of WordPress you should find that the upgrade process will go rather smoothly. Very few themes should break as a result of the upgrade, but there could be issues with some of your plugins.
I also spent some time getting our Recommended Tags plugin working on WordPress 2.5. There is now a version available solely for the WordPress 2.5 series because of the significant changes to the administration screen. I considered rolling both versions of the plugin into one, but overall the performance is better by keeping them separate.
Want a better idea of what’s new in WordPress 2.5? No problem! Here’s an overview of the features organized according to users and developers:
- Cleaner, faster, less cluttered dashboard
- Dashboard Widgets — you can customize any of the dashboard widgets to show, for example, news from your local paper instead of WP news.
- Multi-file upload with progress bar — now you can select a whole of folder images or music or videos at once and it’ll show you the progress of each upload.
- EXIF extraction — if you upload JPEG files with EXIF metadata like camera make and model, aperture, shutter speed, ISO, et al. WordPress will extract all the data into custom fields you can use in your template.
- Search posts and pages — search used to cover just posts, now it includes pages too.
- Tag management — you can now add, rename, delete, and do whatever else you like to tags from inside WordPress, no plugins needed.
- Password strength meter — when you change your password on your profile it’ll tell you how strong your password is to help you pick a good one.
- Concurrent editing protection — now if you open a post that someone else is editing, WordPress magically locks it and prevents you from saving until the other person is done.
- Few-click plugin upgrades — if the plugins you use are part of the plugin directory since 2.3 we’ve told you when they have an update available. Now we take that to the next logical step — downloading and installing the upgrade for you.
- Friendlier visual post editor — I’m not sure how to articulate this improvement except to say “it doesn’t mess with your code anymore.” We’re now using version 3.0 of TinyMCE, which means better compatibility with Safari, and we’ve paid particular attention this release to its integration and interaction with complex HTML. It also now has a “no-distractions” mode which is like Writeroom for your browser.
- Built-in galleries — when you take advantage of multi-file upload to upload a bunch of photos, we have a new shortcode that lets you to easily embed galleries by just putting [ gallery] (without the space) in your post. It’ll display all your thumbnails and captions and each will link each to a page where people can comment on the individual photos.
- Salted passwords — we now use the phpass library to stretch and salt all passwords stored in the database, which makes brute-forcing them impractical.
- Secure cookies — cookies are now encrypted based on the protocol described in this PDF paper.
- Easy taxonomy and URL creation — probably best illustrated with an example: I can call
register_taxonomy()with a few arguments to register a “people” taxonomy and whenever I edit an image I’ll see a UI like tags has for identifying the people in a photo, and these will be URL addressable with
- Inline documentation — the vast majority of the new code going into WordPress include inline documentation that explains the functions and documents their arguments.
- Database optimization — we haven’t changed the table layout in this release, which is one of the reasons so many plugins work fine with 2.5. We have added a few new indicies and made a few default fields more flexible based on some bottlenecks we found on WordPress.com.
- $wpdb->prepare() — now almost all of the SQL in WordPress is prepared first, and the same functions are available to your plugins. This should prevent elementary SQL escaping issues.
- Media buttons — the add media buttons above the post are both expandable, so you could have an “Add Google Map” button if you like.
- Shortcode API — the new gallery functionality is powered by the new shortcode API. Shortcodes are little bracket-delineated strings that can be magically expanded at runtime to something more interesting. The Shortcode API is fully documented.