The first release candidate for WordPress 2.5 was announced last night. The adventurous among you can download it for testing. New features include:
- Faster load times.
- Multi-file uploads.
- New “Media Manager” for images, audio, video, etc.
- Built-in gallery function.
- Built-in (and pluggable) Gravatars support.
- New backend design.
- One-click auto-update for plugins.
- Reactivate plugins after a ‘Deactivate All Plugins’ action. (my feature! )
As a long-time WordPress user and developer, the new design for the back-end admin screens threw me at first. I had the same questions that I saw many others post to the mailing lists. “Why did they clump these links together, and move these other ones to a different spot on the page?” But the more I’ve used it, it became obvious that the new menu layout made sense. The most frequently used items are prominent. The less-often needed ones are moved out of the way, but still easily accessible. I’m still not totally thrilled with the color choices (some elements don’t have enough contrast, to my eyes), but it turns out the the admin screen colors are pluggable, as well.
One of the more exciting features (IMO) is the one-click plugin updater. When you see a notification that a new version of a plugin is available, you’ll also see an ‘upgrade automatically’ link. If your server supports all the functions needed, clicking the link will download and install the new version for you. I will note that on my server, this feature does not always work flawlessly, and I’ve sometimes had to quickly download and install a plugin manually to fix a broken plugin. I’ve shared my observations on this, and I hope that they’ll be able to make this feature more robust before final release. My advice is to use this feature with caution for now. But I’m hoping that my problems with it are due to my server, and that I’ll have better luck when I get things moved to my new host.
Overall, I’m liking the new release. I haven’t had a chance to play with the media management and gallery features yet, but I’m looking forward to giving them a try. I think the new admin arrangement will be easier for new users, and I think most established users will come to appreciate it, too (and for those looking for something even more different, there’s the Fluency Admin theme).
As always, when toying with pre-release code, don’t forget to back up your database and files before you upgrade! Give it a spin, kick the tires, and let us know what you think.