WordPress 2.8 has been released, and the platform has some pretty exciting stuff going on. Many of the improvements involve the scripting and style under the hood, which speeds up WordPress to make it much faster to load and less stressful on your web server.
The real fun stuff is in the dashboard, though. You may not notice a difference at first glance, but once you start navigating through your dashboard, you’ll find some changes you’ll like.
One of the biggest changes in WordPress 2.8 involves the widget section. In version 2.7, widgets were frustrating at times. You had to make sure to save them before exiting the screen, and you couldn’t use duplicate widgets across multiple sidebars.
All of that has changed in the latest version. The widget interface now shows all your sidebars simultaneously in the right-hand column through expandable windows. On the left-hand side, you’ll see your available widgets and inactive widgets.
What’s the difference? You’re going to like this: In the past, when you removed a widget from the sidebar, you’d lose all the code or text you put into it. Now you don’t have to worry about losing any information when you temporarily remove a widget and replace it with another.
Dragging a widget to the Inactive Widget panel saves the widget’s information and stores it until you’re ready to use it again. Don’t want to save the widget? Then drag it back to the Available Widgets panel and automatically delete the settings.
WordPress 2.8 makes it easier than ever to search for and try out new themes for your site. Gone are the days when you’d have to change your whole theme just to get a peek at what it might look like. You don’t need a maintenance mode plugin either, and visitors won’t get a sneak preview while your blog tries on a new outfit.
In the Manage Themes view (Dashboard>Appearance>Themes), you’ll notice a few extra links under theme thumbnails. Activate installs the theme without a preview. Preview opens up a lightbox and gives you the option to activate the theme. Delete removes the theme from your site without you having to do so through your web server or an FTP program.
Another new addition to the Theme management section is Add New Themes. This search function is pretty handy for browsing the thousands of themes in the WordPress Themes directory.
Configure the Feature Filter for colors, number of columns, type of width and features, and you’ll enjoy making a number of selections without ever leaving your dashboard.
While browsing themes, you can install and preview them right from the dashboard, too.
Have a Premium theme in a zip file on your computer? No problem. The Upload feature allows you to upload and install a theme stored in a .zip format. This eliminates the need for an FTP program to install theme files, and you’ll never have to touch your web host cPanel again.
Each panel in the Dashboard now has its own screen options located in the upper right-hand side of the screen. Screen options let you customize the look of each panel in the Dashboard to fit your personal preferences.
On the main Dashboard page, there’s an option to choose 1 to 4 columns, making the dashboard flexible enough to fit small or large screens. You also have the option to show or hide other options, like Recent Comments, Incoming Links, Recent Drafts and more.
Other panels of WordPress 2.8, such as Edit Posts, Edit Pages, Plugins, etc, also have similar options, improving the WordPress experience.
The biggest conflicts occurring with a WordPress upgrade to 2.8 seem to involve (so far) the plugins. Before you perform an upgrade of your WordPress, make sure to update all your plugins and themes – if upgrades are available.
Many developers have prepared for the WordPress 2.8 release and worked out the bugs to make the transition easier. Thesis has released a new version of its theme, and it’s advisable to upgrade, since Thesis isn’t as conventional in coding as most other themes. Themes that use more traditional CSS and scripts should be fine.
Once you do upgrade your site to WordPress 2.8, activate each plugin one by one. Don’t perform a bulk plugin activation. After you reactivate a plugin, check your site for errors and if all is well, move on to reactivate the next. This makes it easier to fix an issue, because you’ll know which plugin is causing problems.
If you’re the type of person who isn’t technical, doesn’t have time or is afraid of breaking your site while upgrading, don’t worry. We’ve got your back. Click here to contact us about our upgrade services.
We’ll have you enjoying the latest WordPress in no time at all – and you won’t have to touch a thing.