WordPress 2.8: It’s Time to Upgrade Your Site

istock_upgradeWordPress 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.

Drag-and-Drop Widgets

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.

Theme Management

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.

Screen Options

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.

Post by Agent X

Agent X is the name many mysterious and intriguing people take on when they guest post at our site. Their mission is to slip in like a thief in the night, leave you with entertaining, valuable and useful content, and slip away again - without getting caught.

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  1. Geez Harry, you could have posted this a day ago, or even just eight hours ago… I upgraded to 2.8 today – hit the upgrade button and went “Doh! I didn’t do a backup!” Fortunately everything seems to work ok. So far at least.

    I didn’t know that about deactivating plugins before upgrading, I’ll remember that for the next upgrade.

    I’ve never used cpanel for themes before, I didn’t know you could. 😉

    Melinda | WAHM Biz Builder´s last blog post…On Sex, Home Business, Keywords and SEO

  2. I read a lot of horror stories about upgrading to 2.8–incompatible plugins and themes seemed to be causing the most problems–but in the end that yellow bar across the top of my dashboard was just too annoying to ignore, so I chose my smallest site (easiest to recreate from scratch) and just went for it. Piece of cake. Of course I backed up first, but I didn’t disable my plugins. I’ll have to remember that for next time.

  3. Is there an easy way to roll back an upgrade if it breaks something?

    Just cause I remember the panic Redirection breaking caused… my blog’s entire navigation structure depends on it!

    Fortunately was easily fixed, but I guess that’s what backups before upgrades are for?

    Patrick Vuleta´s last blog post…Site facelift – a big thank you to Men with Pens!

  4. You should be proud of me, I upgraded all three of my blogs a week ago!

    –Deb´s last blog post…Heroes

  5. Bravo to all of you for upgrading!

    @Melinda: I use FTP all the time to upload theme and plugin files. What I’ve found is when you have a lot of added on domains, the automatic upgrades don’t always work for these two items. When your blog is installed in a root directory of a single account, the process works every time.

    @Cindy: Starting small is always best and I’m glad it went well for you! Good job!

    @Deb: And are you liking the new version?

  6. @Patrick: That Redirection plugin’s a bugger, isn’t it? It’s one of the main problem plugins for the 2.8 upgrade too.

    The only way you can roll back to the previous version is to do a manual installation. If you think you may run into a situation like that, download the previous version and have it on hand, along with backing up your database files, theme files, plugin files and do an export on your posts to an XML file as well.

    Believe me, each time I do an upgrade for anything – whether it’s WordPress or some other application, I back up the whole thing just to be safe.

  7. Frankly, I’m concerned about upgrading. My feeling is, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

    In my case, I already have a couple of problems with my blog I can’t fix myself; I’m actually getting ready to hire a pro for help.

    John Soares´s last blog post…See My Interview on the The Life and Times of a Freelance Writer Blog

  8. @John: I know, upgrades are terribly stressful, aren’t they? They’re important, though. Developers are always working to improve applications and make them run better, so it’s not a case of anything being truly broken. WordPress 2.7 is a bit of a hog on servers with the way the app was coded. The main reason for this upgrade was to optimize all of that behind the scenes and help the app to load faster – which it does.

    You might be able to get away with postponing the upgrade for a little while, but eventually it’s going to reach a point where you’ll have to. I’ve seen more problems crop up from sites that have postponed for so long that a huge leap from one version to the most recent really screws it up. Too many massive changes all at once rather than a bunch of smaller ones, you know?

    Depending on what the problems are, the upgrade might help to fix the ones you have. And if you need help, you know who to go to! 😉

  9. I had a weird glitch where the Visual editor wasn’t working at all–I could only see the HTML, but once I got that fixed, it was okay. Otherwise? Seeing the comments for each post on the post’s page is kind of cool, but I preferred my Plugins sorting by active/recent/inactive better than alphabetically. I haven’t tried doing anything with themes yet, but DID notice that the theme editor CSS pages are now color-coded, which is handy. (I DO wish, though, that when you hit Save, those pages wouldn’t jump back to the top–I hate having to refind my place when I need to make adjustements!)

    –Deb´s last blog post…Heroes

  10. @Deb: The Visual editor glitch was another annoying problem – also related to conflicting plugins. I found that when I deactivated the culprit and then reactivated it after making sure it was the most recent version, the Visual editor came back to life.

    Colored CSS was the best improvement out of all of this. I very rarely, if ever, use the Theme or Plugin Editor, mostly because of the fact it was so difficult to read. Color coding makes it more like Dreamweaver or other website editing software. Now, if only they can figure out how to “Undo”, or provide some kind of live preview in the Theme editor dash, I think life would be very good indeed.

  11. Mmmm … live preview ….

  12. I haven’t done the upgrade. I have got the whole blog customized (plugins, header and footer) and am really worried about losing those…:(

  13. @WaW: If you upgrade your plugins first (and your theme if it needs it) you shouldn’t have a problem. Usually a WordPress upgrade won’t affect the images or CSS in your theme files, so your header and footer should be safe.

  14. Phew!!! I guess you are right! someone has to take a dive here !

    write a writing´s last blog post…Why did Eric Clapton Write “Tears in Heaven”?

  15. Thanks for advising to deactivate plugins–I wouldn’t have known to do that.

    Kaushik´s last blog post…Zen – what it is

  16. I have the visual editor glitch, but strangely what I have to do to get it working is switch to HTML, then back to visual and it works fine…

    All my plugins are the most recent versions, and I can’t really run the site without any of them, so don’t want to go around turning them off for now.

    Patrick Vuleta´s last blog post…Site facelift – a big thank you to Men with Pens!

  17. @Patrick .. I had prbs with the visual editor too and tried stuff but now what i do is write the post in live writer and then paste the source thing in html..its real neat n least bit of hassel.

    write a writing´s last blog post…Why did Eric Clapton Write “Tears in Heaven”?

  18. I’m always terrified of upgrades. I usually wait a few weeks and then do it once everyone else does. (I still hold my breath and peek out of one eye to see the result on my site.)

    E. Foley | Geek’s Dream Girl´s last blog post…Happy 30th Birthday to Me! I Want Souls… and Minions!

  19. Live Writer is a neat tool, but I found the code produced by it a little messy. It also tends to degrade image quality if you post images directly from Live Writer and clogs the website with about a million copies of each image stored in the content folder. Now I just write all my posts in HTML anyway, after quickly flicking from visual and back to HTML to automatically insert paragraph tags. Gives the most control over the look of each post as well as much of the convenience of the visual editor functions.

    Patrick Vuleta´s last blog post…Site facelift – a big thank you to Men with Pens!

  20. 2.8 is the cat’s ass. It’s great being able to add themes without having to upload to the server. The new widget page freaked me out at first, but I love it now.

    By the way, your new site design looks great. You guys nailed it this time. Glad to see fellow .ca’s doing well.


  21. You can insert manually from the html editor..Live writer I only use because of the paragraph tags, bullets, strong text, italics etc etc.

    write a writing´s last blog post…Why did Eric Clapton Write “Tears in Heaven”?

  22. I hate hate hate hate upgrading. Wah. But I had to research it for my kids’ blog….so I suppose I should bite the rather non-yummy bullet and do it for me too. Wah.

    Barbara Ling, Virtual Coach´s last blog post…Tuesday Morning Cereal!

  23. WordPress 2.8 really has some great features and improvements. Proof of its excellence, there are now more than one million downloads in the short time since it’s been launched! How amazing is that? A faster, more manageable, and customizable WordPress site is definitely a good formula. I’m sure the numbers will continue to increase in the days to come.

  24. Thanks! I usually wait to upgrade so they can work out any bugs. I really love my theme but I think it’s an older version. Do you know how much a theme affects search engines.

    So far it has been completely reliable in terms of all the plugins I have wanted to add. I was thinking about paying someone to build me a custom theme. Any suggestions?


    The key to understanding “social media” is to focus on the first word of the term.
    .-= Jonathan | EnlightenYourDay.com´s last blog ..Inspiring Tweets and Zen Retweets from my Twitter Contributors =-.

  25. @Jonathan: A theme shouldn’t affect search engines, it’s the content the engines are reading. The only thing that would affect a search are images with text embedded in them. Things like Flash, jpgs, gifs, pngs and other image files where the text is a part of the image (like a tagline in the banner) don’t get read. This is why you should always put in the “alternate text” on every image, because the search engines do read that and the file name.

    As for paying someone to build you a custom theme, drop us a line with what you have in mind and we’ll see what we can do for you. 😉

  26. That was one timely social media response! Thanks for getting back to me in minutes and the advice on the themes.

    I will send you a short description of what I want in a custom built theme.


    .-= Jonathan | EnlightenYourDay.com´s last blog ..Inspiring Tweets and Zen Retweets from my Twitter Contributors =-.

  27. Does anyone know how to turn of that damn paste function where in a new post it will paste the format from where you copied the text from?
    I work for a magazine and what it’s doing is copying every font and size from the InDesign document and pasting them into WordPress! Really really annoying!

    Thanks in advanced 🙂
    .-= Michael Marchment´s last blog ..New Blood =-.

  28. @Michael: Paste your copied text from the file into the HTML view. It’ll strip out the extra hidden code.

  29. Darn, that’s two blogs that the ‘Upgrade to 2.8.1’ button has destroyed. I don’t see a yellow bar, just a blank page with ‘Read from [domain]’. I forgave WordPress after the first failure a few weeks ago and tried the button on a second blog tonight. Bad idea.

    Back to doing a manual install. I don’t know how the rest of you managed to do an effortless upgrade, but I have found this to be impossible, despite following the instructions to the letter. Maybe that is my problem: following instructions. Fiddling with computers since 1981 should have taught me that following instructions is a very bad idea.


  1. […] With Pens has a great post about WordPress 2.8: It’s Time to Upgrade Your Site. They describe what’s new and also reminds us to deactivate plugins before an […]

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