Early in December, WordPress released its latest version; 3.3 named “Sonny” in honor of the jazz saxophonist Sonny Stitt and you can now download or update to this version. In this article I will discuss some of the new features, development items and security so that you can be ready to go as soon as you get this installed.
There are several long-awaited and anticipated features that are now available in 3.3 including the new media uploader, improvements to the dashboard and content-related tools as well as new things to spruce up the user experience. For site administrators there is also a new admin bar, faster response time and full compliance with the latest third-party APIs. Here is the scoop on the new features:
The Media Uploader
The new media uploader is a slick new toy that allows you to drag and drop items to be uploaded and use the single media upload button now that the other three buttons have been removed. This has really cleaned up the interface and made life easier when you need to upload different types of media. This new HTML5 uploader is definitely a welcome addition!
Note that the new uploader will not work on older versions of Internet Explorer, so make sure to use another, newer, browser.
The Admin Bar and Improved Dashboard
The addition of the admin bar in version 3.2 was great but now in version 3.3 it is even better. A lot of the extraneous buttons have been removed and the interface is much cleaner and easier to use. For some of the more useful features, submenus have been created where you can hover your mouse over to get to those features.
Another big improvement to the dashboard is the touchable interface for people that want to manage their blog on their touch devices. These enhancements allow for a better experience when using these devices as things will scale better to smaller screens.
The admin bar is an excellent way to get to administrative tasks without having to be logged into the admin dashboard. The admin bar will show up anytime you are viewing the blog and are logged in.
Improved User Experience
The key point in this new version of WordPress is to make it easier and more accessible for new users. The update and install process is easier as well providing tooltips to help with the identification of buttons and features. A new welcome screen will help new users that are just getting started find the tasks they want or assist them in finding help.
Some other new additions: Working with co-editors is now a smoother process and tools for working with multiple authors have been added that will help with content locking. You will also be able to keep your widgets when switching between themes and for authors that are using Tumblr, there is also a new Tumblr importer that will allow you to import your content to your WordPress blog.
Under the Hood
Some of the best things to come out of this update are system improvements and changes to the core of WordPress. Many new and improved APIs such as the Editor API, Screen API and Metadata API have been improved by adding help tabs and adapting different screen contexts.
jQuery has been updated to the most recent version of 1.7.1 and JQuery UI updated to 1.8. 16 and WordPress will now perform a clean up when theme and plugin files are uploaded and installed. This will create less files in the system as WordPress will delete these files once the install is complete.
The biggest new “under the hood” feature is the postname permalink structure improvements. There are no more performance penalties when you are using
%postname% as your permalink structure. There are now “massive performance gains” that can be had with this update if you are currently using this linking structure, as most sites are.
Released about a month later is the WordPress 3.3.1 Security Update available that fixes 15 issues that were found in the 3.3 release. This security update addresses some cross-site scripting as well as some vulnerabilities.
Few people should have a problem upgrading but sometimes problems arise. Usually some plugins and themes will have errors with such a major update. You can check the list of known issues at the WordPress forums and make sure to install the 3.3.1 security update to keep your site secure. The best practice would be to perform a full backup of your files and your database before upgrading and be prepared to revert if there are major problems. The new features are certainly worth any trouble that you may have.