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WordPress New Beta-- to Upgrade or Not to Upgrade? - page 2

Beware the Beta

  • December 21, 2010
  • By Joe Brockmeier

The WordPress 3.0 release made it easier to manage custom post types, and 3.1 improves on this with post formats. What am I talking about? WordPress has typically been used for blogging, so it has traditionally supported a single post type — a standard blog post. Eventually, the WordPress folks added a page type, for static pages (like a blog's "about" page or for a front page that doesn't change with every post).

Now WordPress supports a few types of post out of the box. According to the Codex (WordPress's online documentation) WordPress supports several types including a chat transcript, status (140 characters, like Twitter or Identi.ca), video, audio, galleries, etc. This seems to require theme support, so I only had three types available when testing — standard, aside, and gallery. The aside is "similar to a Facebook note update." I'm a bit bummed that my theme (Twenty-Ten) only supported the three.

The good news here is that themes will evolve to support the different types and it will be easier to use WordPress blogs to support multiple types of post formats without having to spend much time wrangling themes or plugins. You should soon be able to have a photo gallery post next to a 140-character update next to a standard post on the site. Some WordPress themes turn a site into a microblog or a gallery, etc., but the formats feature promises to let publishers mix and match content types without having to pick one.

Internal Linking

I nearly missed the Internal Link feature in 3.1. Typically I compose entries in Vim and paste the HTML into the WordPress post editor, and I almost never use the button in the WYSIWYG editor to add links. But I did while testing, and this is a pretty cool feature. Highlight some text you want to create a link for and then click the Link to Content on this Site button at the bottom of the dialog.

Using the new Link to Content feature you can find previous posts that you might want to link to. Sure, you could search using the WordPress search box and manually insert the links before, but this reduces the steps required. For those trying to increase traffic and SEO for a site, this could be very useful.

Miscellaneous Features

It's also worth noting that some of the changes in WordPress 3.1 are only noticeable for developers or in improved performance. Changes have been made to the Admin interface to make it more responsive and add things like sortable columns in some of the admin interfaces. A few things have been moved around in the Admin Dashboard too, to clean up the admin interface if you're using WordPress MultiUser (MU), and so on.

The TinyMCE editor that WordPress uses for WYSIWYG composing has been updated, though it's worth noting that TinyMCE is an upstream project — so all the improvements in TinyMCE can be attributed to that project.

WordPress 3.1 is a somewhat moderate release, but it's well worth the upgrade when the final 3.1 release hits. Probably the best plan for most admins of WordPress sites is to plan on updating to 3.1 by mid-January (assuming the project sticks to the release schedule). For the record, I've not run into any snags with the beta so far — so I expect that the 3.1 release to be as rock-solid as the 3.0.x series. If you're not already running WordPress but are giving it some thought, I'd probably go ahead and start with the most recent 3.0.x release. WordPress upgrades are so ridiculously easy and it's such a solid process (I've been running WordPress since 2004, the 1.0 days, and it's been hassle-free) that it's not really necessary to wait for the 3.1 release to jump in.

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