WordPress: some images of the Beta 2

The release of WordPress 2.8 is now imminent (even if I already wrote this sentence in early April). The list of features of this new version is defined, and won’t be modified. The Beta 2 was released last saturday. Usually, beta and Release Candidate are not many, before the official release, so we can expect a release within 1 to 2 weeks.

What’s new for the users

  • Ability to install theme directly from the internet, like plugins,
  • Significant improvement of the widgets manager,
  • All users can use the Turbo feature,
  • Code syntax highlighting in all file editors,
  • Ability to edit all files of plugins,
  • Better management of timezones.

I can add also number of small improvements, such as displaying date of post release (planned posts) rather than the remaining time, interface enhancements (some buttons were added, other were suppressed, …).

I think that the better management of timzones is a good thing:

Gestion des fuseaux horaires
Timezone management

Some of changes can appear as insignificant, but they will have some consequences: for example, the new description field of tags, seems to be useless from a user point of view, but will help developers for features linked with themes, SEO …

The more important improvements are, the theme management

Installation des thèmes
Theme installer

And the widgets management:

Gestion des widgets
Widgets manager

What’s new for developers

The more important changes are:

  • Improvement of the sticky posts management,
  • Ability to choose the taxonomy to use win the tags cloud (wp_tag_cloud),
  • More flexibility, and additional features to add and manage taxonomies,
  • Significant changes of the function query_posts,
  • Improvement of tools managing authentication, and logins.

There are also a lot of new filters and hooks, allowing plugins and themes developers, to more interact with the blog engine.

From my point of view, the most important change is the new widgets API. This API is now based on a PHP class named WP_Widget. To create a new widget, we just have to overload this class, and edit 2 functions.

Developers must be careful with this new version:

  • A lot of functions are becoming depredicated, especially for users and authors management, and for the string filtering (sanitize functions),
  • Some important functions (query_posts, wp_list_pages) were changed.

So, we will have to perform deep tests, to detect any change of behavior.

Inside the engine

A lot of libraries were updated, especially Javascript libraries

  • TinyMCE 3.2.3,
  • Jcrop 0.9.8,
  • PHPMailer 2.0.4,
  • SWFUpload 2.2.0.1,
  • jQuery 1.3.2.

The database evolves also:

  • Some fields, that aren’t used since few versions, disappear: post_category in the table wp_posts, link_category in the table wp_links. These two fields were previously replaced by taxonomy,
  • Better protection against issues of data integrity: unique ID management …

Conclusion

Initially, I thought that this version 2.8 would be a consolidation version. It is the case on several sides (interface for example). But the big amount of changes will lead to a true evolution of WordPress. According to me, three trends appear:

  • a « all in one » interface: we will soon perform all blogging tasks without additional tools (FTP client …),
  • a cleaning of the source code: the new widgets API, and the http header API improvement are some examples,
  • available functions and databases changes, will convert gradually this blog engine to a CMS.

Personally, I think that the use of Javascript, especially in the administration interface, leads to heavier developments. The success of WordPress is mainly based on its simplicity. So be careful to not make the product too complex to use or extend.