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As you may know, WordPress v3.1 is going to be out very soon. The second release candidate has been out for two weeks now, and the dev team is meeting as I type this to squash the last bugs and plan for more WP goodness in 2011.
I’ve been working with v3.1 for the last month or so, adding new material for the second edition of WordPress in Depth, which should be out in the spring. Last week, I shared some of my excitement about the new features with Web414, Milwaukee’s Web Community.
Aaron Brazell has a great summary of the new stuff in “Ten Things You Need to Know About WordPress 3.1.” For my talk, I reorganized his list in terms of who will get the most use and/or benefit. In this post, I’m going to focus on the new features that impact ordinary users the most.
Post Formats: I’m really looking forward to using this feature, as it’s likely to get me posting more. Post formats allows bloggers to use different types of posts with different rules about headings and such. You can see what different post types can do in Matt Mullenweg‘s blog and in Tumblr.
The downside for ordinary users is that your theme has to support Post Formats before you can use them. This is easy to do (involving adding one line of code to the functions.php file, and then setting up the special formatting), but … it has to be done. I certainly hope that this is widely implemented, on both self-hosted (WordPress.org) sites and WordPress.com.
Internal Linking: We’ve had this on dotcom blogs for a couple of months now, and I’m a big fan. Often you’ll want to refer visitors to older posts to give them context for what you’re writing now. Or you’re live-blogging a conference and want to give links to all the other sessions you’ve been writing about. Before internal linking in the visual editor, this practice usually involved opening another browser tab, a site search and the usual copy/paste linking ritual. Time-consuming and error-prone only begins to describe the process.
Now you just open the editor’s link dialog, and you can see recent posts automatically, and search for not-so-recent posts:
Admin Bars: Another feature that dot-com and BuddyPress folks have had the opportunity to test, and apparently so nice Twitter copied it. When you’re logged in to your site, you get the little black bar at the top with handy tools like Add New Post/Page, Change Widgets and the like. If you’re in a multisite network, you stay logged in and get the same bar.
Theme Filters: Aaron’s description here befuddled me a little bit, as those who attended the Web414 talk can confirm. He wrote “WordPress.com users are probably familiar with the theme filter that those bloggers have had access to. With Theme Filters, users are able to quickly drill down on possible themes to install and use based on criteria such as number of columns, features, etc.” You could interpret that to mean that you couldn’t access theme filters when looking for new themes in the directory. You’ve been able to do that for as long as I can remember. Further research clarified what was new here.
If you’ve got a lot of themes installed, but not activated, you probably have a really long page filled with thumbnails and descriptions of these “Available Themes.” Up to now, you had no way to search, or otherwise compare that collection for features you might want. This changes in 3.1. Now you have a Search Themes box, and a Feature Filter too.
Obviously, this is a benefit to folks who develop WordPress sites for other people and need to select from a multitude of themes. You can also see the benefit if you like to change your theme often. Be aware that this only works with themes already installed. You still have to go to Install Themes to search the wider directory.
Well, that’s more than enough for now. There will be more on WordPress 3.1 to come. Meanwhile, are there features you’re playing with or looking forward to? What about things you don’t like? Your thoughts are always appreciated!