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WordPress 3.6: New Features You Should Know About

WordPress 3.6After the massive popularity of WordPress 3.5 (with over 20 million downloads since its release seven months ago), a new major release was unveiled to the public on 1 August 2013. Called “Oscar”, WordPress 3.6 has been named in honour of the Canadian jazz pianist Oscar Peterson. Here, we take a look at some of the key new features included in the release, and talk you through what you need to know about them.

WordPress 3.6 includes some bug fixes and is packed with exciting new features and improvements, some of which includes a new default theme – ‘Twenty Thirteen’, improved auto save and post locking, plus native support for audio and video embeds via an HTML5 media player.

Check out the official video release below:

[wpvideo UmhwbWJH w=630]

 

Now, let's get more details and dive into this new release.

New default WordPress theme: Twenty Thirteen

 

Twenty Thirteen

Twenty Thirteen is focused on getting back into the roots of personal blogging and makes full use of the post format’s support for media-rich blogging.

Back in January 2013, Aaron Jorbin, one of the developers in charge of this new theme in the early process, wrote:

I want Twenty Thirteen to be designed and built Accessibility First. So what do I mean by 'Accessibility First'?

  • Colour choices with high contrast in mind from the start. This is one area that Twenty Twelve barely missed.
  • Colour choices with multiple types of colour deficiencies in mind since an estimated 10% of all males suffer from some form of colour deficiency.
  • Making up for browser deficiencies, specifically the skipnav focus bug in webkit.
  •  Make sure that the design still looks beautiful when the font size is increased 200%"

The new theme is fully responsive, making the content match any device screen size you are reading it on. Twenty Thirteen has a really clean and flat design, with beautiful typography, a single column layout with sidebar/footer widget area, embracing CSS3 and HTML5 best practice. It uses bold colours (with a ‘70’s feel) to enhance the post content type, and the sharp icons will scale to any resolution and can be re-coloured via CSS using web font. In fact, Automatic, the company behind WordPress has released this new site for anyone who wants to use those web font icons for their very own projects for free.

As the lead developer Mark Jaquith writes:

With Twenty Thirteen we’re taking a bold stance: this theme was meant for blogging, and it’s not a blank canvas. It comes pre-marinated with playfulness and warmth and opinions.

Check out the demo at twentythirteendemo.wordpress.com.

Improved post revision comparison user interface

One of the most impressive new features in 3.6 is that it offers a better way to visualise multiple versions of your posts with its new revision control area.

The new post revisions option gives you a detailed view of the changes between different revisions of a post, allowing you to scroll back and forth in time to see exactly what was changed, deleted, or added.

See the example below.

browse-revision

Compare Revisions

Better audio and video support

Now you can embed audio and video files into your posts without relying on a plugin or a third party media hosting service like YouTube or Vimeo.

The new native audio and video players are in pure HTML5 tags using the library MediaElement.js to get the maximum file support and cross-browser compatibility.

Features:

  • The players can be easily skinned with CSS
  • Support for all major browsers and devices
  • Accessibility standards built-in (WebVTT)
  • Now supports direct embedding of Spotify, Rdio, and SoundCloud through simply copying and pasting the URL
  • New audio/video API gives you access to metadata like ID3 tags, which lets you extract data from audio and video files (for example, to get cover art, song length, artist, album, song title, genre, codec, etc.) a nice feature for any photography blogger, for example, who wants to display the specs of the image
  • Audio files supported: mp3, ogg, wma, m4a, wav
  • Video files supported: mp4, m4v, webm, ogv, wmv, flv

Auto saving

The main focus of the 3.6 release is to prevent any loss of data while editing or writing a post.

Mark Jaquith, a member of the core developer team, states:

We should never lose posts due to expired cookies, loss of connection, inadvertent navigation (even if AYS’d), plugin or core errors on save, browser crashes, OS crashes, cats walking on keyboards, children drooling in keyboards, etc.

I want people to trust WordPress with their posts. They should never fear that something they’ve spent time creating or editing should go away due to their mistake or ours or that of a third party.

Mistakes and errors should be recoverable. I can’t stress enough how important it is that people believe this and have good reason to believe it. If a post gets lost, there is a catastrophic loss of trust that could take years to be regained

In situations where users could lose their internet connection, accidentally close a browser tab or browser entirely, posts are now saved automatically in your web browser storage in addition to saving to the server. If your login session expires, a message will pop up linking to restore a backup of your last auto saved content, as shown in the image below.

 

auto-save

Post locking

This new feature is really useful for multi-author blogs. It makes sure that if there are two users, they cannot both edit the same post simultaneously by kicking one of them out.

Post Locking

Post Locked

Taken Over

Login expiry improvement

If a user’s login session has expired, a new login notification system will ask the user to login without leaving the page they were working on.

Login Expiry

Improved usability with the menus system

The ’Edit Menus‘ and ’Manage Locations‘ options are split into two tabs, and the menus have been simplified with an accordion-based user interface (UI), as shown in the screenshot below.

Edit Menu

Menu Locations

Also in the Oscar release

  • The comment form, comment listing and search form have been updated with the latest HTML5 mark-up
  • Under the user profile page, the AIM, YIM, Jabber fields have been removed from core on a new install
  • ‘Media Library’ can now be sorted by author name
  • New audio and video previews are available on the Media > Edit screen
  • New and updated scripts: MediaElement.js, jQuery 1.10.2, jQuery UI 1.10.3, jQuery Migrate, Backbone 1.0
  • For the full list, please check the official release page

What didn’t make it into WordPress 3.6?

The post formats UI change didn't make it to this release because it did not get the full support of the WordPress team and the community.

WordPress co-founder Matt Mullenweg said:

On post formats, we had to do it to know that it wasn’t what we wanted — it didn’t represent the original goal of simplifying,

For anyone who wants to be involved, test some new ideas, and see where all the work on the new dashboards is happening, the experimental future admin UI got moved into a plugin named MP6 – see the screenshot below.

MP6 Demo

What’s next for WordPress?

Matt Mullenweg revealed at the WordCamp San Francisco a few weeks ago that future releases of WordPress will be more aggressive. The plan is that WordPress 3.7 will be released in October and 3.8 will be out in December, with the 2014 theme planned for release by the end of the year. He also revealed that WordPress is now powering 18.9% of the web, an increase of 2.2% since last year.

If you’d like to find out how Fresh Egg’s web development and design teams can help your business get the most out of its website, contact us online or call 0845 373 1071.



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