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Friday, 29 June 2012

What’s New In WordPress 3.4?

new wordpress featuresThose of you running WordPress blogs will notice a new major update is available if you’ve logged into your dashboards recently – version 3.4. I suspect most of us will upgrade regardless for security fixes and speed improvements, but what new WordPress features can you expect?

Custom Background Image & Header (Requires Theme Support)

We’ve had custom header images in the default and supported themes for a while now, so 3.4 adds a new custom background feature that works in exactly the same way – where supported, of course. It’s likely that a large selection of themes will be updated to support this in the coming months. If you don’t want to wait though, you’ll need to add this code to your functions.php:

args = array(
'default-color' => '000000',
'default-image' => get_template_directory_uri() . '',
add_theme_support( 'custom-background', $args );

Notice we define some defaults first, but this isn’t strictly needed. Also add this class to your body tag in the header.php file: (at least, I needed to add this, you might not)

 <body class="custom-background">

Similar support for custom headers has been added, which are now adjustable by height and width. You can find out more about adding support for this on the WordPress codex.

Theme Customiser (Mostly Requires Theme Support)

The theme customiser is enabled and accessible by default from any theme. However the actual customisation options won’t be anything you can’t already customize elsewhere.

new wordpress features

You’ll be presented with a live preview upon accessing the customizer, but in my case theme support was limited so all I could change was really the site title and tagline – something you can do anyway from the general settings. You can also upload a background image or change the color, if you’ve added support as above. Basically though, don’t expect it to do much.

wordpress 3.4 new features

The default WordPress theme – Twenty Eleven – has been updated to take advatage of this, with a wide range of layout and color options adjustable. Unfortunately for theme developers, taking advantage of this means a fairly complicated new API – though not nearly as complicated as programming your own custom control panel, as is the current way for premium themes.

wordpress 3.4 new features

Embedding Tweets

In a similar way to pasting a link to a YouTube video will automatically embed it, pasting a link to a specific Tweet will now add this beautiful embedded and interactive tweet (using oEmbed, in case you wanted to know). Check it out:

new wordpress features

Obviously this isn’t going to be much use to everyone, but I’m sure some of you will love it.

Fixes & Improvements

  • XML-RPC – the protocol that allows external and third party editing apps such as Windows Live Writer to upload and communicate with the blog, has been revamped, with a bunch of bug fixes. This includes support for custom post types and featured thumbnails.

  • Speed improvements to core queries.

  • Better support for other languages throughout.

  • External libraries updated to latest versions (TinyMCE, jQuery etc).

  • HTML code now supported in image captions.

  • /login , /dashboard and /admin now all redirect to the admin interface.

I must say, overall I’m a bit underwhelmed by new WordPress features in this update, though customisation options will really come to shine when major themes roll out support for it. For now, don’t expect much; but upgrade anyway for performance increases.

Have you upgraded already? Do you have a favourite feature, or is it all just a bit….meh?

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