WordPress 3.6: Additions and Refinements

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Innovation leads to progress. With constant evolution comes the prowess to comprehend the difficulties and remove the bugs in the versions that are yet to come. WordPress released version 3.5 which has already crossed the 6 million download mark. A lot was embedded in the version to enhance the user-experience. A renewed media experience and various advancements in the dashboard are some of the features that lured in the users. But, nothing’s constant. So, even this version needs a push-over. Talks are on for the release of the version 3.6.

Yes, the latest version is expected soon. A lot is in the speculation, a lot is pent up and expected. The area where expectations are looming is improvement in the publishing workflow. The developers are there to help us and provide us hints on the developments that can take place. Taking a sneak-peek into what’s in store can be exciting as we can stay prepared for the developments.

Mark Jaquith, a leading developer for the 3.6 cycle states in his introduction,

“I’d personally like the focus of the release to be about content editing (revisions, autosave, workflow, editing modes, etc).”

Aaron D. Campbell, who is in charge of co-leading the release has also expressed his desire to throw more focus on content editing and enhance the potential for the users. There’s an extended lifeline for the dashboard features to ease the working conditions. So, lets a plunge into what can be expected to draw us nearer to our favorite CMS.

Post Formats UI

WordPress 3.1 introduced us to the concept of post formats and they are currently in use as well to present content in a manner that is far better visually appealing. Unfortunately, there have been usability issues over the admin UI for this incorporated feature which involves the developers tweaking for the client projects. However, version 3.6 aims at eradicating the bug. Helen Hou-Sandi, heads the developments and according to him, the UI will revise itself to benefit the users and help them comprehend a particular post format. Inspiration will be taken from particularly, CF Post Formats by Alex King, wordpress.com UI and the interface of Tumblr. Considerations will also be made to provide the themes a sense of standardization and portability, when it comes to the data available for display.
The expectations are on for theme developers to get a set of standardized data for every post format instead of making assumptions and creating their own implementations through custom fields.

Autosaving and Post Locking

A writer’s workflow has an important aspect to it- Autosaving. Lacking on this issue implementation forces users to switch to external editors instead of working directly on the WordPress admin. Jaquith goes on to say:

“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…”

The entire concept is a revelation. Andrew OZZ is the head of the development process of this feature and the focus is bent on the following components:

  • Developing a “WP Heartbeat” API: It is a relatively simpler API that sends requests to the server after every 15 seconds and triggers the events on receiving data. The above component is a step towards the simultaneous editing direction, but its initial implementation aims at autosaving and post-locking functionality.
  • Post Locking: The simultaneous editing of a post will prevent the conflict and loss of data. The notification system and the UI is also improved.
  • Autosaving to the local storage: This will prevent loss of user data amongst saving the post revisions to the database.
  • The Login expiration warnings: Loss of data will be prevented due to the expiration of cookies. Though, you can use the PMC Post Savior plugin for the same, now.

The Revisions and Editorial Flow

The release of the 3.6 version will mark an improvement towards the editorial workflow, especially for the multi-author sites and blogs. Daniel Bachhuber, one of the developers behind the famous Edit Flow plugin, is the person leading this development. Under his leadership we can expect transitions to be made from the core, kicking-off from the custom post statuses. Daniel states that, it’s the “crux of building any new features.” A clear indication is set to finalize the custom status API, standardize the behavior and interact with the custom post types. Expectations are bent over that creating states such as “idea” or “expired” will be easier with WordPress 3.6.
Content tracking in WordPress is easily carried out with the help of revisions. Under the lead of Peter Westwood, this feature will witness an improvement with improved author attribution and comparison. Visual changes will have more information presented and thus the UI will have more meaning for the average user.

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The Menus

Version 3.0 witnessed the menu management feature and it has been an integral part of the “WordPress as CMS” since. Imagining a theme without support to the menus is practically impossible these days. Dave Martin leads the development process for this features and his ideas are on the looks of the menu management that exist in his blog and ontrac. The main area of refinement will be a clear difference between addition of items to a menu and the addition of menu itself to a theme location. The tabbed window approach was considered and the results were on the positive side in user testing.
Together with the above advancements, the current “common links” metabox with “home” and “Log in” will also be introduced as the default links. There are a percentage of users who still have issues figuring out the addition of these links.

An Undistracted Free Writing

Distraction-Free Writing was first introduced with version 3.2. It has been the center of debate since then with many negatives and positives. The main bone of contention is the lack of formatting support. The DFW editor is more bent on using keyboard shortcuts, whereas WordPress does not support markdown. The areas under consideration are:

  • Tough to figure out
  • The transition is clashing
  • No support for major of the formatting required for writing
  • General refinements of the behavior during writing

Maintenance of the Code and Architecture

Some of the updates that are about to make the presence will surely be kept under the wraps till the release is made. That is but obvious. Most of them might deal with the caching and performance issues, as WordPress becomes more complex and resource-hungry. Together with these changes, database related changes might also crop up. Two of them are:

  • WordPress 3.6 might start supporting PDO extension for serving database connections as the mysql_functions in PHP are depreciated.
  • The UNIQUE constraint might get removed for the slug in wp_terms. It is for the future betterment of the taxonomy API.

Wrapping Up

The schedule for this version will require less time to release than the previous versions. The cycle was initiated in early January and the first Beta is expected to get launched on 13th of March. The 22nd of April is the planned launch date.

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Andrew Johnson

Andrew Johnson is founder of BestPSDtoHTML. He loves creative designs, photography, paintings and everything about innovation. As an Internet entrepreneur, he constantly tries to develop new ways to bring content faster and closer to the end users in a more streamlined way. His main focus lies in inspiring all the designers and developers with all new ideas through his blogs.

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