WordPress 2.5 Just Released – Feature Highlights

WordPress 2.5 was just released, and if you read Matt Mullenweg’s post, you’ll see that it has lots of great new features. I’m simply summarizing here.

User Features

Here are features that a user with access to the admin panel will see:

  1. Cleaner dashboard.
  2. Dashboard widgets, including statistics.
  3. Multiple simultaneous file uploading, with progress bars.
  4. EXIF extraction for camera metadata.
  5. Search that includes both posts and pages. (Previously, search was post-only.)
  6. Tag management without plugins.
  7. Password strength meter.
  8. Edit protection, so that two or more authors cannot simultaneously edit a post or page.
  9. Minimized plugin upgrading. This is host-dependent, but WP 2.5 can download and install plugin upgrades for you.
  10. Non-desctructive WYSIWYG (visual) editor. The old visual editor mangles your HTML code after saving. The new one uses TinyMCE v3.0 to avoid this issue.
  11. Built-in photo galleries.

Developer Features

Developers of WordPress plugins and themes, or those who customize WP installations have these new features to look forwards to:

  1. Salted passwords. (If you don’t know, don’t worry.)
  2. Secure cookies.
  3. Easier URL creation from page taxonomies.
  4. Inline documentation.
  5. Database optimization. (Matt’s post says they haven’t changed the database table structure with this release, but I’m not clear on this. My experience shows they changed the database schema back around 2.2x. (I don’t remember what X was.). I feel this was a big mistake for a non-major release version. However, it’s possible they changed back in a subsequent release.)
  6. Optimized database queries.
  7. Media buttons.
  8. Shortcode API, for applying custom short notations in posts that expand into content during page render. This is accomplished through custom WP PHP functions you can develop for each shortcode. So you might have a “gallery” shortcode with parameters, “, and then write a PHP function called “gallery_func” to define the shortcode behavior during page render. [Note: this alone will make WP an even more powerful all-purpose CMS for both blogs and websites.]

As you can see, there are a great deal of new features for everyone. I’m going to be working with a WP 2.5 installation, and I’ll blog about positive and negative aspects on an ongoing basis.

Should You Upgrade to WP 2.5?

No one can argue that there are not lots of incredible new features in WP 2.5. Just watch the 4-minute video screencast of the new interface for starters. Just be sure that you’re prepared to upgrade. Here’s a very generic upgrade process:

  1. Backup themes, plugins, and uploaded files (e.g., images), in the same directory structure. Use your favorite FTP software.
  2. Depending on the version of WP you currently have, backup the blog content or export it. If your WP is very old, you may have some hair-pulling time ahead of you, thanks to database changes since around version 2.2x.
  3. Remove your current WP installation and reinstall a new version. Depending on how long you think it’ll take you to re-install, you might publish a temporary index.html that says “Back shortly” or some such message.
  4. Reactivate your theme and plugins, and make sure you’re using the same Permalinks options. (There’s a community-built list of plugins that work and don’t work with WP 2.5.)
  5. Test everything.
  6. Rejoice.

I also wrote a quick and safe WP upgrade approach earlier. I recommend this for those of you that are concerned with messing with your live blog. I’ve been reading since before WP 2.3 of how annoyed some WordPress bloggers have been that older themes and plugins no longer work properly. I’ve experienced this as well and for that reason, I’ve only installed WP 2.3x and up on brand new blogs. (I.e., no time to monkey with upgrading.)

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