This afternoon WordPress 2.9 went from Release Candidate to just plain old released and, yeah this is a good one. I’ve been using 2.9 in it’s early beta incarnations for months now and have been quite happy with it. I haven’t noticed a huge improvement in speed or stability, but then again I’m not benchmarking it, I’m just using it. Oh and writing about it, of course.
For my money, there are two great features that make this a great update. The first is the new built-in image editor. No, you won’t be able to create new graphics but you will be able to crop, scale, flip, and rotate them. For a lot of users I think this is going to come in very handy when they accidentally upload a picture they’d rather be smaller. I’ve play with this feature more than any other, and it’s a nice, clean tool. Not perfect, but given that it’s web-based within WordPress, I think it’s darn good.
Now the next feature you might not be able to take advantage of until your theme supports it or you edit your theme to support it and that is built-in post thumbnails. A lot of themes, including Thesis which I’m using here, have set up thumbnails by using custom fields. This is great, but adds extra steps to the process of associating a thumbnail with a post. The users have to remember to not only add the field, but also copy and paste the URL of the image in (and the correct URL to the size they want). Not as smooth as it could be. Well if your theme supports the new the_post_thumbnail(); function, you just pick images from the post editor from your existing media library. No URLs to remember, not fussing around.
I’ll be poking around the Thesis forums over the weekend to see how I can update Thesis to use this feature, instead of the one Chris put in. Not that I use thumbnails often, but I have client sites that do and I’ll want to see how to update the theme for them.
Some other features you might like: batch plugin updates, automatic database repair and optimization, posts going to trash instead of just gone, and easier video embeds through oEmbed. There are a lot of geekier features for custom post types and other theme-related features, but we mere mortals won’t notice these until plugin and theme designers start to take advantage of them.
WordPress 2.9 is a great update. Not huge, but like Snow Leopard a great refinement.
I did my 2.9 updates through SVN, which was painless, but of course most of my blogs had been running 2.9 beta versions for a while. For those of 2.8.6, try the auto-update if it’s worked for you before. Yes, a database update will be required, but that’s not a big deal and takes just a moment. If the auto-update system doesn’t work for you, then download WordPress 2.9 and use the normal update procedure.
For Using WordPress I’ve been writing it with 2.9 in mind so I don’t have any surprises there, what about 3.0 due out in the spring? WordPress 3.0 is going to be a big update with the merging of WordPress and WordPress MU slated for that update. Like all good tech writers I’m writing for what is current, with an eye to what’s next. WordPress is a moving target, no doubt about it. No one can publish a book of any size and not have at least one significant update and several minor ones come out in the meantime. For Using WordPress my plan is to track WordPress 3.0 and hope to have some information about it before the book goes to print.