You might have been wondering what will be in the new release of WordPress 3.2, and this is a GREAT time to tell you about it, because beta #2 just came out. WP 3.2 should be available by the end of June (3 weeks or less, yay!).
WordPress 3.2 Requirements
The first thing that you should know is that there are some new “requirements” for WordPress 3.2. This is VERY important, as this is the first version of WordPress (that I can remember) in a LONG time that actually has server requirements (that you may or may not have). Check with your webhost to ensure that you have at least:
PHP 5.2.4 or greater
MySQL 5.0 or greater
mod_rewrite Apache module
Odds are – most of you probably do, but ‘somebody’ reading this post right now will not. So, submit a help desk ticket (if you don’t know where to look in your web hosting control panel or cpanel), and if you’re worried about the upgrade at all – just click the link at the bottom of this post for additional help from us.
What you need to know is that with the requirement of PHP 5.2.4 WordPress is official dropping support for PHP4 with WordPress 3.2. This means is your website is hosted on a server still using PHP 4 – your WordPress powered website will fail to work (if you upgrade to 3.2 when it comes out). But, if you fail to upgrade – you will miss important security patches (in WordPress) and be more succeptible to getting hacked.
How do I check my version of PHP?:
Actually iThemes has online PHP5 checker here. All you have to do is enter your URL, and it will tell you what version of PHP you are running:
Apparently, (as of this writing) we need to upgrade our version of PHP ourselves, even though what we have is compatible with the new WordPress 3.2 (but just barely).
How do I check my MySQL database server version?
Most web hosting control panels have a section for databases like this (and this is a cpanel version):
Click on the icon for “phpMyAdmin” as in the image above, and once the screen loads and it should tell you in the top right what your MySQL (server) version is like this:
You can see we’re running 5.1.52 on this hosting account, which is good enough for WP 3.2 (5.0+ is required).
Alternative Methods for checking PHP and MySQL versions: If for some reason you don’t have access to the web control panel for a WP website (but can get login to the dashboard as admin) there is another way to check if you’re PHP and MySQL ready for 3.2. Just install the LAMP version checker plugin, and it will tell you:
This of course, will not work if you have Windows web hosting (which most of you won’t).
If you have Hostgator web hosting (which we recommend), then you can scroll down the to bottom left sidebar and click “program versions” like this:
Guess what (to our own surprise) in our Hostgator test account, MySQL is WordPress 3.2 ready, but PHP actually is not (I guess we have to submit our own support ticket!):
WordPress 3.2 is faster
Lazy Loading: Improvements have been made on both the front end and the dashboard to make WordPresss load faster. Something called “PHP lazy loading” has been introduced – which is a feature of PHP 5. Basically – this is a functionality that allows specific resources to be loaded at the time it’s required (and not before).
Faster dashboard: There’s been some patching to the admin menu to make it load faster (and look sleeker):
You’ll see in the image above that it’s also a bit more obvious now how to expand and contract the admin sidebar.
Faster upgrades: The FTP functionality has been improved, so upgrading both plugins and WordPress itself in the future will happen more quickly too! Another improvement to the upgrade process is that in the past one-click upgrades of WordPress occurred as “full upgrade” (all files). Now, (and in the future) only modified or new files will be upgraded.
This has it’s pros and cons as we see it. One con is – if a file is damaged or infected, upgrading wordpress in the future won’t fix it (unless that file is new or updated in a new version of WP). Then again, it might not have fixed the issue anyway. One pro is, if you’ve updated core files, you don’t have to worry about them being overwritten (unless they are modified), and you can check which files have been modified before updating. But, that’s only for really custom installs.
WordPress Old Browser Notification
Once you upgrade to 3.2, when you visit the dashboard you’ll be notified if you’re using an “older browser” like this:
This is part of the Browse happy initiative run by WordPress, and you get the notice if you aren’t running at least Chrome 11, Firefox 4, Safari 5, Opera 11.10, or IE9. We run Firefox 3.6, so we’re just going to click the “dismiss” button so we don’t see that again – but it’s good they notify people of what’s available.
Full Screen Editing Mode
Some have called this “distraction free” writing mode, and whether you use the visual or HTML editor – the “full screen” editing mode is available if click the icon on the toolbar:
Basically, when you click that all the clutter is removed except for basic necessities:
The only necessities left are the ability to toggle from HTML to visual editor, and add a link or image (in HTML mode). In visual editing mode you get bold, italic, bullets, quotes, add or remove a link, and help. I think a lot of people will find this helpful, especially if they are at first intimidated by the WordPress dashboard and it’s options.
When you’re done editing all you have to do is click “exit fullscreen” to go back and publish your post.
The New 2011 Default WordPress theme
Last year WordPress announced that they would be released at least one free default theme per year (from now on) and last year’s was “2010”. If would only be fitting that this year’s is “2011”, and you have no idea how much it brings to the table.
WordPress “Post Formats”:
Once you activate the 2011 theme, the “Settings->Writing” page of the dashboard changes:
Header Options: The 2010 theme had a custom header image of 940×198. You could upload and crop an image from your compouter, or choose to use one of the default 8 provided images (or just rotate them randomly). The same options exists for the 2011 default theme, except the image size has been increased to 1000×288.
You can now also choose to display text (yes or no) in the header options, and choose the text color as well:
2011 Theme Options: What is completely new are the 2011 Theme admin options:
Theme options like this are something that you typically only saw in premium themes, and is something that has never been available in a WordPress default theme before now.
You can see in the image above you can now choose a light or dark color scheme, you can choose the default color for links, and you can even choose to have a left or right sidebar – or no sidebar at all.
About a month ago on the WordPress Development blog Lance Willett mentioned that there might be a change coming to allow “flexible header heights” in the 2011 theme (but it’s not in there yet). Also Matias mentioned on that same thread that four different options for showing and / or hiding the header image and / or text would be in the custom header options, but we didn’t see that either. Either one of those changes could make it into the final WordPress 3.2 release in the next 3 weeks.
WordPress 3.2 Upgrade Review Conclusion
When WordPress 3.2 official is released at the end of July you’re going to get a refreshed admin panel, faster loading admin and front end, a new default theme (2011) with cool admin theme options and post formats, and new “distraction free” full screen editing mode.
However, you will need to make sure that your web host support the new PHP code and MySQL database requirements (before you upgrade). We hope that this review has helped you become read, if you still need assistance with your upgrade – by all means Request a Quote, we’d be happy to help you with our WordPress consulting services.