WordPress 3.4 has been out a couple weeks now, and if you haven’t already updated (or even if you have) you might be wondering what all the new changes are. We’re going to walk through the new features one by one so you can understand exactly how they work.
One nice thing about new features is that WordPress now has beautiful tooltips when new features come out, as you’ll see in the next item.
WordPress has added a new option under “appearance->themes” called “customize”. This link is available for all themes, and you’ll see a tooltip announcing it when you visit the themes admin page:
When you click the customize link for a theme you’ll see a nice left sidebar overlay with some options. The first option is completely new – the “theme preview”. If you click ‘customize’ for a theme that isn’t active you can preview what it will look like here. Over the years there have been lots of theme preview plugins available (like Theme Test Drive) – and now this is a built in feature of WordPress (no plugin required).
In a smart move, they also exposed common theme options here as well, like the ability to edit the site title and tagline, navigation menu, and what to display on the front page. You can still edit these items in their original locations under “Settings” in wp-admin, but now you can quickly edit them together here as well.
For themes that support it (like 2010 and 2011) you can also edit background and background color elements. This makes is so much easier for the average person to own a website and customize it on their own without even needing to purchase a theme at all (using built in WordPress themes).
Any Size 2010 or 2011 Headers
If you ever used the default 2010 or 2011 WordPress themes for your website, you know that one pain was the fact that the heaer image had to be a specific size (height and width). Now they are flexible and you can use whatever size you want.
Embedding content is getting easier in WordPress. In the past if you wanted to add a YouTube video you needed to either have a plugin installed (Jetpack, Viper Video Quicktags, YouTube Shortcode), or you had to copy and paste the entire embed code from YouTube in your post.
WordPress now automatically handles certain embeds with just a URL if you have it setup properly.
Go to “Settings->Media” and check the “auto-embeds” option to make this work.
When you check that option it enables a setting inside WordPress that allows auto-embedding of sites that support the “oembed” protocol. This means that you can automatically embed video and content from the following websites:
YouTube, Vimeo, Daily Motion, blip.tv, flickr, Viddler, Hulu, Qik, Revision3, Scribd, Photobucket, PollDaddy, WordPress.tv, SmugMug, FunnyOrDie, and Twitter.
The first thing you should know is – if you have a theme or plugin that does it’s own auto-embedding, you should probably turn that off before enabling this inside WordPress to avoid conflicts. The second is this feature has been inside WordPress since 3.0, but Twitter was just added with 3.4.
The strange thing about this list is that all the supported sites are images or video (other than Scribd which is documents), except for Twitter. It’s kind of cool in a way to be able to embed a tweet with a follow button – but it’s just a really odd feature. I guess time will tell how many people really use it.
HTML in Image Captions
When you add a caption to an image you can now use bold, italic, and link HTML codes. You can only use this feature if your theme supports image captions.
If you’re a developer you will be grateful that wp_query has (finally) been updated to be faster with larger sites. There are also faster translations, and a new themes API. Libraries were updated such as jquery, simplepie (RSS), Plupload, and PHPMailer. WordPress now has an official XML-RPC API as well, with complete support for custom post types and taxonomies.
Have you updated to WordPress 3.4 yet? What are your thoughts?