Today WordPress 2.7 Release Candidate 2 was released. For those that don't speak geek, a release candidate, or RC for short, is a version of software that, assuming nobody finds any bugs, what you see is what you get for the final released version. Though I have been testing out the beta versions since they first started being released, I had been waiting for a second RC version prior to updating several of the blogs I manage. Tonight was that night and the upgrades were flying!
Since I have been staring at the interface for the past 3 hours, I thought I'd share a few of my favorite aspects of the new WordPress release.
The dashboard has matured in to a page that provides information and quick navigation rather than in previous versions where it was simply a page you stopped on for a second before immediately looking for a way to leave. Inside the dashboard alone there are several new features to be found before you even leave the page.
- The “Right Now” section is an “At a Glance” look at your website as a whole. It tells you how many posts, pages, categories, etc.. you have on your site. Best of all, you can click the number next to each item and it will take you directly to the “manage” page for the selected section.
- The “QuickPress” section allows you to write a blog post directly from the dashboard. It is a stripped down version of the new blog post page, but I'm sure there are thousands of bloggers who need nothing more than what is available.
- The “Screen Options” menu is tucked away in the top right hand corner. Click on it and you'll get a fly-out menu showing you a list of each section of the dashboard available to you. Simply click the checkbox next to a section's name and that section is removed from the dashboard. This will unclutter your dashboard and make sure you are only seeing the sections you want/need to see.
- This last feature is something that I'm sure is going to be missed by most users. The drag and drop organization of the dashboard may be one of my favorite features. I didn't want to remove any of the sections from the main page, but, for me, I didn't need to see my inbound links “above the fold” as they say. So, I simply drug that section to the bottom of the left hand column. Now, it's there any time I want to see it, I only need to scroll down to get to it.
The only thing more deserving of an overhaul than the dashboard was the navigation. I'd say they really hit it out of the park with the new layout. There are several key ingredients that went in to making a better nav system.
- Left hand nav Vs. Top nav. It seems like such a small thing, but really it's not. When the menu was along the top, it would take up valuable North/South screen real estate. Plus, with the new left hand nav, you now have access to all the menu items at once (if you choose) rather than being forced to be on the plugins page to click the link to edit settings for a specific plugin. Now you only need to open the settings menu section and you have instant access to the config page for any active plugin.
- In 2.7 you now have access to all the menu items and sub-menu items from any page you are on. For some, this may be information overload. For those people they have introduced the collapsible menu. First you can expand/collapse any specific section and it's options. If that's not enough, you can collapse the entire menu. Doing this will leave you with icons for each individual section. Hovering over those icons will give you the same access you had before for each individual section.
- Instant Access to Everything!! Assuming you have expanded all the menus (like I have), you now have direct access to just about every page in your WordPress install. This means no more clicking two or three times to get to a specific page. This may sound trivial, but since WordPress loads up a new page from your server every time you click a page, you are now saving 5-30 seconds each time you log in to WordPress.
What is your favorite part of the new WordPress?