A new version of WordPress is upon us and it’s shaping up to be a superb – if not controversial – release. Thanks to the addition of menus to the theme customizer, WordPress 4.3 has been one of the most hotly debated releases in recent years.
Theme customizer aside, there are plenty of other changes to look forward to. So in today’s post, I’m going to take you on a visual tour of the great features WordPress 4.3 has in store.
Menus in the Theme Customizer
There has been a lot of angst around making the theme customizer compulsory. I don’t intend to take sides in this article, but one thing is clear: core developers know that after a move like this, continuously improving the customizer will become a priority.
In this version, we get to update (#32576 ) our menus from the theme customizer which is a blast! I think the experience is a lot more fluid and intuitive than the old menus page where you set something up and just hoped it would work.
What you get is essentially the same functionality compacted into a smaller space using a multi-tiered method. To get an idea of what it’s like, take a look below.
Site Icon Support
You know the little icon in the browser bar and app icons shown on smartphones? Many themes have added this in the past, all of them using different methods. There is now a unified UI for this built straight into the core.
By ticking off ticket #16434 , the code developer team have added this feature under the general settings area. Note that any image you use should be at least 512px x 512px and smaller image sizes will be generated for you.
A new password UI has been added (ticket #32589 ) to prompt people into using better passwords. Instead of typing your password, a stronger one is intially auto-generated for you. You can, of course, overwrite it with whatever you like.
If WordPress detects that you are using a weak password you’ll also have to tick a box to make sure you’re OK with this.
I think this is a great way to add a layer of security to one of the least secure aspects of the system: the user. At the time of writing this article, the new UI has not been added to the initial install page, but a patch has just been submitted so it should be all-pervasive once 4.3 ships.
Many people I speak to who love WordPress say the same thing: editing is not the greatest experience. Compared to Medium, for example, where I work with unhindered joy, WordPress can be bothersome sometimes.
The good news is that talented people are working on it! One such effort is #31441 , which is all about automatically formatting certain patterns.
This boils down to the following improvements in version 4.3:
- The * and – characters will be converted into unordered lists
- Numbers followed by a period and a space are converted to ordered lists
- Two to six hash characters (#) get converted to headings
- The > character will be converted to blockquotes
This feature is so great that after using it once to record the demo below I automatically forgot it isn’t already a part of WordPress when I wrote this post! I guess I’ll have to wait for the official release to use it here.
New Mobile Post List View
New improvements have been made to the list views in the admin, making these pages a lot more usable on small screens. Instead of truncating the tables, data is now hidden behind a drop-down, which you can toggle on and off.
Ticket #32395 is a great step to increasing usability across a wide range of devices, hopefully we’ll see more like it in upcoming releases.
Small Adjustments and Developer Stuff
As always, there are a number of mini improvements, changes and a barrage of bug fixes. Here are some of the more significant ones:
- A new template file has been added: singular.php. This is great news for those of us who’ve wanted a fallback for singular types without having to resort to index.php. See the official announcement for more information.
- One of the features I was most excited about is this: comments are turned off for pages by default. Finally! This feature is extended to all custom post types that do not explicitly define comment support on registration. The official announcement has more juicy details.
- If you’re following the developments in the taxonomy roadmap, note that terms shared across multiple taxonomies will be split into separate terms on updating to 4.3 . I recommend reading Eliminating shared taxonomy terms in WordPress 4.3 to get up to speed on all this.
- As of 4.3 PHP 4 style constructor methods will be deprecated . I believe very strongly that proper OOP should be bought to WordPress products, this is a step in the right direction.
- Press This now has a HTML text editor, as discussed in ticket #32706 .
If I’ve got you interested in the upcoming version, the easiest way to test it out for yourself is to grab the WordPress Beta Tester plugin. You’ll need to go to Tools >Beta Testing, select nightly builds, then go to the updates section in the dashboard and update WordPress. I recommend doing this on a test site rather than a live site just to be sure.
If you find a bug or something feels off, report it! You can go to any of the tickets I mentioned for specific features, or if you are sure no one has reported it, create a new Trac ticket .
The final 4.3 package is a few weeks away – it’s due out in mid-August – but it seems like the core functionality is pretty solid already. If you’d like to follow developments until then (I’m sure there will be some minor changes), your best bet is following the Core Announcements .
I personally love this update already. This one is multi-faceted, touching on security (better passwords), responsiveness (mobile list view), better user experience (editor automation) and more, which makes it a well-rounded update that should please many.
Is there anything you like or don’t like about WordPress 4.3? Is there something you would change or have you been waiting for a feature in vain? Let us know in the comments below.