Taking a Look Under The Hood at
Features in WordPress 3.1
With WordPress 3.1 in RC3 (release candidate 4, meaning its due to be considered fully-stable and released “any day now”) it’s time to take a little closer look at some of the features that are coming your way.
While there is about twelve major feature changes, I want to take a look at the couple that are most likely to impact you!
For a more complete listing of the new features anticipated to be approved with the release of WordPress 3.1 see the post I wrote when I migrated this blog to WordPress 3.1 RC1 a couple months ago.
Top 5 WordPress 3.1 Features
Internal Linking Tool – As WordPress takes steps to improve its efficiency and further refine its SEO centric nature, the arrival of the interlinking tool is a huge blessing. By far my favorite feature, this cuts down on a huge number of steps currently required (without a additional plugin) to find a post we previously wrote before and link it into the new content. Interlinking our blog posts is a critical part of SEO. Authors now have the ability to quickly and easily find posts/pages they wrote about a topic prior and insert them into the new post/page. This is such a neat feature that I will cover this further in a new post. It’s not difficult to use at all but its so darn useful that it deserves a more complete explanation of how to use the WordPress 3.1 Internal Linking tool.
Admin Bar – This is a navigation bar, of back-end dashboard elements such as comments, add new post/page, appearance and updates, that now displays at the top of both the front and back end of the blog for logged in users. This is similar to what WordPress.com uses on their site and is most powerful for those running multisite wordpress sites. Community feedback has been generally positive, however if you’re not interested in this tool, there are some ways to disable the WordPress 3.1 Admin Bar.
Improved Theme Filters – From within your dashboard (Appearances -> Themes -> Search) a WordPress user can search for themes. Now, with the arrival of WordPress 3.1, the attributes and features of the themes can be more efficiently sorted through. Initially not all themes in the WordPress repository may come up in these filters, as they need to be slightly modified by their theme developer to take advantage of it. However, regardless, this is a very powerful tool for bloggers that are hunting for that “right” theme within the available themes search!
Post Formats – [This is not a feature that novice bloggers will be able to make immediate use of.] Before WordPress 3.1 came along, WordPress had the ability to let users utilize custom templates (layouts) for their pages… but this feature was lacking for posts. There were some workarounds but none of them were elegant. To quote WPBeginner, “Post Formats are meta information that can be used by themes to customize presentation of a post.” Currently, there are 9 available formats including: Aside, Link, Gallery, Image, Chat, Audio, Video, Status. This feature will likely not be immediately visible to you when you upgrade to WordPress 3.1 as it needs to be enabled in the theme code. For those using themes from the WordPress repository you can expect an available update to appear in your dashboard soon after 3.1 releases. For those using premium themes, be sure to check with your theme provider for an update. More about Post can be found at “WordPress 3.1 Post Formats Reference”
Network Admin – [Single-site bloggers (majority of WordPress bloggers) will never encounter this setting.] For bloggers running sites in MultiSite (MS)/MultiUser (MU) mode. This provides a new dashboard for managing a blog network and separates it from running the individual blog. This new menu is only available to Super Admin users. This is a lot more useful that it may sound like on paper as it streamlines the settings and management of MS/MU sites.
Summary of WordPress 3.1 Features
As you can see, there is really nothing earth shattering here… yet at the same time its a quality list of improvements. WordPress 3.1 is remarkably stable even in its current pre-release version and I anticipate another seamless upgrade cycle.
Remember that when WordPress 3.1 is released to utilize a correct WordPress backup and WordPress Upgrade process and to always wait one week (no more, no less) after the upgrade becomes available before updating a blog that your business depends upon.
Also remember that upon upgrade, not all plugins may yet be fully compatible and if you experience difficulties be sure to check out the WordPress Basic Troubleshooting Guide.