What you need to know about WordPress 3.3

There is still lot of time for WordPress 3.3 to be released. (2 Months to be precise – November 29 is the release date). Now that WordPress 3.3 is in feature freeze, its time you should all know what to expect when 3.3 gets out in the open. So here I will try to list out all the big and important changes coming with WordPress 3.3.

New Media Uploader

WordPress 3.3 has replaced its flash based Media uploader with Plupload (Ticket #18206) which allows you to upload files using HTML5, Flash, Silverlight, Gears, Browserplus or the simple normal upload. This feature has been developed as a GSoC project which is now part of the core. Depending on the technologies, it supports different features on different platforms. If you are using a modern browser, the most significant update with Plupload will be Drag and Drop uploading.

Responsive Admin Section

Admin Panel will now resize itself according to the browser/screen size and will fit itself nicely on different resolutions and different mobile devices like iPhone, iPad or Blackberry. (Ticket #18198)

Feature Pointer

Whenever WordPress releases a new feature, you will be alerted of it via a pop up pointer about it (Ticket #18693). And its completely extensible via filters and actions so plugins can add their own pointers to educate users about new features in their plugins when updated. Here is a screenshot of one of the pointers: You can read more about pointers and how to extend them for your plugins at WPEngineer and Theme.fm.

Improved Admin Bar

Admin bar has got some facelifts to make it blend better with the Site header to save screen space. (Ticket #18197) The screen options and Help dropdowns have been blended with the Admin bar. Below is a screenshot to compare old and new Admin bar:

Language Packs

Uptil now if you want to use a different language version of WordPress, you had to take care of downloading .po and .mo files for core, themes and plugins separately and manage everything manually. With introduction of Language packs (Ticket #18200) you can use a plugin to manage .po and .mo files for your core, plugin and themes. The plugin will access the .po and .mo files by contacting WordPress.org API service and will download them to your blog for translation. This feature has been adopted from a GSoC Project.

New User Experience

WordPress 3.3 plans to improve user experience by guiding new users using a Welcome screen (Ticket #11651) which will tell users about what’s changed since the last version and will show a Getting started sort of guide. Also a Post update screen (Ticket #18742) will be introduced which will show a user friendly changelog and will link to Codex for advanced/dev features. Feature pointer is also a part of User experience improvements which will be introduced in WordPress 3.3. As of now only Feature pointer and first pass regarding Post update has been merged into the core. Welcome screen is yet to be implemented and a blank frame for the time being has been included on the Dashboard where Welcome screen will appear.

Performance Improvements

  • Permalink Improvements – Currently using %postname% permalink structure is not recommended as it introduces a big overhead if you have large number of posts as WordPress can’t differentiate whether the url is of a page or a post and it has to generate verbose rewrite rules to solve this problem which overloads the database pretty fast and can even bring down the site in extreme cases. WordPress 3.3 attempts to solve this problem by eliminating verbose rules altogether in favor of queries when using the %postname% permalink structure (Ticket #16687).
  • Meta API Improvements – Improvements in the way Meta objects are handled. (Tickets #18195 and 18196)
  • Custom Menu Improvements (Ticket #16799)
  • Editor API Improvements (Ticket #17144) – These improvements lets plugin and theme authors add both Visual/HTML editors into their projects exactly like they appear in the backend with complete Media upload buttons as well. Read this post by Per Soderlind on how to add Editor on the frontend using the new Editor API improvements.

Minor Improvements

  1. Shortcodes work in Text Widgets (Ticket #10457)Didn’t make it to 3.3.
  2. Sort Order by Date in WP Gallery resorts to order by ID (Ticket #17485)
  3. Old feed files removed namely – wp-atom.php, wp-commentsrss2.php, wp-feed.php, wp-rdf.php, wp-rss.php, wp-rss2.php (Ticket #18384)
  4. Widgets don’t get lost upon Theme changes (Ticket #17979)
  5. HTML 5 Doctype in Admin (Ticket #18202)
  6. Upgrade Improvements (List of all related Tickets to it)
  7. Child Theme Support in Theme Repository and Theme Installer (Ticket #13774)Didn’t make it to 3.3
  8. Javascript Changes and improvements (Complete List of changes)
  9. wp_unique_post_slug() Filter to set your own slug. (Ticket #14111)