The majority of the news around WordPress this week has hovered between the release of WordPress 2.1 (installation advice below) and the security patch release of WordPress 2.0.7 after a known security flaw was exploited and some popular WordPress blogs were hacked.
WordPress 2.1 News
WordPress 2.1 is named after Ella Fitzgerald, the amazing singer renown for her famous 3-octave range and how she changed the jazz world forever. All major WordPress releases are named after famous jazz musicians, and this is the first woman to make the list.
Ryan Boren announced the release of the WordPress 2.1 Release Candidate late last week, and the WordPress 2.1 final public release came out on schedule, Monday. Expect a lot of reports from your favorite blog on how they handled their WordPress 2.1 upgrade.
At the time I published this, the WordPress 2.1 download counter was just about to hit 56,000 downloads. Not bad for its first two days.
There is an official list now available of changes and updates and here are some of the new features creating a buzz around WordPress 2.1:
- Custom Image Header API for WordPress Themes
- Right-to-Left (RTL) Support for International Languages
- Autosave feature which automatically backups and saves posts while you are writing them, avoiding loss from accidents.
- Tabbed editor for switching from WYSIWYG to HTML/code view.
- Improved WYSIWYG editing interface with spell check.
- Ability to set any web page within your blog as the “front page” of your site, putting recent posts elsewhere.
- Dramatically improved image and media file uploading and thumbnail control.
- Improved user administration and profile which will easily handle many registered users, editors, and contributors (thousands, they say).
- More integration of AJAX into the WordPress Administration Panels.
- Slightly updated look of the WordPress Administration Panels.
- Blogroll sub-categories have been added. Blogroll categories are now featured in your post categories.
- The latest version of the Akismet Comment Spam Plugin is included.
- An incredible 550 bug fixes were recorded.
Aaron Brazell has also written “10 Things You Should Know About WordPress 2.1” with even more details on the changes that come with WordPress 2.1.
WordPress.com bloggers have been working with the their version of WordPress 2.1 for a while now, and for the most part, the surface layers of WordPress 2.1 will not be much different from previous 2x versions. The biggest changes have been under the surface with a lot of bug fixes, faster response times, ping and database interaction, and streamlining the code to reduce some of the bulk.
Along with the announcement of WordPress 2.1 came some interesting news:
What’s really exciting for me is what’s coming in the future. First of all, the 2.0 series was an unparalleled success, with over 1.8 million downloads, and thanks to the work of Mark Jaquith we’re committing to maintaining stable security and bug fixes on the 2.0 branch until 2010.
More exciting for most of our users, though, is our new development cycle. Based on everything we’ve learned in the past 3 years of doing WordPress, we’ve decided to shift to a more frequent release schedule like Ubuntu, with major releases coming several times a year. So, for the first time in WordPress’ history, I have an answer to when the next version is coming out: April 23rd.
If you want input on the next versions, add your voice to the WordPress Ideas page.
WordPress 2.1 Installation Issues
Mark Jaquith has announced that there will be no “upgrade files only” option for the upgrade from WordPress 2.0x to 2.1. There are too many changes to the database and files to create a fast and simple method. Do the full upgrade.
Before you install WordPress 2.1, check the WordPress Plugin compatibility list to make sure your favorite can’t-live-without WordPress Plugins will work with the new version. Even if they aren’t on the list, check the WordPress Plugin author’s site to see if they have updated their Plugin. If you can’t live without it, beg them to update it as many others probably can’t live without it too.
I cannot emphasize this enough. Before installing the new version of WordPress:
1. Backup everything, including your WordPress Theme files.
2. Turn off all WordPress Plugins.
3. Delete the old WordPress core files.
4. Upload the new WordPress core files.
If you don’t do this, we’ll tell you to do this when you come visit us in the WordPress Support Forums. ;-) The process of uploading files over the top of others can cause glitches if there are any interruptions in your Internet connection. Don’t trust it. Delete and upload new files.
WordPress 2.1 changes the tables structure in the database a bit and adds new ones. WordPress Plugins that access the changed tables in the database may implode after the upgrade, so make sure these are updated before you begin the upgrade process.
Make sure all WordPress Plugins are inactive, then turn them on one by one and test the site thoroughly after each one is turned on so you can find the culprit before you get too far.
If you are having massive errors and problems after running the
upgrade.php script, then start over by deleting the files and uploading them again. This solves most problems with upgrades and patches. Hopefully, this process will be automated and easier in the future.
If you are making the leap from an older version, please follow the instructions on upgrading from WordPress 1.5.x and 2.0.x to 2.1. Changes were made in each of these versions to the database, so your upgrade may need to be incremental, or at least a little more fussy.
Download Squad’s Post Install Checklist is worth reviewing to make sure everything is still working as it should.
If your host server has not upgraded past MySQL 4.0, do not install WordPress 2.1. According to Ryan Boren, while the WordPress 2x branch will continue to support MySQL 3.23.23, WordPress 2.1 will require MySQL 4.0, taking advantage of the more powerful and optional functions in the newer versions of the database program. It’s time to nag them or find a new server if you want to keep up with WordPress. You should also know that MySQLAB has stopped support for MySQL 4.0. Ryan says that WordPress 2.2 will require a minimum of MySQL 4.1.
WordPress Theme Authors be warned. Some are reporting screwed up WordPress Themes and structure after upgrading. WordPress 2.1 now incorporates blogroll links into the category list and a few new WordPress Theme template files, deprecated a few older ones. If your WordPress Theme uses the
wp-list_cats() template tag, it has been deprecated in WordPress 2.1. The new template tag is
wp_list_categories(). Ericulous summed up some of the other changes in template tags between WordPress 2.0x and WordPress 2.1.
Old Atom Whines: Some have complained about the lack of an upgrade for Atom. Matt Mullenweg just announced that next update will feature the Atom API for the next version. Until then, you can add Atom 1.0 feed to your WordPress blog with WordPress Atom 1.0 WordPress Plugin, enable it manually with the instructions from snellspace.com, or replace your feeds with Feedburner.
A lot of action is happening with the WordPress.com free blogging service. Their December statistics report 64,000 blogs, 68,000 users, and 1.76 million posts. December also marked a new record in page views with 103 million. That’s an amazing score card for a free blog hosting service a year and a half old and still in development. It’s also a great testimony for the power and quality of WordPress and WordPressMU.
For more information on WordPress.com stats, see their public WordPress.com stats page.
WordPress.com has also increased the blog statistics features to include outgoing clicks, statistics on which links to where are being clicked on. In other words, who you’re sending traffic to. It is a great complement to the other blog statistics including incoming links list, top search terms, referrer links, and most popular posts. I’d love to see a list of the posts with the most comments added to the statistics, which I hear they are working on.
WordPress.com users can now upload and play MP3 files as well as videos. WordPress.com now accepts the following audio formats: mp3, ogg, wav, m4a, mov, wmv, avi, and mpg. Other audio formats include Odeo and Sonific. Video formats now include Google Video, YouTube, DailyMotion, and Grouper. Uploaded files are restricted to no more than 25MB and to the limits of your storage space. Extra space is available for a modest fee.
Snap Preview Anywhere was released last week on WordPress.com blogs, a feature unappreciated and frustrating for serious bloggers and Internet users, but an appreciated gimmick for the easily amused and impressed. ;-) Still, it’s amazing how vocal the public opinion has been against Snap Preview and other link popups. Some of the top bloggers have given this a try and passed on it.
In the WordPress.com Forums, the most popular tags for help requests continue to be categories and comments, with a lot of issues around WordPress.com Themes and changing the sidebar. I’ll be discussing these here and on my WordPress tips blog soon.
WordPress Plugins and Themes News
A lot of WordPress Plugins have been updated in time for the WordPress 2.1 release. check your favorite WordPress Plugins to ensure they are updated and ready to go before you upgrade to the new version. If they aren’t updated, nag the authors.
Because of the changes in WordPress 2.1, I expect a lot of WordPress Theme designers will be upgrading their WordPress Themes. Just like WordPress Plugins, you need to check frequently for updates to any WordPress Themes you are using that you didn’t design yourself. If you did design your own, you need to check under the hood yourself to make sure it will work with the new upgrade.
The popular comment spam fighting tool, Akismet WordPress Plugin 2.0, has been updated. New features include a relief from massive hits on the database when under a heavy comment spam hit load, fixes for the comment spam caught counter, and a “recheck moderation queue” to recheck all of your comments for comment spam if Akismet gets turned off or shuts down.
A WordPress fan and web designer, who calls himself “Small Potato”, is taking a Ridiculously Mind-Numbing WordPress Self-Challenge to create 30 different WordPress Themes in 30 days. He promises that these Themes will be done based upon “quality not quantity” and that they will not be recycled from other designs.
Fans of the WordPress Tiger Administration Panel Plugin Theme will be glad to know that version 3 is out and will work with your WordPress 2.x blog. Tiger Administration Panel changes the look of the WordPress Administration Panels, adding some very nice features on the Dashboard Panel and makes navigation between panels easier.
Alex Günsche of Zirona OpenSource-Consulting has recently announced an interesting new add-on (not yet a Plugin) called WP-Manage. It is a shell script that creates a backup of your WordPress database, then downloads the latest WordPress version, deletes the old files and replaces them with the new ones from the latest version. The backup and upgrade routines are separate from each other. This is not developed for the average WordPress user. It is designed for experienced and advanced web folks, especially those who install WordPress frequently for their clients or friends.
Many on the WordPress development team have been exploring ways to make the installation and upgrade, along with the backup, automated. Currently, installation is relatively easy and fast, but does require some technical proficiency. Removing the angst from the process would benefit many. Let’s hope this, or something like this, makes its way into a WordPress Plugin or integration within the WordPress core programming.
Ultimate Tag Warrior 3.1415926, one of my favorite WordPress Plugins, has also been updated recently. This update fixes a lot of little bugs and improves the overall performance of UTW. The new version allows adding of tags to Pages, including tag clouds, and the ease of adding invisible Technorati tags. However, there is a little problem with UTW and the latest version of WordPress. Donncha O’Caoimh has the fix. For more information and support, visit the Ultimate Tag Warrior support forum.
Bad Behavior, the WordPress Plugin that “gives the finger to comment spam”, has been updated and is ready for WordPress 2.1. Bad Behavior integrates perfectly with Akismet and Spam Karma to fight off nasty comment spam from your WordPress blog.
A fascinating WordPress Theme has been developed by Rod McFarland called the “CLI WordPress theme”. It’s totally unlike any other WordPress Theme I’ve seen. In fact, it very much resembles the old text adventure games like Zork (and the award-winning one my husband wrote). You can read more about it or just take it for a test drive yourself on the WordPress Theme Viewer. It’s not a Theme for everyone, but it is certainly intriguing.
The very popular Google Sitemap Generator for WordPress by Arne Brachhold has just released version 3 Beta in time to accommodate WordPress 2.1 and includes some great improvements including support to use the Popularity Contest WordPress Plugin by Alex King.
The Disclosure Policy WordPress Plugin is a new WordPress Plugin by Andy Beard designed to help bloggers who blog for business disclose business relationships, financial information, copyright statements, legal disclaimers and policies, signatures, and advertising at the bottom of their WordPress posts. This covers a wide spread of possibilities for including information at the bottom of your posts which makes this a potentially powerful and versatile WordPress Plugin.
This is a nice complement to the Podcast Release WordPress Plugin which I reviewed recently. If you publish videos or podcasts on your blog, you need permission from the participants for using their voices, bodies, and faces. Didn’t know that? I’ll be talking about that more later. Stay tuned.
Jeriko One has developed the “Feed With Comments WordPress Plugin” designed to add post comments to your WordPress feeds. While not a Plugin for everyone, it’s a nice feature to add, bringing the conversation to your reader’s feeds.
Starting February 1, 2007, I will be dedicating the entire month of February to WordPress Plugins on Lorelle on WordPress. I’ll be sharing some of my favorites, and hopefully some of yours, talking to WordPress Plugin authors about how to maintain and distribute their WordPress Plugins, and showcasing a ton of great WordPress Plugins that may help you blog better.
General WordPress News
WordPress Podcast’s latest release on news around the WordPress community looks at the controversial beginnings of Habari, a blogging competitor; the latest releases of WordPress; news that Michael Arrington lists WordPress as one of his Web 2.0 companies he couldn’t live without; and how WordPress made it into the list of Wired Magazine’s Web 2.0 Acquisition Bait, which caused some more interesting rumors; along with more WordPress-related news.
Akismet announced a new phpBB Mod for their popular comment spam fighting tool originally developed to fight comment spam on WordPress blogs. This new phpBB Mod, developed by Eadon McKee, integrates with phpBB forum/bulletin boards to stop comment spam, making the effort of forum maintenance much easier. Many WordPress blogs use phpBB forums with their blogs. For more information on integrating this new Akismet phpBB Mode, see Eadon McKee – phpBB Akismet Mod.
Andy Skelton reports on blogging on WordPress with the Wii and he says it’s not pretty:
WordPress works pretty well but don’t expect to write a quick post-typing by aiming a remote at an on-screen keyboard is not even in the ballpark of quick-and forget about formatting.
Better yet, don’t blog from your Wii. It’s just not worth it. This took forever.
Devin Dreams has written and performed “It’s Called WordPress”, a song about WordPress.
Many people love getting together with other WordPress and blogging fans in their local area. There are also many bigger events, as well as the annual WordCamp coming this summer. To help bring all WordPress and blogging fans together, I recently created a WordPress Events page and will be regularly announcing what WordPress and blogging events I can find. For events this month, see WordPress and Blogging Events: January 2007. Most of the WordPress and blogging events I feature are free or low cost. If you have a WordPress or blogging-related event coming up, please let me know on my WordPress Events page.
For more news on WordPress, see:
- The WordPress Community Podcast
- WordPress Planet
- WordPress Development Blog
- WordPress.com Blog
- Weblog Tools Collection
- Lorelle on WordPress
Each Wednesday on Blog Herald will be WordPress Wednesday where I will be featuring the news around the WordPress Community. Put it on your calendar! Lorelle VanFossen blogs about blogging and WordPress on Lorelle on WordPress.