WordPress 3.6 has been a long time coming. Whilst the three 3.6 betas have more or less made it out on schedule, the decision a couple of weeks ago to remove the all-new Post Formats UI from core and (for the moment) move it to a plugin has put the release back a long way.
Furthermore, the removal of Post Formats has meant virtually all of the “Here’s What’s In WordPress 3.6″ posts which do the rounds in the blogosphere before every WordPress update are out of date. Worry not, though! Here’s what you can actually expect to see in WordPress 3.6.
Stuff you’ve always wanted, you just didn’t know it
That’s pretty much the best way I can sum-up the new features going into 3.6: the features you’ve always wanted, you just hadn’t quite realised it yet. Much like Apple’s new Mavericks version of OS X, WordPress 3.6 makes a bunch of changes and improvements which will go a long way to improving the general user experience.
They’re not particularly revolutionary features, they’re just really handy ones.
Here’s a summary of some of those new features:
- Vastly improved autosaving.
- Improved handling of multi-author posts through “post locking”.
- More intuitive comparison of post revisions.
- Much cleaner custom menu creation.
- Improved handling of video and audio embeds.
There’s also a bold new default theme, Twenty Thirteen, which once you get to grips with the fact it’s a default WordPress theme with lots of colour, leaves you with an excellent starting point theme — as any default theme should.
Excited? Me too. Here’s all of that in some more detail.
Autosaving that auto saves
This is a feature which is going to make anyone who writes a lot of content in the WordPress post editor sigh with relief. From 3.6 onwards WordPress will auto-save your posts at regular intervals in your browser’s local cache.
This means if something crashes or you accidentally navigate away from what you’re writing you’ll be able to restore what you had written. As Mark Jaquith explains, it’s all about making sure people can trust WordPress with their writing:
I want people to trust WordPress with their posts. They should never fear that something they’ve spent time creating or editing should go away due to their mistake or ours or that of a third party. Mistakes and errors should be recoverable… If a post gets lost, there is a catastrophic loss of trust, that could take years to be regained (if indeed it ever is). This is people’s time and their creative output we’re talking about.
Auto-saving will be powered by the new “WP Heartbeat” API and at present will save posts every 15 seconds — which is about as frequently as it possibly could.
WPMU has the full scoop on the new Heartbeat API, which is also powering an all-new-and-improved modal logins for expired sessions, again meaning you don’t lose your work.
“Post locking” for better multi-author blogs
If you’ve ever used a multi-author blog and tried to have two people try to edit or review the same post at the same time, things can get a little messy. The current warning that shows up “Other Person is editing this post” still allows said two people to over-write each other’s edits.
The new post locking will no longer allow two people to edit content at the same time, instead prompting authors to “take over” the editing, ensuring nothing gets over-written. A notice will also be displayed showing who is editing the post currently on the “All Posts” page.
In addition to these very much welcome additions which are going to ensure edits aren’t over-written, the overhauled UI for post revisions is going to ensure when changes do get made that you don’t want, it’s easy to roll back to the version you had x revisions ago.
Cleaner menu creation
Custom menus have come along way since they were first introduced to WordPress 3.0, and the UI overhaul in 3.6 goes a very long way to making sure menus are genuinely easy to add and customise on any WordPress powered site.
Whereas before the interface was a little clunky and even confusing for new users, the new menu UI is very clean, very functional and makes a lot more sense.
An audio-video experience
Originally designed to tie-in with the improved Post Formats, 3.6 introduces much improved handling of audio and video embeds. The headline feature here is native embeding of audio and video; you’ll be able to just upload an audio or video file using the media uploader and WordPress will automagically turn those files into something your visitors will be able to play back, plugin free.
If you’re a podcaster or vlogger, that’s pretty neat.
Embeds of videos and audio playlists from popular services such as YouTube, Vimeo and Spotify are also now supported natively; just enter the URL on a line of its own, and WordPress will handle the rest for you.
There’s no official word on a release date (yet), but possibly another beta, followed by release candidates one and two are around the corner. Probably. For the latest info, make sure you’re following @WordPress on Twitter.
Whenever it hits, WordPress.org has lots of interesting features to look forward to. What are you most excited about?