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wordpressWe’ve loved free and open-source blogging software WordPress since many updates ago. But the last couple of updates have brought some great new features and improvements of WordPress, so it’s time to tell you about the best and most useful features of the latest 2.8 release and the updates up until 2.8.4 that came soon afterwards.

There seemed to be a couple of security issues with WordPress 2.8, which is why there are already three new updates in a couple of weeks. I will tell you a little bit about how you can use these improvements to your advantage so you’ll spend less time maintaining your blog and more time creating interesting content.


Theme Management

This version adds a new way of maintaining and installing themes. You can browse and install themes from within your administrator dashboard. It’s a bit like the update of the plugin manager in WordPress 2.7. You can edit, preview and delete themes easier by just clicking the links in your theme manager. You can also add themes right from your dashboard. Just search on certain keywords or filter on specific features.


Widget Management

One of the biggest and best improvements is the improved handling of widgets. It’s now possible to drag and drop widgets over various sidebars and from your widget collection. You see your multiple sidebars if you have them and the contents and settings of a sidebar widget are stored whenever you disable a widget temporarily.


Another great simple improvement is that you’re able to add multiple instances of a widget like the text/html widget. So simple and convenient, it makes you wonder why they didn’t add it before!


View, edit & post comments from the Edit post section

You can see all the comments belonging to a post in the dashboard, without going to the page of the post itself. You have an overview of the post and the option to delete, edit or spam a comment. This is especially useful for the more commented upon blogs and gives WordPress some resistance against the comment plugins such as Intense Debate and Disqus 3 Commenting Systems & 3 Apps to Track Comments 3 Commenting Systems & 3 Apps to Track Comments Read More .


Finally, working timezones

Up until now, the dashboard displayed the message "Unfortunately, you have to manually update this for Daylight Savings Time. Lame, we know, but will be fixed in the future." Well, guess what, they have fixed it and now you can select a timezone or even a city from a rather lengthy list and your time will be automatically selected.

This only works if your server has PHP5 installed though. If it still has the old way to change the time with the message mentioned above, then check your PHP version.


Overall dashboard improvements

In previous versions the menu of your WordPress dashboard has been changed for the better already. This time around the contextual menus have been added. This means that with every screen you’re in, there are specific help options displayed in the upper part of your screen.


The overall speed of the dashboard has increased too. I can still recommend using Google Gears to speed up your blogging dashboard. To do this click on "Turbo" in the upper right corner. If you haven’t installed Google Gears yet it will do that and this will save some items of your dashboard to your harddrive to speed up navigation.

There certainly was something going on at WordPress HQ, because very soon after version 2.8 was released there were some patches dispatched. Most of them are security related, but there were also some new features of WordPress that were adjusted or just cancelled. One of them is the new theme and plugin editor. I really feel the editor could use some improvement and they had added tag color coding and function lookup to make it more like a real code editor. Unfortunately this made the editor very slow and already in update 2.8.1 it was changed. Only the functionlookup remains in version 2.8.4.

So all in all Automattic, the company of Matt Mullenweg the creator of WordPress has improved the open-source blogging software once again. It is nice to see the software has such a high iteration of new versions. Even when security or user issues are detected, there are updates within weeks. WordPress 2.8 has closed more than 700 problem tickets in its development. I believe this makes WordPress really earn its place as the most used blogging platform.

Image Credit : teamstickergiant

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