WordPress 3.4: What’s cooking?

With more than 60 downloads every 60 seconds, WordPress is currently the most popular content management system available on the web today. Because it is open source and fully customizable, WordPress is used by millions around the world. It is especially popular for its plugin applications, which can be downloaded for free and installed to modify basis, platform, and structure of an entire website without any programming knowledge.

WordPress was first released on May 27, 2003, by Matt Mullenweg as web software to create blogs. However today, it is not just a blogging tool. Millions of individuals and corporations around the world use WordPress to build websites into anything they can imagine. To date, version 3.0 has been downloaded over 65 million times. WordPress 3.3.1 just came out a couple of weeks ago. Shortly after the release, the development team is already hard at work to make WordPress trunk 3.4 alpha. Here is a very early peek at what may be inside the WordPress oven.

WordPress 3.4′s theme would be, “Making it easier to make your site look how you want it to look.” The idea is that a combination of front-end features and dashboard features will enable users to modify the look of their website. These kinds of features are currently being accomplished by plugins. Having these improvements in core will enable users with no programming knowledge edit their theme by simply using buttons.

WordPress 3.4 will also incorporate an option for configuring all the appearance-related stuff before activating a new theme. Users also feel that being able to configure a new theme before activation will be a huge help. Having the ability to set up exactly how it should appear before activation will be a real time-saver and will take the “development server” out of the picture.

Here are some of the highlights of the future default theme of WordPress 3.4 listed by WordPress.com in their core team meetup.

  • A simple structure that will produce single post/permalink view with post formats.
  • No featured image in header, by default. When chosen however, the header image will have
    a variable height option.
  • A mobile version which looks better than the current one.
  • Default to static front page which requires a function in core to auto-choose.
  • Avoid clever things that are not very useful, such as Ephemera widget which displays all Status,
    Quote and Link posts in the sidebar. The problem with Ephemera is that all those posts
    in the sidebar reside in the main content area as well.

Below are some of the features that users/developers in the community have requested for in WordPress 3.4:

  • Easier media management – Currently, there is no way to categorize and sort media library.
    It would be easier to reuse images rather than upload new ones every time.
  • Better custom meta boxes for custom fields – For someone just getting started with WordPress, it is
    quite difficult to add custom meta boxes. The current version has a hidden meta box that provides a
    rather bad user experience.
  • Lesser loading times – WordPress 3.3 takes much higher time to load web pages than its previous
    version. This trend should not continue in newer versions.

  • Custom mobile themes – A long standing request from the WordPress community is to have a different
    theme for mobile web. As mobile web is growing bigger and bigger every day, it would be better if
    WordPress automatically detects what device the user is using and shows the correct theme.
  • Front-end drag n’ drop editor – This feature would make it so much easier for users with no technical knowledge to understand what they are doing. Simply click on what you want to edit and just drag it to
    where you want it.
  • Dynamic sidebars – Current versions of WordPress do not support custom sidebar. Users should be
    able to create sidebars inside WordPress admin, so that every page has its own sidebar.

The work on WordPress 3.4 Alpha is already in progress and the new version is expected to see the light of day sometime in 2012. Like the rest of the WordPress community, QBurst is also eagerly awaiting the release of this version. Contact us, if you would like to get more information on customizing WordPress for your online business.

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