A Review of WordPress 3.5

Matt Mullenweg announced the second major WordPress release of 2012 a few days ago. Known as Elvin, WordPress 3.5 has a lot of great new features that bloggers will love. It’s been download a few hundred of thousand times already however over the course over the next few months this figure will be in the millions.

Today I’d like to walk you through the latest additions to the popular blogging platform 🙂

Link Manager

If you visited any blog several years ago, you would likely have seen a long list of friends websites listed on the sidebar. This was known as the blogroll. Nowadays people recommend good articles via social media services such as Twitter and Facebook but back then it was all about the blogroll. Every blog had one…even John Chow!

John Chow Blogroll

The blogroll has become less common over the last few years. Due to this, and because of WordPress’s policy to remove non-vital features from the core, the link manager has been removed from new installs of WordPress 3.5.

Links Manager

Don’t worry if you still want to use the link manager on new WordPress installations. It has been released as a plugin in the official WordPress plugin directory. It offers the same functionality as before. The only difference is the features are not built into the core version of WordPress.

I think this was a wise decision. I’ve used blogrolls in the past but the link manager is something that I don’t use on most of my websites. There’s no reason for them to include functionality in the default version of WordPress when most users aren’t using it.

Twenty Twelve

Twenty Twelve was originally scheduled for release in June in WordPress 3.4. It was later released in the official theme directory in September however 3.5 marks it’s first inclusion in an official release.

This is the 4th default design for WordPress after Kubrick, Twenty Ten and Twenty Eleven. It’s a clean minimal design that is easy to modify.

Twenty Twelve

Many end users have been disappointed with the design. I’ve seen some users complain that the design is too plain however that’s a complaint that’s levelled at all default designs. They’re supposed to be plain. I would suggest looking at the theme as a canvas rather than a complete design. In that regard, the theme has been a success with developers due to how easy it is to create child themes with it. Whilst it’s perhaps not the best option for a commercial site, Twenty Twelve could easily be adapted for a personal blog or small content website.

Favourite Plugins

If you are signed in, you will now see an option in the official WordPress plugin directory to mark plugin as a favorite. All plugins will then be listed in your profile at WordPress.org.

Favourite Plugins

You favorite plugins can be installed directly through your WordPress admin area. In the ‘Install Plugins’ section you will now see a new tab for favorites. You simply need to enter your WordPress.org username in order to see the plugins you marked as favorite. You can then install them directly from the page.

Favourite Plugins

New Welcome Screen

The welcome screen has a cleaner look and is now less cluttered. The old welcome screen had a lot of text and took up most of the page.

Old Welcome Screen

The new welcome screen is much tidier with less text and fewer links. I prefer this layout as it frees up more real estate on the main admin dashboard.

New Welcome Screen

New Media Interface

The new media interface is the reason you should all update to WordPress 3.5. It’s a huge improvement over the old media uploader.

All images, audio and videos are listed in a gallery format. The right panel allows you to change details such as title, caption, alt text, link, description, alignment and size. The major difference is that multiple items can now be selected. This allows you to insert multiple items into your articles at the click of a button. The old method required you to insert each media item into your articles one by one.

New Media Interface

Multiple items can also be added to a group. Once you have done this, the group can be displayed on any page, not just the post or page the items were uploaded to.

Images can now be edited online too. The new image editor allows you to flip and rotate your images. You can also crop the image by scale to reduce its size. Changes can be made to all images or just the corresponding thumbnail. This will save you a huge amount of time if you regularly find yourself having to edit images and re-upload them.

Edit Image Interface

Other Features

3.5 has seen lots of other improvements and additions too. In the theme customizer the color picker has been improved visually and the admin dashboard now supports retina displays. An option to import posts from Tumblr has been added to the tools section too. There’s a lot of great Tumblr style themes for WordPress so I suspect this may convince a lot of Tumblr users to move to WordPress.

For a complete list of the features added in WordPress 3.5, I recommend reading the WordPress codex for the release. As always, make sure you back up your database and files before upgrading.

Good luck,

Announcement: WordPress 3.5 “Elvin”

Kevin Muldoon is an experienced blogger who blogs regularly about WordPress, Blogging, Social Media and Internet Marketing on his personal blog. He can also be found on Twitter @KevinMuldoon and Google+.

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