WordPress 3.9 “Smith” is Out

WordPress 3.9 “Smith” is Out

The latest version of WordPress has been released.

Named “Smith” in honor of jazz organist Jimmy Smith, WordPress 3.9 aims to “close the gap” between what you see when creating posts in the backend of WordPress and what you see published on your site.

This release includes a raft of improvements that build on features in previous versions of WordPress, including quick image editing, the ability to drag and drop images directly into the visual editor, gallery previews, audio and video playlists, live widget and header previews and a new theme browsing experience.

WordPress 3.9 is available for download or update in your WordPress dashboard.

WordPress 3.9 Major Features

Improved Visual Editor

Visual editor
Preview galleries within the visual editor before they go live.

TinyMCE, the software that powers the visual editor behind the scenes, has been updated to the latest version 4.0, giving the interface a cleaner and more streamlined look.

The “Paste from Word” button has been removed, so no more wasting time cleaning up messy formatting (hurrah!).

The visual editor now allows you to edit images while editing posts, so you can quickly scale, crop and rotate images.

One of my favorite new features is the ability to drag and drop images directly into posts. Simple stuff.

Live Widget and Header Previews

The Customizer has been updated to include widgets, so you can now add, edit and rearrange the widgets on your site without having to save, switch windows and refresh your site. Now you can preview changes live and only save them when you’re ready.

The header image tool has also been improved, allowing you to upload, crop and manage headers in the Customizer.

Widget management
You can now manage widgets from the Customizer and preview settings before you hit save.

Audio and Video Playlists

Audio playlist
Easy audio and video playlists have been added to WordPress 3.9.

WordPress 3.9 includes the ability to create audio and video playlists. This is a great for musicians who want to share their music, and likewise for videographers.

You can upload multiple audio/video files and add them to a playlist from the media uploader.

Improved Theme Browsing Experience

The theme browsing interface has been updated again after it was overhauled in WordPress 3.8.

It’s now a much easier and smoother experience to search through themes you may want to preview and install.

Under the Hood Updates

The Make WordPress Core blog has been updated in the lead up to the release of WordPress 3.9 with important developer updates:

  • Much of the bootstrap code for Multisite in ms-settings.php has been refactored with the intent to improve the handling and detection of domains and paths for sites and networks in WordPress core.
  • WordPress 3.6 introduced HTML5 versions of popular template tags, starting with comments, the comment form and the search form. WordPress 3.9 adds galleries and captions.
  • While it has been possible to symlink plugins in the past, functions such as plugins_url() return the wrong URL, which causes breakage in most plugins. This has been corrected with the help of a new function, wp_register_plugin_realpath().
  • An extra layer has been added to WPDB, causing it to switch to using the mysqli PHP library, when using PHP 5.5 or higher. For plugin developers, this means that you shouldn’t be using PHP’s mysql_*() functions any more – you can use the equivalent WPDB functions instead.
  • Inline code documentation. Every action and filter hook in WordPress is now documented, along with expanded documentation for the media manager and customizer APIs.
  • External libraries have been updated: TinyMCE 4, jQuery 1.11, Backbone 1.1, Underscore 1.6, Plupload 2, MediaElement 2.14, Masonry 3.
  • New utility functions. Identify a hook in progress with doing_action() and doing_filter(), and manipulate custom image sizes with has_image_size() and remove_image_size().

For detailed information on these developer updates, check out the Make WordPress Core blog.

Also, props to the 267 contributors who helped with WordPress 3.9. A new record!

WordPress 4.0

With WordPress 3.9 out of the way, we can now look forward to WordPress 4.0.

We’ve had a crack at predicting what it will including. Check out our post What To Expect In WordPress 4.0! There might be some features you don’t expect…

What’s your favorite features in WordPress 3.9? What do you think should be included in WordPress 4.0? Tell us in the comments below.