WordPress 2.7 – Five Reasons You Shouldn’t Wait To Upgrade WordPress Today!

With the recent and much anticipated release of WordPress 2.7, I was reluctant to upgrade some of my blogs because of past foibles, bugs and unexpected incompatibilities with plugins. So when I read that 2.7 was released, I was initially reluctant to upgrade ANY of my blogs. So I started with a couple of them, and updated, tested things out, and moved on. Ordinarily, I would have waited until 2.7.1 was released as a bug fix for some of the issues that area always present in a full release of WordPress.

Overall, I’ve been very impressed with WordPress 2.7, in the few days that I have used it, and I’m a little frustrated that some of the hosting companies I work with haven’t updated the software on CPanel yet. Of course, Dreamhost jumped in pretty early, and that’s why I was happy to try it out. I’d say that there are five basic reasons I like this version of WordPress more than any previous release.

1. A Simplified Dashboard: You can eliminate clutter!

The dashboard has long been a bone of contention for me, because of the tendency of WordPress to want to flaunt its gimmicks, updates and features to all and sundry. In this version, though, users get to turn off the feeds, through the screen options at the top right. Simply uncheck the things you don’t want. Voila!

wp admin area

Additional features that are helpful are the little downward arrow that occurs at the top of most boxes, in the top right corner of each box. Simply clicking on that arrow or area closes or opens the dialog box in an obvious fashion. You’ll see the downward pointing arrow next to tools (see highlighted area). It works simply in a toggle fashion. These toggle switches are all over the admin area. To find them, just hover over the task bar for each item on the right hand sided.

down arrow in wp admin

The dashboard area is divided into three areas: the sidebar on the left where each of the menu items can be opened and closed; the central column which includes the stats box, the writing box; and the right column that pretty much includes everything else. As you can see from mine, it’s easy enough to pick things up and move them around a lot. Clicking on the words “screen options” highlights an area where you can turn off things you don’t want to see.

The right sidebar includes several new designations which may be confusing to new users. First the ‘pages’ button has moved to just below ‘links’. It used to be located right next to ‘posts’. This confuses me now. I often hover between writing posts and pages, and now I have to look further afield to find the pages button. It seems illogical to place it after ‘links’.

The old ‘design’ menu has been renamed ‘appearance’ on 2.7 but functions in pretty much the same way as the its predecessor. The Tools menu, however, is a new one and features several items that were moved from the former ‘Manage’ menu, including import/export functions. The Upgrade items, though, hint at some of the new features of WordPress that make management much easier (more later).

2. Keeping Upgraded – it’s getting easier!

Plugins are getting easier to manage: You will soon no longer need to use FTP to upload stuff – plugins and core upgrades can all be done within WordPress itself. This leaves ‘themes’ as the only item that now needs FTP. I imagine that future versions of this will remedy this. Other software, such as Joomla or SMF, have long had this ability. Right now, you can upgrade a plugin in much the same way as uploading other items. Find the item ‘plugins’ on the left hand menu. Click it, and you will see it open slowly to reveal four options. To add a new plugin, click on the words ‘add new’, and you will be taken to a page where you can upload a zip file of the plugin which is uploaded and installed. After it’s done, you can activate it straight away. A nice touch. Just hit ‘install now’ to upload the plugin!

plugins management

It’s also much easier now to find new plugins. Take a look at the next screenshot: you will see what I mean! The tags below the upload button hint at the next page. These plugins are from WordPress.org’s own plugin area, and clicking on the tags reveals that they can all be downloaded and installed quickly and without any fuss.

install plugins

In fact, activating and inactivating plugins has also got easier as has removing unwanted plugins. Simply just click on the plugins area on the sidebar, usually under ‘plugins’ >>> ‘installed’ menu option. You’ll find it easy to manage plugins from there, including removing them completely!

But this plugin management hints at another feature (one that I have not needed to try yet)… upgrading WordPress can now be done entirely from WITHIN the admin panel. Take a look for yourself! Under Tools >>> Upgrade, you’ll see the following dialogue.

upgrade wordpress

Very tempting when you can choose to download and reinstall automatically. I have no idea how this works, yet. But it would be a neat variation IF you could upgrade from WITHIN the admin area. Perhaps this is just teasing us.

3. Commenting from WITHIN WordPress

Admins often had to comment in a very odd fashion before: read the comment in the comments area; find the post in the archive, read the post, and then comment in the comment box AFTER the end of the article. Now it’s much easier:

comments reply wordpress

Just hit ‘reply’ to answer the query and a simple but functional comment box will appear just below, enabling you to answer without messing around in the archives! Of course, this presumes that you remember what you wrote!

4. Quick Posting and Quick Editing

The commenting function also has another feature that hints at much more power: the quick edit button. Clicking on the Quick Edit enables you to edit the comment very quickly, without calling up the entire post or page where it is entered. But the ‘quick’ idea has been extended with in several ways: making a powerful trio of blogging tools.

QuickPress : on the admin page, when you login you’ll be taken to a dialog box that enables you to write a short post, with media and tags and publish it in a matter of minutes! While you don’t have a WYSIWYG editor, you can learn some simple codes to faciliate quick blogging (they’re all available in the Write Post area).

wp admin area

Quick Edit is also enabled in the post and page view, and allows you to quickly update a number of features (the usual suspects that a busy blogger will forget in the heat of the moment!): such as tags, categories, slug, date or more…

quick edit post

This combined with Press Links (shouldn’t it be called ‘Quick’ Links?) means that posting, editing, linking and commenting can all be carried out fairly rapidly.

5. You can now add media without creating post

This is another puzzle from the previous version that was finally finished! For years, I never thought about uploading media to WordPress. I simply created a post and added the stuff I wanted… until last month when I created a batch of videos and wanted to upload them all at once. I would have had to create a post and add each one one by tedious one! Now it seems, I can simply upload media as I need and when I’m ready I can create a post and find the media I already uploaded! It’s funny, but that’s something you don’t need, until you really need it! And now it’s here!

upload new media

Now it would be nice if I could upload a number of files at one go! Oh, wait! It does! Or at least I think it does! I’m practising uploading media now! Now I wonder how I can create a simple gallery from these files! …

30 Tweaks for Setting Up WordPress For the First Time

This is a short checklist of items that I created when I was setting up a friend’s new blog. It’s pretty much all the tweaks, I make to a standard install of WordPress that I use.

Once you have created your admin user:

  • 1). Login and set the password to something you can remember!
  • 2). Update any pre-installed plugins that you need, remove any that you don’t.
  • 3). Set the title and Tagline in General Settings
  • 4). Check your WordPress address is correct
  • 5). Update your email address.
  • 6). Check the membership of the blog including the New User Role
  • 7). Don’t forget to check your timezone!
  • 8). Go to the writing tab, and check the size of the post box! I usually set mine to 15 lines.
  • 9). For remote publishing, I always check the XML-RPC box.
  • 10). Add any Update Services that you want to ping.

On the reading tab in Settings:

  • 11). Set your frontpage, to either blog style or have a static page.
  • 12). How many posts do you want per page? Five is a reasonable number
  • 13). Set your feed to show the ‘x’ most recent posts. I usually set that to 10 if I’m doing full feed or 25 if not.
  • 14). Set your feed to show the full text or summary. Most people recommend the full text for feeds.

On Discussion Settings:

  • 15). I always set “An administrator must always approve the comment” which is ideal for a new blog, and prevents unnecessary spam.

On the Privacy tab:

  • 16). I always set to “I would like my blog to be visible to everyone, including search engines (like Google, Sphere, Technorati) and archivers” but if you’re for a small or private audience, then check the other option.

On the Permalinks tab:

  • 17). Set the options for your permalinks. I usually use the /%postname% tag with something else, for example ../%postname%/

Plugins – There are two plugins that are pretty useful to get at the beginning:

  • 18.) Akismet for spam. You’ll need a WordPress.com API key for this.
  • 19.) WP-Cache Manager. You’ll need to activate it, enable the manager and set the time (in seconds).

Users Tab – On the Users tab, click to find your admin profile:

  • 20.) Set the Nickname to something you like. Hit ’save’.
  • 21.) Set your “Display name publicly as” to the Nickname in 20.)
  • 22.) Check your basic details, Website, and any Bio. Info.
  • 23.) Go to the Design Tab.

If you have a good host, you’ll have a variety of themes pre-installed.

  • 23.) Find a good one, activate it.
  • 24.) Go to the Widgets and select the ones you need.
  • 25.) Go to the Theme Editor…
  • 25.) Add your Google Analytics code in the footer!
  • 26.) Add any other code that you might need to the footer.

General Tidying Up: Let’s set the links categories

  • 27.) You will need to decide what links categories you need.
  • 28.) Remove or add any particular links you need in the blogroll.
  • 29.) Set your initial categories for posts, too.
  • 30.) Remove the Hello World post and default links in the blogroll!

This has been honed over numerous installs of WordPress, but is by no means the only possible set. If there are any errors, please read the comments and submit one!

WordPress 2.7 is coming – the preview…

Well, WordPress 2.7 is just around the corner, yet another upgrade, yet another version that is likely to introduce all the things we love and hate about WordPress

New Features and Bugs

Take a look… I won’t be in the first wave of upgrades at all. I’ll likely hang around for version 2.7.1 before upgrading unless there’s an immediate requirement to upgrade.

I think the interface will be useful and more friendly, but I won’t really know until my customers have tried it out! For more information, check out an extended discussion at WebTools Collection.