One thing that you can never say about Automattic is that it stands still for very long. That may generate adverse commentary from some but it’s bad to leave things stagnate too. In fact, resting on laurels also generates flak so you can’t please everyone all of the time.
Earlier on this year, the WordPress administration screens went though something of an overall for version 2.5. In hindsight, it wasn’t terribly dramatic but the prospect had me checking out what was happening with the development version and contributing to the project in my own small way. Now, it seems that a bigger upheaval is in prospect with wireframes and what not being brought into play on the design side.
The first change that anyone will notice is that the navigation has moved from the top to the side and that somethings have been moved around and renamed. Another thing that you’ll see soon enough is that there is a QuickPress section added to the dashboard screen for those really quick and short postings. Sticking with the subject of content creation, alterations to post and page editing screens and the link creation screen are obvious too. What really comes to mind here is the level of customisation on offer so you can make yourself feel right at home: some of the screen furniture can be moved about and you can remove what you feel is nothing but useless clutter. Content generates comment so the addition of keyboard shortcuts for comment moderation should be a boon no doubt for those with very active readers.
Some functionality currently added by plugins is getting incorporated in the main application. An example is automatic upgrades of WordPress itself. In the development version, it installs the latest nightly build but I am sure that it can be made to point to the latest stable release. That makes it more convenient for keeping a backseat eye on things rather than getting stuck into the hurly burly of checking on what’s in Subversion.
There are some pieces that remain incompletely functional at present, such as the Inbox and Media added to this post pieces, but I have seen nothing that used to work to be broken. So, while the development version of WordPress is more of a work in progress than I have seen for a while, it will do what you need it to do. You always need to be cautious and I’d advise you to keep away until it’s ready for the big time until you have the knowledge to put things back should the undesirable befall your blog. I had an automatic WordPress update kick in maintenance mode without turning it off again. Nothing happened to the database so a manual re-installation was all that was required to restore order. Otherwise, the development installation remains relatively stable though there are display problems in IE6 that do not afflict either Firefox, Opera or even IE8 Beta2.
All in all, these changes will make the next major WordPress a very big one and I have little doubt that the new administration interface will make for a lot of comment. I must admit that I wasn’t too taken with it when I first glimpsed it in the crazyhorse branch but it now seems to be growing on me. The biggest change on the aesthetic front is that there’s a lot less whitespace about which may or may not float your boat. In any event, you can always change the colours like I have to make things more amenable. Even so, I reckon that WordPress 2.7 will be a major step forward when it comes and I think that I could like it. Saying that, I reckon that the release date is a good while away yet and the fact that 2.6.2 is being readied for release is telling in itself. Leaving plenty of time to remove any roughness is never a bad thing and especially so when you see the changes that are being made. In the meantime, I am sure that most people can wait.