Work on WordPress 3.1 is in full swing at the moment though I initially though that they were taking a little break after 3.0. From what I can see, many refinements are being made to the multi-blog functionality and behind-the-scenes work is ongoing on the administration screens too.
Another under-the-bonnet change has been to make WordPress less tied to MySQL since the possibility of dropping in support for an alternative such as PostgreSQL is now a reality even if it isn’t part of the default package. For now, it looks as if this is going to be plugin territory rather than default multi-database support though that may become a sensible development in the light of Oracle’s acquisition of MySQL and its sabre rattling with regard to Java patents. So far, the change to WordPress has affected my use of its database engine to power an offline version of my online photo gallery but a quick spot of code editing sorted that issue.
One more obvious alteration is going to be the addition of a WordPress.com style administration bar to the top of all content and administration screens for a user who is logged into the system. It is going to be turned on by default but there will be the option of turning it off for those among who prefer things that way. All that will be needed for this is to add the following line near the top of wp-config.php:
define( “WP_SHOW_ADMIN_BAR”, false);
The chance to see new additions like those above and be ready for is my main reason for following WordPress development. It’s best to be ready than surprised though it has to be said that the blogging or CMS platform is a very polished one these days.
Early on in the first year of this blog, I got to investigating the use of Drupal for creating an article-based subsite. In the end, the complexities of its HTML and CSS thwarted my attempts to harmonise the appearance of web pages with other parts of the same site and I discontinued my efforts. In the end, it was Textpattern that suited my needs and I have stuck with that for the aforementioned subsite. However, I recently spotted someone very obviously using Drupal in its out of the box state for a sort of blog (there is even an extension for importing WXR files containing content from a WordPress blog); they even hadn’t removed the Drupal logo. With my interest rekindled, I took another look for the sake of seeing where things have gone in the last few years. Well, first impressions are that it now looks like a blogging tool with greater menu control and the facility to define custom content types. There are plenty of nice themes around too though that highlights an idiosyncrasy in the sense that content editing is not fully integrated into the administration area where I’d expect it to be. The consequence of this situation is that pages, posts (or story as the content type is called) or any content types that you have defined yourself are created and edited with the front page theme controlling the appearance of the user interface. It is made even more striking when you use a different theme for the administration screens. That oddity aside, there is a lot to recommend Drupal though I’d try setting up a standalone site with it rather than attempting to shoehorn it as a part of an existing one like what I was trying when I last looked.
While I have been a user of WordPress since late 2006, I only began to start keeping tabs on its development following my hearing news of dramatic changes coming in what became 2.5. Since a pattern developing with bigger changes coming in 2.5 and 2.7 while both 2.6 and 2.8 didn’t add too much in the way of upheaval but rather evolved what was already there. With 2.8, theme and widget management got the once over while there were plenty of other tweaks that polished a well received forbear. The differences between 2.7 and 2.8 are discernible without breaking anything that shouldn’t be broken. In short, I rather like the result.
The reaction to 2.5 was mixed, to say the least, and that in part led to the dramatic changes in 2.7, especially with regard to the administration interface. I admit to having had doubts about these when I first saw them development and there was so much chopping and changing during development that stepping back until things settled down became a necessity. Even adding a ticket to the TRAC was problematical unless you had sight of what was happening behind the scenes because it became too easy to add an invalid ticket.
With the release of 2.8 into the wild, 2.9 is now on the horizon and I am inclined to suspect that we might see bigger changes again. For one thing, there was that interface poll a little while ago and who knows what impact that may have on what comes next. The structure of the administration screens may not alter that much but that still leaves changes to colours and icons with the aim of separating navigation from what else is on there, something that doesn’t trouble me at all. In fact, I don’t see very much wrong with how how things are right now and wonder if there’s any point in making too many changes at all. The forecasted incorporation of WPMU functionality is a bigger change that would mean the end of WordPress MU as a separate entity and would concern me more with the amount of under the bonnet re-engineering that would be needed. Add Google Summer of Code projects to this mix and 2.9 looks as if it could be a step change in the spirit of 2.5 and 2.7, if not in feel. Summer 2009 could be very interesting for WordPress and I only hope that it continues to work for me in the way that it does as we move from version to version.
It now seems that WordPress 2.7 has been an unqualified success. The major changes that were made to the administration screens have been well received and the grumblings that were extant about 2.5 and 2.6 seem to have dissipated too. Another observation is that security bugs have not being making their presence felt. All in all, it feels very much like assured progress and may explain why 2.8 has been taking its time in coming.
It’s now pencilled in for the end of this month and looks as if it will be a polishing of what already works well. It seems to me that most of the changes are behind the scenes but there is a new widgets interface that should be ever more user friendly together with an automated theme installation and upgrade facility that is based on what is already in place for plugins (speaking of which, that interface has been tidied too). Another rough edge that has been removed is the whole business of time zones and daylight saving time. In summary, it seems to be a sharpening of a package that already works well anyway. I have been running it on another site without a whimper of drama so that’s probably saying something. Saying that, quite how they are going to get anyone to upgrade is another matter. For one thing, Lorelle VanFossen’s overuse of the word “mandatory” cannot be likely to do it…
In a way, the subject of upgrade fatigue brings me to a recent poll run by Automattic’s Jane Wells. Quite a number want to stick with what works while others fancy a change. This split could be tricky to manage and might even encourage some not to upgrade at all and stick with what works for them. After all, there were two episodes of major upheaval last year and I cannot see everyone wanting to see that happen again. Continual evolutionary freshening would suit me better. Thankfully, any talk of changing the administration screens has been left for 2.9 now and there’s always the option of sticking with 2.8 if what is produced becomes a sufficient irritation. Well, it saves a leap to Habari or another alternative anyway…
WordPress 2.6 added post revisions as a new feature that is turned on by default. In an earlier post, I described how you could control this by editing wp-config.php and there are a number of plugins that purport to provide the same level of control through the administration screens. Even so, I decided to look at things from the housekeeping side of things and create my own plugin for clearing the database of revisions at one swoop. Currently, it takes out all revisions but I am thinking of adding the facility for selecting which revision to keep and which to delete. It goes without saying that you should back up your database first in case anything might go wrong.
Download Remove Revisions 1.0