Take a great leap forward, then consolidate…

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.

Where’s WordPress 2.8?

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…

Snap Preview… removed

Snap Preview has been removed from this blog with immediate effect after seeing a blog post by Nick Wilson decrying it from a user perspective. I can accept that it is intrusive but I have to admit that I still find it something of a novelty. However, visitor annoyance easily overrides any appeal that such a widget may hold for me and it has had to go.