I’ve downloaded to give a quick test the new WordPress 2.8 Release Candidate 1, that according to the release post, will be released full version on Wednesday if no bugs are reported.
So what’s new on WordPress 2.8? Starting right on the Dashboard, the Visit Site on the header now looks like a button. Ok, small change but it’s new nevertheless. Another small change I noticed is that under the Post menu, they changed they former Tag item to Post Tag, the functionality looks the same though. One last neat thing here is that now you can arrange your Dashboard widgets in up to four column. Just click on Screen Options and set your layout.
Remember how happy you were when the Add Plugin functionality was added? well now you can also Add Themes. With a similar funcionality to the Add Plugin, you can search for a term or browse through the newest or recently updated and best of all filter themes according to some parameters like dominant color, number of columns, fixed/elastic width or features (microformats ready, sticky posts).
The new widget area has received a lot of attention. For instance all your sidebars will now be listed vertically so you can collapse or expand the sidebar you need to work with. Another big plus is the ability of saving each widget separately and without reloading the page.
In WordPress 2.8 there’s a small change in the Text Widget. It now has a checkbox labeled Automatically add paragraphs. What does this little thing do? it paragraphizes line breaks. If it’s unchecked all the example text written in the image above will display inline. Check it and you will get three paragraphs. One last thing about the Widgets area in WordPress 2.8 is that when you drop a widget on a sidebar, it will automatically open so you can set some options, unlike previous versions.
When you set up a site in WordPress 2.8 and don’t have your permalinks properly set, a button next to the link will prompt you to do so as you can see on the image below. After you edit them, that section will feature a button to edit the link. A new View Post button will be a time saver when you want to see the post you’re currently editing instead of seeing the preview of your changes (which you can still do using the old Preview button, properly renamed to Preview Changes).
Another neat feature is the ability to read and edit the comments on the post you’re editing. I’ve moved the field below the edit section but in a fresh WordPress installation you will find it at the bottom of the page.
The theme editor and the plugin editor now features a nice syntax highlight and code formatting. I would have love the ability to read css or php files that are nested into folders though 🙁
There’s also a lookup functionality built into these editors, you can access it from a dropdown menu and click on Lookup. It will launch a documentation online site according to the function you’re looking up. For instance, add_action will launch a page on wordpress.org whereas a in_array lookup will launch a page on php.net. Pretty nice, but I still prefer my own Ubiquity command to search on WordPress Codex 😀
So, now you can either wait until wednesday to download the release version or if you can’t wait any longer download WordPress 2.8 now!