If you run a blog or website on WordPress, you probably know that they rolled out the next major update. WordPress 3.9 was released on April 16th.
I take my time with upgrades. I have a little over 50 WordPress installations that need to be upgraded. I start with the smallest sites with the fewest plugins -- usually projects in-development. That allows me to test out new features and check for compatibility issues with the most common plugins I use before I upgrade the bigger sites (like this one, which is always my last).
WordPress 3.9 is a bit of a mixed bag for me. There are things I love. And while I can't think of any updates I don't like in theory, they don't all work as expected. Today I'd like to share a few thoughts on these changes, and introduce you to them if you weren't aware of them yet. But first, here's a video intro from WordPress.
Image Upload and Editing
So far, so good with the new image editing features. Now you can drag and drop images from your desktop right to your post edit window instead of having to enter the media upload area first. It's not a huge time-saver, but any time-saver is a good thing if you're as obsessed with productivity improvements as I am.
Another cool feature is that you can resize images right from the post edit window now. Just drag the edges of your image to resize it.
Live Widget Previews
The WordPress widget editor was already pretty good. It was easy to drag and drop widgets between different locations and even between different widget locations on your site (such as from your sidebar widgets to your footer widgets). But previously you couldn't see exactly how those widgets would look on your site until you made the changes to the live site.
With WordPress 3.9, that's changed. Now, instead of visiting the usual widget area to move things around, you can go to your theme customizer (Appearance > Customize). This brings up a live preview of your theme and it allows you to make some basic customizations. With the latest WordPress upgrade, one of those customizations is placing your widgets. The live preview to the right will show you exactly how widgets will look in their new locations before you save them. You can drag and drop right from this page, as well as add new widgets.
Pasting from Word Processors
This is the one change I'm incredibly disappointed in, but that's because it was probably the one I was looking forward to the most. I prefer to write most posts in a word processor, and then transfer it to WordPress (though not always).
The problem is that word processors can add their own garbage to the text which causes problems when pasted into WordPress (you'll find a lot of extra code with text formatting info for example). They used to have a "paste from Word" button on the visual editor's toolbar. That was never perfect. Whenever I used it WordPress would insert an extra line between all paragraphs. For a long post, it could be a pain in the ass to clean that up at times.
That paste from Word button is now gone. In theory, you should be able to paste directly into the WordPress post editor and it should now process these transfers correctly.
But it doesn't.
I'm having the exact same problem when pasting from Word. It adds an extra line between all paragraphs (or before and after lists). I tried pasting from WordPad. I get the opposite problem. WordPress now strips paragraph breaks and turns them into line breaks, meaning each paragraph runs into the next with no space between. I tried pasting from Scrivener. It kept the proper spacing, but stripped things like bold subheadings. The only option I tested that worked without a problem was pasting from the Google Docs word processor.
With the trend moving toward longer posts, this has become a bigger problem and a bigger waste of time. With the move toward optimizing the WordPress experience for more streamlined publishing, I hope this is a feature they continue to work on. It's been a problem for far too long.
Other Things I'm Looking Forward To
I haven't had a chance to play with all of the new features yet because they aren't all relevant to the smaller sites where I've already run the upgrade. But here are a couple of other features I'm excited about:
- Audio & Video Playlists -- I plan to use these extensively in upcoming e-courses.
- Other Updates to the TinyMCE Editor -- I'm hoping this will address some optimization issues caused by the older version.
Have you upgraded to WordPress 3.9 yet? If so, what do you like the best about it? Is there anything you don't particularly like with this update? Tell me in the comments or stop by the forums where I've started a thread where members can share problems and compatibility issues they come up with to help each other out.
Jennifer Mattern is a professional blogger, freelance business writer, and indie author. She began writing for clients in 1999 and started her first blog in 2004.
She owns 3 Beat Media - a publishing and client services company which operates All Indie Writers as well as several other websites and blogs including The Busy Author's Guide and BizAmmo. Jenn comes from a background in online PR and social media consulting, having owned a small PR firm for several years before choosing to pursue a full-time writing and publishing career.
Jenn also writes fiction under multiple pen names in the areas of children's fiction, mysteries, and horror fiction. Jenn is an active member of the Horror Writers Association (HWA) and currently serves as the organization's Assistant Coordinator of Promotions and Social Media.
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