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6 Great Improvements in WordPress 3.6

WordPress 3.6WordPress 3.6 is big and exciting.

We haven't been able to say that about recent WordPress releases.

During 2012, WordPress didn't undergo any major changes. There wasn't much new in WordPress 3.4 except easier theme customization. WordPress 3.5 had a midly different new theme, some  media improvements and not much else.

In contrast, WordPress 3.6 feels like a big step forward. There's a bold new theme and several useful new features. Overall, WordPress 3.6 provides strong hints of where WordPress is headed in years to come.

Here are 6 great improvements in WordPress 3.6.

1) Twenty Thirteen

Twenty Thirteen is probably the most radical ever new default theme for WordPress. This theme is not backward compatible with the Twenty Twelve theme so it comes as a new install:

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As you enable Twenty Thirteen, WordPress introduces you to a new feature. It will remember the widget positions you had for a certain theme. So, if you're the kind of person who changes themes regularly, you won't have to spend time moving widgets around after every change.

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The image below shows Twenty Thirteen in action. There is room for a sidebar, but it was designed to work best with a single column layout.

Single-column designs have been increasingly popular lately. Now they're the default option for the most popular website platform in the world.

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Aaron Jorbin, the author of the theme, outlined his goals for this new design:

"I want Twenty Thirteen to be designed and built Accessibility First. So what do I mean by “Accessibility First”?

Accessibility First would involve a few decisions to be made upfront:

  • Color choices with high contrast in mind from the start. This is one area that Twenty Twelve barely missed.
  • Color choices with multiple types of color deficiencies in mind since an estimated 10% of all males suffer from some form of color deficiency.
  • Make sure that the design still looks beautiful when the font size is increased 200%
  • Following the Theme Accessibility Audit Draft Proposal"

The theme ships with several equally bold header images:

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2) Post Formats

At the beginning of this year we speculated on what WordPress 4 will look like.

Our guess was that it WordPress 4 would look increasingly like WordPress.com blogs and rely on post formats. Well, post formats have arrived in WordPress 3.6. My guess is that they will start small and continue to grow in prominence with future WordPress releases.

Here's how post formats appear in WordPress 3.6:

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There are 10 post formats in total. Some are obvious. Some are not.

I suspect this list may soon end up looking more like the list of 5, 6 or 7 options that you find on WordPress.com and Tumblr.com.

  • Standard Post
  • Image Post
  • Gallery Post
  • Link Post
  • Video Post
  • Audio Post
  • Chat Post ("Copy a chat or Q&A transcript into the editor.")
  • Status Post ("Use the editor to compose a status update. What’s new?")
  • Quote Post
  • Aside Post ("An aside is a quick thought or side topic. Use the editor to compose one.")

Here's an example of creating a video post. Note that the main editor area is always still available.

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Here's an example of creating a quote post.

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3) Revisions

Revisions have long been a part of WordPress but they were visually hard to navigate.

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WordPress 3.6 provides clear visual distinctions between revisions. It also adds a slider across the top of the screen to allow you easily navigate between revisions.

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4) Autosaving

The improvements with revisions help with a new feature in WordPress: 3.6.

WordPress will now locally store a copy of whatever you're writing. There's no need to click Save or Update.

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If your browser crashes or you lose your post, you'll be greeted by this message when you return to the post:

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Click "View the autosave" and the autosaved post will appear as a revision. You can restore this autosaved revision.

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5) Post Locking

To stop you from editing content while someone else is also editing it, WordPress 3.6 will lock posts as in the image below:

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6) Menu UI

I can attest to the fact that menus are a confusing part of all CMSs. People struggle to use menus in Joomla, Drupal and WordPress. They struggle to distinguish between menus and menu links. They struggle to visually connect what they see in their admin area with what they see on the screen.

WordPress 3.6 introduces a simpler interface for menus:

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WordPress 3.6 unclutters parts of the menu setup process, including moving the manage locations feature to it's own tab.

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