Everybody is talking about the coming WP 2.5 (version 2.4 is skipped). A few weeks ago I started to take a closer look at the nightly builds.
The biggest change (at least on the surface) happened in the admin panel which has been completely reorganized. At the time of the transition from 1.5 to 2.x the basic layout of the dashboard and admin panels didn’t change radically; it was more about getting colours and some “ajaxification”.
This time the changes are big. And I don’t refer to the colours (which you can restore anyway, if the dark blue makes you happier!). It is about the organizing principle behind it and how it translates into buttons, panels and subpanels. I don’t understand why some users are complaining about it. It is cleaner, more logical and easy to use. Yes, you will have to spend a few minutes to learn the new layout and/or the name of the new buttons (new name of some buttons?) – but it’s worth.
Just minutes ago I checked the SVN and the current version WP 2.5-RC2 (release candidate 2). Which means we are getting closer and closer to the final. And Matt just posted a screencast about some new features in the WP dev blog.
Anyway, returning to the new dashboard. Remember how the old one was/is:
No, this is not a snapshot, it is an illustration. There were two lines of links, seemingly all of the same importance, which they are not. It looked as if the “politically correctness” forced everything to be presented as equals. However, the normal workflow in the blogging process is not like that. There are menu items and their submenus/subpanels that are used more frequently, and others are clicked only at the initial setup or rarely.
The new layout reflects exactly this workflow, introducing a hierarchical arrangement of the tabs.
In the upper dark area you have a link on the left to get back to the admin index (a.k.a. Dashboard) and on the right side the login/logut an the Help links. Then, in the main menu area we have four (4) frequently used menu items: Write – Manage – Design – Comments. (The inclusion of the Design — formerly known as “Presentation” — in itself in this row is debatable, but keeping in mind that the Widgets subpanel is under it, and playing with the sidebar widgets is a favourite for many bloggers… it seems to be justified.)
On the same background at the far right we now have the less used links: Settings – Plugins – Users. The “Settings” is replacing the earlier Options. If a blog is set up after the initial installation, we rarely have to go to these links.
The most common tasks for a blogger are writing, managing existing posts/Pages, links, categories, tags and the newly introduced media library. This explains the prominent placement of these tabs and the increased font size. Also, the Write — Post subpanel is more logical: all the info and options for publishing a post are there handy on the right of the text input area, with the tagging feature and categories below; while the more “advanced” options (excerpt, trackback, custom fields, pings & comments) are further down.
Beside all these the biggest addition seems to be the Media Library: there are different options to add image, video, sound or something else. I have tried to insert link to an uploaded PDF file and it worked well. A very good news about uploading media: now you can select more than one file to upload at once! And it gets even better: I uploaded six pictures with one click and after the upload is done you see a tab like Gallery (6). If you click on it, you have an option to “insert gallery into post”. Done and done.
The images will be displayed as thumbs in your post and clicking on any of them will take you to the attachment page where you have the clicked image in “original” size with the next and previous thumbnails below – if using the new image.php template file (see the default theme!). The reason for the quotes around the original is the fact that the devs tried to make it foolproof: the size of the original is set to something that would, supposedly, fit in any kind of design, without screwing it up — as it happens do oftent with inexperienced bloggers. I for one know exactly how to resize my images before uploading, so I am afraid I will have to find and diable this “pretty” function. (BTW, this is not brand new, the resizing was there even before…)
I will post soon some more details and tipps about the usage of the new dashboard, so stay tuned. Better yet, subscribe to the feeds!
P.S. If you want to see the real look of the new panels, read the Sneak Peak at the developers blog.