2.8 Release Jazzes Themes and Widgets

I’m very excited to announce to everyone that the latest and greatest version of WordPress, version 2.8 “Baker,” is immediately available for download. 2.8 represents a nice fit and finish release for WordPress with improvements to themes, widgets, taxonomies, and overall speed. We also fixed over 790 bugs. This release is named in honor of noted trumpeter and vocalist Chet Baker. Here’s a quick video overview of everything in the new release:

The first thing you’ll notice is that visually 2.8 feels a lot like 2.7, just with some minor tweaks here and there. However once you’ll dig in you’ll begin to appreciate the changes.

Major New Improvements

First and foremost, 2.8 is way faster to use. We’ve changed the way WordPress does style and scripting.

The core and plugin updaters in previous versions of WordPress have been such a success we decided to bring the same to themes. You can now browse the entire theme directory and install a theme with one click from the comfort of your WordPress dashboard.

If you make edits or tweaks to themes or plugins from your dashboard, you’ll appreciate the new CodePress editor which gives syntax highlighting to the previously-plain editor. Also there is now contextual documentation for the functions in the file you’re editing linked right below the editor.

If you were ever frustrated with widgets before, this release should be your savior. We’ve completely redesigned the widgets interface (which we didn’t have time to in 2.7) to allow you to do things like edit widgets on the fly, have multiple copies of the same widget, drag and drop widgets between sidebars, and save inactive widgets so you don’t lose all their settings. Developers now have access to a much cleaner and robust API for creating widgets as well.

Finally you should explore the new Screen Options on every page. It’s the tab in the top right. Now, for example, if you have a wide monitor you could set up your dashboard to have four columns of widgets instead of the two it has by default. On other pages you can change how many items show per page.

And Even More

You can read the full list of over 180 new features, changes, upgrades, and improvements on the Codex. The list is exhausting!

The Future

We’re already thinking hard about the next versions, 2.9 and 3.0. Keep an eye out for improved media handling, better dependency checking, versioning of templates and themes, and of course the fabled merging of WordPress and MU announced at WordCamp San Francisco two weeks ago.

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