A Quick Look at WordPress 4.2, “Powell”

In late April, WordPress 4.2 landed.

The update continued WordPress’s tradition of honoring jazz musicians – this time named “Powell” after American pianist, Bud Powell.

Now we’ve had a few weeks to digest the changes, let’s take a look at the new features introduced in WordPress 4.2.

Note: we have since seen two security patches released, meaning 4.2.2 is the latest version.

Press This

Press This is a useful tool for content curators — you can install it on any desktop and mobile web browser.

With Press This installed, whenever you stumble across content, images, or videos you’d like to share, you can post them directly to your WordPress website – without having to login to your WordPress dashboard.

This makes it an ideal tool for anyone wanting to update their website more frequently, but without the time to write regular content.

New Character Sets – and Emojis!

WordPress 4.2 has introduced a bunch of new character sets – courtesy of the database update from utf-8 to utf8mb4. This should encourage more users than ever before from different languages and nationalities.

Chinese, Japanese, and Korean character sets are now available, which will make WordPress accessible to millions of native speakers.

For the rest of us, there’s still a lot of cool, new characters to play with – most notably and awesomely, emojis 😉

Plugin Updates

Let’s be honest: updating plugins was never much of a chore, was it? It doesn’t matter, though, because WordPress 4.2 makes updating plugins even easier. Hopefully this will encourage you all to keep plugins up to date, to keep your website free from security vulnerabilities.

WordPress 4.2 allows you to update your plugins directly from the plugin screen. There’s no messing around downloading, installing, and confirming the update.

One screen. One click. Done.

Theme Customizer

If you’ve ever made changes to your website’s design, you’ll know how useful the WordPress Theme Customizer is. You can preview any proposed changes in real-time, without impacting your live website. If you want to see what a new color scheme, layout, or widgets look like, you’re in luck.

For 4.2, the WordPress Theme Customizer has been extended. You can now preview your website using any of your installed themes. This allows you to sample a new theme in a safe testing environment.

Tumblr and KickStarter Embeds

WordPress is always looking to improve usability. One of the major improvements in recent updates was the auto-embed feature – added in 4.0.

The original update made embedding YouTube and Vimeo videos as easy as pasting the URL into the editor.

Due to the popularity of this auto-embed feature, the core developers have continued to roll out new auto-embeds in every update. In 4.2, it’s Tumblr’ and KickStarter’s turn.

Now you can embed Tumblr posts and KickStarter campaigns just by pasting a URL, as if by magic.

Admin Color Scheme Changes

Blink and you’ll miss this one: The WordPress admin has received a minor overhaul, with the default greys given a blueish tint.

Yeah, it’s a small change, but it looks nice!

Final Thoughts

OK, so WordPress 4.2 wasn’t the biggest core update we’ve seen, but the new features are a step in the right direction.

The changes focus on improving the platform’s user friendliness (easy updates and more auto-embeds) and accessibility (character sets from different languages added).

Let’s hope the core developers keep up the good work!

What do you think about the WordPress 4.2 release? Let us know in the comments section below!

Featured image courtesy of Alexander Gounder.

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    A Quick Look at WordPress 4.2, “Powell”

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