WordPress 4.0 is due out in August. As with all major WordPress releases, it will introduce new features to the WordPress platform. No release date has been confirmed as yet, however the first and second beta releases are out already; which means that the official stable release is just around the corner.
I took the beta version for a spin to get an insight into what we can expect from this upcoming release.
Previews of Videos in the Visual Editor
From WordPress 4.0, whenever you add the URL of a video using the WordPress visual editor, a preview of the video will be displayed. This means you do not have to preview the article in order to see how the video will look.
Grid View Added to Media Library
A new grid view option has been added to the media library. It seems to be a practical way of browsing the latest images you have uploaded as images are not displayed in pages. Instead, images are displayed using an infinite scroll. You can continue to use list view if you prefer.
The plugin installation page has had a redesign in 4.0. It looks a bit slicker than it was before with plugins being listed in a grid.
Select Your Language During Installation
In the past, if you wanted to install a non-English version of WordPress, you had to download WordPress in your own language. WordPress will now give you the opportunity to install WordPress in your own language using the default installation zip.
It seems more practical for WordPress to have one installation file that offering one for each language. It makes you wonder why WordPress did not add this option many years ago.
Sticky Post Editor
In the existing version of WordPress, a scrollbar will appear when you write a long article. You then need to scroll back up to see the post editor.
WordPress 4.0 addresses this issue by sticking the post editor toolbar to the top of the page at all times. It may seem like a simple addition, but those of you who write long articles will appreciate how useful this will be.
Theme Customizer Widgets are Grouped Together
Widgets were introduced to the theme customizer in WordPress 3.9. Previously, widgets would be loaded in the same sidebar as other areas in your customizer such as header, footer, and colors.
From 4.0, widgets are all grouped together. When you select widgets, the panel will slide to the right hand side and reveal all of your widgets. It is a much tidier way to integrate widgets into the customizer.
[Corrected now – thanks to Stephen for pointing this out]
Two additional features that have added to WordPress 4.0 include more formatting functions and improvements to the TinyMCE. Over 170 changes were made between the first and second beta version of WordPress. I have no doubt it will be refined even further over the next few weeks.
As you can see, WordPress 4.0 has taken the platform forward by introducing small changes. These new features are obviously welcomed, however I do wonder why some of these features were not introduced in the past. Why were widgets not supported in the theme customizer from the start and why has it taken years for WordPress to offer language support through the main installation file?
Not that I am complaining that these features have now been added. WordPress is already a rich feature packed product. It has reached a point where they are refining the product, rather than introducing major changes.
What’s your favorite new feature of WordPress 4.0? Please let us know in the comment area below.