After a long awaited delay and in conjunction with Matt speaking at WordCamp Dallas, WordPress has finally been released to the public with a brand spanking new dashboard theme. Of course that's not the only thing about WordPress that's been given a facelift. As it is, WordPress.org has also been given a facelift to reflect the new dashboard theme. That's not the only thing that this new version 2.5 features. Personally this is what I've been liking since I beta tested it in my sandbox.
- The dashboard widgets – Customizable and I don't have to use plugins for it anymore.
- Pages can now be searched – Also means I don't have to use plugins anymore.
- Editable tag management – Not that I used plugins for this to begin with, but it does mean I can clean up the clutter of unusued tags I imported over from Ultimate Tag Warrior in version 2.3.
- Database optimization – It is faster than before, I'd have to give you that.
Even if I have my hands deep within the WordPress build, these are perhaps the only things I would actually use for my blog. Version 2.5 has taken some steps to make WordPress a little more photo gallery friendly with some of these features.
- A built in gallery – Short of being a power user like myself. This new feature allows you to create and sort custom galleries from the pictures you upload. It's easy to use and it does what it's supposed to do. I'd expect to see plenty more plugins that allows you to fully maximize it's potential.
- EXIF extraction – I won't pretend to know why you would want to do this so I'll give the details. Version 2.5 allows you extract EXIF metadata into custom fields to be used in your template. Useful for doing whatever it is photobloggers do with their EXIF data.
- A multi file upload – Another feature I don't use but useful for photo dependent bloggers nevertheless. Rather than waiting for one, now you can do folders all at once.
The rest of which are small details that improve security for your WordPress installation such as a password strength meter thing for people who haven't a clue how to come up with decent passwords, a new way to encrypt your passwords as well as your cookies. Excellent, I feel safer already.
I have to say, it was worth skipping version 2.4 and going for this fully featured (and delayed) version 2.5. Despite the change in the dashboard which I have to say still looks a little iffy to my taste, WordPress has come up all grown up all a sudden, which I like and which is a good thing for all its users.
Now come to the part most green WordPress users are worried about – the upgrading. I can tell you that while beta testing this version with over 50 plugins. Short of turning off the plugins I no longer needed, I encountered no conflicting plugins whatsoever. So you don't have to worry about breaking your blog while upgrading. What you have to do though, because this is a new WordPress version and not a security patch, is the standard protocol you should follow for such upgrades. Listed as follows.
- Backup at least your core WordPress database – You can manually do it if you have access to you MySQL database but for most people, I recommend using the WordPress Database Backup plugin.
- Deactivate all Plugins – If you're already using WordPress 2.3, there is a button at the bottom of your plugin page that allows you to do this in one click. If you're not on 2.3, you have to manually do it one by one.
- Download WordPress 2.5
- Extract it into a folder.
- Using an FTP program, upload it according to its proper file directories – For instance, if your WordPress file directories are in your root (eg ./), then upload it there. If your WordPress file directories are in a subdirectory (eg ./wordpress), upload it into that folder.
- Hit the upgrade button once uploading is done – It will appear as you log into your WordPress Admin.
- Activate your plugins one by one and see if your blog breaks – The most paranoid way is to refresh your site everytime you activate a plugin before moving to the next one. Of course, if you know that the plugin doesn't break your site, you can just keep ticking them anyway.
And that's it really. The most simple straightforward way of upgrading your WordPress for the average user. Unless you know how to work SSH and your webhost allows you to, there is no simpler way than that. Of course, I do use SSH and I skip steps 3, 4 and 5 entirely because I update WordPress straight from the repositories itself, but that just shows the benefits of actually getting to know your WordPress intimately and not just let someone else do it for you. That is how I think WordPress really should be upgraded.
Nevertheless, that it as simple as it is. I can say that for a release, this is a pretty good one I won't be waiting a week or two before I upgrade. For the average user though, just make sure you backup your database first if you intend to upgrade right away so that you can revert back to what you have should you not like it.
That being said, enjoy your WordPress 2.5. I know plenty of people who are going to like it a lot.
Update: There are a quite a number of plugins that are incompatible with this new version. Nothing serious and most of them would affect the newly designed Admin pages and wouldn't break your blog. So be sure to deactivate your plugins before upgrading your blog. For a list of compatible and incompatible plugins, visit this page on the WordPress codex.