WordPress 3.8 “Parker” Out Now

The latest version of WordPress has been released.

Named “Parker” in honor of bebop innovator and jazz saxophonist Charles Parker, WordPress 3.8 includes a redesigned admin interface, admin color schemes, updated theme management and a smoother widget experience.

WordPress co-founder Matt Mullenweg led work on version 3.8, which was the second release cycle where all major features were initially developed as plugins.

WordPress 3.8 Major Features

Admin Design

New admin design

Originally code-named MP6 when it was released to the WordPress Plugin Repository earlier this year, the new admin design includes redesigned vector-based icons, the default open source font Open Sans and a responsive design.

Admin Color Schemes

Admin color schemes
There are eight new admin color schemes.

Version 3.8 introduces eight colorful admin skins – very Apple-esque.

Color schemes can be updated in the Profile section of the backend.

Theme Management

The Themes area has been given a facelift with larger thumbnails, making it easier to quickly browse through your themes.

When you click on a theme it displays a screenshot of the theme and the option to activate it.

Widget Management

The Widgets area now has a new click-to-add interface for adding widgets to widgetized areas of your theme.

The drag-and-drop experience has also been improved.

Twenty Fourteen

Twenty Fourteen
The new Twenty Fourteen theme.

It looks like Mullenweg achieved his goal of releasing a default WordPress theme that will be available for the full year that it’s named after.

Described as a “striking” and “intrepid default theme”, Twenty Fourteen features a magazine-style design with a grid and a slider to display content on your homepage.

You can customize your site using two page templates or three widget areas.

WPMU DEV writer Chris Knowles recently reviewed Twenty Fourteen and wasn’t all that impressed with the theme’s design. Check out his post WordPress TwentyFourteen Theme: A Flawed Beauty.

We’ll have more on our blog about customizing the Twenty Fourteen theme next week.

Dashboard

Eight widgets have been cut down to four. The WordPress News widget is a combination of the former WordPress Blog and Other WordPress News widgets.

A11y Drama

Theme management

Today’s release didn’t go by without drama. Mullenweg unleashed a rant on the Make WordPress Accessible team after it was discovered just hours before 3.8’s release that keyboard navigation doesn’t work in the updated Themes area.

According to the “Welcome to WordPress” screen after you install the latest version, you can “sit back and use your keyboard’s navigation arrows to flip through every theme you’ve got.”

Well, actually, no you can’t.

I tried flipping through my themes and instead of navigating from theme to theme, my screen started jerking around.

Accessibility team member Graham Armfield defended the group’s work and pointed out that everyone on the team was a volunteer with a full-time job, to which Mullenweg replied that he managed a 200-person company and still managed to lead a new version of WordPress. Classy.

Playing the blame game isn’t going to ensure the next release isn’t without a11y issues. It’s not a good idea to get the A11y team off-side. Now that developing features first as plugins is the new norm, it would be wise for each new major version to satisfy some kind of checklist – including a11y testing – before release.

WordPress 3.9 is Out?

I did a double take after upgrading to what I thought was WordPress 3.8… I guess we’ll be seeing version 3.8.1 sooner rather than later. Embarrassing.

WordPress 3.9

Summing Up

These new features are no surprise – we’ve known about them for weeks, months – almost a year for the new admin design.

Mullenweg has previously advocated rapid development cycles and more frequent releases. While there hasn’t been much talk of WordPress 3.9, it will be probably be out sooner than you think.

What do you think about the new features in WordPress 3.8? Tell us in the comments below.

Image credits: Wikipedia.

Comments (5)

  1. While these features were no surprise, they were long overdue. The admin panel is now ‘modernized’ in aesthetics as well as functionality (theme management and widget management). With so many companies depending on WordPress, it’s definitely intentional that new features aren’t of any surprise. It gives companies time to test them.

  2. About seeing WordPress 3.9, are you sure you don’t have the WordPress Beta Tester plugin installed? I did a double-take when I saw 3.9 as well, but realized that I was just seeing the “bleeding edge”.

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