6+ Cool Features in WordPress 3.9 That Make Life Easier

If you run the bleeding edge nightly installs of WordPress, you would have updated to version 3.9 Beta 1 this week.

If you don’t run the nightlies, you’re missing out on some fantastic new features.

Post editor updates, live widget previews and the ability to drag and drop images directly into the visual editor are just some of the neat new features in this release, which is due out next month.

Updated Post Editor

Post editor
TinyMCE has been updated to the latest version, allowing for a cleaner design.

TinyMCE, the software that powers the visual editor, has been updated to the latest version so the interface looks cleaner and less cluttered.

The “Paste from Word” button is now gone because it’s no longer needed. Pasting a block of text from Word no longer leaves you with a horrible mess of letters.

Galleries can be previewed from within the editor. Just upload some photos and insert a gallery to check it out.

Core developer Andrew Nacin has warned that any plugins that add buttons to the visual editor may no longer work, so users are encouraged to open a thread in the WordPress Support Forums is they come across any issues.

Drag-and-Drop Images

Now this is really cool. You can drag-and-drop images directly into the post editor without having to click on “Add Media”. The media uploader then pops up so you can add a caption, image size etc.

This is my favorite feature in 3.9. I definitely won’t miss having to click the “Add Media” button every time I want to add an image, or even accidentally dragging an image into the post editor and forgetting it doesn’t actually work…

Live Widget Previews

Widgets can be edited and previewed instantaneously from the Customizer screen. Check out the GIF below to see the feature in action.

So no more having to constantly save widgets and refresh your site to see what a tiny change to widget will look like on the front end. Now you can test out numerous different settings before you save and publish.

The Customizer has also been updated with the ability to upload, crop and manage header images.

Widget management
You can now manage widgets from the Customizer and preview settings before you hit save.

Editing Images

There are improvements to adding and editing images, like the ability to crop and edit an image while writing a post.

If you want to crop an image in the post editor, you can simply click on the image and resize it by dragging the handles in the corners.

When you edit an image, an edit screen now opens up in a modal rather than taking you you to the Edit Image page.

Theme Installer

The themes screen was overhauled in WordPress 3.8 and in this version the theme installer also gets a look in.

It’s now a much easier and smoother experience to browse through themes you may want to preview and install.

My only beef is there should be demo content when previewing themes. Come on! Themes in preview mode that look like empty shells are just crap.

Add themes
Adding new themes is a smoother and more visual experience.

Audio/Video Playlists

WordPress 3.9 includes the ability to create audio and video playlists. This is a great for musicians who want to share their music, and likewise for videographers.

You can upload multiple audio/video files and add them to a playlist from the media uploader.

Behind the Scenes

There are also under the hood improvements that developers will be interested in:

  • The load process in Multisite has been rewritten.
  • WordPress 3.9 uses the MySQL Improved Database Extension if you’re running a recent version of PHP. It’s recommended that developers test their plugins to check everything works and to make sure you’re not calling mysql_* functions directly.
  • Autosave has been refactored.
  • Library updates, in particular Backbone 1.1 and Underscore 1.6.

If you want to test Beta 1, you’ll need to install WordPress Beta Tester (you’ll want bleeding edge nightlies) or download the beta directly.

What are you looking forward to most in WordPress 3.9? Tell us in the comments below.