Shh! Top Secret Feature in WordPress 3.9

Shh! Top Secret Feature in WordPress 3.9

WordPress 3.9 lead developer Andrew Nacin has hinted there will be a secret feature in the upcoming release.

Now that features-as-plugins are the norm, core features are usually known about weeks before a new release. They are ever picked apart in great detail during public core development meetings.

But this time, Nacin has a surprise up his sleeve. During the latest #wordpress-dev IRC meeting meeting, Nacin casually mentioned there would be a secret feature, but didn’t elaborate further.

Do you know what the secret feature is? Tell us in the comments below.

What is the secret feature planned for WordPress 3.9?

WordPress 3.9 has been scheduled for release during the week of April 14, with the first beta expected on February 26.

While details of this secret feature are scarce, there has been a lot of talk about other improvements planned for this release:

A New Widgets Interface

Widget Customizer
The Widget Customizer plugin allows you to make edits to widgets and preview changes before hitting Save and Publish.

There are two widget-related feature plugins proposed for WP 3.9 – Widget Customizer and Better Widgets.

Designer/developer Shaun Andrews has previously posted about Better Widgets, while Weston Ruter, who is leading work on the Widget Customizer plugin, has put together his own very detailed proposal this week. Ruter’s proposal at Make WordPress Core includes a great video demo of how the plugin works.

The idea behind Widget Customizer is cool. Each widget gets its own panel in the Customizer (Appearance > Customize) settings and you can edit, move and preview what widgets look like before you hit Save and Publish.

Ruter points out that when making changes to a widget, it could be completely broken and everyone visiting your site would see this because there’s no way to preview changes before saving them. The Widget Customizer Plugin offers a solution.

During this week’s development meeting, Nacin asked the Widgets Customizer team to think more on the widgets UI before a decision is made on whether to incorporate the plugin into core.

TinyMCE Improvements

TinyMCE 4 has been earmarked for inclusion in core. The latest version of TinyMCE will provide an improved UI, an inline editing mode and a more stable core structure to the Post Editor.

The changes will also improve editing and positioning images after they have been added to the Post Editor.

A Better Themes Experience, Part Two

WordPress Themes Experience
An even better themes experiences has been proposed for WordPress 3.9.

THX38, a reimagining of the theme installation experience, was incorporated into WP 3.8, offering up a more slick UI for theme installation.

WP 3.9 is expected to take that experience a step further with support for multiple screenshots when previewing themes. It’s not clear yet what other improvements could be included in this upgrade.

Upgrades to How Media Are Handled

In the next version of WordPress, the image editor could be moved into the media manager. Other planned improved include enabling users to drop an image or other media directly onto the post screen without having to click the Add Media button.

Greater Audio/Video Support

Scott Taylor, a musician and software engineer at the New York Times, is leading work on proposed audio/video features in WP 3.9 he has code named “Disco Fries”.

There are a bunch of ideas he was to see realized: new icons, better documentation of the “new” media code introduced in WP 3.5, subtitles for video, the ability to generate metadata for audio/video files on demand, and audio and video playlist shortcodes.

Other Improvements

UX designers Jen Mylo and Mel Choyce will be auditing the admin settings in WP.

Improvements to Multisite are also in the words, though it’s not clear exactly what that will involve.

Javascript and CSS improvements have been proposed, such as breaking wp-admin.css into modules, merging color.css into other CSS files, introducing Grunt tools for patches and inline JavaScript documentation using JSDoc.

Nacin has also started working on a taxonomy roadmap for meta and post relationships, which he expects will evolve over five or more releases of WordPress.

What do you think of the features planned for WordPress 3.9? Do you know what the secret feature is? Tell us in the comments below.

Image credit: Katie Tegtmeyer.

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