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The 5 Best Upgrades to WordPress 2.5

This is a guest post by Ryan Imel of Theme Playground.

WordPress 2.5 brings with it a very impressive and inspiring new visual administrative interface. While the overall upgrade is very noticeable, it may be the case that some have overlooked a few of the changes that lend for a better overall blogging experience. Hopefully this article will highlight some of these, bring them to your attention, and show how they might best be used in your blogging work flow.

1. Scrolling on the new post/page screen is no longer necessary.

Previously, in order to finalize and publish your work, it was necessary to scroll down to the bottom of the screen. This is because both the Publish and Cancel buttons were located at the bottom of the edit box, as most contribution forms like this are structured (think a comment section on a blog).

However, this upgrade takes away the need to scroll and gives you all you need right on the first screen you see. Now, scrolling is still necessary for adding any additional descriptions to the post (categories, tags, etc.) but the core functionality of writing and publishing can all take place with little to no scrolling at all.

2. Managing your photos on your blog just became a viable option.

WordPress has, the past, hardly been impressive when it came to file managing. It worked, but not in a way that was very exciting. Now, with the upgrade, managing photos, specifically, is a lot more fun. In fact, the new options and interface has been so inspiring that I’m actually moving away from the paid system Flickr to manage my photos in the open source environment that is my blog.

First of all, the editor now supports multiple file uploads. This is an absolute necessity when it comes to photo managing. Uploading one at a time is just not an option. Secondly, the ability to group photos into galleries and post them as complete sets is lots of fun. Honestly, more fun that posting images to Flickr.

In the end, we’re all going to be moving toward what we truly own and out of the silos. Flickr, for all of its great social networking capabilities, is still a silo network and bound to falter. The sooner we all prepare ourselves for managing our social networks in the most forward compatible way we can, the better.

All of this to say: start storing your photos using WordPress 2.5. It’s fun.

3. The XFN pushed forward in a real way in blogroll links.

The WordPress blogroll has for some time now given the ability to add in a rel to the outgoing link. Two point five goes one step further, giving every solid XFN rel option available, from friendship to geographical to romantic.

The XFN (or XHTML Friends Network) is, despite the terribly corny acronym, a very interesting and exciting way to communicate valuable information via the rel tag of outgoing links. For instance, adding rel=”met” to a link communicates that the page you are pointing at is representative of a person you have met. This information is then machine readable and can be used in all sorts of interesting ways. After all, once it is machine readable it means we can manipulate and play with it.

Anyone interested in learning more can follow this link to read about the XFN straight form the horse’s mouth.

4. Dashboard navigation is cleaner and leaner.

One of the easiest way to speed up the navigation of a page is to limit options. The old WordPress Dashboard sported a good number of main navigation links, each with at least a few sub navigation options underneath. With the upgrade the number of main navigation links shrinks to four: Write, Manage, Design, and Comments.

Anyone who is drawn to simplicity will love this. Screens like Settings and Plugins are still available from any screen of the Dashboard, but they are relegated to smaller links on the right side of the screen, a move that signifies the relative frequency of their being clicked versus the four main items.

Fewer options means fewer things you have to think about when you are dashing in to jot out a post. And that’s a good thing.

5. The improved visual editor makes writing more fun.

One of my biggest frustrations with WordPress used to be the visual editor, on by default when WordPress is installed. Before 2.5 I had every WordPress site I manage set so as I would use the HTML editor when writing posts, simply to avoid any sort of problems with the automatic formatting of posts.

With WordPress 2.5 comes an upgraded TinyMCE for the visual editor, and the changes are very noticeable. I have yet to have any additional code added in anywhere (like extra line breaks or empty paragraphs) and that makes for a very clean blogging experience. Especially when you are a code purist, like I am.

Closing Comments

WordPress isn’t perfect, but since it doesn’t claim to be this is just fine. There are a few things I’ve discovered while observing 2.5 where I believe WordPress could be improved upon. But that’s for my next post, where I cover the top five most important upgrades for WordPress as we look to the future.

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