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What is new in WordPress 2.0?


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What is new in WordPress 2.0?







WordPress 2.0 isn’t out yet, but every day that I spend on the #wordpress IRC channel, I see this question go by at least once:


What is new in WordPress 2.0 from 1.5?


Wouldn’t you like to know?


One important note before we begin: Many of the changes in WordPress from 1.5 to 2.0 are under the hood. They are things that you’re not going to notice unless you are developer. There are some features that casual users will notice that are significant, but (in my opinion) most of the real change has happened where most people won’t see.


As a result, there is a fundamental thing to understand here. What often looks like catering to plugin developers is actually of benefit to common users, because with the enhanced capabilities of the underlying engine it becomes possible to make better extensions faster than we could before. The underlying engine has been made to work better. There have been times while doing contract work on 1.5.x installations where two days of work were necessary to accomplish something that I could have done in 1.6 (now 2.0) in about 10 minutes. Seriously.


There has been a lot of talk in the WP scene about feature bloat, and it’s my own opinion that certain aspects of 2.0 are wildly overrated for what they do, but from an underlying technology standpoint, WordPress 2.0 is incredibly superior to the 1.5 codebase.


So if you don’t want to upgrade because you don’t think that 2.0 offers you anything, just wait a couple months until the really fun plugins start appearing.


Enough said on that. On with the new features list, which is by no means comprehensive:


* More Abstracted Data Layer - The core WordPress code has been refactored to abstract direct calls to the database when adding posts, comments, and other data. This will lead to improvements in database access (perhaps even supporting other database engines in the future) and plugin development, including…

* New Import System - The new import system leverages the abstraction done at the data layer, so that import routines can call simple functions to convert posts from other blogging tools instead of a huge complicated series of queries. Importers are also available directly from the admin, so no special process need be taken to employ them. (Thanks, tinster.)

* Admin Redesign - It’s not so significant as the Tiger Admin plugin, but there are a few more gadgets in the admin, especially on the Write page. You can now drag sections of the page to reorganize them, and click the plus/minus to expand/contract the sections.

* The Rich Editor - WordPress has a new post editor built in that lets you see what you’re going to get without having to decipher tags. You can also resize the editing area on the fly by dragging it, which is pretty cool. Not everyone who has tried it likes the WYSIWYG editor, so there is an option to disable it on a per-user basis.

* Image/File Uploading - Just under the Rich Editor in the Write panel, there is a new control that allows you to upload and insert images into your posts. WordPress keeps track of these images and can even automatically provide dedicated pages to receive comments for them.

* Improved Post Preview - Instead of displaying the post as plain text below the editor, the post is now displayed in an embedded frame, using all of the layout and CSS that is normally applied to your site. In effect, the post looks exactly like it will when you publish it, giving you ample opportunity to review the post’s layout.

* User Metadata - To support user-based options, the user data now sports a much more flexible structure. People who use WordPress as a CMS can now use code to add custom data of any kind to any user profile.

* User Roles and Capabilities - The “user level” concept of security has now been replaced with Roles. WordPress associates a Role to each user. Roles have Capabilities such as “edit posts” and “activate plugins” that allow certain actions. There is no more concept of hierarchical users, but plugin authors can now create whole new Capabilities to apply proper permission management.

* Presentation Page Changes - WordPress 1.5 lets you switch themes, and 2.0 shows you what they look like before you do it. If a theme includes a screenshot, you’ll see it in the Presentation admin panel to help you choose the theme for your site.

* Ajax Category Addition - There’s a bunch of ajax in WordPress 2.0 and this is probably the most requested use of it. This feature lets you add new categories directly from the post-writing page.

* Ajax List Management - There are a few places in the admin that show lists of things and let you delete, like categories, posts, comments. Now, instead of reloading, the row turns red and then fades out.

* Moved Javascript/Images - Version 2.0 uses a lot more javascript than prior versions. Some utilities, like FAT (Fade Anything Technique) and SACK (Simple Ajax Code Kit), can be used by other tools and plugins, so it’s good to put them someplace where developers know they will reside, and outside of the admin directory, which might have weird permissions.

* Theme Admin Pages - The guys who worked on K2 went to some lengths to hack a custom configuration page for their theme into the WordPress admin. Now that capability is easily available by including a functions.php file with the theme. You can see this at work in the new header generator for the Default theme.

* Ping Delay Removed - Rather than pinging trackbacks and pingbacks when the post is saved (this causes the delay you see when posting to WP1.5), the pings are attempted via a different method that allows the admin interface to respond more quickly.

* Persistent Cache - There are certain types of queries that WordPress makes to the database repeatedly. To speed things up, the results of these queries are cached to disk. This caching is still compatible with other caching plugins, like WP-Cache, and could be just enough of a boost for larger sites to avoid optimizing everything.

* Database Versioning - Now when updates are made to the database schema, your admin panel will tell you to run the upgrade routines. This is handy because it keeps your database fresh enough to support the code that runs on it.

* New Built-In Plugins - WordPress 2.0 is now packed with the Akismet plugin for comment spam prevention, and the WP-DB-Backup plugin for manual or automated database backups.


Those are the major features added since 1.5.2 was released on August 20th. In addition to these major items (did I forget anything, anyone?) a few hundred bug fixes have been applied. I did not count them to know the specific number, but there were a lot. If you have a favorite bug that you wanted squashed, you should head over to the bug database and search for it. If you don’t find your bug, add it. (Use your WordPress support forum login for the bug database - It’s easy!)

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