WordPress 3.1 – What’s new?

In case you have never heard of WordPress, it is the backend content management system (CMS) that runs sites such as CNN, the WSJ Magazine, and even these StartupNation Business Blogs. With the release of version 3.1, WordPress is making a solid move from "blogging software" to a solid CMS. While there are many awesome new features for WordPress developers like myself (Advanced queries! Network admin capabilities! Export/import functionality!), there are 4 key new features that I feel will benefit the end user: The admin bar, internal linking, streamlined content editing, and custom post formats.

Admin Bar

I recently had a client that converted from a wordpress.com blog to a self-hosted WordPress (wordpress.org) site. One of his complaints in the process was losing his admin bar, a toolbar that goes across the top of the page when a logged-in user is using the site. (I will be happy to now tell the people at the MRA Blog that I can update them to 3.1 to get it back!) This toolbar allows you to quickly add content, edit your posts, and perform other functions right from your blog instead of going to your dashboard. Here is a screenshot of the admin bar from a site I recently updated to WordPress 3.1, Firefly Occasions:

Wordpress 3.1 Admin Bar on Firefly Occasions, courtesy of Nikole Gipps for That PHP Girl

Internal Linking

Including links to previous material on your blog is a great way to get readers to explore your material further and increase your page views. This new, lightning-fast tool offers an easy pop-up format for searching and referencing your own material for archive links.

Streamlined Content Editing

For those using WordPress who are not power users, the new post/page editing screen allows you to streamline the process and reduce screen clutter by only showing the options and fields you need. Want your other options back? A few clicks and they will be visible again! This is also a great option for admins of WordPress multi-user sites to reduce user confusion and the need for tech support.

Custom Post Format

Let’s say you want a blog with multiple types of posts — perhaps posts containing videos, posts containing links, and posts containing audio content. WordPress theme makers can now easily make different displays for each type of post to create a unique, tumblog-like browsing experience for your readers. I am betting that we will be seeing a lot more of this style of blog from theme developers in the near future, with this type of functionality added to the WordPress core code. You can see this type of theme in action with the Auld Theme by WooThemes:

Auld Theme by WooThemes courtesy of Nikole Gipps for That PHP Girl

To get the full rundown of the 3.1 release, see the WordPress 3.1 Release Announcement, the WordPress 3.1 Codex Page, or this WordPress 3.1 summary from Mashable.

Questions about WordPress version 3.1 or WordPress in general? Post them here and I’ll be sure to reply back to you!

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