WordPress 3.8 Parker features an Updated WordPress Dashboard

WordPress 3.8 Parker was released only a few days ago on December 12th, 2013 and the latest iteration of the world's most popular blogging and content management system has just gotten a major backend design update.  Checkout the refresh below when I updated one of my other websites, CarNewsCafe.

WordPress 3.8 Oscar

wordpress 3.8 parkerThe new WordPress dashboard and backend is much cleaner and seems to be more inline with how a lot of WordPress themes look nowadays.  I imagine this is not a coincidence on the part of Automattic, the company that handles WordPress development.

The new backend uses Open Sans font, which most people probably didn't know about but it works well in the WordPress dashboard.  The idea is to make things less cluttered and easier to read and manage.  In addition icons have been updated and they are now vector based which means they can scale to your screen.  That means they load faster and work better.

Dashboard Color Schemes

wordpress dashboard color schemeIn addition to the udpated look you now have options in terms of what colors you want the WordPress dashboard to look like.  There are currently 8 options to choose from which includes Default, Light, Blue, Coffee, Ectoplasm, Midnight, Ocean, and Sunrise.  The idea is to provide more options and better contrast to be easier on the eyes for WordPress users and admins.

If you have a WordPress website that a lot of different people access, a user can individually choose what WordPress dashboard color scheme they prefer.  A pretty cool update to the backend.

WordPress Twenty Fourteen ‘Magazine' Theme

wordpress twenty fourteenFor WordPress 3.8 Parker there is also a new theme called Twenty Fourteen (2014).  It has the layout of a magazine which seems to be what a lot of people use WordPress for.  The new theme is by far the cleanest default WordPress theme Automattic has come out with.

Other WordPress 3.8 Improvements

In addition to all these cool updates to WordPress 3.8 Parker there are several other nice updates.  This includes better theme management which allows you to see more advanced previews of themes you might want to switch to.  Also the widget menu is easier to handle.

It seems that the WordPress team also has improved the functionality of WordPress for mobile phones and tablets.  Creating and managing posts should be easy no matter what device you are using now.

There are other WordPress tweaks you might notice too.  For instance if you check your plugins page eeactivted plugins are highlighted in white while active plugins are in blue.  (I personally find this confusing.)  Also there is no “Quickpress” in the WordPress dashboard anymore and in it's place you will find a “Quick Draft” box.

wordpress quick draftAt first I was apprehensive about the WordPress 3.8 update since I've been using WordPress for awhile.  Automattic didn't change too much and they make ease-of-use a top priority unlike a lot of other open source software.  After a few days I really like the updated WordPress dashboard and backend.  It is definitely faster and snappy and I imagine that Automattic developers worked hard on improving the WordPress core code to achieve this in addition to reworking the design.  Kudos to everyone that contributed to WordPress 3.8 Parker.

By the way WordPress 3.8 was codenamed “Parker ” after the great Alto saxophone player, Charlie Parker.  Matt Mullenweg, the creator of WordPress, likes to use Jazz musicians to codename WordPress releases since he is Alto saxophone player.  WordPress 3.6 Oscar was named for Oscar Peterson and WordPress 3.7 Basie was named after Count Basie.  Matt Mullenweg and these these other Jazz giants might be great musicians but they don't have singing dogs. 🙂

If you haven't updated you WordPress website(s) or blog(s) to WordPress 3.8 I would recommend you do it to enjoy the new features.  I would encourage you to make a backup of your WordPress installations before you pupated though.   You never know what might happen in an update and it is always a smart precaution.

If you are used WordPress 3.8 Parker are you thoughts about the updated and new dashboard?  Do you love it or hate it?

WordPress 3.7 Basie comes packed with Automatic Updates, Improved Search, & better Foreign Language Support

WordPress 3.7 Basie was just released and while they are not as many upgrades to WordPress 3.7 as there was in WordPress 3.6, the world's most popular content management system (CMS) just keeps getting better and better.  New and notable features in WordPress 3.7 Basie includes;

wordpress 3.7 basie

Automatic WordPress Updates

Maintenance and security releases in WordPress 3.7 are automatic and most sites will be able to apply updates in the background.  Wordpress updates are also now a lot more secure and reliable, according to Automattic developers, with new checks and safeguards.

Some configurations will still require more manual updates though.  System administrators and WordPress developers can fine tune controls though for major releases and automatic plugin updates.  This should save a lot of people time and hassle.

WordPress Search Results Improved

If you are using the WordPress search system to find posts and content on your website and have been frustrated with the fact it sorts articles by date, they've changed it.  Search queries are based on how well the keywords match the relevant content and post titles and now will not be sorted by dates.

Advanced search queries are also supported.  What does that mean?  Only want to see posts that went love on specific date or date range?  This will make finding older content a lot easier.

Stronger Passwords

Wordpres password meter

Having a strong password is important and WordPress developers thinks so too.  The WordPress password meter has been updated in WordPress 3.7 to recognize popular mistakes that can weaken a site's password.  What does this include?  Names, keyboard patterns (123456789), and even pop culture references will be considered “Weak” under the WordPress password meter now.

Better WordPress Support in Foreign Languages

Do you speak another language besides English?  You will be happy to hear that WordPress will receive faster and more complete translations in foreign languages.  WordPress 3.7 has added support for automatically installing the correct language files and keeps these language files updated.  This make it easier to manage a WordPress site in a foreign language for millions of WordPress users around the world.  “Parlez vous Francais?”

WordPress Multisite

wp_get_sites()

Allows those running WordPress Multisite installations allows developers and administrators of large WP Multisite installations to get an idea of all the sites on the network.  This makes so that you do need to do do a direct database query to get that information.

WordPress 3.7 Basie

wordpress 3.7

It should be noted that WordPress 3.7 Basie is named in honor of the Jazz great Count Basie.   Since Matt Mullenweg, the creator of WordPress, is a Jazz saxophone player this isn't surprising.  WordPress 3.6 Oscar was codenamed after the Jazz pianist Oscar Peterson.

What's impressive about the WordPress 3.7 launch is the timetable of it's release.  Wordpress 3.6 was unveiled at the 2013 State of the Word at released at the beginning of August, 2013.   For WordPress 3.8 Automattic anticipates it will release in December which is just 2 months away.

What do you think of WordPress 3.7 Basie?  Are you hoping for any new features in WordPress 3.8?

8 WordPress Plugins you needed Yesterday

wordpress plugins

If you use WordPress for your blog software or content management system (CMS) than I am pretty sure that you use a lot of WordPress Plugins to improve the functionality of your website.  There are tens of thousands of useful WordPress Plugins available and tons of great developers, but how do you know which ones are useful for you and which ones are not?

While you will find tons of different opinions and lists of useful WordPress Plugins all around the internet here are some plugins that I have found that are useful for a wide range of bloggers and webmasters.

8 WordPress Plugins you needed Yesterday

  1. AkismetGetting hit with spam comments really sucks but Akismet makes having to delete and sort though spam comments a thing of the past.  Akismet monitors millions of blogs and forums and will decided whether a pingback or comment is good or bad.  While a spam comment is going to get through here and there for the most part it should take care of most spam comments.  Since the service is run by Automattic, the company behind WordPress, the spam filtering and blacking capabilites is one of the best I've seen.  I use Akismet even on a MyBB forum I run.  The best part about Akismet it is free for personal bloggers and there are reasonable plans for businesses with multiple WordPress sites. I haven't found any other spam plugin that is efficient and accurate as Akismet.
  2. Cookies for Comments:  This plugin, like Akismet, should help you reduce the amount of spam comments you are getting.  When a user visits your site a cookie will be dropped and it will check the cookie if they leave a comment.  If there is no cookie it's probably a spambot trying to get a link from your blog.  Cookies for Comments also checks how long it takes for a user to enter their information which also helps stop spammers.  This is plugin is co-authored by Automattic.
  3. WordPress SEO by Yoast:  I've been using this plugin since before it was even popular and it's the best thing to happen to happen to WordPress ever.  (Since Matt Mullenweg invented WordPress of course.)  Joost de Valk made this plugin so you can format all your articles to be written so that search engines will like your articles.  You get a green dot if they are formatted correctly for a certain keyword but you can also get a yellow, orange, or a red dot if your articles are not good for SEO (search engine optimization).  Wordpress SEO has a bit of a high learning curve though so be aware of that when you install it and start using it.  It is not going to be straightforward and you will have to learn how to format articles properly for the best SEO.  Wordpress SEO has a lot of other features which I have to even really use to it's full extent.
  4. Digg Digg:  See that floating sharing bar that follows you as you scroll down (or up) on this post?  That is Digg Digg and it's a great plugin to encourage social media sharing.  If you have't shared this article yet, you know you should with Digg Digg by the way!
  5. SexyBookmarks by Shareaholic:  Another great social media sharing plugin.  This places icons on the bottom of your posts and you choose from a wide variety of different social networks and social boomarking websites to display.  I wouldn't overload your WordPress blog with too many social media sharing buttons but it doesn't hurt to have them a few places on the posts to encourage more sharing.
  6. Yet Another Related Posts Plugin:  This plugin displays related posts on the bottom of articles so that a visitor might read more of your articles and posts.  It even grades the relevance of other articles you have written to what the user is currently reading.  It shows text links as well as picture links to other posts.
  7. Schema Creator:  I recently found out about this plugin during BlogPaws 2013 and I really wish I knew about it sooner.  Schema markup helps you add more meta data to Google search results.  For instance when you see a movie review on Google and there are stars rating the movie that is Schema markup.  This plugin lets you automatically add that markup without having to manually insert code yourself.  The plugin has several different categories and types of Schema markup you can use.
  8. Broken Link Checker:  This plugin checks your WordPress site for broken and dead links.  A post your wrote a year ago about a cool website may no longer be active and Broken Link Checker will send you an email to let you know.  It's great for SEO too as too many dead links on a website will tell search engines your site hasn't been updated in awhile.  The plugin is not perfect as it will send false positives once in awhile. I do recommend it since it has been helpful catching dead links as I can't recheck ever link on all my WordPress blogs.

While there are literally thousands of other useful WordPress plugins out there available, these are just some I have found useful for myself and my own Worpdress blogs.  

If I you think I forgot to include any useful WordPress plugins please leave a comment below and suggest a cool plugin to others. I always love discovering and hearing about new and fun plugins and what developers are doing.

WordPress Auto Formatting Bug

 wordpress auto formatting bug

Even though I love WordPress, the entire community behind it, the functionality, and ease-of-use of the content management system it is not always perfect. Recently I have been having issues with an odd WordPress auto-formatting bug.

What happens is when I am writing posts I will cut and paste blocks of text to different parts of the article to make it flow better. Most of the time I don't have any issues with formatting in WordPress when I publish posts. However, once in awhile I will notice after the article is published some words are smaller than the rest of the words in the post. Most of the time these are blocks of text I moved around. I then go back and check “Text” mode where I can see the HTML code and how the article is formatted and I see there have been div and span tags generated making the wording for certain parts of the article smaller. Even though I will “Preview” articles to see what it will look like before it goes live on a site it wont' show me these odd WordPress autoformatting changes. WordPress for the most part is a pretty good What You See Is What You Get (WYSIWYG) editor and you don't need to worry it making funny formatting mistakes.

This WordPress auto-formatting bug with small letters is really starting to annoy me though. At first I thought this was just happening on my own blogs but that isn't that case. I've noticed this happens on several other websites I contribute to which leaves me to conclude that it is a WordPress bug or maybe this is an issue with one of my installed plugins.

Usually for WordPress bugs and issues the best thing to do is check to see if there is a plugin issue. You can systematically disable each plugin and check if the problem continues. While this a is a bit tedious and time consuming it's a good way to narrow down the problem. The issue is since this happens once in awhile it is hard to pinpoint which plugin might be causing this issue. I can't leave all the plugins disabled all the time also since I need a lot of these to make my websites function properly. For websites I an joint developing or contribute to with others we definitely can't disable key plugins which make the sites work.

So if WordPress experts or gurus know what is causing this WordPress auto-formatting bug or issue please leave a comment and let me know. I would be very appreciative of your help. If you are having similar issue with WordPress formattting also leave a comment. I'd be curios to hear if other people are having this problem too. It is possible this might be a WordPress core issue.

Catch me on Twitter @AdamYamada … if you can!