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WordPress 4.0: It’s not inside, it’s on top

Written by Hugh Lashbrooke on September 11, 2014 News, Product News.

I realise that the title of this post won’t mean much to anyone who isn’t a child of the 80s, so here’s a little cultural learning for you – you’re welcome.

WordPress v4.0 was released on 4 September with two members of the WooTeam (myself and Mike Jolley) being part of the group of 275 contributors to this release. Much was said about WordPress 4.0, particularly with regards to the apparent milestone version that the number seems to indicate, so we thought it would be good to have a look back at what is included in the release and see just what difference it makes to our daily lives.

What’s included WordPress 4.0?

Every WordPress release comes with a plethora of features, improvements, fixes and general updates. This release was no exception and in v4.0 there were 711 tickets that were included – each ticket represents either a new feature, an enhancement on an existing feature, or a fix for a broken feature.

These are the main new features included in WordPress 4.0:

  • Enhanced grid and details views for the media library
  • Improved media embedding in posts (YouTube, Twitter, etc.)
  • Improvements to the post editor, including a toolbar that moves down the page as you type
  • An improved plugin search with much more visually appealing search results

You can see a full list of all the 711 closed tickets that were included in this release on the WordPress Core Trac.

The new media library in WordPress 4.0
The new media library in WordPress 4.0

But where are all the *new* features?

If you look at the main feature list above, you will notice that all of them are improvements or enhancements for existing (already working) features. This caused a lot of people to decry v4.0 as a release that is not worthy of the apparent milestone that it represents (more on that below), but what a lot of people don’t realise is that these enhancements serve to refine WordPress to be an even greater platform for creating and publishing your work.

Pippin Williamson made some great points about this already, so there’s no need to rehash that here, but suffice to say that after working with WordPress 4.0 for a little while it’s clear that these ‘enhancements’ are so valuable that you won’t understand how you worked without them until now.

As a plugin author I absolutely love the new plugin search page and, as a blogger, the new post editor is legitimately game-changing. These enhancements alone make this a major new release for WordPress.

The new plugin search page in the WordPress 4.0 dashboard
The new plugin search page in the WordPress 4.0 dashboard

What’s all this fuss about the version number?

Most software projects use semantic version numbering – this means that a 4.0 release would be a more significant release than v3.9 and would most likely change the software completely. WordPress does not work like this and instead treats 4.0 just like 3.9 or 4.1 (you can read more about WordPress’ version numbering system here). That, along with the impressive enhancements that it offers, puts paid to the claims that WordPress 4.0 is “hugely underwhelming”.

What’s coming up in WordPress 4.1?

I can’t say exactly what the primary feature set of WordPress 4.1 will be, but if you have a look the tickets that are earmarked for the 4.1 milestone then you’ll get a pretty good idea of what to expect. As usual there will be fixes and improvements to existing features as well as a number of new features that will undoubtedly refine WordPress even further.

Want to get involved in WordPress core development? Check out the list of good first bugs for new contributors.

3 Responses

  1. Reuben Mansell
    September 15, 2014 at 12:06 am #

    Already used the plugin explorer, it’s so much more intuitive than the previous versions. Glad to see it’s being well received already.

  2. tHe-BiNk
    September 19, 2014 at 2:21 am #

    A lot of fixes. That’s good to see! Not only more features, but also improving the existing features by making them less buggie.

  3. Sebastian
    October 4, 2014 at 10:46 am #

    I did upgrade to WordPress 4.0 and is good enough :).