Yesterday, WordPress 3.4 was released. While we knew which features were coming, unlike other releases we did not keep a close tab of alpha and beta versions due to a very packed schedule. We would like to apologize to our audience for that. For those of you who did not click the one-click upgrade button just yet, please make sure that you upgrade. In this article, we will highlight what’s new in WordPress 3.4 in terms of features for users and developers.
Live Preview and Theme Customizer
The theme customizer is one of the most outstanding features in WordPress 3.4. Handy for both users and developers alike, the theme customizer will start a new era of WordPress theme development. In the past, users would never know whether a specific theme would work for their website without activating it. They would not know how the theme would look with their content. Well that problem is out the window now with the Live Preview and Theme Customizer. When you go to Appearence » Themes, you will see “Live Preview” below each theme.
When you click that link, a live preview will open with the Theme Customizer. For active themes, there will be a link named Customize that you can click which will open the live preview.
We hope that more developers start using this instead of complex theme options. Otto has a great article that will show you how to leverage the theme customizer in your themes. Check out the video walk through of the Theme Customizer.
Easy Tweets Embed with oEmbed
In the past, you would have to use a plugin to embed a tweet in WordPress posts. Well not anymore. Just like youtube videos, now all you have to do is add the link to your tweet in a separate line. WordPress will embed the tweet with reply, retweet, favorite, and follow features. Love it. Check the example below:
— WordPress Beginner (@wpbeginner) June 12, 2012
Custom Header Improvements
In WordPress 3.0, WordPress added the ability add custom header images. Well, all the header images had to be a specific width and height. If you decided to change things around, it would cause things to look weird. In WordPress 3.4, you can now have flexible headers. You can see the new code in the Codex.
Aside from that, you can now add custom header and background images from the Media Library as well.
HTML in Image Captions
In the past when adding images, you couldn’t link to the photo author in the caption. Well, in WordPress 3.4 you can. This will make things easy. Check out the example below:
Better Organization for Page Templates
If you ever worked on a complex site, you will find yourself creating a lot of custom page templates. Up until now, all page template files had to stay inside the theme folder along with all other files. This can get really clunky. For the sake of organization, you can now have a /pages/ sub-directory in your theme’s folder where you can place all page templates. Starting in WordPress 3.4, WordPress will identify all page templates in the theme folder or in any sub-directory of a theme folder.
We know this will be extremely handy for our theme.
There were a lot of bug fixes and improvements. Below is a list of items that we found to be very useful.
- WP_Query Performance Improvements – Developers saw 2-3x speed performance improvements.
- Post Formats will now be added under Navigation Menus
- WordPress will now redirect attempts to visit /login, /dashboard, or /admin to the appropriate WordPress pages. Now you don’t need a plugin anymore
- A lot of XML-RPC improvements
- Internal functions and classes now add “rtl”, “ie7″, “ie8″, “ie9″ for browser targetting
We would love to hear what are your favorite features in WordPress 3.4