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WordPress 3.5 Nears Completion - First Release Candidate Now Available

WordpressLast week Andrew Nacin of the WordPress core team published an update titled "The short road To 3.5" that outlined exactly how close the team is to having a final release. The next day, in fact, the first "release candidate" of WordPress 3.5 was made available for download.

As noted in both posts, as well as the WordPress 3.5 schedule, the goal is to go through a couple more release candidates and then have the final release on December 5, 2012 - only 9 days away!

Whether or not the core team hits that goal will really depend upon how much testing they get (and they are looking for more people to test WP 3.5!) and what the status of the major issues are as the date draws closer.

For communicators/marketers, WordPress 3.5 continues the ongoing series of improvements to the WordPress "user experience" to make it even simpler and easier to use. I don't know that anything in 3.5 necessarily rises to the "MUST HAVE IT NOW!" category, but certainly the improvements look good. I am particularly interested in the rewritten media subsystem that will apparently allow for much simpler insertion and handling of images. One thing that has always bothered me about WordPress' media handling was the dialog boxes around setting a "Featured Image". From the tickets, this seems to be one of many improvements.

New WordPress Multisite Goodness

Another feature I'm looking forward to for new installations is the ability to set up WordPress Multisite in "subdirectory" mode versus "subdomain" mode. To date, Multisite has only worked when you used a subdomain as the base for all blogs. For instance, you might base the blog at:

and then your individual blogs would be:

This works fine (and is still in 3.5), but if you want to integrate your blogs into an existing web site, you weren't able to easily use Multisite. Now, with 3.5, you will be able to install WordPress Multisite into a subdomain, so that your base can be:

and then your individual blogs can be:

This then allows you to continue using your main domain for SEO or branding purposes, but still have all the power of WordPress Multisite with regard to letting different groups have their own blogs with separate users, access control, etc. ... and all the other goodness you get from Multisite.

Now, this option can only be chosen when installing WordPress Multisite, so it doesn't help existing installations... but any new servers can be spun up in this mode if that works better.

The Normal Caveats Apply...

If you want to know more of the details of what will be in WordPress 3.5, the Beta 1 announcement had all sorts of good info. There's also a ticket with a rough list of changes in 3.5. All of that info should eventually make its way to the Codex page on WordPress 3.5 as the release date nears. There are some really good changes for developers that ought to improve WordPress performance and help in so many other ways.

You should, of course, not just drop WordPress 3.5 onto your production site, even after it has been fully released. There are changes to the underlying systems and so you should really test it with your theme(s) and plugins to make sure that they all work before you make it live. You also of course want to backup your system and make sure that you have the ability to restore if you need to do so.

WordPress also has a "WordPress Beta Tester" plugin for the more adventurous who want to run a site testing out the newest releases. Again, I wouldn't necessarily recommend this for production servers given that things will break during the normal course of development. Rather than use that plugin you can also just download the 3.5 release candidate and try it out.

I'm looking forward to seeing what this new release brings and to trying it out on my own systems. Kudos to the development team for their hard work and aggressive schedules!

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