Hi, everyone, I’m back from a bit of a sabbatical.  You know, sometimes “life happens”, and writing about life has to take a backseat to actually living it for a while.  At any rate — to mix metaphors — let’s get back in the saddle and turn up the volume again.

WordPress v3.5 is on the way!

The next feature upgrade for WordPress, version 3.5, is currently in “Beta 2” testing, and is due for release on December 5th.  Here are some of the more significant changes that  users will get with this upgrade:

  • Appearance: The dashboard will have a simplified welcome screen. The default color picker will make it easier to select a background color, for example.  The workflow for working with image galleries will be new and improved.  And the dashboard will have an all-HiDPI (retina) display option.
  • Accessibility: Keyboard navigation and screen reader support have both been improved for those who have physical limitations.
  • Plugins: You will be able to browse and install plugins that you have marked as favorites on WordPress.org directly from your dashboard.  Very useful if you want to repeatedly re-use the same plugins on new sites you are creating.
  • Mobile Apps: If you are a blogger with a mobile device, it will be easier to link up your WordPress install with the WordPress mobile apps, since XML-RPC will enabled by default.
  • Links: For new installs the Links manager in the WordPress dashboard will be hidden.  This is used to create so-called “blogrolls” — lists of links to favorite/related sites that you can display in a sidebar.  Going forward you’ll need to install a plugin to do this.

This release also includes a gaggle of improvements for theme and plugin developers, as well as — and this is very importantvarious bug fixes and security patches.

Should I plan to upgrade to v3.5?

Yes.  Positively.  Absolutely.  But you need to plan it.  

Whether or not you think the feature list noted above is very compelling, you should always plan to keep your core WordPress software up-to-date.

Why?  If for no other reason it’s important to get the latest bug fixes and patches that address potential vulnerabilities in the WordPress core software.  Yes, such vulnerabilities will always be a fact of life on the Internet, for any Web development tool you might choose to use, including WordPress.

What should be my upgrade game plan?

Upgrading is a two-edged sword: it’s important to stay current, but another scary fact of life: any software upgrade can have unintended negative side effects.  This is especially so for major releases (e.g., going from version 3 to version 4) or feature releases (going from version 3.4 to 3.5), where the side effects could significantly impair or completely take down your site.

What can I do to avoid being a victim of side effects introduced by software upgrades?  I’ll be writing more about this in my next post.

Stay tuned….