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WordPress 3.4 “Green”: The Rundown

By Colin Ryan

Industry News

Lean, Mean, (Grant) Green

Looks like the best just got better: WordPress has worked out most of the kinks in 3.4 since its release last week. Nicked for guitarist Grant Green (a jazz great, like the namesake of just about every previous WP release), 3.4 is the same as 3.3 in most respects, but there are some important new features. Here’s our breakdown.

Live Theme Customizer

Theme customization has been around for some time, and at least for now, 3.4 hasn’t really added any options you can’t already customize in other places. The big difference is that you can now make these changes via a live updater. That means instead of having to take an unfinished site public in order to view the changes you’ve made to your color scheme, fonts, backgrounds, and headers, you can tinker with your site in preview mode and view changes as you make them. Look for the live theme customizer to take center stage in 3.4, as developers begin adding additional customization options to both new and existing themes.

Tweet Embedding

Another small but incredibly useful improvement in 3.4: expanded embed support for Twitter. Now, just as YouTube links are automatically converted to embedded videos in the post editor, permalinks to tweets will now become embedded images of tweets exactly as they appear on your Twitter feed, without any additional code. You can probably expect embed support to expand to other applications (Facebook? Pinterest?) as 3.4 matures.

 

HTML Support for Captions

This update has been a long time coming. You can now format text in image captions using HTML code. That means not just bold, italics, etc., but also hyperlinks. This is actually a huge development because it allows you to give credit for images by linking directly to the image author. This makes borrowing images more rewarding for the source, which in turn should make the overall attribution process friendlier and more open.

Custom Backgrounds and Headers

Again, custom backgrounds and headers have existed since WordPress 3.0 debuted in 2010. But whereas before you could only use header images of a specific height and width, with 3.4 you can be much more flexible in terms of size. You can also add custom header and background images directly from your Media Library.

WordPress 3.4 also includes a number of smaller and more technical updates, such as improvements for editing your pages via external (i.e. mobile) applications, better touch functionality, and international support for things like comma translation. Still, my sense is that the best is yet to come for “Green.”

For a helpful demo of 3.4’s highlights, check out the WordPress blog’s own release announcement.

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