A Quick First Look at WordPress 2.5

Yesterday WordPress 2.5 became the latest stable release. I upgraded… and it was good.

If you want to get a sneak peek before performing the deed yourself, head on over to the WordPress 2.5 announcement. You’ll see that wordpress.org has a fresh new look, and that fresh new look is also the look of WordPress 2.5’s back end. Yes it’s true, WordPress’s back end just got a major face lift. [insert rimshot and laugh track, please]

Seriously, it’s lovely, and as the announcement post above states, it’s epic. More on that later.

First, I have two cautions.

  1. Automatic Plugin Upgrades.

    This is slick. From Dashboard > Plugins you can choose to automatically update any plugins for which new versions are available. One click, and WordPress will deactivate a plugin, install the new version, and reactivate the freshly updated plugin.

    I test or use about 30 plugins, about half of which either had updates waiting for WordPress 2.5 or were previously in need of an update – I don’t always keep inactive plugins up to date. All but two made it through the automatic update process without a hitch. I’m not going to say which two, because I haven’t been able to reproduce the error. Those two that didn’t re-initialize vanished from the dashboard’s list of plugins, though their files were still visible via FTP.

    Before upgrading a plugin, write down which one you are working with. The first time you upgrade a plugin after a WordPress version change, it might be wise to forgo the automatic option.

  2. Redirect Problem.

    This one I haven’t yet figured out how to fix. On a WordPress-based site that is not yet public I had installed more than one plugin that does redirects. Before upgrading everything was fine. Since upgrading, I can get into the dashboard but the site itself gives me an error message about bad redirects: “Firefox has detected that the server is redirecting the request for this address in a way that will never complete.”

    Again, I’m not going to tell you which plugins are involved because I don’t want to point at the wrong culprit unless I am sure. I’d be tearing my hair out if this was a live site, or a site that I’d made for someone else. As it is, it’s not going to be live for another few weeks and by then all will be well.

The Good News

Changes are indeed epic. These are the most significant feature upgrades that rocked my boat.

  1. Concurrent Editing Protection

    Yes, WordPress grows up as a community support tool. Have you ever attempted to clean up a contributor’s article before posting, and had your changes overwritten because the author is working on the same post at the same time? Major pain in the patoo, let me tell ya.

    With WordPress 2.5 there is now concurrent editing protection. Now, if you open a post that someone else is editing, WordPress will lock it and prevent you from saving until the other person is done. It even serves up a self-explanatory error message. This feature would have been welcome the day WordPress as a multi-author tool was conceived. That it took until now is a mark of the relative newness of the concept of blogs as community.

  2. A Better WYSIWYG.

    WordPress 2.5 claims not to mess with your code anymore. I’ll believe that one when I can’t break it. For now, they get the benefit of the doubt and a big thumbs up. A better WYSIWYG will make blogging easier and more accessible to thousands of non-techie bloggers. Better cooperation between hands-on code and what WordPress “wants” will make techie arteests and wannababe coders like me happy. Power to the people!

  3. Automatic Plugin Updates.

    Other than my caution above, wow, this is slick. In the long run, automatic plugin upgrades will help us all keep our blogs safer and running more smoothly, because upgrading will be absolutely painless.

  4. More Better Security

    • Salted passwords — WordPress now uses the phpass library to stretch and salt all passwords stored in the database, which makes brute-forcing them impractical.
    • Secure cookies — cookies are now encrypted.
    • Password strength meter — when you change your password on your profile it’ll tell you how strong your password is to help you pick a good one. W00t.

Upgrade Success

All in all, upgrading was a pleasant and successful experience, much more than the move to WordPress 2.0. I am looking forward to getting to know my new WordPress installations.