WordPress 3.5 (Elvin) Released

WordPress LogoThe newest version of WordPress, 3.5, (code-named ‘Elvin’) dropped today, three months and five days after 3.4.2. Major changes in this release include an upgraded media manager, a new default theme, dashboard resolution improvements, and some behind the scenes improvements.

Upgrading from 3.4.2 was as easy as it always is for WordPress upgrades. Maybe I have been lucky, but I’ve never had an issue with any upgrade, and this one was no different. Speed has never been a problem, either; the upgrade completed in about 20 seconds, and I’m off trying the new features.

New Media Manager

The biggest change that I see in version 3.5 is the new media manager. The interface has changed drastically, and at first I felt that it might be a bit overwhelming for the less tech savvy. After using it, though, I realized it only looked intimidating. It’s actually quite easy to use if you just dive in.

WordPress 3.5 Image Gallery

WordPress 3.5 Image Gallery

Image galleries have been around since 2.5, but they have never been easy to work with. You had to upload, attach, then manually put the gallery shortcode in. With the new media manager, creating galleries becomes trivial. You can drag and drop the images to reorder, caption them quickly, and with button-click ease, insert them into you posts.

I had always been frustrated by the lack of a good image gallery in WordPress. The NextGEN Gallery plugin always filled the gap, but with the improvements, I have started removing NextGEN from many of my sites. NextGEN’s image arrangement was always lacking, I thought. While it gives you nice pop-ups for each image in the gallery, site visitors can’t comment on individual images, which I hate. I guess it depends on what you are looking for out of your image gallery. I will still use NextGEN in given situations, but it won’t automatically be installed on new sites anymore.

Another new function of the media manager is the ability to insert several images into a post at once, then write the post around the inserted images. I tend to write first, then insert images later, so I’m not sure how useful this will be for me, but I can see how others would find it useful.

New Default Theme

Seeing as how it’s almost 2013, I guess it was just about time for the Twenty Twelve theme release. It’s everything that Twenty Ten and Eleven were, updated and kept light. It’s a fine default theme and its look stays pretty consistent across various devices. As they say on the About page: simple, flexible, and elegant.

Dashboard Resolution Improvements

Even on smaller screens, the WordPress dashboard could get a little grainy if you zoomed in. On higher resolution devices, it could get a little grainy if you stood across the room. Well, no more, even when zoomed in as far as you can. It’s eye candy for the backend, for sure, and really doesn’t have the slightest impact on reaching the people you are trying to reach with your website, but it really does look great.

Square Buttons

Speaking of changes that have no impact on reaching people, the buttons are more square now. I know, not Earth-shaking, but I did notice. Moving on…

Behind the Scenes Stuff

There are some things that you might not notice if you’re not a developer. TinyMCE, the editor you more than likely use to edit all your posts, updates to the latest version, as does jQuery and SimplePie.

The XML-RPC WordPress API, which is used to post from your smart phone or tablet, is now always enabled. I see no reason it shouldn’t have always been by default. Saves me a step when setting up a new site, seeing as how that was one of the first options I changed within the first five minutes after setup.

All in All

I’m pretty impressed. It’s a nice release. Seems stable and as speedy as the previous version, and has noteworthy improvements. And I really like the new media manager. And the square buttons.

Twelve for Twelve Update: January

One month into my “Twelve for Twelve” (plus 11 days), so I guess it’s time for an update.

  1. Go Zip Lining – Not yet, but give me a break, it was January. I want to do this when it’s warm and I’ll actually enjoy it.
  2. Run 500 Miles – I’ve run 2.42. It was January, I was sick have the month, and the treadmill’s speed control is all screwed up, so I can’t use it. In fairness, I tried to run one other time, and the treadmill took off at full speed when it was off and threw me.
  3. Release 12 Premium WordPress Themes – Ok, none actually released yet, but I’ve been working on the first, so a little progress.
  4. Learn AJAX – The fact that I actually thought about starting to learn AJAX made me feel better about not starting to lean AJAX.
  5. Try out Drupal – See #4, Learn AJAX.
  6. Post to Blog Twice a Week – I owed you 9 blog posts in January, and you got three. Got to do better here.
  7. Take Julie and Shannon Camping – Ok, I’m starting to feel like I didn’t do anything in January. Then again, this is a summer goal.
  8. Complete 100 hours of Pro Bono Web Design – Ok, this one wasn’t actually my fault. I did approach two different non-profits, but neither were interested. Bah!
  9. Say “Thank You” to Anyone in Military Uniform – Ok, I hit a home run on this one. Not a single person left my area wearing a uniform that didn’t get a thank you. One guy I actually chased down.
  10. Brew Five Different Beers – Good stuff again! The West Coast Pale Ale is done, and I had the first two pints of it yesterday, which is why I didn’t write this post yesterday. Quite good. Also, the Blueberry Bock has been bottled as of yesterday as well.
  11. Hike a Total of 30 Miles – Again, it was January.
  12. Watch the Sun Rise over the Ocean – Yeah, January.

So, as best as I can tell, I’m about 4% complete at the end of January. Baby steps through Twelve for Twelve.

Twelve for Twelve

So I’ve never really been into the New Year’s Resolution thing. For the last handful of years, I’ve always just made my New Year’s Resolution to not make any New Year’s Resolutions the next year. (Which, of course, I broke every year by making the same resolution.) But I’ve been thinking about it and have decided that I wanted to put together a list of, while all not all exactly resolutions, goals that I want to have for this year.

I tried to make it a pretty eclectic list, ranging from adventures, relaxation, physical and mental self improvement, relationship building, and giving back to others. Nice and well-rounded. So, without further ado, here is my 2012 to do list, which I’m creatively calling my “Twelve for Twelve.”

#1 – Go Zip Lining

Starting off with a simple, but exciting one. I’ve wanted to go zip lining for several years, and have never taken the time to just go do it. It looks like a blast, and I’m told that it is. If anyone is interested in joining me on this one, let me know. I’m thinking late spring in Hocking Hills area, but could be somewhat flexible.

#2 – Run 500 Miles

But not all at once, of course. Sounds like a big number to me, but it when I did the math, it would only be an average of just under 1.4 miles per day. I guess I can do that. Those two zeros still look pretty daunting, not to mention that I’m already 15 miles behind pace.

#3 – Release 12 Premium WordPress Themes

I’ve been developing WordPress themes for clients now for just over two years, but I’ve never released any for sale. Could be a good way to expand 10T’s business a bit. So in any spare time I have with the business this year, I’m going to spend working on a dozen.

#4 – Learn AJAX

What could be more New Year’s Resoluton-esque than to dive into something completely new, right? Whenever Java’s been around, I’ve always stood on the other side of the room. Time for the two of us to get to know each other.

#5 – Try Out Drupal

And speaking of diving into something new and uncomfortable, add Drupal to the list as well. I’ve always been a WordPress guy, but acknowledge that Drupal must have benefits of its own. Time to find out for myself what they are.

#6 – Post Twice a Week

I mentioned when I started this blog that I didn’t know why I was starting a blog when I had never really been all that committed to them in the past. Still, I want to give it an real effort to see if I can keep it up for a whole year. It’s only a little over 100 posts. Easy, right?

#7 – Take Julie and Shannon Camping

For those of you who know these two girly-girls, you might find this one a little funny. This one could quite possibly be the most challenging of the twelve, because I actually have to convince them to go first, which will be the hard part. The actual camping will be the easy part.

#8 – Complete 100 Hours of Pro Bono Web Design

I’m no good a fund raising, and public speaking makes my knees shake. But I can design web pages, so I’m looking to volunteer in a way that would actually be beneficial to the group that I’m volunteering for, specifically, for small South-Eastern Ohio non-profit organizations. If anyone out there is part of one that is looking to have a website, please let me know. First come, first served.

#9 – Say “Thank You” to Anyone in Military Uniform

Whenever possible and especially if I don’t know them. I know that this isn’t why these guys and gals do it, but if you’ve ever just walked up to a member of the military, and given them a smile and a “Thank You,” you will see how much that simple act means to them, and they don’t get to hear it nearly as often as they deserve.

#10 – Brew Five Different Beers

Thanks to the fantastic Christmas present from Julie, I really think that home brewing might just be my new hobby, and I want to give it a good chance to be so. I figure that if I’m as interested on the fifth batch as I am on the first, new hobby found.

#11 – Hike a Total of 30 Miles

Hiking for me is extremely relaxing, mentally clearing, and just generally gives me that warm fuzzy feeling. And I didn’t hike a single step in 2011. That simply has to change. Thirty miles of hiking isn’t that ambitious of a goal, but it’s a lot further than none at all.

#12 – Watch the Sun Rise Over the Ocean

Last but not least, a simple pleasure. I haven’t seen this happen in ten years. That’s an unacceptable length of time.

So, there they are. Twelve for Twelve.

Ready? Go!

WordPress for Android 2.0 Released

Hot off the press! WordPress for Android released version 2.0 earlier today. I’m giving it a bit of a workout right now writing this post.

The Great – This was originally just going to have a good and bad sections, but I can’t in fairness just call the new features just “good.”

I really love the new user interface. The dashboard is easy to use and gives you quick access to anything you need quick access to, including the new Quick Photo and Quick Video. Also new is the updated editor, the best part of which is either the new formatting toolbar or advanced media options. It’s a bit of a toss up as to which one I like more, as they are both pretty useful.

My favorite new feature, however, isn’t even mentioned on the WordPress for Android website. Instead of approving, spamming, or deleting comments one at a time, you can now mass update those comments with the new comment approval interface. Approving 20 comments just went from a several minute task to a several second task.

The Bad – Well, there isn’t much, really. In case you couldn’t already tell, I’m in love with the UI, so no huge complaints. One thing that I have noticed is that the post and page editing doesn’t separate the paragraphs with a single ‘enter.’ It treats it more like a line break for one enter, and a new paragraph for two. I guess that this is really more of an “I would have done it differently” thing, and it’s easy to work with once you know what to expect.

It does have the habit of crashing after adding a new self hosted site, but, in fairness, I am running it on a 1st generation Motorola Droid, so that may be contributing to the problem. The blogs still added properly in spite of the crashing, so it isn’t more than an annoyance than a major problem, but it did happen on three out of four attempts.

In Conclusion – Upgrade. It’s pretty sweet.