10 Things You Should Know About WordPress 2.2

This article will take approx 4 minutes to read.

Ah, the time has come again. So soon at that. Imminently, a new WordPress release comes to our doorsteps (It’s being given a final once over by testers – Update: It’s here). Since WordPress has gone into a 120-day release cycle (plus a few weeks in this case), the feature list is shorter but more power packed. Still, though, there are (at least) ten things you should know about WordPress 2.2 – and you may want to figure out if this release is right for you.

Native Widgets

Since Automattic released their Widgets plugin, the public has widely adopted them. Personally, I was a late adopter but yet I drank the kool-aid and can’t live without them. In fact, all our new themes at b5media are widgetized. They are low maintenance, though still a pain in the royal rear for theme designers who don’t understand how to take WordPress themes to that next level, but that’s certainly not the fault of WordPress. I digress. Widgets are now fully integrated into the core. It was this feature that has been worked on almost exclusively outside of bug fixes for the final weeks before release. Hope you enjoy them!

Added: Please make note of the fact that native widgeting is not yet compatible with IE as reported in this ticket that went unpatched before release. If you use widgets, you will be unable to remove widgets beyond a certain hierarchy of the “available widgets” queue. Be warned or use Firefox or an alternative.

Also Added: Folks using multiple ExecPHP widgets may run into difficulty with only the first widget contents being echoed on the blog. It is a bug, will require an upgrade to the widget, but there is good news. Ryan Boren comes up with the workaround.

Atom 1.0 Feeds

Another war that has been fought for quite some time is WordPress support for the Atom 1.0 feed. Up until now, there has only beenm native Atom 0.3 support and RSS 2.0 was the preferred feed. Now, advocates of Atom can be happy with the standard XML that is produced by Atom 1.0 making it more portable in other environments.

WP-Admin powered by jQuery

I admit to not knowing much about the various Ajax javascript libraries, but I’m assured that the introduction of reliance on jQuery in wp-admin makes for a faster and lighter administrative panel. The previously favored Prototype library, while heavily favored for its multipurpose abilities, will continue to be bundled with WordPress for the sake of plugins that rely on its existence, but will cease to power the bulk of the administrative functions of WordPress.

Update: Ilfiloso clarifies in comments and on his very cool post that delves deeper into things developers will like about WP 2.2, that jQuery is still not implemented across the board. We can expect more transitions in future releases.

Atom API Support

Bloggers using API editors (external desktop editors, for instance) may be interested to know that WordPress has introduced Atom API support. To this time, bloggers were forced to use the MovableType or the MetaWeblog API to write posts with an API editor. Benefits of Atom API is, among other things, security. Passwords are not transmitted in clear text as with other APIs. Mark Pilgrim has an older, yet still relevant, article about the technical benefits of the Atom API. Feel free to give it a read.

New Blogger Importer

And the world breathed a collective ‘w00t!’. Blogger is still by far one of the most popular platforms for blogging in the world. Beats me why, but I can’t argue with the numbers. Naturally, I (as many others) encourage people to migrate from Blogger to WordPress. The old WordPress importer for Blogger sucked horrible. It basically did a page scrape in multiple cycles that could bomb at any point. The more posts in Blogger, the higher the chances of an interrupted import. And it would take all day.

Then Google decided to do the whole “new Blogger” thing and tied blogs to Google accounts instead of the old-style Blogger accounts. This was fine for everyone except people trying to migrate their blogs away. The old Blogger import (bundled with even WordPress 2.1 despite the fact it didn’t work anymore) simply no longer functioned properly. Fortunately, a new Blogger importer (much smoother) was developed and has been in action on WordPress.com for some time, but those in the WordPress.org world were up a creek. The only solution was to import to a temporary WordPress.com blog, then export a WordPRess export file that could be imported into your own blog.

Now however, Blogger bloggers can move directly, and more seamlessly, straight to WordPress. Good times.

Plugin Sandbox

Ever had one of those times where you install a plugin that you didn’t know had code errors. You activate and go and view your site just to find it completely blank. You go back to your plugin page and it too is blank. The only remedy was to FTP into the site (or SSH if you choose, Mr. Ninja!) and delete the plugin.

Now that is no longer an issue. Plugins are sandboxed upon activation. By that, I mean, the code in the plugin is evaluated on activation for code with fatal errors – the kind that make your site blank – and if the code doesn’t pass the test, it is simply not activated. This prevents an errant plugin from taking down your whole site.

New Hooks for Plugin Authors

Plugin authors, rejoice! More hooks than ever are available to you in WordPress 2.2. You can now change the comment form using the

1
comment_form

hook. You can even hook on

1
option_home

and

1
option_siteurl

for some potentialy dangerous and/or creative plugins. ;-)

Return of the Preview Link

Many people noticed that in WordPress 2.1, the Preview link that was available on the Write screen disappeared. WordPress developers have heard the groanings of the masses and returned it, albeit in a different form. Now the link actually opens the site in a new window (no more slow loading iframe below the edit area). this should make many people very happy. :-)

Comment Feeds

There has always been a way to subscribe to the comments of a post. Just like everywhere in WordPress, adding /feed or, if you don’t use friendly permalinks, &feed=rss2 to the end of a single post will bring up the feed for the comments. It’s a great way to monitor conversation on a post you’ve commented on.

In WordPress 2.2, you can get comment feeds wherever you go – archives, categories, etc. So if you like James Joyner’s sports stuff but not so much his political or celebrity blogging, you can subscribe to just the commenting surrounding sports topics. This feed should be autodiscoverable by RSS feeds, but if not, theme authors will have to expose that to the world while designing their themes.

Mail Enhancements

Another thing you may or may not want to know know about WordPress 2.2 is an under the hood enhancement but solves historical quirkiness with emails generated by WordPress. As rudimentary as email is, it is still finnicky at a system level. If headers are not correct, ISPs may reject it. Spam filters like eating email for no good reason, and sometimes don’t eat the email it should. WordPress has integrated PHPMailer as the email class of choice to solve some of these issues. Again, under the hood, but hopefully addresses some problems encountered by some users on some platforms with some server configurations.

Under the Hood Optimization

Other under-the-hood enhancements that in some cases may not visible to the naked eye include better HTTP protocol support, enhanced PHP 5 support, and the TinyMCE upgraded version (it’s the Visual Text Editor, silly!). Here’s a complete set of changesets between version 2.1 and 2.2, for those curious among you.

As WordPress development is on a 120-day release schedule now, fewer BIG features will be implemented as less time is available. Releases will tend to be quicker. Development on WordPress 2.3 will begin immediately and if you have a desire for a feature not yet available in WordPress, you should make your voice heard through the feature wish list.

Comments

  1. says

    jQuery is good. We actually use it at b5media in our v2 themes for the footer ;) It’s very lightweight. Prototype is about 50 kb, whereas jQuery can run you 3 kb. I’m sure that makes you happy ;)

  2. says

    Thanks for your post.

    However, I think the “comment_form” action hook has been in the bundled themes at least since WP version 1.5. And jQuery isn’t yet being used anywhere other than the Blogger importer, as far as I can tell.

  3. says

    Thanks for the information, Aaron. I upgraded this morning, and couldn’t figure out why the Widgets plugin wouldn’t activate, and then it hit me. It’s built in to the core. Nice to see.

  4. says

    This update of WordPress sounds outstanding. Your list of 10 things we should know actually told me a few things I didn’t know so it was well worth the read. Good job!.

  5. says

    I’m very sceptical about upgrades: once I had very well working page on WP 1.5 but I don’t know why I upgrade do 2.0 or 2.1 … doesn’t matter – after that actualy I have to do once gain all from 0 – plugins, administration, etc.: Disaster – try to send me anything – in ‘zglos strone’ on http://www.csselite.pl – there is simplest contact form plugin and it wan’t work.
    To avoid any questions – yes, I’ve upgraded that step by step what is wrote on wordpress.org.
    Good to know that guys still working but there is no reason to upgrade as long current website/blog work well.
    Cheers – matt.

  6. says

    Weren’t post and link categories going to be separated in this version? What happened?

    Good post, by the way.

  7. says

    I am tempted to update, but I refuse to use widgets. They cause many many many validation errors for me. Is it my code? Nope, without widgets I am error free.

  8. says

    WordPress doesn’t require dynamic sidebars so if they aren’t there, they aren’t used. Secondly, widgets themselves override the default sidebar only if you have a widget assigned. If you don’t assign any widgets to a sidebar, it defaults to the coded sidebar.

  9. says

    ok, I must’ve put my code in the if statement, but aren’t you just a tad concerned that with widgets a blog goes from 0 to I think I reported about 65 errors.

  10. says

    Ryan, first off, I’m sure you appreciate that this isn’t a support thread for widgets. ;) Second of all, if you don’t USE widgets and your sidebar code is valid then why are widgets to blame? Simply don’t widgetize your theme, or widgetize it and don’t actually drop any widgets in place. It’s really that simple.

    I think you need to go read up on widgets cause to me it’s obvious you don’t really understand them.

  11. says

    @Aaron

    Nr 11 for the next upgrade, look all the way down on you plugins page..
    There is a little function now called “Deactivate All Plugins”.

    Great Time saver :-) well, next upgrade that is.

  12. says

    If my code is 100% valid. I go in, and only enable widgets, and I get errors, hmm, I wonder what cause the errors. Oh! And don’t forget you can turn on display source on the validator. You scroll down to where the errors are, where do you end up? In the sidebar code! What’s in the sidebar? Widgets! So there is a direct correlation of how widgets cause errors. Well I guess you can say that the code that creates the widgets, not the actual widget interface in the admin section.

    Hmm you say you think I don’t know about widgets? How so? I kind of laughed when I first read that…seeing how I don’t know how widgets work, I started to clean the code up the code, but stopped cause it was to much to do. So please please show me how I don’t understand them. :)

  13. says

    Thansk for the article and thansk for the update on the bugs. Thats the thing with anything to new I hate to adopt early and than have to repeat everything again if there are some problems to be fixed.

  14. says

    Great post. Thank you very much. I just upgraded with only one problem. The email I get everytime someone posts a comment is blank. The subject is filled out but everything else is blank. Did anyone else experience this?

  15. says

    You know what, I actually downloaded and installed WP 2.2 before I even completely knew what new features it had. That is how I trust and love this thing. Thanks for the list, though – it made me realize what I would’ve missed if I didn’t upgrade. More power!!!

  16. says

    Amm ,I am just baby in WP ,I downlode it but can not install in correctly,So still read how to … install it .Any one have more detail for?

  17. Nathan says

    doubt the widgets really work
    I did a fresh install of 2.2.3 and the widgets are laid dead
    not only for IE but also for firefox
    I removed all plugins and unused themes
    in the end, I even emptied my database to see if the old posts are causing the problem
    nope, the widgets are still dead