Secret: This weblog has been running off the as-yet unreleased WordPress 2.5 for a few weeks now, via subversion checkout. For those not following along at home, WP 2.5 features a radically redesigned back-end that seems almost intentionally designed to piss off people who are resistant to change (but to delight the purists). Funny how we get with our tools – once usage patterns become entrenched, even huge improvements in usability start to seem like blasphemy (cf: people raging about Microsoft’s new “ribbon” interface in recent versions of Office, even though they’re an obvious improvement).
Have to admit, my first experience with 2.5 was disorienting and not altogether favorable. But after a couple of weeks of regular use, I’ve come to appreciate the wisdom of the focus groups; separating out commonly used functions from uncommon in the UI was long overdue. And while the new colors still felt washed out and pallid, a recent Profile page option to re-enable the old colors on top of the new UI compensated.
Birdhouse Hosting keeps all WP installations up to date automatically when new versions are released with a simple script. The system has been fantastic from a maintenance and security perspective, but puts me in an interesting position – when I run the next automated update, I’ll be changing the UI out from under a whole lot of users. Fortunately, my early experience has users reacting positively and not being confused at all – a few minutes of exploration and they’re off to the races. The good news is that there have been almost no API changes in this version that break plugins or themes. In fact, the upgrade from 2.2 to 2.3 broke a lot more stuff than this version will. There’s a plugin compatibility list in the codex if you’re interested; out of the 70+ WP-based publications I manage, only two will be affected by anything on that list (we’ll hold those back for a while).
Loving the new media manager – upload multiple files at once, handle image alignment at insert time, insert multiple images into a post simultaneously as a gallery (with automatic thumbnails, intermediate size, and full size versions – and independently commentable sub-posts for intermediate versions). Full-screen editor. Brand new tag manager. Much improved comment management. The visual editor no longer breaks embedded media like YouTube videos. A ton of subtle improvements that make life easier all around.
There are bound to be bumps, but progress is good.