Breaking: New Features Selected To Merge Into WordPress 3.8 Core

Today was an important day for nailing down the features that will be moving forward in WordPress 3.8. In an epic three hour planning and decisions meeting, Matt Mullenweg opened up the discussion by asking plugin leaders to provide a status for their proposed features. I’ve summarized a few of the highlights.

Widgets Area Chooser Plugin Gets a Green Light

Widgets Area Chooser
Widgets Area Chooser
The meeting started with discussion on the accessibility benefits of the Widgets Area Chooser plugin, which we recently featured on the Tavern. Shaun Andrews submitted a proposal at the last minute for its inclusion in 3.8.

Matt said, “I think this is a small but useful addition, and the trac ticket should allow any code issues to be worked out.” In the next day or two the plugin should be live on WordPress.com so that the team can gather a wider range of browser and user testing. It looks like this feature will be getting the green light.

Omnisearch Needs More Refining

During the meeting it was determined that the Omnisearch plugin needs more discussion on implementation and features, so work will continue there before it will be cleared to move on to core.

DASH Plugin Will Be Merged Into Core

Dave Martin, otherwise known as @lessbloat and the Dash plugin team leader, has been paired with core developer Mark Jaquith who will be working with them on merging the plugin into core. No major roadblocks were raised in the discussion of this feature.

When asked what the screen looks like for a site that doesn’t have much content, @lessbloat posted a screenshot of a brand new dashboard:

New dashboard
New dashboard

This feature is looking pretty solid and is cleared to merge into core. WordPress users can expect a beautiful new dashboard in the next release.

THX – All Systems a Go!

The Theme Experience plugin is now on its way into 3.8. WordPress users can expect a much improved way of viewing themes in the next release.

Theme with multiple screenshots
New theme experience demo with multiple screenshots

A few points were raised about enhancing what the plugin already does and making its features more discoverable in the UI. There’s plenty of time to polish it up. Matt noted that testing this feature with lots of themes will be important in order to ensure that the experience stays speedy.

MP6 Finally Cleared for Takeoff

Some work needs to be done on browser support and performance but other than that the plugin is looking pretty solid right now. MP6 will finally be rolled into the core in WordPress 3.8.

“MP6 is a shot in the arm,” Matt said. “It forces plugin devs to up their game, makes WP feel modern, and the importance of the responsive aspect of it cannot be overstated.” MP6 is a vast improvement upon the current admin design and is arguably the most highly anticipated addition to WordPress 3.8.

Twenty Fourteen – Not Yet a Lock For 3.8

Twenty Fourteen will be the next WordPress default theme. Because this is the most fully featured theme so far, a major challenge will be helping users discover what is possible with Twenty Fourteen. The development team is aiming to push as many of the customizations as possible into WordPress’ Customizer so that it’s easier to work with. Lingering development concerns mean that Twenty Fourteen’s inclusion in 3.8 is not yet a lock. The worst case scenario would be holding it back for the 3.9 release, but it hasn’t yet been decided.

Features Are Merging into the WordPress Trunk

During the 3.8 development meeting Matt paired each incoming feature with a core developer as a “buddy” to the plugin leader. “The role of the buddy is a support one to try to sherpa the plugin getting in as friction-free as possible,” he said.

The trunk is about to get a bit more volatile, so developers might want to turn off those nightlies for awhile. As features are merged into the trunk, Matt encouraged developers to see the trunk as “a place where things can and will break, versus a museum of perfect code that we all svn up to in production every morning at 5am.” Things may be a bit messy in the transition, but this is a good sign that WordPress is growing and improving in many new ways. Core development is ramping up for a very exciting 3.8 release in December.

33 Comments


  1. Sarah you’re posts have been really great addition to the writing on WPTavern. It’s awesome having all of this info summed up and reported on – glad you’re a part of the team.

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  2. Great post, Sara! So exited about about 3.8… love the Widgets Area Chooser!

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  3. This is good news. MP6, DASH, and THX are all much needed in my view. The rest would be nice to get in as well, though if it were up to me I might be inclined to let Twenty Fourteen wait for WP 3.9, so the rest of the functional changes can get in. In any case, it looks like 3.8 will be a substantial update!

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  4. Thanks Sarah. Nice summary of new features coming in 3.8! Saved me having to trawl through the IRC logs. ;-)

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  5. Hope DASH and MP6 perform well in Mobile Safari because the iOS app still sucks. Crossing my fingers!

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  6. The new widget page looks useful. Looking forward to Twenty Fourteen :)

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  7. It’s great to see development moving on at such a rapid speed – it’s looking like the idea of developing plugins first then migrating to core is a really good one. At this rate we can look forward to even more smooth & frequent releases next year.

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  8. Hey Sarah, thanks so much for the list, now I don’t need to visit the IRC logs either. I’m glad to see what’s heading into 3.8 as I have a huge project launching shortly after that and knowing this is a huge part of making my deadline…. cheers!

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  9. Some pretty exciting changes which is good to see. Let’s hope they all make it for the release.

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  10. Sadly, STILL no mention of a solid backup feature built into WP. Becoming laughable really…or is it that services charging outrageous rates for plugins and or services have too much influence, and don’t want to see backup and restore as a core feature.

    Things that make you go hmmmmmm. :)

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  11. Nevis1 — WP has built-in export, and numerous plugins that support backing things up both free and paid. It’s really more of a hosting responsibility than an application responsibility.

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  12. @Nevis1 – I agree with @Matt on this one. WordPress’ export / import functionality is more than adequate for the application itself to take care of, the rest is the responsibility of hosting.

    This is particularly true when you consider the potential variations between hosting environments and backup plans. The application should not need to deal with that.

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  13. @Nevis1
    I also agree with @Matt.
    I would think that Backups as part of core strays much too far into plugin territory.
    To my understanding, core development is centered around creating better ways to create content.

    The WordPress team already does a ton of work to make sure that core is as server-independent/compatible as possible. Backups in core would require a whole separate team to develop considering the wide range of scenarios that backup plugins have to cover.

    tl;dr: Core is all about being a lean, mean, content-creating machine. Plugins (like backup plugins) extend upon that.

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  14. Mr. Matt,

    Not agree.

    I’m talking myself as a developer. I need that import feature. Almost my half wordpress websites I’m installing import plugin.

    Thank you.

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  15. @Matt – I’d argue ‘backups are really more of a site owner’s responsibility’ than a ‘hosting’ responsibility.

    Sure, hosts make backups. But for the most part, a host is worried about getting your server back up. Getting a 100% data recovery from everything? Surprisingly lower on the list. After all, a host is backing up the OS, the files, the DBs, for WAY more than WP. And while they check their backups for integrity, I doubt any host is doing a 100% check of every file. What if your one file is the dead one?

    Make your own backups. Keep them on a separate server. Use the cloud, or VaultPress, or whatever, but please, don’t JUST rely on your host :) You’ll be happier in the long run the ONE DAY you accidentally drop a table and don’t notice for a week…. Seriously I don’t know what I was drinking.

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  16. @Sinan İŞLER – There are already plenty of robust plugins that do backups in different ways. Backup Buddy, VaultPress, WP DB Backup, etc. Since each user’s backup needs are different, it doesn’t make sense to have a robust, automated backup built-in to WP.

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  17. @Sinan İŞLER – The plugins at Tools->Import are purposely “core” plugins. By having them as modular additions, it is easier to update then if services change their export format or new players come on the scene.

    Backups are more of a hosting and/or site ownet job, as if you need to return to a backup due to malware, etc, you’ll likely want to wipe clean and cleanly apply the backup. Not typically something you’d want to do within WP.

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  18. @Mika E. (Ipstenu) – Absolutely, 110% agree with you on this one. The host’s primary concern is making the server functional again, so that your files can run on it. Consider yourself lucky if they happen to restore your site too, especially in a the timeframe in which you want it restored.

    A big problem, in my opinion, with WordPress including native backup functionality (besides the inherent complexities with making it work on a myriad of server environments) is that it wouldn’t be able to put the backups anywhere but on the server, alongside the running files. If the server tanks, there go the backups. At best, it’s a security blanket to make site owners feel better at night, when really they should be almost as scared as they were without backups. The one plus is that, should they do something to mess up their site, they can restore from that backup. But that’s still minimal comfort to me.

    To the concern about “services charging outrageous rates for plugins and or services” – if your backups are so important to you that you’re writing this comment, you SHOULD be paying for backups. Data protection is a booming business, for a reason. People want to back up their important data. If your site makes you money or is important to you in any way, invest in it. Granted, there are many free options out there as well, including the roll-your-own database dump and zip, combined with a remote FTP server (get it off-site, people!).

    The most expensive backup is the one you don’t make. Sorry, had to say it.

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  19. I’m most excited to see MP6, Widget Chooser Plugin, and hopefully, Twenty Fourteen in 3.8. I’m stoked about Twenty Fourteen and curious to see the wide array of editions of the theme people make with it. As for Widgets, love the fact that I don’t have to solely rely on drag and drop to add or subtract widgets. That’s a huge plus. MP6 has made the admin easier to browse and read.

    All of this combined will have 3.8 being a great release.

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  20. Nice post Sara! I’m so much excited to use WordPress 3.8 with new font and different color schemes.

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  21. Sarah,

    Thanks for the informative post – I hope everything survives. Really looking forward to seeing Dash in 3.8 along with MP6 about which I don’t know nearly enough!

    Tony

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