With the release of WordPress 2.8 pushed back now to April 1st, (dates are always tentative) I decided to download the nightly build for March 7th and wanted to take a look to see what sort of progress has been made. At this point, no widget management features have been added to the core that I am aware of. I do know that Andrew Ozz has been assigned the task to revamp the Widget Management area. I wish him the best of luck! However, syntax highlighting along with function lookups have been added to both the plugin and theme editor. Here is what they look like.
One thing I noticed already in the 2.8 bleeding edge version is that just like plugins, you can browse the theme repository and install themes without leaving your blogs backend. You can search, preview, and upload themes as well. Check it out.
Although work is ongoing, I did want to mention the fact that MagPie RSS will no longer be the default parsing engine that WordPress uses. Instead, it will be SimplePie RSS. Simple Pie will be used in WordPress 2.8 for widget and dashboard feeds. Also at some point, plugins which used MagPie RSS that was built into WordPress will at some point no longer work. So if you have a plugin that does this such as the KB Advanced RSS Widget plugin, make sure to update your code to use the new parsing engine. No need to rush it though as backwards compatibility will be in WordPress for a little while before it is completely removed.
Last but not least, you’ll be able to select between 1-4 columns for your dashboard widgets.
For a look at what will most likely come down the pike in WordPress 2.8, please see this Codex article dedicated to the version.