WordPress 3.8 “Parker” Released

WordPress 3.8 “Parker” has been released, named for jazz artist Charlie Parker. Version 3.8 has been in the oven for 49 days. This marks the second release that contains features that started off as plugins first, a development practice we’ve covered on WPTavern at great length. It’s important to note that after upgrading to WordPress 3.8, you are strongly encouraged to disable and remove any of the features that started off as plugins. For example, since MP6 was merged into core, it’s no longer needed and will automatically be disabled after you upgrade.

WordPress 3.8 About Page
WordPress 3.8 About Page

A New Theme Experience (Formerly Known As THX)

WordPress 3.8 Theme Experience
The New WordPress Theme Experience

Browsing and switching themes from the backend of WordPress is now a much better experience thanks to a completely revamped themes page. The themes page now has larger thumbnails making it easier to browse themes at a glance. Clicking the theme details link displays a large screenshot of the theme as well as a detailed description on the right hand side.

Widgets Area Chooser (Formerly Known As The Widget Area Chooser Plugin)

WordPress 3.8 Widget Management
New Way To Manage Widgets

The days of scrolling endlessly to manage Widgets are over. WordPress 3.8 enhances the Widget management pages in a few key areas. Sidebars now make better use of free space on wide screen monitors by adding a side-by-side display. You no longer have to drag widgets into the sidebar, although you’ll still be able to. An alternative method is to click on the widget and select the sidebar you’d like to have it displayed on. Select the sidebar location and click the add widget button. This is a huge improvement, especially for those who use a lot of widgets.

A Refined Dashboard With Widget Improvements (Formerly Known As DASH)

The WordPress 3.8 dashboard has reworked a number of widgets to make them more useful. During the development phase, the incoming links widget was removed since it routinely didn’t work. The WordPress Blog, Other WordPress News, and Plugins widgets were combined to form the new WordPress News widget. The Right Now widget has been renamed to “At a Glance“. This widget shows how many posts, pages and comments are on the site as well as the current version of WordPress installed. Akismet stats now make up the bottom portion of the widget.

Removed, Merged, And Revamped Dashboard Widgets
Removed, Merged, And Revamped Dashboard Widgets

Recent Comments was merged into the new Activity widget which also shows any scheduled posts and the five most recently published posts. Last but not least, QuickPress was renamed to Quick Drafts which also houses the Recent Drafts widget. There is no longer an option to specify how many columns the dashboard has. Instead, the number of columns will automatically change based on the available screen real estate. Developers can hook into the activity widget and add additional information to it.

WordPress Backend Redesign (Formerly Known As MP6)

The most noticeable change in WordPress 3.8 is the renovated backend design. This redesign has been nine months in the making with the creation of the MP6 plugin. The new design is aesthetically pleasing to the eyes. Typography has gotten some major improvements thanks to the use of Open Sans.

WordPress 3.8 Has Eight Different Color Schemes
WordPress 3.8 Has Eight Different Color Schemes

If dark colors are not your style, WordPress 3.8 ships with eight different color schemes. My personal favorite is Midnight. It’s possible that in the near future, a large number of color schemes will be available via an add-on plugin.

The New Default Theme TwentyFourteen

WordPress 3.8 Default Theme TwentyFourteen
WordPress 3.8 Default Theme TwentyFourteen

TwentyFourteen marks the first time a new WordPress default theme is available for a full year. TwentyFourteen, previously known as Further, was originally created as a theme for WordPress.com. Based on Further’s success, it became an ideal candidate to be turned into the default theme. The theme is based around a magazine concept and includes up to six featured content blocks. Use the three widget areas to customize your website, and change your content’s layout with a full width page template and a contributor page to show off your authors.

Responsive Admin Design

WordPress 3.8 Responsive Admin
WordPress 3.8 Backend Is Now Responsive

The backend of WordPress 3.8 is now responsive. The WordPress backend now adapts to any device such as a smartphone, tablet, notebook, or desktop. This is incredibly helpful to those who use WordPress mobile apps on smartphones and need to access specific administrative functions in the backend of WordPress. In previous versions, navigating through the backend on a mobile device was painfully slow. Some of the increase in speed can be attributed to using vector-based icons that scale to your screen. By discarding pixels, pages load faster.

WordPress 3.8 Is The Best Release Yet

WordPress 3.8 Charlie Parker
Charlie Parker
I didn’t realize how many changes are in WordPress 3.8 until I wrote this post. There are a lot of user facing features and enhancements that will take some getting used to. However, I think all of the improvements make it the best release so far.

The default theme has a specific use case but I’m curious to see how the WordPress community will re-imagine TwentyFourteen using child themes. Last but not least, thank you to everyone who contributed to WordPress 3.8 either by way of submitting patches, reporting bugs, or beta testing the software. It’s your dedication that enabled 3.8 to ship on time.

30 Comments


  1. You guys are sharp – looks like update time!

    BTW – do you guys still deactivate all plugins before you update and then reactivate them again?
    Or am I living in the past?

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  2. Awesome!

    Now to wait, and watch the automatic upgrade happen! (I love those filters. I haven’t manually updated a Theme or Plugin since 3.7 was released. This will be the first time to observe a core major-release auto-upgrade.)

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  3. That image below “Responsive Admin Design” doesn’t really show off the admin backend ;)

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  4. No more WP community news in WP admin panel? :(

    It was the usual place where I would check interesting videos and WP Tavern news… I envision big drop in WP Tavern traffic…

    Also, for the WP blog there is no more option to select number of messages.

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  5. The one thing that I’m missing in 3.8 is the menu separators. While I love the new design overall, I personally don’t like having everything mashed together with no separator lines between sections (it feels messy when plugins/themes start adding menu items) so I did the following to bring them back:

    In my themes functions.php I added:

    function wptutsplus_admin_styles() {
    wp_register_style( ‘wptuts_admin_stylesheet’, get_stylesheet_directory_uri() . ‘/css/admin-styles.css’ );
    wp_enqueue_style( ‘wptuts_admin_stylesheet’ );
    }
    add_action( ‘admin_enqueue_scripts’, ‘wptutsplus_admin_styles’ );

    I then created a new stylesheet called admin-styles.css with the following CSS (placed it in a CSS folder in my child theme):

    #adminmenu li.wp-menu-separator {
    background-color: rgba(255,255,255,0.15);
    height: 1px;
    margin: 0;
    }

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  6. I agree with Tomas M.
    I did like the WP community news. It’s how I read new posts from this blog.

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  7. Excellent. It will be a great fun to use wordpress 3.8. I am waiting for it.

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  8. I’m disappointed in this update. I started to write a post this morning only to discover all the editing widgets had disappeared in visual mode. If you hover over the places where they used to be you can still use them, but the pictures are gone. Nothing I do brings them back. Suggestions are appreciated.

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  9. @Michael Scott – sounds like a browser caching issue to me – browsers can hold onto scripts/stylesheets (such as those used for TinyMCE) tenaciously. Try clearing the cache or a different browser?

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  10. @Chip Bennett -Apparently the new update doesn’t like Chrome. I cleared the caches, cookies, history and etc., and it didn’t fix the problem. When I use Firefox and Safari the edit widgets are present. So, it looks like I’ll have to use a different browser until someone fixes the problem the Chrome compatibility update. Thanks for your speedy response.

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  11. @Syrehn – I did pretty much exactly that, immediately upon updating. I think menu separators help see the sections better.

    Also, the new responsive dashboard widget columns are not working well for me. I’m still trying to fix it so it displays as before – I’m working on a wide-screen, and it won’t let me have 2 columns..

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  12. Well it looks like the roll WordPress has been on finally came to a grinding halt. 3.8 has created some serious usability issues. It looks like mid-life crisis time has finally arrived for WP creators.

    Why would anyone in their right mind abandon backward compatibility on the usability front? 3.7 was the pinnacle of perfection for easy-on-the-eye reading that made it super easy to quickly pick out what you wanted. This was due not only to careful use of the right contrast but also to various techniques for separating different components on the page. Now that is all out the window.

    In 3.8 fonts may be larger but they are harder to read due to contrast issues. And individual things on a page a harder to find quickly. The whole things reduces productivity big time and is going to create difficulties for people with sensitive eyes and imperfect vision. That is one of the foundation stones of usability, so what is going on here?

    I was stunned to upgrade to 3.8 and without any warning be forced into this admin downgrade. Every usability specialist ought to know that white text on a black background is a huge usability issue. Yet that is the default sidebar color scheme! The very first thing i did when i saw that was look for an option to use the old ‘classic’ style, but alas no one seems to have thought it was important to preserve continuity in this area. This exemplifies the same attitude that makes opponents of smart meters so livid. You took away my nice usable admin without notice and without giving me a choice!

    As a WordPress developer the WordPress team and future has just been downgrading in my mind by several basis points. WordPress is over the hill now.

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  13. All my sites and all client sites now updated to 3.8.
    I like the new modern look, but I had no problems with the old version.

    I did notice that the automatic update process was pretty quick and as it turns out… pretty reliable.

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  14. I like it it, but can’t seem to get it set up. I am on Chrome, and I don’t know if that is the problem. If so, what do you recommend I change to.
    Is there a How to Set Up 2014 for Dummies? I really am one.

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  15. The latest update is a disaster if you’re using Chrome. As a website publisher I had to scramble to get my articles up so I started using Safari, and in a curious way I’m glad I did. I never knew what I was missing. I did try FireFox but it’s become so clunky overall I elected not to use it. So, to sum up, in my opinion, and experience, Chrome and WP are no longer getting along.

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  16. @Lio Eters
    The guys at “Digging Into WordPress” put up a post about bringing back columns. Maybe this will help you:

    http://digwp.com/2013/12/bring-back-single-column-dashboard-in-wp-3-8/

    @Michael Scott
    I use Chrome as my primary browser of choice for surfing/blog posting etc. (FireFox for dev tools like firebug) and I haven’t run into any issues yet running v3.8 and Chrome Version 32.0.1700.41 m Aura.

    I tested all post/page new/edit features as well as “distraction free” writing and can’t find any hiccups. I know that on rare occasions a router can hold/cache a website until it’s cleared/flushed (it’s happened to me before). Maybe that could be an issue?

    @Jobi Harris
    What exactly are you trying to set up in 3.8?

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  17. I publish a website and I have to use the New Post/Edit page, and when in visual mode in Chrome, all of the editing pictures are gone, such as quote, link, copy and paste, undo, and etc. If you hover over where they used to be they are there, but the pictures in Chrome no longer exist since the upgrade to 3.8. I cleared my browser cache, and etc., but nothing works. Everything works as it should in Safari and Firefox.

    Update: I just went back into Chrome, reloaded the page, which I had done before to no avail, and now the New Post/Edit page is working as it should. WTF?

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  18. I’m suddenly having caching problems on a site that I am developing after updating to WP 3.8.

    Don’t want to blame the update yet…anyone have any idea whether there is some new thing that 3.8 has built in – cache wise?

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  19. @ieio Thanks for that! I thought I was slowly going mad. I have checked everything. Plugins. Hosting provider. The only other change was the update :/

    Am hoping there are some solutions online today. Please let me know if you hear of anything and I will do the same?

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  20. After giving “Parker” a little time I have to somewhat agree with shanna above.

    The admin pages are actually harder to read and a strain on the eye with regular use.

    As a little experiment to myself I have 3.7 and 3.8 both open and certainly the old one (designed by Elliot Jay Stocks I believe) is a much easier read.

    Not a good sign when plugins are appearing to make the default dashboard different!

    I hope 3.7.1 sorts these issues.

    In fact, it’s probably about time I contributed :o)

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  21. When and how will 3.8 work on Chrome again, for crying out loud???

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    1. @Juergen I’m using it on Chrome – what problems are you having?
      I’ve not noticed any problems.

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    2. I finally ended up clearing all of the caches in Chrome, and then rebooting my iMac, which still didn’t do the trick, and then, out of frustration I kept reloading the affected pages, and finally everything worked. I have my editor back. Weird.

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