On the Road to WordPress 3.7

wordpress-logo-notext-rgbHere at Bluehost, we’ve been working closely with the core WordPress development team to ensure that the latest WordPress updates work correctly and efficiently on your website. With the WordPress 3.7 release coming out within the next week, we wanted to briefly cover some of the new features and changes coming. Keep in mind of course that all of the following is still in development, and is subject to change even in the final week before release.

The 3.7 release has been planned from the beginning to be what most people would call a maintenance release. Its main focus is on stability and security improvements.

Automatic Updates

This will be the first version of WordPress that will be configured by default to automatically upgrade itself. However, this comes with some caveats. WordPress will only upgrade to new minor releases which are typically just security fixes only; it will not automatically upgrade to new major versions (you will still be required to manually upgrade to WordPress 3.8). It will also not automatically upgrade any installed themes or plugins.

We still highly recommend that you stay on top of regularly checking for updates and manually upgrading whenever possible.

Language Packs

It’s fairly common for translators to release new languages and updates to existing translations outside of the typical update release schedules planned with themes, plugins and WordPress itself. In an effort to make these updates more useful, WordPress is moving towards a new system that can provide automatic updates to language packs regardless of whether you upgrade your plugins, themes, or WordPress.

Relevant Search Results

In the past, WordPress has used a rather rudimentary search algorithm that has simply returned any posts that contained any of the given keywords ordered by publication date. This will now change to provide more relevant search results based in order of full sentence matches in titles, then all search term matches in titles, then any search term matches in titles, followed by full sentence matches in content, and finally by any remaining search term matches in post content.

We believe this will provide significantly more useful search results to your users.

Other Security Improvements

Whenever WordPress checks for updates, or installs updates from WordPress.org, this will always happen over an encrypted SSL requests, and will only happen if the SSL certificate used with that request has been properly validated. While we’ve never actually heard of exploits taking advantage of “man in the middle” attacks on WordPress by hijacking these requests, it has been possible (but unlikely) until now.

Additionally, the built-in password strength meter provided with WordPress has frequently given users the false impression that their password was secure in numerous cases. This release finally changes that by using the same password strength calculations that Dropbox uses.

There’s about 400 additional minor changes, fixes, and enhancements that have gone into WordPress 3.7, but these are some of the ones we’re most excited about. Keep an eye out for this update in the next week and let us know what you think!

As part of the Open Source Outreach team at Bluehost, Bryan is a developer that works full-time on WordPress core, contributing patches, and providing support to the WordPress community. He is very passionate about open source software, has mentored students in the Google Summer of Code program many times, and is also an official developer on the wxWidgets open source project.