Everything You Need To Know About WordPress 4.0

For years, WordPress has been one of the top content management system (CMS) options for creating professional, clean, and highly-functional websites. The popular platform received a major upgrade in September that improves the user interface and overall writing experience, and adds many requested features and security fixes. Here’s what you need to know about what’s new in version 4.0:
It’s named for jazz clarinetist Benny Goodman.
Okay, this isn’t an essential fact, but it’s still pretty neat to know. Previous updates took their names from bandleader Count Basie, jazz pianist Oscar Peterson, and electric organist Jimmy Smith.

Media embeds are as easy as falling out of bed.

No more fiddling with the text view in order to add cumbersome URLs. In 4.0, you simply paste a YouTube link, a tweet, a TEDTalk or whatever other third-party content you want to embed and it automatically shows up. In addition, the instant preview gives you a better idea of what the media will look like in the final post, which saves a lot of time (and headaches!) that would otherwise be spent reformatting and refreshing.

The media library is in grid format.

Your media library is now presented in grid format, which allows you to easily see what you have uploaded for use on your WordPress site. You can choose from small, medium, and large previews. The design is responsive, which makes it easy to update on the go. Sort through media types, organize by date, or search for images and videos that you have added.
One thing to note: some media plugins, such as EWWW Image Optimizer, will not function properly in the grid view. WordPress decided to make the grid view very simple, so to see additional information that is available in some plugins, you will need to toggle to list view.

The editor expands as you write.

With all the additions to the platform over the years, some WordPress users started to feel that CMS’s original purpose–delivering written content–had taken a back seat. Version 4.0 makes the composing window easier to use by expanding as you write, and the formatting tools are now displayed on the right-hand side.
This improvement was driven, in part, by feedback from the WordPress user community. In a bug report sent earlier this year, developer Mark Jaquith stated: “The post editor feels like it has been relegated to a box of medium importance on the edit/compose screen…. I want to move editing closer to the distraction-free editing experience, to better let you focus on your content when you’re actually editing it.”
However, this hasn’t been a completely trouble-free change. When writing extremely long posts, you need to return to the top of the page to access the publish button, tags, categories, and other fields. A quick-fix is to hold down command/control and then hit the up or down buttons.

Finding the add-ons you need.

With more than 30,000 plugins in the WordPress directory, the improved plugin search makes it much easier to find the add-ons that you need. The plugin installer now shows available options in a grid view, making it simple to expand functionality of your CMS.

Does not automatically update.

Most updates on WordPress are automatic, so you aren’t required to do anything to get the new fixes. Because 4.0 is a major release, it will not be an auto-update version. Users can download the new version from WordPress.org or update in the WordPress dashboard.

Troubleshooting.

If you have problems after installing, there are a few ways to troubleshoot to make sure the error isn’t your browser, theme, or plugins. In the troubleshooting master list for 4.0, Moderator Jan Dembowski recommends trying the following:

  • Deactivate all plugins. Then, if this seems to resolve the issue, reactivate one at a time to identify the problem plugin.
  • Use your browser’s built-in troubleshooting to diagnose JavaScript, conflicts, and Visual Editor issues.
  • Flush your browser cache, as well as any plugins that save a cache.
  • Switch to the simple Twenty Fourteen theme to make sure that you do not have a theme-related problem.
  • Manually upgrade from your prior version to 4.0. By downloading the latest zip file and installing, you can ensure that you are working with a full and complete upgrade.

The increased ease of use in the latest version of WordPress make this a worthwhile update that can make your site more richly-featured and your experience much simpler than ever before.

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Kevin Routson
Kevin Routson | Contributor

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