WordPress 3.2 Beta 1 Review – Features, Screenshot Walkthrough
By on May 18th, 2011

The WordPress team started planning for WordPress 3.2 back in March and released WordPress 3.2 beta last week. I spend some time playing around with the next generation of WordPress to see what is new with it.

Here is a review of WordPress 3.2 and a list of the new features that you will be using when the final version comes out. Please note that WordPress 3.2 will require PHP 5.2.4 and  MySQL 5.0, so you might have to upgrade your server software or ask your hosting provider to do it for you.

Important Note: This is a beta version of WordPress, don’t install it on a production server.

New Admin Interface

WordPress 3.2 Admin Interface

WordPress 3.2 has a refreshed admin interface which does away with the curved corners and cuts down on the space used between the menus.

Personally, I don’t like the new admin interface as it looks a lot more cluttered than the one in . Also I usually use the compact menu rather than the full menu and the one in WordPress 3.2 is definitely a sore to the eyes. I am pretty sure that the new admin interface will create a lot of outrage within the community.

Speed and Functionality

As promised WordPress 3.2 is faster and better than WordPress 3.1. They seem to have gotten rid of a lot of things under the hood making it react faster when required.

I found that the administrative panel speed has increased quite a lot as compared to WordPress 3.1, however, my test environment did not have many posts, so it might slow down a bit with heavy database usage. Overall, it is definitely faster than earlier versions.

New Twenty Eleven (2011) Theme

WordPress Twenty Eleven Theme

WordPress 3.2 also sports a brand new theme termed Twenty Eleven, based on the current year 2011. The new theme uses a new header images and looks refreshing and simple and is a complement to the Twenty Ten theme. Twenty Eleven comes in two flavors, one is a light version and one is a darker version.

Configurable Theme Layout

Twenty Eleven Theme Options

Twenty Eleven also allows you to easily change the layout of the theme and switch the sidebar to the right or left or even use a single column look. You can also customize the link color.

Different Header Image Options

Twenty Eleven Header Images

Twenty Eleven providers users with an option to choose between multiple header images or rotate between all of them. You can also choose to upload your own header images or disable it altogether.

Overall, Twenty Eleven definitely has more features than Twenty Ten and is easily customizable to suit your needs.

More Links in Admin Bar

WordPress 3.2 Admin Bar

WordPress 3.1 introduced the new admin bar which allowed users to quickly perform administrative tasks while browsing their website. WordPress 3.2 has a similar admin bar, however, it adds more links to perform more actions. For example, you will find links to install a new plugin, theme, user, link or media now under the "Add New" option. You can always disable the admin bar if you don’t like it.

Distraction Free Writing

Toggle WordPress 3.2 Full Screen Distracion Free Writing

If you are someone who does not like distraction while writing a blog post, you might have been disappointed with WordPress write panel so far. However, WordPress 3.2 addresses this issue by introducing a new feature called "Distraction Free Writing". You can toggle the Distraction Free Writing panel by clicking on the fullscreen icon or using a shortcut key "Alt + Shift + G".

WordPress 3.2 Distraction Free Writing

Once you do that, WordPress writing panel transforms itself into a lovely distraction free writing panel which will allow you to concentrate on writing without having to focus on anything else. The transition between fullscreen writing and regular write panel is pretty smooth and fast. However, the shortcut key did not work for me in .

The Distraction Free Writing Panel does have a HTML menu bar, but it auto-hides thus providing a truly distraction free writing. You can always choose to see the HTML menu bar by moving your mouse.

Overall the distraction free writing feature is a welcome addition to WordPress 3.2 and will help people who get distracted easily to concentrate just on writing.

Other Significant Changes in WordPress 3.2

Other than the above mentioned changes, WordPress 3.2 also includes several other new changes which definitely make it better and worth upgrading to.

  • As I had stated earlier, WordPress 3.2 will only work with PHP 5.2.4 or higher and MySQL 5.0.15 and higher.
  • WordPress 3.2 drops support for another aging technology; Internet Explorer 6.
  • Will start dropping support for IE7 in future versions.
  • Will notify users running outdated browsers to upgrade to the latest one.
  • Improvements for auto-upgrading WordPress.
  • Several other changes in user features for posting, dashboard and more which can be viewed here.

Please note: I could not test dropping support for IE6 and browser notifications for outdated browsers along with auto-upgrading improvements since I don’t use IE6 and old browsers and my WordPress install was up-to-date.

Overall, WordPress 3.2 is not as astonishing as WordPress 3.0 or other major versions which came out, however, like I had said earlier, dropping support for some outdated technologies should give them a much better development scope and the ability to use the newer features provided by them. This is just the beginning of the next generation of WordPress.

Do let me know what you think about the new changes in WordPress 3.2. Do you love it? Do you hate it? Go and make your opinion known in the comments.

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Author: Keith Dsouza Google Profile for Keith Dsouza
I am the editor-in-chief and owner of Techie Buzz. I love coding and have contributed to several open source projects in the past. You can know more about me and my projects by visiting my Personal Website. I am also a social networking enthusiast and can be found active on twitter, you can follow Keith on twitter @keithdsouza. You can click on my name to visit my Google+ profile.

Keith Dsouza has written and can be contacted at keith@techie-buzz.com.

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