WordPress 3.2 Beta 1 Out; Includes Distraction Free Writing, Faster Performance and More

The last major version of WordPress;   was released back in February and the team had already begun planning for  WordPress 3.2 back in March.

It looks like most of those plans are now finally beginning to take shape with the release of WordPress 3.2 Beta 1. WordPress 3.2 will contain several new changes including dropping support for older technologies like PHP4 and MySQL4 among other things. WordPress 3.2 requires PHP 5.2.4 and MySQL 5.0 to run.

In addition to that, WordPress 3.2 will also stop supporting Internet Explorer 6. Users browsing the site through IE6 will be shown a message to switch their browsers.

WordPress 3.2 also includes several performance improvements which make it faster than the earlier version. One more new addition that will be liked by users is the inclusion of Distraction-free Writing in the visual editor. Additionally, WordPress 3.2 includes a refresh to the Admin UI and a new default theme called Twenty Eleven. It will also include more links in the admin bar, however, you can always disable or hide the Admin bar in WordPress if you don’t like it.

Overall the changes look pretty decent and should make the next generation of WordPress better than its predecessor. I will be doing a full review of WordPress 3.2 shortly, so stay tuned for it.

Here are some of the major changes that are included in WordPress 3.2:

  • Performance improvements like you wouldn’t believe. What’s that mean? Things are faster!
  • Distraction-free Writing. The visual editor’s full-screen composing experience has gotten a major overhaul, and is now available from HTML mode, too. More than ever, WordPress allows you to focus on what matters most — your content.
  • Admin UI Refresh. The last major redesign of the WordPress admin was in 2008. This isn’t a major redesign, just a little facelift to keep us feeling young. WordPress turns 8 later this month, you know.
  • New Default Theme. Introducing Twenty Eleven, based on the popular Duster theme. Rotating header images, post format support, and more.
  • Browse Happy. WordPress is made to work with modern browsers. If you visit your Dashboard using an outdated web browser, we’ll let you know there’s a newer version available.
  • Admin Bar. We’ve added more links to the admin bar to make it even more useful.
  • WordPress has new minimum system requirements: PHP 5.2.4 and MySQL 5.0.
  • Internet Explorer 6 will no longer be supported.
  • The favorites menu has been removed. If you’ve written any plugins that use this menu, it’s time to switch over to an admin bar placement.

You can download WordPress 3.2 Beta 1 from here.

How To Setup And Use Memcached With WordPress

A few days ago, I spoke about the architecture that powers Techie Buzz. In that post, I had mentioned that memcached was one of our key ingredients.

Memcache is a powerful tool to share objects across servers and it is used by several big sites including , Yahoo and many more. The best part about using memcached on your server is that you can cut down on your database queries significantly and store commonly used objects in memory and share it across multiple servers.

If you use WordPress on a multi-server setup, you can easily cut down on DB queries by up-to 50% by implementing memcached. If you are interested in knowing how to implement memcached on your server, here is a tutorial. The assumption is that you are using Ubuntu, if not, the installation steps might change.

How To Install Memcached And Configure It

Step 1: Install memcached using the command given below

sudo apt-get install memcached

Step 2: After you have installed memcached you will have to configure it through a .conf file, to do that use the command given below

vi /etc/memcached.conf

Step 3: In the configuration file you will find few parameters, you can ignore the -d, -u and logfile parameters and leave it as default. However, change the -m, -p and -i parameters to suit your servers. The -m parameter specifies the memory that will be allocated to memcache. The -p parameter specifies the port that memcached will run on and the -l (ell) parameter specifies the IP address the memcached server will run on. You will need to change the -l (ell) parameter value from 127.0.0.1 to a local or global IP address of your server. This is necessary because your memcached server will be accessed by outside servers and using 127.0.0.1 will not work then.

Once you have done that run the following command.

service memcached restart or /etc/init.d/memcached restart

Using Memcached With WordPress

Once you have setup your memcached server, it is time to now setup WordPress to use memcached to store your objects. To do that, head over to http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/memcached/ and install the memcached plugin for WordPress. Unlike other plugins, you will have to drop this file into the wp-content directory and not the plugins directory.

You will have to install additional plugins for your server to make use of this plugin, namely PECL memcache extension which can be downloaded from http://pecl.php.net/package/memcache.

Now comes the part where you will actually tell WordPress to use memcached as an object storing mechanism. To do that, open the wp-config file and add the line below to it.

global $memcached_servers;
$memcached_servers = array(‘default’ => array(‘memcache-server-ip-or-name:11211′));

The array is used to define multiple memcached servers which can be used for your site. Please make sure to edit the name/ip of the server and the port before you save the file.

That’s it. Now just refresh your cache and WordPress should start storing the objects in memcache and will access your database very sparsely.  Do let me know if you have any problems or difficulties in setting this up through your comments.

Bonus Note: You can browse and manage your memcache server through a WordPress plugin called WP Memcached Manager which can be downloaded at http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/wp-memcached-manager/.

WordPress.com Servers Hacked; Data/Code Compromised

Earlier today, WordPress.com had a low-level (root) access break-in on several of their servers which hosted WordPress.com websites. According, to a note posted on the WordPress blog, some user data on those servers might have been revealed.

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In the post, the founder of WordPress; Matt Mullenweg said that the extent of data breach is not known yet, but they are actively investigating the logs to determine the extent of the breach.

We have been diligently reviewing logs and records about the break-in to determine the extent of the information exposed, and re-securing avenues used to gain access. We presume our source code was exposed and copied. While much of our code is Open Source, there are sensitive bits of our and our partners’ code. Beyond that, however, it appears information disclosed was limited.

Matt did not clearly mention whether user data was compromised, however, he did post suggestions on creating secure passwords (Read our guide on creating secure passwords, creating strong passwords to avoid getting hacked or unique tools to create secure passwords). As an advice, just make sure to changed your WordPress.com password though.

The WordPress developers have already patched the problem, however, the damage might already have been done. We’ll keep you updated with further information on this.

nRelate Is An Excellent Related Posts Widget For WordPress and Blogger

My journey with related posts widgets has been very diverse. I first started out with an excellent native WordPress related posts plugin called YARRP. However, I had to get rid of it because of the massive database overhead it had and had to go with LinkWithin, which I quickly ditched for Outbrain.

I have come to love Outbrain a lot, however, over the time that I have been using it, I have found a major problem with it. Relevancy. The Outbrain related posts are not as relevant to the article as I would want them to be.

outbrain_related

For example, take this post. The related posts widget continues to show you posts which are mostly unrelated to the article, thus resulting in lesser clickthroughs. After all, doesn’t related posts have to be related contextually to the content you are reading?

As usual, I had to find an alternative for Outbrain which really did the relevancy job well. I could always have used one of the related posts plugins available for WordPress, but for a high traffic blog, database overhead is really unwanted. You might ask “Don’t widgets add site overhead?”. Well it does, but I would trade a little bit of site overhead with database overhead any day.

So, did I find anything? Yes, indeed. I found an excellent related posts service called nRelate, which not only does the job well, but is astonishingly accurate at providing relevant content for the article people are reading. The screenshot below you the related posts nRelate served for the same post that Outbrain did.

nRelate_related_posts

I am thinking of switching to nRelate completely, but I still like Outbrain for the ratings widget it provides and will continue to use it. I am still making a transition to completely make the switch for all related content to nRelate, till then I will continue using Outbrain.

One thing I liked about both Outbrain and nRelate is the support team is awesome and always respond to my queries. It is definitely a great team to work with.

If you are interested in trying out nRelate, you can do so by visiting their website at http://nRelate.com/. Big thumbs up to them for the awesome job they did with their widgets. They also have some other things they are working on, including popular posts and more. I definitely look forward to them completing those and using them.

WordPress 3.1.1 Released, Update Now; Fixes Security Bugs and XSS Flaw

The WordPress team has released a new update to which contains several security fixes in the code. WordPress 3.1.1 fixes almost thirty issues in WordPress 3.1.

WordPress

The new security patches were discovered by WordPress core developers and hardens CSRF prevention in the media uploader. It also adds a patch to avoid a PHP crash in certain environments because of links in comments. The third big patch fixes an XSS flaw in the code.

There are also several other performance improvements and fixes for IIS6 support, fixes for taxonomy and PATHINFO permalinks and fixes for various other query and taxonomy issues caused by plugin compatibility.

I highly recommend that you update your WordPress installation to WordPress 3.1.1 to avoid being affected by these security loopholes.

Post Meta Values Automatically Deleted in WordPress?

I use a lot of custom meta fields in WordPress posts for several reasons. They allow me to manipulate multiple posts without having to write code for a specific conditions.

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However, of late, I came across a very annoying problem where custom meta fields were automatically deleted for some reason that was unknown to me. It was annoying me to no end because I had to manually go in and add those custom fields for the posts over and over again.

I didn’t have much time to figure out what is wrong and left in some debug code which would allow me to later on see how things were disappearing. Today, I checked those logs and found out the problem with the disappearing custom meta fields.

The problem was that, WordPress processes hooks for the edit_post, publish_post and save_post not just for editing the posts but also various other functions like while approving comments too, but the code in question always tried to find the $_POST variables and delete them if they didn’t exist. This was the mystery behind those disappearing post custom meta fields.

Solution For The Problem?

If you are not a developer, you are better off disabling those plugins and adding those fields manually using WordPress write interface. However, if you use a plugin you might lose additional functionality it provides. You could always send an email to the plugin developer asking them to make the appropriate changes.

If you are a developer, Mark Jaquith has a post which talks about avoiding such problems. You can read the post here and modify your plugin or theme to fix this issue.

WordPress 3.2 Plans Revealed; Faster, Lighter, Drops PHP4 and MySQL4 Support And Will Be Anti-IE6

has been out for almost a month now and is pretty much stable. Now, that the last major release of WordPress is out of the way, the developers have already started to focus on the next version; WordPress 3.2.

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According to a blog post by the lead developer at WordPress; Mark Jaquith, the plans for WordPress 3.2 include several new and exciting changes which will make WordPress more faster and lighter than ever before. WordPress 3.2 will also have a faster release cycle than WordPress 3.1 and include several other changes.

Dropping PHP4 and MySQL4 Support – Welcome PHP5 and MySQL5

For starters WordPress 3.2 will drop support for PHP4 and MySQL4 and will require users to use PHP 5.2 and MySQL5. However, the developers have been asked to refrain from using PHP5 specific code in this build.

IE6 Nagging

In addition to that WordPress 3.2 may also include a nag for IE6 users and ask them to “use a real browser”. This change is related to the BrowseHappy campaign.

Distraction Free Writing in Admin Panel

The Admin write panel may get a major overhaul with WordPress 3.2. The Full screen editor may get a overhaul similar to WriteRoom where users can focus on writing and avoid distractions. It will be interesting to see how this shapes up. One of the developers is actively working on this and may release a plugin for distraction free writing well before WordPress 3.2 comes out.

Improvements in Auto Upgrading

WordPress 3.2 may have better support for upgrading your installation. The developers will focus more on upgrading just the updated files rather than upgrading the entire installation and core files.

Speed Improvements

WordPress can slow down a website, specially with a large database. Also the admin menu loads a bit slowly at times. WordPress 3.2 will address the speed issues by introducing PHP lazy loading and disabling certain things which leads to the slowdown.

The new features in WordPress 3.2 have not been revealed yet, but from the WordPress 3.2 plans definitely look interesting. Speed and stability are a major part of any platform and outdating older versions of PHP4 and MySQL4 should help with adding more features in the future.

WordPress 3.2 is just a stepping stone towards adding more speed, stability and features to the best blogging platform in the world.

WordPress Introduces WordPress.com to WordPress.org Guided Transfer Service

Many of us start blogging as a hobby and then move into more professional mode. Starting out with blogging is very easy and you can create a free blog at sites like WordPress.com or blogger.com.

WordPress Guided Transfers

However, it becomes a bit of a hassle when you decide to get your own domain name, because you have to move all your posts and comments to your new domain.

There are several services out there which provide users with options to make this move easy and it looks like WordPress has now officially jumped into the game. Today, WordPress introduced a new service called "Guided Transfers" which will allow you to move your WordPress.com blog to your own personal domain running WordPress.org.

The service ensures error free transfers and will cost users $99 to move. The Guided Transfers service includes the following features:

  • Install the WordPress software at the recommended host of your choice.
  • Transfer over your entire WordPress.com site.
  • Install and configure Jetpack and a few other plugins to provide features that you have been using on WordPress.com.
  • Configure and test permissions so that you’ll be able to have one-click installs and upgrades.
  • Switch your domain(s) over.
  • Provide full support for you on your new WordPress installation for a two week period.

Earlier this week, WordPress had also launched a new service called JetPack which brought all the WordPress.com goodies to your self-hosted domain. In addition to that, WordPress also has a blog backup service called VaultPress which backs up your blog database and files.

WordPress Under a Large DDoS Attack

If you are experiencing issues with your WordPress service, you are not alone. WordPress says it is under, what they think is, the largest DDoS attach they have ever seen. The size of the attach is multiple gigabits per second and tens of millions of packets per second. The attach has affected all three datacenters WordPress uses in Chicago, San Antonio and Dallas.

The attack seems to have minimized a bit but there is no word yet about who is behind such a massive attack. Many people are suggesting that it is a politically motivated move. Here’s a complete statement that was posted on the WordPress VIP Blog, as reported by TechCrunch:

WordPress.com is currently being targeted by a extremely large Distributed Denial of Service attack which is affecting connectivity in some cases. The size of the attack is multiple Gigabits per second and tens of millions of packets per second.

We are working to mitigate the attack, but because of the extreme size, it is proving rather difficult. At this time, everything should be back to normal as the attack has subsided, but we are actively working with our upstream providers on measures to prevent such attacks from affecting connectivity going forward.

We will be making our VIP sites a priority in this endeavor, and as always, you can contact us via [email protected] for the latest update. We will also update this post with more information as it becomes available

The WordPress.com official Twitter account was last updated with this message:

Sporadic slowness is back — we’re battling a non-trivial DDoS attack and will update as soon as it’s mitigated.

 

Fix WordPress Permalink Problem After WordPress 3.1 Upgrade

If you have upgraded to recently and are seeing problems with permalinks redirects specially for category pages, you are not alone. There are several people who have reported similar issues and are seeing 500 errors on permalinks and redirects.

There is no straightforward way to fix this issue and it might take a bit of time to figure out what is going wrong. However, some of the core WordPress team members have come up with a plugin that fixes this particular permalink and redirect issues with WordPress 3.1 upgrades.

According to the plugin description, there seems to be a problem with the REQUEST_URI variable being set on certain WordPress 3.1 installations.

This plugin ensures the REQUEST_URI variable is set during the initialization of WordPress, allowing permalinks to work correctly.

So if you are facing the permalink and canonical redirects problem with WordPress 3.1 go ahead and install the Permalink Fix & Disable Canonical Redirects Pack.

(h/t @lorelleonwp)