WordPress 3.8 Release & New Features

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WordPress 3.8 has been released! Now that it has been a couple of days ┬ásince release of WordPress 3.8, I’m doing all of my upgrades. Here are some tips on upgrading and some of the highlighted new features in WordPress 3.8.

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Updating to WordPress 3.8

If you checked the admin side of your blog in the last few days you will see a notice at the top of your admin area letting you know that WordPress 3.8 is now available for download.

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Just click on Updates under Dashboard and you get started on the updating process.

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As always WordPress will remind you to make sure that you have backed up your site before updating. If you have a backup system in place, make sure that you run a full backup of your files and your database before updating. If you don’t have a backup system in place, I highly recommend getting BackWPup installed and running.

Once you have your backup system in place, click on the WordPress 3.8 link to view the latest information about the 3.8 update. When you are ready, Update Now will begin your update.

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The WordPress Codex will have all of the official info including a good amount of information for developers. If you are not a developer and just want a quick summery click on the Release Post.

When you are ready to update, click on Update Now in your admin area and you will see the following happen. During the update your site will temporarily be put into maintenance mode. That means anyone trying to access your site will see a notice saying your site is undergoing maintenance and will be back shortly. The update process only takes about a minute on most web servers.

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If WordPress updates successfully, then after the line of “WordPress updated successfully” the page will automatically redirect you to “Welcome to WordPress 3.8”.

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Update Errors

If there was an error during updating you will probably have to update manually. Frequently update errors are caused due to theme problems, incorrect file permissions, your website host, or some change you (or your web developer) have manually made to the WordPress installation. Sometimes just trying again resolves the issue.

New Features in WordPress 3.8

Now that we’ve covered updating, let’s get to the fun stuff, new features!

Dashboard Redesign

The admin dashboard has been redesigned from the traditional grey gradients to a modern & flatter design style. The new look embraces bold colors in 8 different color palettes to choose from (I’ve gone with Ocean). There are also fewer dividing lines and clutter. The overall layout however is what you are used to, just with an updated look.

Typography Change to Open Sans

WordPress has changed the admin dashboard from a generic Sans Serif font to Open Sans. WordPress has changed to this font because it is generally well liked and it’s Open Source, like WordPress.

This will probably be fine for you. If you notice that Open Sans does not display like the screen shots then the problem is most likely that you have your own copy of Open Sans on your computer. Open source fonts can have various incarnations, which means if you have the wrong incarnation on your computer you will need to remove it in order for Open Sans to display as advertised.

Responsive Admin

The admin area has been redesigned to be easy to use and read on all devices from large screen desktops to smart phones.

Improved themes and widgets

Viewing your available themes and changing your widgets is now easier. Much of the previous dragging and scrolling has been eliminated from widget management (something I’m very happy about). You no longer need to grab a widget and drag it to the correct widget area. Now just click the name of the widget and it will ask you where you would like it to be added.

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New Theme: Twenty Fourteen

Every year WordPress releases a new theme and this year is no different. Twenty Fourteen is a magazine style blog which puts photos at the forefront. If this suits your blog style, then great! Otherwise, you can just ignore it.

Proofreading Improvements

While not publicized much, WordPress has added a number of proofreading options to the User Profiles. These settings are customized to each user, allowing for a variety of writing styles.

While proofreading is not a new feature for WordPress, having it integrated with each user is. In addition to automatic proofreading, you can have WordPress proofread your post or page at any time by clicking on the ABC button in the Visual text editor or Proofread button in the Text text editor.

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Conclusion

I always give a new major version of WordPress a couple of days for other people to find problems. So far I haven’t seen any major reports of issues with WordPress 3.8. However, if you are running a Premium theme you should check with your theme developer about any specific issues you may have.

With any major update some plugins may experience issues. If you have major site functionality plugins such as eCommerce, please check with your plugin provider before updating.

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