Christmas has come early for WordPress users with release of WordPress 4.4, "Clifford", honouring jazz trumpeter Clifford Brown. On first glance there isn't much in the way of knifty content management tools, but this release is perhaps the most exciting release in a long time as its all about the future of WordPress. Lets see what's new in the latest offering from the world's premiere Content Management System (CMS).
This release is more about the "under the hood" developments, and nothing is more noteworthy than the integration of a REST API infrastructure into the WordPress core. Essentially an API (Application Programming Interface) facilitates communication between different web application, databases and devices so that information can be sent and received easily. REST (REpresentational State Transfer) is a very popular method of communicating that information, especially by the likes of big data companies such as Google and Facebook. While it might seem like this is just one for the tech savy users, this inclusion has the potential to change WordPress for everybody. One of the greatest strengths of WordPress is its wealth of plugins that easily allow features to be added to sites without needed to dig too far in to the backend. What this updates does is it makes the job of developing RESTful API's on top of WordPress easier, and thus opens up the possibility a whole new set of plugins with rich new features.
This is exciting because it's really a forward looking feature. Still there are those that dismiss WordPress (and 20% of the internet it powers) as just a toy, not fit for enterprise use. However, by including features like REST API integration it once again demonstrates that WordPress is a tool with cabilities for sites big and small.
This release is actually coming out in two parts, with the first part included in 4.4, so this is one forthcoming update that will be eagerly awaited.
A big part of a Content Management System is content sharing, and I feel like this is an area that WordPress has consistently gotten right. "Clifford" is no exception, with embedded posts. Now, to add external posts in to your website, you simple click on the share button, copying the URL, and paste it to your page. I tried this on one of our test sites and it was seamless. There was no configuration or tweeking, it (dare I say it) just works!!
This year was another huge year for mobile, and 2016 is set to be the same with more user browsing the web using smart phone and tablets, so having a responsive site and content is essential to future-proofing any site. Now all images in WordPress will be responsive by default, including any exisiting images, and without the need to make any theme changes, which can often get messy and complicated for those who typically avoid the coding site of WordPress.
Twenty Sixteen theme
Another year, another standard WordPress theme. Nothing too exciting here, the Twenty Sixteen theme is free with WordPress, and has a classic 'blog' layout (it is WordPress after all!!). Essentially, its a broken up in two colums, with content in the taking up the left 2/3rds and a right side bar for things like navigating posts. All the normal customization is included, and a big bonus is that it's responsive, so it makes your site friendly for mobile and tablet users right out of the box with no extra work.
So as we all look to the new year, and new horizons, this release shows once again that whatever is ahead is the digital sphere, WordPress will continue to be the worlds premiere CMS long in to the future.
Prior to publishing this article I was able to successfully update several WordPress sites all running 4.3+ with no issues, including using the WordPress management tools integrated into Plesk 12. For customers on our Managed WordPress service, this latest update will be rolled out to you in the coming days.