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A Quick Tour Of WordPress 4.0

Today, WordPress has released the first release candidate1 (RC) for the upcoming 4.0 version. According to the official version numbering2, WordPress 4.0 is no more or less significant than 3.9 was or 4.1 will be. That being said, a new major release is always a cause for excitement! Let’s take a look at the new features the team at WordPress has been working on for us.

Further Reading on SmashingMag: Link

Installation Language Link

Since I’ve always used WordPress in English, it took me a while to realize how important internationalization is. 29% of all installations7 use a non-English language which is huge and not that far from more than a quarter of all installations. Version 4.0 makes it much easier to get WordPress to speak your language. In fact, the first installation screen asks you to choose your native tongue. Nice!


This is a big step up from either having to download in your own language, or grabbing language files manually and modifying the config.

Embed Previews For URLs Link

Embedding content into posts has also become a much nicer process. One of my irks with the visual editor used to be that it wasn’t visual enough. Not that long ago, you just got a grey box in place of a gallery or other media/embed items. The “Smith” release took care of galleries and 4.0 is taking care of a host of other items. If you paste a YouTube URL in text mode, it will render as a video in visual mode. How handy is that?


I find this a lot more pleasing to work with — I see exactly what I’m going to get. The media modal’s insert from the URL feature is getting the same upgrade. As soon as you’ve entered a URL, the video will load — playable and all! The good news is that it works with all the services you’d expect, from Vimeo to Twitter, Hulu and Flickr. Scott Taylor (who is a core contributor working on this) has kindly gathered some test URLs. I recommend checking out Trac ticket8 to find out more in this regard.

Media Section Grid Link

The media section now has a grid view by default. This isn’t a groundbreaking coding feat by any measure, but it does introduce a sleeker UI which is perhaps a glimpse of what is coming up in the future.


While this is a minor change, it does give you a way better overview of your media files than the default view of 20 images in a list.

Plugin Discovery And Installation Link

In my opinion, the plugin “Add New” page got a much needed makeover. The top navigation looks a lot like the new navigation in the media section — another indication of a slightly more modern interface creeping into the system. Plugins in the list view are displayed in a much more visual fashion, and it looks like it’s time for developers to start making thumbnails! While the plugin details screen could use a makeover as well, I’m sure this is a work in progress and will be explored further.


Better Post Editing Link

One feature I’m particularly happy with is how the editor height has been changed to use screen real estate better. Mark Jaquith painted a great picture9 of the problem:

“The post editor feels like it has been relegated to a box of medium importance on the edit/compose screen.”

UI Improvements For Widget Customization Link

It’s great that widgets have been included in the theme customizer. Usually, if you had more than five to six widgets, things became a bit too crowded. Fortunately, the new WP version has now put all widgets into a sub-section of the customization screen. This essentially minimizes them when not needed — a welcome UI improvement for sure!


Join The Fun Link

As always, the latest development versions can be tried out pretty easily. By installing the WordPress Beta Tester10 plugin you can update to the latest beta builds or nightlies and play around with the brand new features.

If you happen to find any bugs, you can add them to the WordPress Trac11 and you can even fix them and contribute to the core! WordPress is a community project, and every little bit helps!

Conclusion Link

While I agree that WordPress 4.0 isn’t the same leap as 3.0 was, I disagree with this being a problem. Instead of adding more and more features, the team is consolidating existing features and working hard to bring us a better user experience.

The features above will actually affect how I use the day-to-day features of WordPress in a positive way. While I may not be able to post from my Google Glass (partly because I don’t have one), the ability to use WordPress better is far more important.



Footnotes Link

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Hallo, my name is Daniel :) I build plugins, themes and apps - then proceed to write or talk about them. I contribute to various other online sites. When not coding or writing you'll find me playing board games or running with my dog. Drop me a line on Twitter or visit my personal website.

  1. 1

    Matt Litherland

    August 27, 2014 1:42 pm

    Haven’t touched WordPress for about a year, need to get back onto it! Thanks for the article!

    • 2

      Evert Albers (@evert_)

      August 27, 2014 2:06 pm

      The beta 2.0 version of is also about to appear. Easier use of custom content, Symfony-based, leaner front-end development…
      If you haven’t used WP a year, this might be a good moment to consider switching.

  2. 4

    “Let’s take a look at the new features the good guys at WordPress ”

    I believe that the lead developer of this release is a woman, Helen Hou-Sandi–a fact that should be reflected in your language here.

    • 5

      Hi Mkgold,

      I personally call a group of people guys, regardless of gender. We didn’t mean any harm by it and have corrected it in the article.


      • 6

        Thank you.

      • 7

        Please change the article back to “guy” and don’t be intimidated by people like that who run around with a big mouth and nothing behind it. I’m all for women’s rights and equality, but that also includes the equality of being called “sh!t for brains” for this kind of stupid stuff. I don’t know what’s worse you being strong-armed into changing your proper use of an English word, or you for wilting and sacrificing your integrity by bowing to being strong-armed without basis.

        From Webster’s Dictionary definition of “guy”; “person —used in plural to refer to the members of a group regardless of sex “

    • 8

      “You guys” or “those guys” is the same like saying “You people” or “those people”.

      Do you really want to start a gender-discussion because of that? Especially as there’s a team-effort behind such projects and not the work of one lead-developer – whatever the gender of that person might be.

      • 9

        “‘You guys’ or ‘those guys’ is the same like saying ‘You people’ or ‘those people’.

        Do you really want to start a gender-discussion because of that?”

        Actually, it is not the same, and yes, sure, let’s have a discussion about that. “Guys” is a gendered term. We understand it colloquially to mean “people” only because we live, generally, in a patriarchal culture where we have been taught to see male-gendered terms (like “man” for “all people”) as the default. This is particularly true in tech circles these days, where there has been much critique of brogrammer culture.

        I would ask you to do a little thought experiment: if you are male and someone referred to you and a group of your colleagues as “girls,” would that seem odd to you? If so, you might want to think about how it would feel to be a woman who is referred to casually as one of the guys.

        • 10

          I am kind of a Woman who feels pretty comfortable when referred to a group called ‘guys’. There is absolutely nothing about that. I call groups of men and woman ‘guys’, too. And I never got in trouble saying this like that… I also knew some (actual) guys who call their male friends ‘girls’. What’s the matter?
          So I think that a discussion about gender and gender titles just doesn’t belong to this article.

        • 11

          @mkgold – I agree 100% – It’s pretty sad that there’s so many down votes on your original comment but, the way that I see it, each down vote reinforces the validity of your point.

          I’m glad that you pointed it out and that Daniel made the correction.

        • 12

          Yes mkgold ! Thank you!

        • 13

          Quick, hide! Thought police is here. Good think the Pre-crime Unit does not exist or this article would have not appeared.

        • 14

          Can't Believe My Eyes

          September 23, 2014 11:59 am

          I honestly can’t believe what I’m reading, here. You are the definition of a feminazi.
          ‘Guy’ is not a “gendered” term, it refers to a person, just like ‘mate’ or ‘bud’.

          I hate to be the one to tell you this, but you projecting a sex onto the word in question is what is offending you, but you’re the only one that feels like that.
          If you just stopped projecting your feminazi nonsense into places it doesn’t belong or isn’t called for, you’d be a lot happier.

          You’re like the kind of person who sees the word ‘nigga’ then immediately calls the user racist, even though really it’s the feelings you attach to the word that make it so.

          Stop squabbling about such pathetic irrelevant nonsense.

    • 15

      This is a racist comment.

      • 16

        It’s racist not just because of that particular term, but also because this discussion was not concerned with race until you brought it up out of nowhere. What, to you, does race have to do with this discussion? If it is because the race of the programmer in question is remarkable only insofar as it deviates from the perceived norm of “white” (as “female” deviates from the perceived norm of “male”), then you are pretty much proving my point.

      • 17

        Not only is it racist, but it’s pretty clearly in violation of the comment moderation policy supposedly in effect on this site. It’s a shame that the post author has replied to several other comments without deleting this one.

    • 18

      Wow, sexism and racism in one fell swoop. Hey Smashing Mag, it’s pretty messed up that you seem totally cool with leaving up racist comments.

      • 19

        Thanks for taking care of it, Smashing Mag.

        • 20

          Hi Mel,

          We’re definitely fully against sexism or racism! The post happened to be published during dinnertime (we’re mostly in Europe) so it took a while for us to get up to speed :)

          Hopefully all is well now, we will of course step up against intended or unintended racism right now, and any time in the future!

          Thanks for everyone’s concern, do raise your voice if there is any issue!


  3. 22

    Joe Wojciechowski

    August 27, 2014 2:22 pm

    I’m hyped! Totally dig WordPress. Can’t wait!

  4. 23

    While some of the updates might seem to minor to some, I think user experience will be improved greatly here, and that’s really important to our clients. Thanks for the article! I look forward to diving into the new WordPress.

  5. 24

    Drupal 8.x

  6. 25

    Nicolas González

    August 27, 2014 2:32 pm

    Hello People!

    I want to know as it was with the upgrade of WP4?
    What precautions should I take?


    • 26

      Hi Nicolas,

      I’ve updated to the beta version on multiple sites without issue. When the final release comes next week it should be pretty stable. All final releases are tested thoroughly. I personally have never have update issues with WordPress before.

      That being said, the potential for a problem is always there. If you want to be completely safe I suggest backing up your database. If you’re feeling particularly paranoid you can back up your wp-content folder as well. I can also heartily recommend Vaultpress which takes all this headache away by backing up your site for you regularly :)

      Hope this helps,


      • 27

        Francis Boudreau

        August 29, 2014 1:19 am

        I use BackWPup for backups. You can setup auto backup, and send them directly to one of your Dropbpx folder. For me, it’s pretty useful!

  7. 28

    I’m happy that WordPress API was not changed.

    • 29

      Actually, a bit more oop would have been nice as an alternative to the procedural codebase. Maybe this will come in WordPress 5.

  8. 30

    …tiny improvements looks good, but I’m still waiting for a better media management. I don’t like using plugins as a general rule, but I’m tied to the NextGen gallery for one of my websites. I’d love a core solution to that…maybe by version 5?

    • 31

      Hi Yahzee,

      I have to say we’re on the same page. I myself don’t need advanced media management but that’s an area where WordPress has a lot of room for improvement for sure. Technically a lot is possible with the current core so it is a matter of bringing a better user experience which in my opinion is actually much harder than building a feature :)

      Fingers crossed for the near future :)


    • 32

      Yes! Having a giant screen of thumbnails is okay for some sites. But when there’s a lot of media, or the images are very similar it’s a poor user experience.

    • 33

      Plus one on that! I work on a lot of local newspaper sites and they have tons of images. Finding one to re-use becomes too laborious to be worth it in WP, so we just upload anew – which of course cause more clutter. Categorization of images would be a godsend. That’s not in 4 is it?

      I’d also like the plugins searcher to only show plugins that work with my WP version. Is that done in 4?

  9. 34

    I feel you like sort of glossed over the media grid section. There’s an important part that’s missing from your article, and that would be the new Attachment Details workflow that comes with it. Clicking a media item brings up an Attachment Details modal that lets you edit media in-place, and quickly switch between media items in sequence. This is huge win for people who want manage one or more media items quickly. The media grid is not just a new layout, it’s a completely new workflow.

    • 35

      A use-case, for instance, might be a photographer wanting to caption several photos in sequence. Now you can just open an item and edit the caption in the modal (or pretty much any other attachment meta), and when you’re done, it auto-saves your changes, and you can navigate to the left or right and edit the caption of a new image.

      What was previously a mess of page refreshes and click-throughs, and waiting for the page to load is now possible to do in a single page. That’s huge.

  10. 36

    As a designer I’ve been loving Craft CMS

    • 37

      Looks great, I love getting introduced to new CMS systems! I think every system can learn something from WordPress and WordPress can learn something from every other CMS :)

  11. 40

    I feel that WordPress has never really been intuitive. It may be popular, but I believe there are better alternatives. I personally love developing with Concrete5 and all of my clients love it’s ease of use.

  12. 41

    Tobi van Kenobi

    August 28, 2014 10:55 am

    WordPress is, like all other CMS, way too complicated. It should be redone from the ground up. Or CMS-functionallity should be integrated into CSS. Until then it’s gone be a pain in the back to deal with these Systems. Kind of like layouting with MacWrite.

  13. 42

    29% is “not that far from more than a quarter of all installations”? You might want to doublecheck your math there.

  14. 43

    29% is actually MORE than a quarter. :-)

  15. 44

    The new Post Editor height — I’m puzzled about how that is significant, since I’ve been grabbing that lower corner and increasing it to about that height for years. ??

  16. 46

    Still Missing:
    * Custom Taxonomy/Post type UI
    * Custom Meta post fields
    * Custom User fields
    * Completely disable comments/trackbacks (block post requests)
    * Widget and theme options export/import
    * User custom roles and permission manager
    * Max login attempts
    * Redirect user role to custom URL
    * Allow admin to Change the Fkin Username of everyone
    * Allow custom crop featured image thumb (or any size, overwrite image dont create a new one with random string of numbers)
    * Tweak max upload size from Admin
    * Select allowed upload file types from Admin
    * Custom maintenance/under construction/404 message (select page from admin)
    * Contact/Mail Form builder
    * Custom login logo (dem clients dont like that W)

    We should NOT need to install plugin or drown in code for these elemental features, Cmon ppl

    • 47

      Hi Fred,

      I disagree with most of these, although some would be a welcome addition, especially things like selecting allowed file types, since as far as I recall, this is actually in the multisite installs.

      The bigger WordPress gets the more bloated it is and many people already find it too bloated. You may need this set of 20 things but everyone else needs a different set of 20. If the core catered to everyone’s needs it would become much harder to maintain and would be much less secure. In addition, they would invariably not implement it in the exact way you/me/others need it, giving rise to another wave of needs.

      Almost all of these can be done by plugins, there is nothing wrong with relying on them to manage your needs. I think this gives you a LOT more power :)

      As a side not “Tweak max upload size from Admin” will probably never happen because this is sometimes reliant on server settings which WordPress can’t modify.


  17. 48

    Gideon Farrell

    August 29, 2014 1:11 am

    To be honest, I stopped using WP once I tried to develop a theme and plugin for it. It’s codebase is just so dreadful that it’s not worth delving into unless you’re significantly invested in it already.

    Started using OctoberCMS instead. Smaller community, but a fabulous code base. Admittedly it’s not a blogging platform (although if I wanted a blogging platform I think I’d go for Ghost), but as CMS’ go I think it’s my favourite.

    WP has a nice user interface, it’s just a shame that from a development perspective it’s like going through a lobotomy.

    • 49

      Sweet! I reckon I’ve learnt about more CMS alternatives in this thread than I have in the last 12 months. Although I am very wedded to WP, love looking at others. Software junkie. :)

    • 50

      While I personally love WordPress, there is a lot of truth in this. In my opinion WordPress’ codebase is just fine but there are more elegant alternatives especially if you look at a PHP frameworks like Laravel.

      There is of course a reason for this, WordPress is used by millions of people and you can’t just go around changing fundamentals. While it would be awesome to put the whole thing on a strict MVC architecture, the benefit of this would only be apparent to a few thousand people. The other millions who just use it would be confused why their website doesn’t work any more :)


      • 51

        Elegant code is not what matters; happy end users is.

        So make sure the user interface is superb, easy to understand and any topic that’s more advanced or needs explainations, is properly covered with some screencast, how-to or simple documentation.

        Personally, after trying out a gazillion of different CMSes, publishing platforms or whatever you’d like to call them, I dont give a rats ass anymore about shiny, superbly build MVC patterns, up-to-par use of the latest programming language features, etc. pp. As long as it aint a horrible reanimated train crash like xt:Commerce + Co., and the user interface is well-done, easily enhanceable etc., I don’t really care about such negligibilities.

        cu, w0lf.

  18. 52

    Francis Boudreau

    August 29, 2014 1:23 am

    I use WP in french. The new language selection at the installation looks really nice!

  19. 53

    Nice touch, including the screenshot with the Hungarian selected language ;)

  20. 54

    Thanks for the write up Daniel. I’m looking forward to the larger post screen and the better video embedding. Thanks!

  21. 55

    I agree, I’ve been trying very hard to post from Google Glass and I find the same issue as you do.

    I do not have one either :-)

  22. 56

    WordPress 4 in action:

  23. 57

    I really like WordPress and the community is huge which makes it even more enjoyable. I was hoping that in this WP update that there was going to be an easy way to import/export media…

  24. 58

    Daniel Sneijers

    October 7, 2014 3:25 pm

    I think the biggest miss is an integration of a solid JSON API. There are good plugins for this, but if it’s integrated in the core of WordPress it will be easier to develop and maintain future proof asynchronous plugins or features. Hope it’s coming in 4.1, fingers crossed.

  25. 59

    You should to keep in mind that this article is just about the main feature updates. There is many security updates and core function updates. But I know WordPress community expected some huge improvements because of its version name (3 to 4). For example I expected build in SEO and translation/localization interface. And I expected some new skill or interface for move/copy from an directory to another. I mean WP Admin is still a little bit broken off with database.
    Still some (most-need) skills and features are missing but it is more secure and more stable rather than the previous version.

    By the way Plugin Discovery looks lovely.

  26. 60

    AllAces Plumbing

    November 19, 2014 11:14 pm

    Been researching this for a while,
    With wordpress 4.0, I do not have the Share options available in the settings menu. I’ve googled this and haven’t found anything.


  27. 61

    Very good overview of WordPress 4. Thanks!


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