image of blues singer Billie Holiday

WordPress 4.3 has just walked on stage.

Named after the great jazz/blues singer Billie Holiday, WordPress 4.3 has some great new features, and one big gotcha!.

First, the bad news.

If your site uses old plugins, Billie might cause problems. Do not upgrade to WordPress 4.3 until you’ve checked this out.

Here’s the deal: If a plugin was coded using PHP 4, WordPress deprecates it and lets you know there’s a problem. This is sort of like Microsoft finally deciding to stop supporting Windows 95. At some point, code gets outdated enough that it’s just not worth propping up any longer.

So how do you know which plugins are still ok?

There’s an excellent article here, and a searchable list here.

Open a spreadsheet or a document, and list your plugins in one column. Then search for them, and note whether they are safe to continue using in a second column. If a plugin is on the list, find a better one to use instead.

And while you’re doing a plugin inventory — are there any you’re no longer using? If so, deactivate and then delete them.

Now, on to the exciting new features you’ll find in WordPress 4.3, Billie…

Customizer Now Includes Menus

The Customizer has added another big category: Menus. Now you can create and edit custom menus directly from the Customizer, while you watch the live preview on the right.

Formatting Shortcuts

If you’re a keyboarder and not a mouser, formatting just got easier with keyboard shortcuts for things like creating a numbered list, or typing a heading.

Favicons are Core

Favicons — those little images that sit on the browser tabs — are available in WordPress itself. Some themes have offered the ability to add a favicon for a while (WordPress is calling them Site Images), but now it’s available regardless of the theme you’re using.

(This site’s Favicon is the little orange WordPress “W” symbol.)

Better Password Security

WordPress security has improved quite a bit in the last couple of years, especially since they stopped assigning “admin” as the first username. Now, in an effort to tighten things up even more, WordPress:

  • Won’t send passwords in email
  • Will create password reset links instead
  • Will automatically generate a strong password when you create a new user

Comments

This is a small thing, but it can be irritating. Most of us choose to allow reader comments on posts, but not on pages. However, in the past we’ve had to manually turn off commenting on pages where we don’t want to allow it. This leads to silliness like finding spam comments on your Contact page.

Now, by default, comments are turned off on pages.


Have you upgraded to Billie yet? What do you think?

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