image introducing WordPress 4.0 "Benny"

The new WordPress upgrade 4.0 has arrived, and believe it or not, it’s stirred up some controversy.

It’s a very geeky controversy, I’ll admit.

Some within the WordPress community think the “4.0” designation is wrong.

Usually, when a software update is minor, the developer just adds a new digit at the end of the number — 3.8 if it’s the eighth minor update to version 3, for example. If it’s a big update, it gets a whole new number.

Hence, 4.0.

Except some say it doesn’t deserve to be 4.0, because the upgrades aren’t major enough.

Frankly, I’m not that stuck on the numbering. As long as it’s an improvement or gives me more functionality, I’m happy.

As a reviewer on Infoworld stated:

“Contrary to conventional wisdom, dot-zero WordPress releases don’t imply major, revolutionary changes to the product. The developers of WordPress take a slow and steady route to adding functionality, rather than slating earth-shaking functional changes for left-of-the-decimal-point releases. It should be no surprise that WordPress 4.0 is more production-ready than the typical dot-zero release.”

So. . . what’s new in WordPress 4.0?

Nicknamed “Benny” after jazz great Benny Goodman, 4.0 has some nifty new features, and some behind-the-scenes improvements. If you haven’t upgraded yet, you should. (Here’s a step-by-step tutorial on how to do it safely.)

The 4.0 Welcome Screen Lays Out the Biggest Visible Changes

After you upgrade, you’ll be required to log in again. When you do, you’ll see the new “welcome” screen.

At the top is a brief video which hits the highlights of the new features. Go ahead and play it, it’s only two minutes long.

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Image Library

In keeping with its mission to make the WordPress experience more enjoyable for users in the back end or Dashboard, WordPress has changed the way the Media Library works.

The default view is an endless-scroll grid of images.

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Click on any one, and you’ll see the image, along with all its data, in an overlay.

image of overlay in media library

If you look to the right, you’ll see a few other changes in the way your image metadata is presented.

image of new image title, description and metadata

Here’s what it used to look like.

image of WordPress 3.0 media metadata

You can change the new default view to the old, familiar list view by clicking this icon at the top of your media library page.

image of view icons in media library

Embedded Files are Easier to Manage

Previously, you’d have to publish a post before you could see what an embedded file — a YouTube video, for example — looked like.

Now you can see them inside your editing screen.

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This automatic embedding feature won’t work with every URL on the web. Because of security concerns, WordPress has developed a list of “approved” websites that can take advantage of the embed feature, but with Benny the list is larger.

Easier Post Creation and Editing

The WordPress edit window is small. Once you wrote more than a couple hundred words, if you wanted to add a link or style your text you had to scroll up and down.

No longer. The edit window is larger, and the icons float at the top no matter where you are in your post.

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Easier Plugin Handling

Previously when you searched for a new plugin, you saw this grid view.

image of plugins search, WordPress 3.0

With Benny, though, you’ll enjoy a more graphical (and informative) interface.

image of new WordPress 4.0 plugins search

image of new WordPress 4.0 plugins search

But That’s Not All. . .

There’s more going on behind the scenes. All in all, though, WordPress 4.0, Benny, will let you focus more on your content and less on technical issues within the Dashboard. And those are good changes to have.

Have you upgraded to WordPress 4.0 yet? If you’d like some help with your upgrade, check out the Monthly Maintenance Plan.

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