Blog software upgrades are becoming more frequent than real content on this blog, so I guess it's a good time for a small review on WP 2.5. Let me start by telling this will be a mix on ranting, praising and random bashing, so get tight on your seats and let's begin.
The interface overhaul. Old WordPress admin was really boring and suffered a lot from featuritis, something that all big software suffers but the normal tendency is to redesign the interface when things get out of control. That time has come, and the new interface of the admin is really pleasant to use and almost perfectly organized.
The design tab should not be primary. Blogs don't change design as frequent as one changes it's own underwear (unless you are an extreme geek stereotype that doesn't even know the meaning of the word "laundry", but that's a topic for another post). Even with the upgrade to 2.5, I guess I won't be touching that tab except for curiosity. The design tab should have been left at the top right, just next to settings and plugins.
You can now upgrade plugins without manually uploading files. Great move, automatic upgrade of plugins is one of the most important functionalities that were missing. For heavy loaded blogs with tons of plugins this is a bless, no more downloading of the zip just to manually re-upload the files to the host.
The plugin upgrade log screen is terrible, and the interface too I can not guess how they ended with this current screen, it's completely washed out and not really useful for the average Joe. I certainly expected a lot more from Happy Cog. Worst part is, it would only have taken 5 minutes to give it proper styles and at least look like a real log screen.
A Better Idea
While we are at it, here's another short suggestion: how about using ajax? click the upgrade link, a throbber replaces the link, and then a nice "success" status message replaces the whole row. badabing! that's what I would call a friendly one click upgrade process. I mean, is there a real need for Mr. Average Joe to read the log on what is happening in the background?
New widgets, and a usable new interface. The widgetized sidebar was one of the worst implemented features in previous wordpress versions, and (at least to me) it was kind of useless as I always ended manually editing de sidebar.php file. All that has ended with the new interface and I give it a great welcome.
The RSS widget still comes with broken code. All the work you do on the front end is not good if you still keep the garbage at the back end. Is there a reason for one to want to have an orange background on the RSS icon and make it be exactly 14×14?
<img style='background:orange;color:white;border:none;' width='14' height='14' src='$icon' alt='RSS' />
Hey Mr. WordPress, would you please let me customize my theme as I like?
The outcome: I ended manually editing widgets.php (with a similarly hackish approach ^_^) to add my tumblr garbage to the sidebar.
Final Words and Miscellanea
All in all, WordPress 2.5 has been a great step forward. Other things I liked are the new option to have full text in the RSS (I know I will have one more reader now, right? ;) ), the new compose screen is a lot cleaner, the permalink edit while creating the entry is a bless, and overall the admin interface just feels right. Let's hope however that next release comes with some more polishment as there are still lots of rough edges and they are not as complicated to solve. And let's not forget, there's still no fricking undo!