The following first appeared on my employer’s site, cmurrayconsulting.com.
Today’s release of WordPress 3.0 brings some exciting enhancements and new features that strengthen the software’s position in the realm of content management systems. For developers such as us, two sets of features in particular should prove invaluable in implementing WordPress-based solutions for our clients.
First, version 3 expands WordPress beyond the traditional blogging constructs of posts and pages by allowing users to specify custom post types. These custom types can function either like posts, organized linearly, or like pages, having a hierarchical structure. This feature builds on the custom taxonomies introduced in WordPress 2.9, which let users expand the organizational options for content beyond just categories and tags. Now, combining custom post types with custom taxonomies, users have complete control over how content is organized and displayed.
Custom post types don’t just let users segregate press releases from product pages, for example, but also simplify the addition of fields specific to each post type. A product post type could include pricing and availability, whereas a press release could hold media contact information. Following this example, separate taxonomies can be assigned to each, reaffirming a clear organization of content.
Second, WordPress 3 brings a number of new theme functions that provide greater control and customization for end users, the most significant being a new menu management system. When enabled for the active theme, menus can be controlled entirely from with the administration interface. New menu items can easily be added, or new pages set to automatically appear in a given menu. Administrators can also reorder menu items in seconds by simply dragging and dropping them into place, add links to any desired address, and effortlessly link to specific category archive pages.
The latest version also supports custom header images that can be specified on a per-post (or per-custom-post-type) and per-page basis, allowing content creators to highlight a particular aspect of any given entry. Imagine, for example, being able to prominently feature a product’s branding atop its product page, while including a pertinent image atop a press release. By simply adding support for header images to one’s theme, the full capabilities of this new feature (and the built-in media uploader) are unlocked and available from the comfort and familiarity of the post edit screen.
These are just a few of the new features included in WordPress 3 that will be of particular usefulness to anyone building sites on the increasingly-popular content management system. In addition to the enhancements discussed here, this latest update corrects 1,200+ bugs and merges WordPress with its multi-blog sister WordPress MU.
For a complete rundown of the changes, including more details on the integration of WordPress MU into WordPress core, visit http://codex.wordpress.org/Version_3.0. Or, if you’d prefer, you can grab a copy of the latest release at http://wordpress.org/download/.