I’m setting up a new weblog (to be announced shortly) and have been experimenting with the recently-released WordPress 1.5 for the first time. It’s an incremental update from 1.2, but there are some nice new features. Here are some of my first impressions:
- The Dashboard: This is the new front page of the weblog Administration interface. A sidebar shows a few statistics about your weblog with links to latest posts and comments, and the rest of the page is essentially an RSS aggregator that displays WordPress-related items. I found this clever, but since I already have an RSS reader most of the screen’s contents are redundant. I’d rather see more statistics and a larger display of recent comments and posts, but I’m sure others find it useful, and it will expose things like security updates to a much larger audience.
- Administration: Aside from the obvious Dashboard, the administration interface has been rearranged a bit, but it’s essentially the same as the 1.2 interface and easy to get used to.
- Themes: I have to admit, one of the reasons I’ve put off upgrading to WP 1.5 was that I use custom templates on my sites, and it would take some effort to convert them to 1.5′s new theme support. These concerns were mostly unfounded—it turns out creating a theme is a simple matter of creating a directory, copying the files for an existing theme into them, and editing the PHP and CSS files. Adapting a WP 1.2 template is also a simple process. Switching themes takes a single click from within the Administration interface, so this will be a great way to experiment with updated looks without messing up the site.
- Default Themes: WordPress 1.5 includes two themes: WordPress Default is the new theme based on Kubrick and WordPress Classic is the theme that came with WP 1.2. Both are decent looking, but considering how many people use WordPress without ever changing the theme, I’d like to see a bunch more included by default. At the very least, the Themes administration page should include a link to wherever one goes to find new themes.
- Pages: Pages are similar to posts, but aren’t time-dependent. With the URL rewriting feature, you can create pages like www.example.com/about/ without editing a single file. Pages look just like a post (including a comment form) by default, but you can create a custom template to fix that.
- Nofollow: The rel=nofollow attribute is enabled by default for all links in comments, so spam comments won’t receive any pagerank. I think this is a very good thing as a default, but I’m disappointed that there’s no way to turn it off—I micromanage my comments and have no use for the feature, and I’d like my commenters to benefit from their legitimate links. Fortunately there’s a plugin that turns off this feature, but this should really be a built-in option.
- Comment Spam: WordPress 1.5 defaults to moderating all comments except those from previously approved posters. I’ve turned that feature off, but it’s wonderful to have it as the default—this will lead to less freely-spammable abandoned weblogs in the long run.
- Logged-in Users: If you’re logged in to the weblog (as the administrator usually is) you don’t have to enter your name and email address when posting a comment. Yay! This is a reason to actually enable the registration feature that I’ve previously ignored.
I’ll write more about WP 1.5 as I discover more about it, but in general I’m impressed—I look forward to many more great things from the WordPress team. I will hopefully be upgrading this weblog to WP 1.5 this week, and I’ll let you know how that goes.