Upgrade WordPress to 2.8! A Quick Summary Review (8.5 of 10)

[Crossposted from FluentSearch.com]

The new dashboard controls are great. You can create your own hierarchy and use 1 – 4 colums for your own workflow building. MAJOR WIN!
the new wordpress 2.8 dashboard page
the new wordpress 2.8 dashboard page

and the plug-in management page has some nice new options:

wordpress 2.8 plugin management page
wordpress 2.8 plugin management page

I’m not a big fan of the varying row coloring. When sorted by ACTIVE or INACTIVE or UPGRADES AVAILABLE the rows are all the same color. But without explanation it looks like the alternating row highlighting might be messed up. But it’s not… WP is merely identifying the status of the plugins via color. Nice touch, perhaps a little add to the row itself that would define the color (an icon maybe) as a status indicator. MINOR TWEAK STILL NEEDED.

And last, for this quickie, I am going to look at the Widget management system. This area has undergone some major interface overhauls, some GOOD some BAD some downright UGLY.

First the overall Widget management screen.

wordpress 2.8 widget management screen
wordpress 2.8 widget management screen

Dragging additonal widgets from the left (white portion) of the screen to the right section (in this case, sidebar 1) does just what you think it would. Adds a widget to the sidebar.

But here is the first disconnect with the new design. There is a major functional element that is completely missing from this screen. Hint, I have already added a new text box widget to the sidebar at this point. I have added my content and closed the collapsable widget window. (Oh and can we decide if they are WIDGETS, APPLICATIONS or PLUGINS and just go with that, cause we call them all three and I’m confused sometimes.)

So in previous versions of WP (this is WordPress 2.7.1 what would be prominently displayed as a NEXT STEP on the Widgets page looks like this:

wordpress 2.7.1 widget management
wordpress 2.7.1 widget management

I like a few of the design/user interface changes in WordPress 2.8. But the REMOVAL of the SAVE CHANGES button is a HUGE MISS. (I will log this problem on the WordPress.org site shortly. If you agree please weigh in on the opensource site.)

I guess for us WordPress workers, the warning notice at the top of the 2.7.1 page was a bit redundant. But WordPress funtionality should be for the nOOb as well as the experienced user. And in this case, as an experienced user, I DID NOT SAVE MY CHANGES and I LOST THEM. And here’s the problem.

wordpress 2.8 widget save issue
wordpress 2.8 widget save issue

In the example above you can see two widget editing windows open. In the top one I have added some code to the CloudClip.net site that displays the BETA logo. In the second widget window, you will notice that I have the LINKS widget open. And here is where the disconnect begins.

The modal window functionality (meaning the things that you can do within the window only while it is showing) are REMOVE, CLOSE and SAVE. Okay. I can even live with the fourth “automatically add paragraphs” checkbox in the Text widget window, though I think there’s a better place for it.

So stay with me on this.

If I have just added the Text Widget and I hit SAVE at the end of my edit, no problem. I can close the window or move on to a different screen and my changes have been saved. (Both SAVED within the modal window and SAVED in the OVERALL WIDGET MANAGMENT SENSE, like the SAVE button in the 2.7.1 example above.

However… If you merely move a widget around within the Sidebar 1 window, WHERE or HOW do you SAVE your changes?

wordpress 2.8 sidebar widget managment
wordpress 2.8 sidebar widget managment

The answer is, you don’t. And if you move a widget position within this window and go off about your business elsewhere you will find that your rearrangement was NOT SAVED. Just like the warning on the 2.7.1 screen. “Save your changes…” But there’s no button to do it with.

The work around I have come up with is this. After you have made some positioning edits and BEFORE you move on to any other screen, open any of the widget edit windows and use the SAVE button there.

The easiest fix would be to add the warning and the SAVE button back to the bottom of this sidebar management window.

Oh, this problem arises when you ADD A WIDGET to the sidebar as well. Where normally you could drag the widget onto the sidebar and SAVE, now in 2.8 you drag the widget into position. And if you don’t open an edit widget window and SAVE again, you will lose the changes. I spent 15 minutes reorganizing and adding to a sidebar only to find that the changes were not magically auto-saved.

So there are a couple things I like about the new 2.8 widget management system. But there are a few User Interface issues that I think should be addressed immediately. Because as I am teaching people that WordPress is the WAY, they are going to get really lost with this SAVE CHANGES issue. Heck, I bet I loose another 20 edits before I start making my work around part of my normal workflow.

MAJOR USER INTERFACE FAIL. Please fix immediately.

UPDATE 11PM 6-11-09 Due to some reader feedback and a few more hours working with WordPress 2.8 I have an update:

On the Widget Mangement page you can use the “Screen Options” tab to “Enable accessibility mode.”

Picture 2

While this does not fix the missing SAVE button problem, it does add back the ADD and EDIT links on the specific tabs of the modules you want to edit.

Picture 3

And it does one more nice thing. When you open a module to edit, instead of popping open a window, the “accessibility mode” opens the editing process in a single window. And what this does is force you to SAVE before moving on. And as it should, SAVING closes the window and brings you back to the widget dashboard. [That’s a big reason to enable accessibility, do it now, I’ll wait.]

accessibility enabled widget editing
accessibility enabled widget editing

Downgraded to Medium Interface Fail once Accessibility Features Have been enabled. Please Fix. And while waiting make the Accessibility setting the default.

Uploading Media. And one more nice addition. Now when uploading media, WordPress 2.8 remembers which uploading process you like to use. I HATE the FLASH Uploader in WP, Facebook and NING. And now I don’t have to click “simple upload browser” to get to the HTML driven tool. Here is the screen that comes up consistently now that I have auto-set that preference by switching once to the Browser Uploader.

Picture 4

For the WordPress’s ability to set my uploader preference without requiring a “KILL FLASH UPLOADER” plugin. Nice touch. MAJOR WIN.


That’s it. Some HUGE wins. And I am only one day into the usage. A few tweaks and one fail. Not bad. I wish I had been able to participate in the beta over the last few days and gotten this request in BEFORE yesterday’s release, but I was swamped in meetings all day.

Congratulations WordPress World and WordPress workers! It is a beautiful upgrade. [Now I’m off to upgrade my other 30+ WordPress sites. ;^P ]

permalink: http://bit.ly/review-wordpress-28

NOTE: Since writing this piece I have used WordPress 2.8 in the new Safari (v4) on the Mac. WOW. It works BETTER than Firefox, as in noticeably faster. Check it!

This Post Has 4 Comments

  1. I'll add that both the admin and the public pages seem to load faster after I upgraded to 2.8

  2. yes, overall I think the performance is better. have you run it in safari or chrome yet? I'd like to hear about that, but I'm too lazy to test them… I HEART firefox.

  3. I'll add that both the admin and the public pages seem to load faster after I upgraded to 2.8

  4. yes, overall I think the performance is better. have you run it in safari or chrome yet? I'd like to hear about that, but I'm too lazy to test them… I HEART firefox.

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