What’s New in WordPress 3.7

This article is outdated, check out what’s new in WordPress 4.6 here.

I like the frequency of WordPress updates. They’re generally released every few months so you receive some great new features and bug fixes. But they’re not so frequent that you’re updating all your sites every other day.

WordPress 3.7 was released on October 24, 2013. You can download the files from wordpress.org/download/ or you can follow the Updates links from within the WordPress control panels. The WordPress team state “you might not notice a thing, and we’re okay with that”. Perhaps the only thing you will notice is WordPress requires less maintenance than ever…

Automated Background Updates

I’ve never encountered any issues with the one-click upgrade — it just works. WordPress 3.7 decrements it to a zero-click upgrade process! From now on, maintenance and security updates are applied in the background. You should only see an “Upgrade Now” button when version 3.8 is released.

This feature may not appeal to the more cautious administrators among you, but the WordPress team tested 110,000 sites without a single failure. On average, updates take less than 25 seconds and will only place WordPress in maintenance mode for a few seconds.

Fortunately, it’s possible to configure and disable background upgrades. Look out for a tutorial on SitePoint soon.

Updated Password Strength Meter

The new password strength meter now recognizes common weak password patterns such as names, dates, keyboard sequences, number sequences and even pop-culture references. It’s slightly scary — some of my passwords which were previously highlighted as “strong” have been re-classified as “very weak”!

Improved Search

WordPress’ search facilities had been adequate but rarely resulted in Google/Bing-like accuracy. You can make your own improvements but it puts an onus on the user to apply relevant filters.

WordPress 3.7 improves search with relevancy ordering — rather than just by date which tended to prioritize blog posts above pages. For example, a search term which matches a title should appear toward the top of the list. It’s a little difficult to evaluate the improvements unless you have 3.6 and 3.7 installations with identical content, but the few basic tests I tried seemed better.

Improved Global Support

The WordPress team has improved localization and promise to provide faster and more complete translations. Language files will also be kept up-to-date using the automatic background upgrades. It’s a sensible move: WordPress powers around a fifth of all websites and a large number of those won’t be using English.

Date Queries

Developers can now query posts within a certain date range or match certain criteria, such as those articles posted on a Friday during January this year. For more information, refer to the WordPress codex.

Multi-site wp_get_sites() Function

The new wp_get_sites() function allows you to fetch an array of all sites on your WordPress multi-site network without needing to use direct database queries. It won’t be useful to everyone and there’s no documentation yet, but it’s there should you need it.

Personally, I’m beginning to wonder whether all WordPress installations should be multi-site by default? The team possibly needs to make the interface a little easier and address domain mapping, but I’d certainly appreciate it!

Miscellaneous Updates

If that’s not enough…

  • accessibility improvements have been made
  • codex and in-system documentation has been updated
  • more than 437 bugs have been closed by the 211 developers

WordPress 3.7 is a great update. There haven’t been fundamental changes to the core, so I suspect most plugins and themes will be compatible. Unless you know otherwise?

All going well, WordPress 3.8 will be released at the end of 2013. We may see a new dashboard, themes page and search facilities.

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