What’s New in WordPress 3.1?

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This article is outdated, check out what’s new in WordPress 4.6 here.

WordPress is the most successful Content Management System on the web. It may not be the most elegant or well-written, but there’s one overriding reason why it’s used by more than 13% of the top 1 million websites: it’s easy. WordPress is simple for end users and — importantly — it’s easy for developers. That’s led to an explosion of themes, plugins and articles like this.

WordPress 3.1 was released a few days ago so let’s take a look at the new features and improvements…

New Admin Bar

WordPress Admin BarThe most obvious addition is the new Admin bar. From the “Profile” screen, you can set the bar to appear within the admin screens or at the top of the website (assuming your theme runs the wp_footer() function).

Personally, I don’t find the Admin bar particularly useful but it’s only a matter of time before third-party plugins extend its functionality.

Post Formats

Standard WordPress “pages” (static content rather than posts) can use different templates to differentiate sections of a website. Until now, one of the only ways to style posts differently was to check the parent category.

WordPress Post FormatsWordPress 3.1 introduces Post Formats: meta information that can be used within a theme to customize the presentation of a post. For example, the latest Twenty Ten theme defines Standard, Aside and Gallery which can be chosen on the post editing panel.

Post Formats could be one of those understated features which provides a range of possibilities.

Internal Page Linking

It’s now easier to link to other WordPress-powered pages within your site:

WordPress internal links

I’m surprised this facility didn’t appear earlier. It’s a welcome addition although I hope the WordPress developers add options for relative linking or omitting the domain name.

Miscellaneous Improvements

180 people made more than 2,000 code commits to the WordPress 3.1. Other improvements include:

  • A streamlined interface. Many lesser-used options are hidden by default — WordPress 3.1 feels faster and slicker.
  • A refreshed blue color scheme for the administration panels (the gray scheme still looks better, though).
  • A new network admin screen removes super administration menus from regular panels in multi-site networks.
  • Improved data import and export.
  • More than 820 bug fixes.

Most people will be able to upgrade WordPress with a couple of clicks but, to be on the safe side, remember to back up your database and files.

Have you migrated to WordPress 3.1? Have you dropped it for an alternative CMS?

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  • Vivek Parmar

    WordPress 3.1 is too good and its features are too good and especially interlinking is too good and loving this feature

    • John McClelland

      Hey Vivek, check out nofollow

      • BrianInColorado

        Good one, John. I dislike being spammed. :)

  • Shafina

    Still waiting for my WP website hosting transfer happen. Til then, no WP 3.1 for me. But the admin toolbar is kinda cool.

    • bmorgan

      Hey Shafina,
      I am a rookie building WP sites but I do dig the new admin bar too.

  • Leslie

    FINALLY on the Internal Page Linking feature. I can’t believe it took them this long to add something that should have been included in version 1.0. My poor clients who can’t figure out how to copy and paste a URL from one window to another (but can still use WordPress built sites! -g-) will be relieved.

  • Arthur Charles Van Wyk

    I cannot see “Custom Fields” in the new post window. How then would I set thumbnails and “Article images” in my posts henceforth?

    • Click the “Screen Options” tab at the top and re-enable the box.

  • Matt Cassarino

    New admin bar is annoying and should be disabled by default. Great to see page linking but it should be a dropdown menu of pages so the links can be to the page ID. Absolute page link is no better than before. WordPress still rocks and one of the main reasons is that it gets updated so frequently.

    • BrenFM

      I disagree on the admin bar (going completely against the grain it seems). It makes it soooo much quicker to edit pages. I usually have one tab open for live view, one for edit. I find I’m less inclined to do so now I have an easy way to get to the edit screen from my pages/posts.

      And yeah, I am aware of the edit_post_link tag, but that can be almost ANYWHERE on a page depending on how the theme has been built.

  • chp

    I think that the idea of post formats is really cool and will push theme design to a new stage.

    It would be very cool, if you’d do a tutorial on how to implement the feature into a theme!

    • I’m intending to write on on that very subject. Keep watching SP!

  • Jimmy Smith

    I run Gazette theme and don’t see these updates. I’m running 3.1

    • Some, such as the Admin bar, need to be enabled in the profile screen. Post Formats probably aren’t supported by your theme though. Internal links is just a matter of clicking the link icon.

  • Julia

    I upgraded my sites to 3.1 and though most did well, I had to go into emergency mode for one of them to fix some issues that arose with category links. All settled and happily running 3.1 across the board now :)

  • Andy Merrett

    “Insert link to existing content” only appears to work in Visual Mode, not HTML mode?

    • You’re right. That seems like an oversight although, if you’re using HTML mode, you probably want more control over the URL.

  • Grant Palin

    WP 3.1 seems a worthwhile update if just for the post formats and internal linking. The latter is something I’ve wanted a long time, yet seems to be limited. Alex King has a plugin to improve the experience – I plan to make use of it!

  • Abi

    The standard of wordpress is increasing day by day…………

  • Roi Agneta

    I have looked at WordPress a number of times and each time I come away thinking it would be good for brochure sites and, especially blogs, but it just does not seem well-suited to fully custom, CMS-based sites. I know, a legion of WordPress aficionados will cry foul and tell me you can make WordPress do anything, but it seems to me that hacking a system to do something is just not natural. I prefer to hand code my sites and use a CMS that is more designer friendly. ExpressionEngine is my normal choice, but for some clients it is overkill and too expensive. I recently discovered Concrete5 and, after using it to build two sites, have decided that this the way forward for me.

    • Stella

      thanks Roi concrete5 looks very interesting. I started using WordPress because a client was already using it, but it’s nice to find alternatives that are not so blog-centric – and of course, free.

    • WordPress has its roots in blogging, but it’s a far more adaptable CMS now. In essence, use ‘pages’ for normal website pages such as ‘home’, ‘products’, ‘about us’, ‘contact us’, etc.

      WP ‘posts’ can be used for articles or news items if that’s appropriate for your site. It’s easy to disable features you don’t need, such as commenting, blog rolls etc.

    • Art-multimedia

      You clearly do not know much about wordpress if you think it is meant for brochure sites. It is designer friendly and you do not need to hack it to make it do something special.
      Have a look at this article, which is a comparison between Joomla and WordPress; http://www.miracletutorials.com/wordpress-vs-joomla-review/
      You might learn something ;-)

  • Art-multimedia

    I think WordPress should go a bit easy on the updates. After all, it is a hassle to backup, update and check everything time and time again. It’s no fun for plugin developer either having to adapt their plugins every time a fundamental change happens.
    thanks for the heads up. I’ll wait a bit with the upgrade. Don’t see the need yet.

    • I’m with you. WP 3.1.1 will almost certainly be released within a couple of weeks and, while updating is easy, it’s a bit of a pain if you have dozens of sites running on their own installations.

      The MU version can help … assuming you can successfully port existing sites and plug-ins across.

  • Ania

    I cannot embed powerpoints from authorstream and that’s a real bugger.

  • ducnt

    thanks information :)

  • Dee

    Hi, I’m using WP 3.1 and I do not have the “screen options” button” anywhere on the site. It should be in the upper right, but it is not. Any ideas why?

    • Anonymous

      First — try another browser. If that doesn’t solve the issue, it could be a WP plug-in or theme affecting it in some way.

    • Dan

      You have to deactivate the Jetpack plugin and screen options will reappear.