What’s New in WordPress 3.3

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This article is outdated, check out what’s new in WordPress 4.6 here.

WordPress 3.3 has been released. The world’s most popular CMS and blogging tool has been tidied and polished further to make web publishing even easier. It’s been downloaded 65 million times since v3.0 was released and is estimated to run 15% of all websites (or 22% of all new websites).

Existing users can upgrade with single click. I’ve rarely experienced problems doing that but it still makes me nervous. Back-up your files and database before proceeding.

Let’s see what goodies WordPress 3.3 has to offer…

Revamped Interface

HTML5 responsive design techniques have been implemented to help WordPress work on small-screen devices such as tablets. As you reduce the screen size, features such as the side menu automatically collapse.

If you suffer from aching fingers, v3.3’s new flyout sub-menus make it possible to access any administrative screen with a single click.

WordPress 3.3 flyout menu

The (previously optional) admin bar and the header have been combined into a single toolbar. It saves space, is less obtrusive and provides quick access to help, comments quick add links and your profile. That said, I suspect it may cause compatibility issues with some plug-ins — it’s definitely a feature you should test before going live.

Finally, WordPress helps you discover new features with pointers which appear the first time you see them:

WordPress 3.3 feature pointers

Drag and Drop Media Upload

Assuming you’ve got a decent HTML5 browser, you’ll never need to use the clunky “browse files” dialog again. One or more images or other media can be dragged into the media upload box.

In addition, there’s now a single upload panel for all media — no matter what file types you want to add. WordPress also supports RAR and 7z archive formats.

New Tumblr Importer

WordPress can now import content directly from Tumblr. Tumblog posts can be converted to a matching WordPress post format.

Better Co-operation

If you’ve ever received the “Warning: Bob is currently editing this post” message, you’ll be pleased to hear that co-editing activity lags should be a thing of the past.

There’s More…

Version 3.3 also offers:

  • a new dashboard welcome screen for fresh installations
  • a new post-update changelog screen
  • more flexible and faster permalinks
  • an overhaul of the editor API
  • a new WP_Screen API for working with admin panels
  • a new is_main_query() for determining whether you’re in the main loop

Time to Upgrade?

Few people will experience problems but they inevitably crop up with new software releases. If the whole of your business depends on WordPress, it might be advisable to let others find the issues and wait for version 3.3.1. If past experience is anything to go by, that’ll be available within a few weeks.

Have you upgraded to WordPress 3.3? Is it the best version ever or has your installation exploded?

Download WordPress 3.3 from wordpress.org/download

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  • I updated last night, and so far like the changes. The one problem I did experience is that the new media uploader isn’t working properly with Chrome. (Or at least my specific Chrome setup — maybe it’s an add-on issue?) I have to switch to Firefox for now, which I pretty much hate.

    • Hey Emily – thanks for the feedback. I’ve just tested Chrome and it worked OK for me. HTML5 file drag and drop should work fine in Chrome and Firefox (I wrote a tutorial a few months ago: http://www.sitepoint.com/html5-file-drag-and-drop/).

      It’s potentially a Chrome add-on incompatibility, but that seems unlikely. Try a reboot. I’ve recently noticed Chrome acting strangely for no apparent reason then working again after a restart.

      • Thanks for the suggestions. Just tried from work (on a Mac) with Chrome and noticed the same issue. Not being technically savvy when it comes to this stuff, I usually just wait for things to sort themselves out. :)

  • Sarah

    Overall I’m pretty impressed with the new look and feel – my first update failed, but second attempt went smoother

  • What about potential plugin incompatibility due to upgrading? I’m always leery of upgrading too soon for that reason and the ones you mentioned. I think I’ll take your suggestion and wait a few weeks. Thanks.

    • I suspect plugins that modify the interface will pose the most problems. The WordPress plugins pages usually give a good indication about compatibility but it’s a little early. Waiting seems a sensible option.

    • most plugins are backwards compatible. So don’t worry about it for the most part :) They develop WordPress to be backwards compatible with plugins too. So everything should go smooth. I never hesitate to upgrade- WordPress is qualitay.

      • Mmm, I’m not convinced that’s the case. While the developers don’t intend breaking plugins, changes always affect something. Fortunately, the WP plugin page provides useful compatibility information.

  • WordPress continues to be amazing, but 3.3 broke my custom login page! Still haven’t figured out how to get it working again.

    • Hi Brian. Sounds nasty. Is it a custom plugin you’ve written or one that’s available to all WP users?

      • Myshock

        Your custom login logo doesn’t display anymore beacause the css style you have to override isn’t [code]h1 a[/code] anymore but [code].login h1 a[/code]

      • No, this is just some code stuck in functions.php. Actually, I fixed it. I just went through my custom stylesheet and put !important after everything.

  • Tuomas Lecklin

    Running good, like the changes. No problems so far, regardless of having numerous plugins.

  • WordPress 3.3 rocks. I tested the beta versions. Just upgraded my whole website to the WordPress 3.3. No problems.
    The Admin section looks cleaner

  • It has some nice new features but has broke a few things on my site. I’m also having problem with my custom login logo screen. Also in the media library the jQuery is broke so I can’t show the box to set the featured image. Good thing I can change the dom elements in chrome so I can manually open this box.

    • Anonymous

      I’m having this same problem, but I don’t know what the dom elements are, so I can’t fix it. Could someone post a fix for this issue? Thanks.

  • I’m so excited to give 3.3 a bash. Always nervous of plugin incompatibility though so I think I’ll wait for the next update too.

  • Govertz

    Updated testsite, no problems.
    Really nice admin interface, I love WordPress :)
    Can’t wait to follow a tutorial on how to use “is main query” in loops, my head can’t get around how to use it or what to use it for.

    Merry Christmas to you all from stormy Scandinavia :)

  • Jason Witt

    I found an issue with the new admin bar. Since it has a fixed position it covers the first few lines of any php errors. Has anyone found a way to deal with this other than disabling the admin bar all together?

    • I would love to have the page content shift down when the Toolbar appears. Not sure who thought it was a good idea to COVER existing page content…

  • Lone Juric

    I have now, both a test site, a live web site and a development project running on 3.3 – and the upgrade went without any problems at all on any of these three installations.
    I immediately started loving the drag and drop functionality, which makes life easier!

    Wonderful 3.3!

  • Everything is great, the site looks and works great… except that after saving a draft or publishing a post, I end up on a totally blank white screen. Unfortunately didn’t budget time ahead to deal with issues (oops), so don’t have an explanation or a solution yet.

  • Dennis Halberg

    I haven’t really used WordPress for client sites because of the unnecessary design/development stages – do you still have to “cut-up” your template design into sections and folders or have they made it as easy as “copy and paste” like ModX?
    The WordPress client learning curve is effortless which does make it appealing.

  • I’ve recently upgraded to WP 3.3. I don’t usually do it so soon. I’m finding I’m unable to use the Visual editor. The tab is present but nothing happens when clicked on. I’ve cleared my cache, disabled all plugins, tried a different browser and still the same. Not sure what else to try to make it operational again. Any techy suggestions!

    • You can try this but I’m not promising that it will definitely work – Hover over users -> Select “Your Profile” -> Ensure the you don’t have the “disable visual editor” box checked.

  • I think I’m beginning to like this new update due to the fact that I can now navigate the admin area much easier with the hover over menus. I would like to see a few more HTML5 features added in future updates though.

  • Hi, i upgraded and i am new to wordpress. I have on the side menu on my home page

    Recent Posts
    Hello world!
    Recent Comments
    Mr WordPress on Hello world!
    December 2011
    Site Admin
    Log in
    Entries RSS
    Comments RSS

    I dont want these, how do i get rid of these side headings?
    please help me

  • I’ve just spent a miserable Christmas period cursing WordPress 3.3 ….. the main problem was that it didn’t let me add internal URL links within my posts. There was no “Insert in Post” button !!
    But having read this blog, checking incompatibility with some plug-ins and other tweaks I got …… precisely nowhere!
    The answer was very simple in the end! Use Firefox. Suppose I should have listened to all the negative about IE7/IE8/IE9 before. Now I’ve got work to do cross-linking all my new articles posted since 3.3

  • Using IE 8, it blew up bigtime. I use a screenreader here, & the links header won’t read correctly.