Blogs and Websites around the world are getting a new look today, thanks to the new WordPress 3.8 release. WordPress is the world's most widely deployed open-source content management and blog system platform, powering more than 73 million sites today.
The 3.8 release benefits from WordPress' new rapid development process that debuted with the WordPress 3.7 update that came in October. Among the changes in the 3.7 update was the ability for automatic background updates for security and maintenance fixes. The new 3.8 update, however, is not an automatic update and will require those that self-host WordPress sites to manually click an update button.
The first thing that users will see when they update is a revamped administration interface. WordPress founder Matt Mullenweg wrote in a blog post that the design brings a "fresh, new look to the entire admin dashboard."
Part of that design refresh is the use of the Open Sans typeface, which is an open-source licensed font originally commissioned by Google. WordPress 3.8 also has been developed with a responsive design such that the admin interface will adapt responsively to small-screen mobile and tablet devices. Overall developers have aimed to unclutter the interface to provide a more open administrative interface.
The administrative interface also benefits from visual simplification for theme administration as well. Themes are the WordPress components that define the end-user-facing visual layout of a specific WordPress site. WordPress development ticket #26440 details one such theme administration improvement. Instead of using an icon that users click to find details on a specific theme, WordPress 3.8 now has a text button.
"The 'i' icon when opening theme details is a bit vague and probably not the best use of the information icon," WordPress developer Andrew Nacin wrote in the bug report. "There was some concern it could be lost in translation, especially since it is being used as a primary action, versus a simple visual "next" to a notice."
Going a step further, WordPress developers have made incremental changes to make it easier to search for and find new themes. One such change is detailed in development ticket #26496 , titled "Themes: Search is ambiguous and confusing."
With each new major WordPress update in recent memory, there is also a new default theme and the 3.8 release is no exception. Though WordPress historically was best known as a blogging platform, the new WordPress 2014 theme is a magazine layout.
While WordPress is the most deployed open-source content management system platform, it's certainly not the only one. Joomla and Drupal are other open-source technologies that also have strong install bases. Just last week, HP launched a new portal to sell its software, powered by Drupal.
Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at eWEEK and InternetNews.com. Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist.