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With the recent release of WordPress 2.5, the popular open-source blogging application has greatly improved its already good administration and blogging management interface and has made it much easier for bloggers to add widgets and do extensive customizations of their blogs. That's right, the best blogging platform just got better.
WordPress 2.5 represents the first major overhaul of the administration interface in a long time and while I never hated the old interface, I have to admit that this new one is a major improvement. Based on the improvements in this release, on top of the already very strong capabilities of WordPress, it's become even clearer that for anyone planning to start a new blog or looking to change platforms, WordPress should be the first choice.
To test WordPress 2.5 I launched brand new blogs and also upgraded existing WordPress installations to the new version. For clean installations everything went very smoothly and the blogging platform continued to live up to the promise of its 5-minute installation process.
While the upgrade process was just as fast, many current WordPress users will probably run into a few bumps after moving to the new WordPress version. For example, I had to change a few security settings to get a new image uploading feature to work and had to make some customizations to my blog themes in order to make a new sidebar widgets feature work.
Of course both of these workarounds were well-documented on the WordPress site and were also accompanied by good tips and experiences from the giant WordPress user community.
The first thing bloggers see when they launch the WordPress administration interface is the dashboard and in 2.5 this has seen some of the biggest changes. The dashboard is now fully widgitized, providing a quick, portal-like interface where users can quickly see stats and information about their blog. And since plug-ins can tie into this interface, the potential customization of the dashboard seems pretty endless.
Writing blog posts has also been greatly improved in this release. The WYSIWYG post editor is now based on TinyMCE 3.0, and I found it to be a very good and simple-to-use rich interface for building attractive blog posts.
Image uploading and management has been boosted with nice features (based on Adobe Flash) for uploading multiple images for use in posts and blog pages. When uploading multiple images we could instantly create an image gallery or slide show for showcasing photos on a subject. Image management in general is much improved, with nice features for sorting and searching for images based on different criteria.
For blogs that have multiple authors and editors, WordPress 2.5 now has post-locking features so that when one author is working on a post another can not jump in and make changes. Tagging has also been baked in throughout WordPress 2.5, making it very easy to add or change tags for content within a blog. Also, the built-in search now searches across both blog posts and static pages.
Just as in past major WordPress upgrades, some plug-ins won't work with the new version, but for some the new version offers much improved management and upgrading for plug-ins, making it possible to automatically install new versions of plug-ins.
The free open-source version of WordPress 2.5 can be downloaded at wordpress.org and users can also get a free hosted version at wordpress.com. Businesses looking for a fully supported installation and support option for WordPress can look to a large community of consultants, including Automattic, a company started by a number of top-level WordPress developers.