Wordpress 4 is the imminent major version upgrade of this popular website CMS. They are currently releasing a series of beta versions with a view to making the final version available on August 10th. So what new features should we be expecting in Wordpress 4?
Better Multilingual Support
Wordpress 4 will now offer the option to install in a language other than US English via the initial installer. There will also be options to change the language of the admin area, and to install plugins in a variety of languages (where available)
Media Grid View
This feature will provide a view of all the media you've uploaded to the site in grid format. The aim is for this to improve upon the current media library. Clicking on an item in this view will generate a modal "popup" in which you add all the relevant attributes about that media (Title, alt tags, etc). You will be able to navigate through this view using the arrow keys.
Improvements to the Post Editor
There will be a series of improvements to the post editor in Wordpress 4 (the box you type your articles into). The most prominent of these will be the menu with all the options (Bold, Italic, etc) will stick to the top of the browser window as you scroll down the page, thereby avoiding the need to have to scroll back up the page to get to these if you're writing a long article.
Additionally, when you embed an item (such as a Youtube video) into an article, you will now see a preview of this in the post editor.
Theme Customiser Improvements
Widgets will now be moving into their own panel.
There will be a series of improvements made in Wordpress 4 to streamline the installation of new plugins
Upgrading to Wordpress 4
Of course, as with any application upgrade (especially a major version upgrade such as this), it would be highly unwise to perform an upgrade to Wordpres 4 directly your live site. Due to the changes under the hood, it is possible that your themes and plugins may be incompatible with this update. Ideally, the upgrade process should be tested on a separate server and then moved live when fully tested. If this approach isn't possible, we'd advise setting up a copy of your live database on the same server, and a copy of the code in a subdirectory of your live site. Point that code copy at the database copy, then use that version of the site for testing purposes.
However, as tempting as it may be to put off this upgrade due to the extensive testing required, this is not advisable. Old versions of Wordpress will quickly become vulnerable to security flaws, and you risk your website being compromised if your Wordpress install is not kept up to date.
If you require help with the upgrade process, please let us know and we'll do our best to assist.