Burningbird Technology Weblogging

WordPress 2.5: Looks

Recovered from the Wayback Machine.

Though I will be using Drupal for portions of my site, I’m still debating whether to continue using WordPress for purely weblog activities, such as at RealTech. I decided to download the WordPress 2.5 release candidate 1, give it a run.

I’ve moved most of my XHTMLating work to plug-ins, so I didn’t have the problems with overwriting source code. The plug-ins I do use worked without a hitch, including the one that XHTMLates comments (though the commenter’s name field doesn’t support internationalization at this moment).

I like the new dashboard, which does a good job of putting important information at the top. I don’t like the fact that you still don’t have a lot of options–or at least I can’t see them–for eliminating all of the crud that gets pushed at you. I don’t care about top plug-ins. I don’t care about other WP weblogs of note.

As for the new site design, I like the coloring, but I do not like all of the design changes. Case in point is the Write Post page, with post in process.

Look at all that wasted space. There are four headers above the Write Post page, and in the Write Post page, we now have to scroll down to control comments, pick categories, add tags. Yet what takes up the valuable real estate to the right? Related items, ie how to manage comments, posts, etc. When you’re writing a post, what are the items you’re most likely to edit for that post on a regular basis? I would say tags and categories, as well as comment status. You’re not worried about managing categories or comments.

I do like that the Delete button is now more obvious, rather than buried at the bottom of the post. In addition, I was happy to see a link to draft entries rather than forcing us to filter on draft to find a post in process. There’s also only one Save button for a post now, equivalent to the older “Save and Continue editing” function.

I also like the fact that you can edit the permalink, though the creators didn’t go far enough–you should also be able to pick which category goes into the formal permalink. I had hoped that the developers would also list existing tags in the tag area, but you still have to guess what tags you have if you don’t want to add new ones.

On the other hand, I do think the media management capabilities are superior in this version. If you serve video, you can now more easily manage your video, as well as music and image files. For instance, you can click on more than one file to upload, rather than have to upload individually. The application will then upload all the files, and for photos, attempt to use the photo’s EXIF file to fill in the relevant information, though the application doesn’t seem to like my photos’ EXIF sections.

However, if you’re tempted to have WordPress 2.5 create an in-page gallery, think again if you’re serving your pages up as XHTML: the generated gallery HTML is not valid.

This is a trivial error to fix, and I’ve sent the error information into the special feedback email address. However, this does demonstrate something I find a little disquieting–the WordPress developers are not running their sites as XHTML, themselves, in order to ensure WordPress provides both valid HTML and XHTML. Nor are the developers validating what they generate. If they did, they would realize that their sites don’t validate.

Worse, the validation errors are such blatant errors that even relatively inexperienced web developers–and web designers–should have caught them early, and prevented their occurrence at this late stage of WordPress 2.5 development. The only assumption I can make is that form is taking precedence over function with this release. Definitely not an attitude I would have expected considering the involvement in the development of WordPress 2.5 by known standards luminaries.

The page containing the gallery does not open in Firefox, Safari, or Opera because these browsers read the page as XHTML, and the page has invalid markup. However, the page does open in IE8. Perhaps the underlying issue is that IE8 is the browser of choice for the WP development team.

In the other sections, if you make any updates in the user page you have to type in your password again, or it tells you that you only entered it once. That’s annoying. The rest of the pages seem the same, except for a new Media Library, which shows what images are used where. Handy if you want to track down in which posts a specific image has appeared.

Overall, the interface is cleaner and media file management has definitely improved, but the usability has, in my opinion, taken a couple of major hits. I include in this category the freedom to serve our pages up as valid XHTML without having to struggle with invalid generated page markup.

Now, I’ll publish and see what happens to the feeds.

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