WordPress 3.6 – blogging gets even easier

WordPress 3.6A new version of the WordPress blogging platform and content management system was released on August 1 that not only fixes some bugs and improves security, but also brings a raft of new and enhanced features and functionality.

WordPress version 3.6 includes a new default theme, Twenty Thirteen, with a contemporary look and feel that lets you focus on your content far more than before, in a design made for media-rich blogging.

As the theme is a responsive web design (just like its predecessor default theme Twenty Twelve), it will look good and work well on any device – from a large widescreen desktop monitor to the compact touch-screen of a smartphone – without a plugin or any other external add-on needed.

If you’re just getting started with WordPress, or you’re thinking about a new design for your blog, Twenty Thirteen will work for you right out of the box. It will also give you a great foundation for your own customizations through creating your own child theme.

Of all the improvements and new features in WordPress 3.6, perhaps of most appeal to me and my WordPress blogs is the significantly improved support for audio and video with a new HTML5 media player as part of the WordPress platform that does away with the need for a specialist external plugin just to play the media.

As the media player isn’t Flash-based, an advantage is that it will work on Apple devices like iPhones and iPads.

There’s enhanced audio embedding that lets you embed songs, albums and playlists from Spotify, Rdio and SoundCloud just by pasting a URL into a post on its own line.

Like this, from SoundCloud:

There’s no special pop-up to add it to or something on the editing menu you have to open – just paste it into your draft post. The actual code I pasted is this:

[soundcloud url="http://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/96585117" params=""
width=" 100%" height="166" iframe="true" /]

(The song, “In My Demon’s Name,” is the latest track from my favourite rock noir band, Belladonna, who make their songs available on SoundCloud. Check them out.)

For editing your posts, there’s a much better autosave, the behind-the-scenes method that saves your draft posts automatically at regular intervals when you’re logged in to your blog and in editing mode.

There’s also better post locking when you have multiple people who might be editing posts – easy to see who’s editing what and what to do if they’ve left a draft open that you need to work on.

These are just a handful of the great features in WordPress 3.6 – see the release announcement or the WordPress Codex for a complete list of everything including the bug and security fixes.

Or, view this cool video that presents all the new stuff in an entertaining way.

([Later] If you read this post on an Apple or Android device, you won’t see the video – because it’s a Flash video, as Armin Grew notes in the comments below. Ironic, to say the least.)

If you’re already  running WordPress, you should upgrade. If you’re not too bothered about all the bells and whistles, still upgrade if only because of the bug fixes and security improvements. As WordPress now runs 19 percent of all web sites in the world, it’s a hot target for hackers, crooks and others who will cause damage if they get into your blog (and whatever you do, change the default login user ID from ‘admin’ to anything else!)

So do yourself a favour – upgrade to the latest version. The simplest way is to use the automatic update feature in your WordPress dashboard, making sure you back up your database first. Just in case. Then, hit the ‘Update Now’ button in your WordPress dashboard.

WordPress Updates

Happy blogging!

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About Neville Hobson

Entrepreneurial business communicator with a curiosity for tech and how people use it. Early adopter (and leaver) and experimenter with social media. Co-host of the weekly business podcast For Immediate Release: The Hobson and Holtz Report. Also an occasional test pilot of shiny new objects. Follow me on Twitter and Google+.