WordPress 3.0 (news, site) is just around the corner and, as per usual for the popular blogging and content management system, a very rough beta version was kicked out earlier this month. Let's take a look at what team WordPress are — and are not — working on this time 'round.
WordPress 3.0's Good Side
The Merging of WordPress MU
The most talked about bit, by far, is the merging of the WordPress and WordPress Multi-User (MU) products. WordPress MU is a fork of WordPress which enables a single installation of the platform to power multiple sites (also known as a multi-tenant install).
As of 3.0 WordPress MU will be merged with WordPress core. This is exciting for anyone who manages multiple WordPress-powered websites, as admin life is about to get much simpler. And this is particularly interesting for corporations or other organizations wanting to blog-enable their employees.
Note that the merging of these technologies does not mean you can start adding blogs from within your regular WordPress dashboard. Rather you'll need to follow a manual step or two and meet certain criteria before you can create your very own blogosphere-dominating WordPress network.
Custom Content Types
In the past, WordPress supported two very broad types of content types: Posts and Pages. In the 3.0 version, a new feature called "Custom Post Types" allows users to create any kind of content type and define its attributes. For instance, if you post a lot of videos, you can now create a new content type tailored specifically to deliver video content.
This feature will come in handy for organizations with users unfamiliar with WordPress — in that a content type closely tailored to a specific purpose is easier to understand than a swiss-army style do-it-all interface.
You’ll also be able to create custom templates for each author — including such modern doodads as their signature or picture:
Moreover, management of content types is such that you won’t have to sort different post types into different categories, then use the Edit Posts screen and set filters to a specific category to see them. Custom Post Types live in their own admin section and won't get mixed up with your normal blogging brilliance. Additionally, users can customize columns in the editing screen according to their personal preferences (scroll down for an example).
A New Default Theme
Move over Kubrick, papa's got a brand new bag. WordPress' new default theme is more than just aptly named. Inspired by Thematic's Ian Stewart, Twenty Ten theme is designed for SEO, and features include a horizontal drop-down menu, clean typography, microformats, post thumbnails for custom headers and WYSIWYG.
You can also see the theme in action on the WordPress Foundation page.
Other Bits and Pieces
Some less talked about — but still very cool — features on the list include a custom menus option in which you can drag and drop posts, pages and categories in a widget-management fashion:
Plugin and theme bulk updates have been made, custom backgrounds added, and a new Super Admin role is now on the roster. While Administrator is still available for assigning, the Super Admin position has control over both individual and multi-site blog features (side note: Admin is no longer the required user name — hallelujah!).