WordPress 3.3 Adds HTML5 Media UploaderThe first beta of WordPress version 3.3 is officially here for the taking. Among the most exciting improvements is a new drag-and-drop HTML5 media uploader. 

Out with the Old 

Previously, WordPress used the standard file selection process (I think we're all familiar with how that works) to upload files. The latest version, however, is getting fancy thanks to Plupload, an open source upload tool that utilizes HTML5 Gears, Silverlight, Flash, BrowserPlus or normal forms. This allows for features such as upload progress, image resizing and batched uploads.

All that goodness will be included in WordPress 3.3, along with several other perks: 

  • Admin bar improvements
  • Enhancements to the automatic upgrade process, including partial build upgrades and ability to install child themes
  • Inclusion of language packs
  • Varying screen sizes in the admin area for different device types 
  • Performance improvements on permalinks
  • API enhancements, including updated editor API

The changes for admins also sound pretty neat. The back-end interface, for example, now contains "admin pointers" – small text boxes containing information about the new features which are displayed when the user selects part of the interface. Pointers can be set up not by the WordPress developers as well as theme designers who will, in the future, be able to implement them in order to explain custom theme configuration options.

Additional adjustments to help new users get accustomed quickly and ease of use include pop-out administrative menu bars, a new tutorial for beginners, an "adaptive desktop" which automatically resizes itself for mobile devices while retaining the same functionality, and improvements to permalinks which aim to reduce performance penalties.

In with the New

Announced today by  lead developer Ryan Boren, the official release of WordPress 3.3 is slated for the end of November. Meanwhile, the beta, which requires PHP 5.2.4 and MySQL 5.0 or above, is available to download, and can be installed on a server or tested using the WordPress Beta Tester plug-in.

"As always, this is software still in development and we don’t recommend that you run it on a production site — set up a test site just to play with the new version," wrote Boren. "If you break it (find a bug), please report it, and if you’re a developer, try to help us fix it."