The last week has seen two big updates for some of the core platforms that we support. The long expected WordPress 3.9 release is now out, and the BuddyPress team have release version 2.0 of their popular set of WordPress extensions.

In true Automattic tradition, the WordPress release is named “Smith” after after a jazz musician Jimmy Smith (there’s always a bit of jazz with WordPress). The most important feature in this release is a complete update to the editor (tinymce), to make the process of creating posts a much more pleasant experience. Rather than juggling between the media uploaded and the editor, you can now drop images straight into the editor (then hit “insert into post”).


As I just did there. It removes a step from the posting process. The mysterious Word icon is now gone too, with the editor taking care of stripping excess html when you paste text in, fixing one of the biggest bug bears in corporate use of WordPress (people pasting text in from Microsoft Word and including redundant styling and font information with it).

There are additional improvements for dealing with images in posts: You can now create and view an image gallery directly in a post, and the drag and drop feature enables you to quickly crop, resize and rotate imported images. The media features now support playlists for audio and video clips.

There are also improvements so theme editing, including better header image uploading, and a new theme installer interface. This video from the WordPress team gives a quick overview:

A few days earlier, the BuddyPress team announced Juliana, the latest release of the suite of tools that turn WordPress into a fully-featured community platform and social platform. The release is “2.0” more by virtual of the fact that it falls between releases 1.9 and 2.1, rather than it being a major revision. That said, the update features a big revamp of the BuddyPress admin interface, making it much easier the manage large communities, and deal with the inevitable spam user accounts that occur on a public community site.

BuddyPress 2.0 also features welcome updates to the user activity steam, including real-time updates, and also some significant improvements to the database performance (for our larger communities – 30,000+ users – this will make a significant difference in server load).

I am looking forward to the next set of platform builds and updates with the combination of these two updates. Together they provide a great step forward in usability and performance, and even for personal blogging, the WordPress 3.9 updates make blogging a much more pleasant experience.