WordPress 3 review

WordPress is now seven years old and, with millions of active users, is widely recognised as the world’s most popular blogging platform. The latest release is the open source platform’s 13th major update and is crucial to WordPress’ ambitions to move on from its blog-based origins.

Before you can use WordPress, you need it to be set up on your server. You can do this yourself by downloading the latest version for free from WordPress.org and then installing it on any server supporting at least PHP 4.3 and MySQL 4.1.2. An important advance here is that the first account is no longer automatically set to “admin”, so potential hackers need to work out your account name as well as your password.

If setting up WordPress yourself sounds intimidating, you’ll find most hosting providers now provide one-click installations through their control panels, though you’ll still need to learn how to backup your database. If even that sounds a bit much, you can take advantage of WordPress.com’s ready-to-go free hosting.

Once you’re up-and-running, you manage your WordPress site via the new Dashboard. This is slightly lighter than it was before, and adds contextual help and a few scattered rationalisations. If you’re an existing user who doesn’t want to tamper with an existing site, these are probably the only differences that you’ll notice after upgrading.

WordPress 3

If you’re creating a new site or want to rework an existing one, however, WordPress 3 has a lot more to offer. The biggest change is that, after a full five years, the default Kubrick theme has finally been put out to pasture. The replacement, Twenty Ten, is a vast improvement offering attractive, clean lines, easy readability, a large header image and simple layout. Basically it doesn’t look so “bloggy”.

A number of new theme-based advances reinforce this. In particular new APIs for handling headers and backgrounds, it’s much easier for theme developers to enable end user customisation. In addition, WordPress 3’s new “child theme” handling makes it easier to change theme settings while maintaining manually-created CSS-based overrides.

One of the major criticisms of WordPress has been that all its sites look ugly and identical; now, with direct access to more powerful themes and easy customisability built right in to the Dashboard, the quality of end design should leap forward.


Software subcategoryWeb development

Operating system support

Operating system Windows Vista supported?yes
Operating system Windows XP supported?yes
Operating system Linux supported?yes
Operating system Mac OS X supported?yes

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