WordPress 3.6, which is slated to be released in late April 2013, has a series of improvements in the works that will surely be useful for scholastic journalism staffs as they use their WordPress sites.
The interface for building and editing menus is getting a complete overhaul. When WordPress first built the menu editor in WordPress 3.1, it was an amazing improvement for using WordPress as a CMS, allowing users to be able to construct their own menus rather than having to hard-code in category or page lists. The interface, though, has never been completely intuitive, and we’ve found that users often delete or change menus or create unnecessary menus rather than adding items to already existing menus, so this overhaul is a welcome change.
WordPress has long stored revisions of posts, allowing authors and editors to revert to an earlier version of a post. The interface for going back through these revisions is up for an overhaul in 3.6, which will be useful for those journalism staffs that do their writing process directly in the WordPress admin.
Also in the works is in improvement of how WordPress Autosaves stories and a new Post Locking feature to prevent collision from multiple users editing the same post at the same time from different computers. While WordPress currently shows a warning if another user is editing a post already, this feature will actually lock others out from editing a post if it’s currently open by someone else. The lock feature will also allow an author to lock a story to prevent future revisions by others.
One of the editorial workflow changes planned for 3.6 is to create a new post status — this change is headed up by Daniel Bachhuber, author of the EditFlow plugin, which is used by many scholastic news staffs on their WordPress sites. Currently a WordPress post can be set to Draft, Pending Review, or Published. This change will add a Draft Revision status to allow users to make revisions to a published post without those revisions going live immediately on the site. This will be a great tool for stories that are in progress, allowing journalism staffs to publish an early version of a story, keep working on it, and then push the revision out when more information is available and the story is ready to be updated.
Post formats were introduced back in WordPress 3.1, and version 3.6 will be changing the interface of how these formats are created. This change probably won’t affect scholastic journalism staffs that use WordPress as there’s not much use for most of these formats (Chat, Quote, Aside, Link, Status) and others (Video, Image, Gallery, and Audio) are already incorporated directly into stories by most news-style themes rather than treated as separate entities. As the SNO FLEX theme has its own interface for incorporating video, audio, slideshows, and images, this won’t impact our development path. We’ve already begun scoping out our next version of SNO FLEX and will be adding even more features to embed within stories to make the story page a richer experience for readers.