A new version of the popular open-source blogging software WordPress has been posted, the cadre of volunteers behind the software announced on Thursday. Version 3.0, is the 13th major release of the software, and contains over 2,700 changes, including 1,217 bug fixes, that were provided by 218 volunteers.
With this release, "WordPress is now becoming one of the most capable blogging platforms out there," said Adriaan Bloem, an analyst for the Real Story Group, a research and consulting firm specialising in content management software.
Feature-wise, perhaps the most discussed addition is the new ability of the software to run multiple blogs. Previously, each blog on a site had to be run on a separate copy of WordPress. Administrators could run multiple blogs from the same instance only by using another version of WordPress customised for this task, called WordPress MU.
That MU has been integrated into the main version of WordPress ensures that it should be easier to deploy, Bloem noted. "WordPress MU... wasn't the easiest to get working right. Also, there was a much smaller community using MU, so when users had trouble getting say, a plug-in to work for MU, it would also be hard to find kindred spirits working on the same problem," Bloem said.
Also, the multi-blog capability erases "the final edge" that competing blog platform MovableType had over WordPress. MovableType has long offered the ability to run multiple blogs, though bloggers have shown a preference for WordPress, largely due to its interface, as well as to the fact that WordPress runs on PHP, which can be easier to understand than the Perl language that MovableType relies upon, Bloem said.
Another major feature is the ability to build custom post types. Instead of every page being tagged as a blog post, it can be defined in terms that the user specifies. So each page could represent a product, for instance, and have specific fields relating to that category, such as price and model. Custom post types will further help establish WordPress as a good candidate for managing an entire website's content, in addition to just the blogs.
"WP is starting to cross over into web content management system territory," Bloem said."It's already used to power many non-blog websites, but as a system, it's now starting to look more like Drupal."
Other new features include the ability to update multiple plug-ins at once, and a new default theme and redesigned user interface.
With 3.0 behind them, the lead developers will not immediately jump into working on version 3.1 of the software, but rather will skip a release cycle to work on some of the external issues that have arisen from the growing popularity of the software, according to the announcement, which was posted by WordPress co-developer Matt Mullenweg These chores might include improving the mailing lists, the theme and plug-in directories as well as the application programming interfaces.
New users can download the software and existing users can update from within their administration dashboards. The largest hosted provider of WordPress-based blogs, Automattic, has already updated all the blogs on WordPress.com to version 3.0, according to a company spokesperson.