I’ve just upgraded my test blog to WordPress 3.0 Beta 1, with the new default Twenty Ten Theme. It’s yet another beautiful evolution for my favorite CMS, WordPress. That’s right, I didn’t say “blogging engine”.
I’ve been using WordPress as a CMS for a while already, and no, there’s no reason a WordPress site has to look like a blog, or that it even needs to look particularly “WordPress-y,” though a lot of them tend to. The giveaway is often in the post comments area, which a great many themes do not bother to customize very extensively, though they should. (Mine is customized to a degree, even if not extensively.) I had read someplace that in 3.0 it would be easier to customize this part of a theme, but I haven’t dug that deeply. In any event, a theme developer with a modicum of php-chops should be able to hack out a custom look for it even in the old system.
Which brings me to another point… the lists appearing of new features for WP3.0 are much the same, and say things like “In WordPress 3.0, you can create specific templates for every author of your blog.”, something I did for a client several versions ago… again, with a modicum of php knowledge. Now though, it’s becoming easier to do, and that seems to be the real thing with WP releases like this one. It isn’t revolutionary, but it makes it easy to do things that people were already doing, but which took a greater degree of effort. Like building a menu system, for example. This is one area where it could take a fair effort with certain types of navigation schemas. The new release will have this built-in, but the admin section of Beta-1 is not yet completed. The phenomenon of watching how WP is already being used and then adapting it to make such uses easier to achieve is one of the things I like about the WP development community: it shows they’re paying attention to users.
A big change is the merge of WP-Mu with WP. Not sure yet what a Mu-upgrade will look like. The most underappreciated new feature might be the custom post types, which takes you beyond the selection of either page or post, and has already had some examination. It doesn’t look like they’re at all a point-and-click setup yet, but a theme developer should be able to set them up fairly easily for a client once the post types and characteristics of each has been described. Even this is something that I’ve done in the past using categories, but doing this was clearly a hack for the way things will be done now, which in my view perhaps takes WordPress into CMS-land even more than the new menu system does. People shouldn’t be talking about “WordPress-as-CMS” anymore: when 3.0 hits its final release, this phrase will be even more anachronistically redundant than it already is.
A nice change to see is the replacement of the default Kubrick theme with the newly-developed Twenty Ten Theme, which includes a few more theme options which enables bending the theme easily into different looks — though not as many as the beautiful Tarski Theme, which can take a blogger on a low budget a long way toward a custom look with a few swift mouse-clicks rather than shelling out for a custom theme or theme framework. Kubrick had its fans, but I was never really one of them… maybe I’ve come to associate the look with too many splogs. Anyway, it was high-time that the default theme showed off WordPress and what it can do a little better.
So far, 3.0 hasn’t broken any of my favorite plugins nor the framework I’ve developed for my own theme development, but I’ll have to test more thoroughly to be certain. In the meantime, I’m looking forward to the final 3.0 release, and wondering about a couple of projects just in the wings now… presently I’m thinking that I should develop them assuming the 3.0 platform and take advantage of the newest featureset.